Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich issued a blistering attack on President Obama, accusing him of failing on the economy and of weakness in foreign affairs, in a pre-caucus speech in Bloomington Monday night.
    In a speech to several hundred supporters at the Ramada Hotel in Bloomington,  Gingrich was unruffled by hecklers and  focused his attack on Obama. He aimed some shots at Republican front runner Mitt Romney, whom he accused of being a moderate who would not undertake the needed changes in Washington.
    “The real underlying question in this campaign is whether we want an election that involves real change on a large scale,’’ Gingrich told a packed conference room. “Or whether we want an election that has small differences, fighting over who is going to manage the decay.’’
 “You cannot stop the decay without very serious political conflict in Washington,’’ he told the audience.
   In the foreign-policy section of his speech, a man stood up in the back of the room and shouted a question: “Hey Newt! Why do you support discrimination against gays and lesbians all the time?” Another person was heard shouting in the back of the room. The crowd shouted “Newt! Newt! Newt!” The hecklers were hustled out and the speech continued without further incident.
   Gingrich quoted liberal financier George Soros as saying that there would not be much difference in policy between Obama and Romney. He said, “When we nominate a moderate, we lose.’’ He said Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts was “pro abortion, pro gun control, pro tax increase.’’ He said Romney has a bad record on job creation and added, “Pitting that against Obama is frankly very serious.’’
  But Gingrich, accompanied by his wife, Callista, focused his attacks on Obama. He renewed his criticism of Obama as a president whose policies had increased dependency on government. He said his campaign would pit “the desire to be the best paycheck president in American history against the desire to be the best food stamp president in American history.’’
   “Barack Obama is the most successful food stamp president we’ve ever had,’’ Gingrich said. He said he wanted to “replace the safety net with a springboard, so everyone has a chance to pursue happiness.’’
   He said unemployment benefits should be tied to retraining for new jobs. "We should never again pay somebody 99 weeks to do nothing,'' he said. He called this "a profound failure."
 He criticized Obama for weakness in foreign affairs, and compared him to former President Jimmy Carter, who was routed by Ronald Reagan in 1980. He said Obama is “appeasing the elements that hate us,’’ and said the current situation in Egypt resembles Carter's response to the American hostage crisis. Egypt is putting a group of Americans on trial for funding violations involving non-government organizations. They are not in custody.
   Gingrich suggested that he could speak to the Egyptians firmly in his first day in office, and "all the hostages" would be returned to the U.S.
    Gingrich defended his proposal for a renewed space program, said he supported a radical revision of personal and business tax codes, and ridiculed the ineffectiveness of the federal government. He cited the efficiency of package-tracking by delivery companies. “One of my proposals is to send a package to everyone who’s here illegally,’’ Gingrich quipped. “When they get delivered, we can pull it up in the computer. We’ll know where they all are.’’
  He said his tax plan will bring in less revenue, leading to the need to cut government. “I will not be the tax collector for Barack Obama’s credit card,’’ he said. “My goal is to shrink the government to fit the revenues,’’ he added to a resounding ovation.
    The event brought out supporters such as Carolyn Christensen of Minneapolis and Shirley Overlin of Bloomington, who are impressed with Gingrich’s ideas and believe he is the strongest candidate to put up against President Obama.
    “He has the positive ideas about where to take the country,’’ said Christensen. “He’s pro-life, always has been, and he’s for smaller government.’’
    “He has the strength to oppose Obama,’’ chimed in Overlin.
   “He can take him out of the park,’’ agreed Christensen.
    The women accepted Gingrich’s explanation for his past marriages and do not believe that is an issue. “If he went the Lord and confessed, the Lord is not holding it against him, and we shouldn’t either,’’ said Overlin.
    Gwenda Lyn Warmbo of St. Francis said her friends in the transgender community wonder at her support of Gingrich. Warmbo said she was born a man but went through treatment and surgeries to become a woman while in her 50s. Now 60, she said she believes threat to the U.S. and its system of government are far more important than civil rights issues affecting her lifestyle.
   When two men began heckling Gingrich overe gay and lesbian rights during the speech, Warmbo was seeing confronting one of the men, apparently in defense of Gingrich.
    She said she is concerned about whether the U.S. will continue to enjoy living in a democratic system, or will be threatened by a Muslim theocracy or a dictatorship. “The survival of our government” is more important, she said, and she believes Gingrich has the ideas, intelligence and solutions that the country needs.
 “In Newt’s case, experience in government is a beneficial plus,’’ she said.

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