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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

NRA Convention Part Two: Gingrich, Santorum



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Newt Gingrich’s address to the NRA convention included all of his classic ingredients: wide-ranging anecdotes, a healthy serving of an American-history lesson, a sprinkling of good one-liners, and a length that comes awfully close to outlasting the attention span of his audience.

Gingrich began with a lengthy discussion of the American Revolution, noting that both before and after it, the British had great experience in putting down rebellions in Ireland and elsewhere. They had an effective strategy to suppress uprising from peasants and rabble and kill their leaders. But in America, they did not find rabble or peasants; they found free men.

“The Founding Fathers knew that without their guns, they would be slaves, and so they ensured that they could keep them, and that their children should keep them, so they would never fear that fate. It is a political right, of the deepest importance to the survival of freedom in America.”

“Virtually no left-wing politician left who believes that they can pass legislation that significantly restricts the right to bear arms. That’s the good news,” Gingrich said. “The bad news is, they didn’t quit. They’ve just moved to a stealth strategy.”

Without explicitly making a sales pitch for himself, Gingrich said, “this is why we need an American president who insists upon our rights.”

He then listed a series of executive orders he wanted to see enacted in January 2013. He began, “Imagine an executive order that simply abolished every White House czar, as of that moment,” a sentiment that triggered roaring applause. On Gingrich’s second dream executive order, some might call it a bit unrealistic: “Completely control the border within 90 days . . . if they say they don’t have enough resources, I’d say, ‘Take half the bureaucrats at Homeland Security, move them from Washington to the border, and you’ll be able to just line them up.’” The crowd ate it up, but the logistics of such a proposal seem . . . daunting.

During Gingrich’s speech, I noted that he rarely smiles that much when he speaks. He always seems concerned, incredulous, infuriated with the liberal policies he describes.

The second aspiring GOP presidential candidate to address the attendees was former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

He began by going after Obama directly, referring to a comment from him while discussing budget programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance: “What Barack Obama said was, ‘America was a better country with these programs,’ a reasonable position,” Santorum said. “But then he said, ‘I’m going to go one step further — America was not a great country until those programs were enacted.’ Think about that. Barack Obama said that prior to 1965, America was not a great country . . . Mr. President, you don’t understand America if you believe that.”

(The video and full quote from President Obama can be found here.)

Much of Santorum’s address dealt with his explicitly faith-based interpretation of the Constitution and America’s founding ideals: “Our Founders would never have signed off on this idea that freedom is doing whatever your desires are. They understood that freedom meant doing what you ought to do, doing what you are called to do . . . In Washington today, we have a group of politicians who do not believe in you. That’s the foundational issue in this election, which I believe will be most important election in the history of our country.”

Sanotrum ended with a full-throated attack on Obamacare, deeming its fate as directly tied to our national fate: “Obamacare changed who America is. If we don’t stop its implementation and repeal it, you will be the generation of Americans who left for the next generation a country our Founders would not know.”

The crowd was quiet for much of Santorum’s speech; it’s unclear whether they were rapt with attention or whether the impassioned, often quite religious talk of non-gun issues left them cold.


Tags: Newt Gingrich , Rick Santorum


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