(CNSNews.com) – Although he is skipping the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa this weekend, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich insists he has a substance-based campaign for the GOP presidential nomination that will garner deeper support as Americans realize the extent of the economic and social trouble in which the country is mired.
“I will continue to focus on substance,” Gingrich told CNSNews.com during a conference call on Tuesday. “I believe that substance in fact ultimately will be more and more important as people realize how much trouble we’re in and they’re going to look for real solutions, not just rhetoric.”
In the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Gingrich stands at 7 percent in a national Gallup poll (Aug. 4-7), running fifth place behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who is not yet in the race), Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Gingrich pointed out that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) skipped the Iowa Straw Poll in August 2007 and won the 2008 nomination. Meanwhile Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, and the yet-to-declare Perry are not participating in the straw poll this year, said Gingrich.
“Every candidate has got to make their own decision,” he said. “Our decision was that we have scarce resources, we’re going to spend them building to January. We’re going to compete when there are real delegates being chosen.”
When CNSNews.com asked Gingrich about his electoral viability, the former speaker pointed to an event last week sponsored by the Johnson County Republicans called the “Eastern Iowa Picnic and Rally to Meet the Next President” at the Clear Creek Amana High School.
Gingrich, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter were the only candidates to attend, according to the Johnson County local newspaper, the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
“I think of the people who have been active, if you go and look at the press reports of the Johnson County picnic Friday night -- where every single reporter from Fox News to the Des Moines Register to the local papers to MSNBC – every one of them said that with Pawlenty and two other candidates there that I clearly dominated the three of them and I clearly was the winner of that particular event,” Gingrich said. “And I think you will see that happening more and more as we get into substance.”
Gingrich introduced a new Tenth Amendment initiative to give more power to state and local government. He said he wants to push the proposal ahead given that the so-called super committee of six Democrats and six Republicans would be deciding on $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions – a creation of the recent debt deal between President Barack Obama and Congress.
“I think it’s doubly important now and the concept needs to be accelerated because this committee of 12 that is supposed to find trillions of dollars in savings – nobody in Washington is saying maybe a lot of the savings ought to be returning power back home,” Gingrich said in his introductory comments. “We want to get from the grassroots up a Tenth Amendment Enforcement Act designed, and we want to get the initial concepts this fall and try to drive them into the gang of 12 that is going to be meeting.”
CNSNews.com also asked Gingrich if he thought Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner should resign in light of the recent credit downgrade by Standard & Poor’s from AAA to AA+.
“I think he should resign, just as I think that there should be an audit of Ben Bernake’s entire role at the Federal Reserve,” Gingrich said. “But I think those are independent of the credit downgrade. I think what they have done, both of them, has been disastrous. I’m fascinated that we look to the same people following the same policies and wonder how we’re going to change things.”
“I see no evidence that the people – the powers that be – in Washington are prepared to rethink anything,” Gingrich added. “This is clearly a time when you ought to be taking very bold steps and, frankly, Congress ought to be called back in.”
“The president should be proposing big changes, but what we get out of the president are tiny tweaks and a commitment to class warfare,” said Gingrich. “He obviously prefers putting people on food stamps and keeping the rhetoric of class warfare to getting people on paychecks by changing his policies.”