RALEIGH — Newt Gingrich, former U.S. House speaker and potential presidential candidate, brought his trademark unleashed-but-precise attack on Democrats to an appreciative audience Thursday night in Raleigh: the Wake County Republican Party convention.
The president is in over his head, the Republican sweep of 2010 was just the beginning and North Carolina needs a new governor. That was the message Gingrich delivered to at least 900 people in the Kerr Scott Building at the N.C. State Fairgrounds.
The conservative politician was a gem of a headliner for the county convention, and something of a coup for county party Chairwoman Susan Bryant, whose longtime political connections in Washington paid off in enticing him here. He wasted no time in getting to the point after a prolonged standing ovation greeted him.
"The spectator in chief shares with us his Final Four picks and then goes to Brazil to kick a soccer ball around," Gingrich said, using one of his recent oft-repeated jabs at President Barack Obama. "I think we need a president who actually wants to be president."
Gingrich predicted big wins in the 2012 national elections, contending that about 40 seats in the U.S. House and a dozen in the U.S. Senate are obtainable. He drew hearty applause when he said Gov. Bev Perdue also was on the chopping block.
In remarks to reporters beforehand, Gingrich said he would make a decision about whether to run for president in four to five weeks. He said he was putting together a team and taking the prospect seriously.
Gingrich also tried to disentangle himself from criticism leveled at him this week over contradictory statements about whether we should be trying to force Moammar Gadhafi out of power in Libya. This month he said the United States should take military action against the dictator, but Wednesday he said he wouldn't have intervened with U.S. and European forces.
"Things have been evolving since late February, and if you respond as things change, your analysis is going to change because the facts change," he said.
"The president initially said [Gadhafi] has to go, then the White House said we don't really mean it, then the French said they would lead the coalition but they would only lead the coalition if the goal is not to replace Gadhafi," Gingrich said.
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