2011-09-15 / Community
Presidential candidate talks in N.P.
Republican primary hopeful Newt Gingrich addressed supporters at Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park last week, just hours before participating in the GOP presidential primary debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
The former House Speaker’s one-hour speech at the church on Sept. 7 was followed by a short question-and-answer session with the mostly conservative, religious audience.
The last-minute appearance, scheduled the day before, preceded a televised face-off among the eight Republican candidates vying for their party’s 2012 presidential nomination.
“I’ve done some events with him around the country,” Rob McCoy, pastor at Calvary Chapel, said about Gingrich. “He was looking for a place to do a warm-up before the debates tonight. So we were asked (for a place) 24 hours ago.”
During the talk, Gingrich touted his accomplishments as a member of Congress from 1979 to 1999 and Speaker of the House for four years starting in 1995. He also criticized President Barack Obama’s leadership skills and listed his concerns about issues such as the economy and national security.
“The central question of the general election next year is going to be food stamps versus paychecks . . . almost 15 percent of the country is now on food stamps,” Gingrich said.
Concerning national security, Gingrich said the country is experiencing crises in its relationships with the Middle East and with Mexico and its drug war. He also questioned the country’s ability to compete with China and “other high-tech countries.”
“If we allow our education to keep decaying, if we allow our industrial base to keep decaying, we can’t possibly remain the No. 1 country,” he said.
Gingrich expressed views on several subjects that have made him popular among those in the Christian community.
“The federal judiciary is out of control. It is seeking to create a secular, anti-religious America,” he said.
After the speech, audience members expressed their own concerns about education, homeland security, business, homeownership and healthcare.
According to a survey led by the Center of Health Transformation, founded by Gingrich, $800 billion a year in the U.S. is spent on “defensive” medicine—the cost doctors must incur from defending themselves against malpractice lawsuits.
“Litigation reform alone could lead to enormous savings,” Gingrich said.
Many in the crowd applauded Gingrich’s comments.
“I didn’t know what kind of an audience we were going to have. But it seemed very civil,” McCoy said after the event.
Pat Zicarelli of Tarzana said he was impressed by what he heard from Gingrich.
“He is electable. He is a person for our time. Newt has leadership and vision,” he said.
Gerry Gill, who lives in Agoura Hills, said he was amazed with the candidate’s understanding of history and current issues.
“He seems to have a grasp on world affairs and the economy,” Gill said.
Others said they came to sup- port the election of a conservative administration and expressed dissatisfaction with policies of the current one.
“To me, the laws that apply to me should apply to everybody,” said Heather Holst of Newbury Park. “If healthcare is going to be ‘Obamacare,’ it should apply to all the politicians, too. Nobody gets a break from this.”
“I thought it was a very educational, enlightening talk that we need to hear in our country that’s in a very difficult situation politically, economically and spiritually,” said Ed Rosiek of Camarillo.
“Leadership is what our country is lacking right now,” he added.
But some criticized Gingrich’s inconsistency and lack of originality.
Mike Labadie of Ojai said the candidate gave “the typical Newt speech.”
“The talk was good, but the speeches are always good with politicians,” Labadie said.
“I’m very concerned with his past voting record when he was in Congress. He talks constitutional, but sometimes he doesn’t vote constitutional. So would he govern consistent with his speech? Questionable.”