ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:
Hours after announcing his candidacy via Twitter, Newt Gingrich took to the airwaves tonight for the first time as an official presidential candidate, acknowledging the political landscape has changed since his last time in office 12 years ago when "Seinfeld," the Spice Girls and pagers reigned.
“A lot has changed, and I think for the country the fascinating thing is that there's a lot of principles that haven't changed,” Gingrich said on Fox News' Hannity show. “I think if you apply the right principles to achieve the right results, that we can win the future together. I don't think that having a president who applies the wrong principles and gets the wrong results is going to lead to winning the future.”
Gingrich credited his desire to be the next president to his family's commitment to “duty, honor, country,” the need to rid the country of liberal policies, and his dedication to citizenship.
“My job now is to recruit 310 million Americans to make very clear this is not one person in the oval office," he said. "This is about millions of Americans deciding that together we can win the future with the right policies leading to the right outcomes.”
Gingrich conceded President Obama will be tough to beat in 2012, saying the president will “say whatever he needs to to win” and will be aided by the mainstream media, left-wing billionaires, unions and the Hollywood crowd working to pump money into the billion-dollar Obama campaign.
“He can't afford to run in a fair election,” Gingrich said. “If he was on an equal playing field, he'd lose – on his record, on his values, on his beliefs.”
Gingrich has faced criticism of his own as media reports of his murky past have crept up in the lead up to his announcement, but the former speaker acknowledged he's learned from his past.
“If you're a conservative, you have to start with the assumption that you're not going to get an even break from the elite media,” Gingrich said. ”It's fair to say that I am more mature. I've had time to reflect on what worked and didn't work.”
Gingrich touted initiatives from his time as speaker of the House, from welfare reform to balancing the budget, and argued leadership experience equips him with the ability to bring the country back to economic prosperity with conservative principles.
“Left wing policies don't' work. If you look at the collapse of Detroit and the rise of Texas and you say to yourself which would you like better: the [state] that had the most job creation in America in 10 years or a city which has collapsed,” Gingrich said. “I know how to get the whole country to resemble [Texas]. President Obama knows how to get the whole country to resemble Detroit.”
Gingrich said he hopes to establish another “Contract With America,” and thinks the Gingrich presidency could balance the budget in five years.
As Americans feel the pain at the pump, Gingrich said he would “reverse Obama's entire pattern of being anti-American energy,” and push for immediate drilling in the U.S., exploration of shale gas and off-shore oil projects, and development of flex fuel cars.
On the foreign policy front, Gingrich commended Obama for making the tough decisions on Osama bin Laden while criticizing him for not taking a more forceful approach with Iran and Gadhafi in Libya and Iran.
“I think we need an American foreign policy based on American interests,” Gingrich said. “When the president spoke from the National Defense University about Libya, he cited the U.N. and the Arab League eight times and the U.S. Congress once. I think that's sort of the wrong cycle.”
Gingrich did not poke at any other potential 2012 Republican candidates but said he is keeping a steady eye on Obama.
“The only competitor I think about is President Obama,” he said.
- Arlette Saenz