ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:
Newt Gingrich returned home to Georgia Friday night to deliver his first major speech as an official presidential candidate. Gingrich, who served as a representative from the Peach State for 20 years, headlined the Georgia GOP Convention in Macon, Ga., presenting his quest to extend American exceptionalism, revitalize the economy, and redirect the foreign policy interests of the United States.
“The United States of America is in trouble and it needs every possible citizen to come to its aid if we are to remain the great center of freedom, the great developer of prosperity and the provider of safety to our citizens and our friends around the world,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich stressed the importance of focusing the election on policies and initiatives instead of personalities by reinforcing his achievements as speaker of the House and laying out his plans for economic revival and foreign policy.
Gingrich’s plan to reinvigorate the economy rests largely in tax cuts, specifically the elimination of the capital gains tax and the "death tax," setting the corporate tax rate at 12.5 percent, and allowing industries to expense all new equipment.
Gingrich criticized President Obama’s foreign policy positions, saying he “doesn’t understand the real world.”
“We have to fundamentally reset our homeland security and our national security policies building around American interests, to protect American lives, working with those countries that are truly our allies.”
The former speaker of the House acknowledged he doesn’t possess the deep pockets of some potential 2012 contenders but remained determined to conduct his campaign through outreach and the mobilization opportunities available through the Internet.
“I realize in trying to get from here to the nomination that I’m faced with some very fine people, and at least three of them could personally write checks for $60 million or more and not notice it,” Gingrich said. “Well, I want to report to you that while we’ve had a good few years out of office, they ain’t been that good and, furthermore, the kind of campaign I want to run isn’t about somebody writing a giant check.”
Gingrich will address the 150th commencement at Eureka College, the alma mater of President Ronald Reagan, on Saturday before engaging in a 17-stop tour in Iowa next week.
- Arlette Saenz