RENO — In his first appearance since a defiant speech following a loss in the Florida Republican primary Tuesday, Newt Gingrich stumped at the Great Basin Co. in Reno on Wednesday, outlining his path to victory as the conservative nominee ahead of Saturday’s Nevada Caucus.
“All of us are committed to defeating Obama,” Gingrich told an audience of hundreds, eliciting perhaps the loudest cheers of the day.
The former Speaker of the House then pivoted to his archrival in the Republican presidential field, frontrunner Mitt Romney, describing the nomination process as a “fundamental debate” for the future of the party.
“We’re going to pit people power versus money power in this campaign,” Gingrich said, a veiled argument attacking the millions of dollars in negative advertising spent by Romney supporters in Florida.
Gingrich also sought to claim the conservative mantle, blasting Romney for supposed moderate and liberal political positions.
And, in a nod to the influence of the 24-hour news media, Gingrich criticized Romney for statements the former Massachusetts governor made Wednesday morning about wanting to focus on the middle class rather than the wealthy or poor.
“I’m concerned about all American people,” Gingrich said.
Whereas many candidates resort to platitudes and applause-lines at campaign rallies, saving the wonky policy talk for the debate arena, Gingrich spelled out his goals and intentions upon assuming the White House.
He pledged to repeal “Obamacare,” scrap the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill and abolish any federal job title with the word “czar” in it.
Gingrich also said he would issue executive orders establishing an American embassy in Jerusalem and granting the development of the Keystone XL pipeline.
In the tax reform arena, Gingrich said he wants to do away with the capital gains tax on investment earnings and implement a flat tax rate of 15 percent for all Americans and 12.5 percent for corporations.
Always full of bravado, Gingrich spoke with the kind of exultation and grandiosity his reputation is built on. While his style is a turn-off to many in the Republican establishment, it tends to appeal to the evangelical base and Tea Party wing Gingrich is relying on to make a comeback.
“He’s the only (candidate) with a backbone and a brain,” said Norman Westgate, a military veteran and restaurant owner from Fallon.
Westgate described Romney as a “sailboat,” a new take on the flip-flopper label that dogged Democrat John Kerry’s presidential bid in 2004.
Though Gingrich sometimes thrives in public settings, where he is able to proffer his ideas for a conservative political resurgence, he often gets himself into trouble by promising too much.
Case in point: Gingrich asserted to Nevada caucus voters that if elected president, he would lower gas prices and make Christmas better for everyone this year.
Not all campaign promises can be kept.
In closing, Gingrich once again took on a populous tone, exhorting those listening to not only vote for him, but to also be a part of the campaign.
“My request to each and every one of you is to be with me,” he said.
Nevada’s registered Republican voters will choose sides on Saturday.