Gingrich says tea party key to 2012 GOP majority

July 12, 2011

THOMAS BEAUMONT, Chicago Tribune

PELLA, Iowa—GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said in Iowa Monday that fellow Republicans will have failed next year if they take back the White House without winning over tea party activists around the country.
The former U.S. House speaker resumed his struggling campaign in Iowa with a light schedule of appearances. However, Gingrich said he had no plans of leaving the race, despite having lost most of his national and Iowa campaign staff last month over disagreements about strategy.
“I see our campaign as being at the convention in August of next year,” Gingrich told reporters after speaking to an audience of about 75 at Pella Christian High School.

Gingrich said whoever the Republican presidential nominee is will not be able to turn back accomplishments of the Democratic Obama administration without winning big congressional majorities.

And that would require a lasting alliance between the GOP and tea party supporters, he said.

“The challenge for the Republican leadership is to bring the tea parties and the Republican Party together for the purpose of not just defeating Obama,” Gingrich said. “If all we do is defeat Obama and then our next president presides over Obama’s disasters, then we haven’t changed things. We will have just slowed the rate of decay.”

Republicans, who control the U.S. House but not the Senate, need to gain 30 to 40 House seats and 12 Senate seats to control the agenda, including an effort to repeal the health care law enacted by Obama last year, Gingrich said.

Gingrich’s campaign in Iowa, where the 2012 caucuses begin the nominating sequence, has been reduced to a volunteer group in light of the wholesale national and Iowa staff resignations. Gingrich’s former Iowa campaign director Craig Schoenfeld is now leading the campaign in Iowa to draft Texas Gov. Rick Perry to enter the Republican field.

Gingrich’s only public events Monday were sponsored by The Family Leader, a Christian-based advocacy group. The events included a speech and question session in Pella and later in Iowa City. Gingrich attended no public events during the one-day Iowa visit put on by his own campaign.

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