GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich bashed President Barack Obama and pledged to defend Christian values Thursday in appearances around Chicago’s Far Northwest suburbs.
Touring conservative businessman Jack Roeser’s Otto Factory in Carpentersville, Gingrich reacted to Obama’s earlier remarks Thursday that Gingrich’s plan to bring gas prices down to $2.50 a gallon won’t work.
“I think we have him rattled,” Gingrich told Roeser.
Turning to reporters, Gingrich said, “The president attacked my policies a few minutes ago, and I just want to respond directly to the president … President Obama asked the Saudis to pump more oil. Secretary Chu, the secretary of energy, said yesterday how grateful he was that the Saudis were pumping more oil. Now, obviously they believe supply and demand works because they think that an additional supply of Saudi oil will drive down the price, and they’re very grateful that the Saudis are willing to help Barack Obama get re-elected.”
Gingrich has been trying to capitalize on voter frustration with high gas prices – noting he drove past a station charging $4.69 a gallon for premium.
Obama says the United States is already drilling more than has ever been drilled and it’s not bringing prices down. Obama will be in Chicago Friday for a fund-raiser in between visits from his would-be GOP rivals Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
After a speech at Barrington High School in which he urged students to follow their dreams, Gingrich courted Christian voters at Judson University on the banks of the Fox River in Elgin.
It was billed as a “Hispanic Town Hall Meeting with Newt and Calista,” but only a handful of Hispanics were among the 300 mostly white Christian college students and retirees who jammed a campus chapel to hear Gingrich and his wife. The crowd applauded when Gingrich slammed what he called “Obama’s attack on the Catholic Church and other right-to-life institutions.”
Gingrich was referring to the administration’s mandate – later softened – that religious hospitals and schools such as Judson offer birth control in their health control plans.
Contrasting that with Obama’s apology to Muslims after reports that copies of the Quran were burned, Gingrich said, “Appeasing radical Islam whole while crushing Christianity and Judaism strikes me as exactly what’s wrong in America today.”
The chapel erupted in applause. Gingrich trails in the polls leading up to Tuesday’s primary election here. Mitt Romney has most of the state’s Republican establishment with him and picked up House Minority Leader Tom Cross Thursday. Rick Santorum is close behind in the polls.
Standing against a backdrop of organ pipes and an American Flag, Gingrich did briefly mention why Hispanics should vote Republican.
“How can we find the common ground between Latino-Americans and the Republican Party?” Gingrich asked. “Family, jobs, take-home pay.”
Gingrich said Latinos had plenty of reasons to become Republicans and to support him, including because they would benefit from lower gas prices he says his policies would bring.
Gingrich repeated his vow to stay in the race, even though he has won only two states so far.
“I’m staying in the race because I think Proverbs was right when it said that ‘Without vision people will perish,’ ” Gingrich said. “This is also part of the reason I’ve decided to stay in the race: I think we need a visionary leader.”
Eligio Marin, 64, a Vietnam vet laid off from his job at the State Treasurer’s office, said after Gingrich’ speech that he hopes Gingrich stays in the race.
“They want him to get out. This is nonsense. He is the most experienced. I hope we have a brokered convention,” Marin said.
After touring Roeser’s factory, Gingrich held a farewell rally at Lake in the Hills Airport.
Romney will have a tele-town hall this afternoon and then a breakfast meeting in Rosemont Friday. Santorum is due into Arlington Heights Friday afternoon. Ron Paul spoke in Champaign Wednesday.