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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Newt Gingrich signs autographs after his remarks at Rivier Monday.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich leaves Rivier College after a morning campaign appearance Monday, November 21, 2011. Gingrich spoke to local business leaders and students in the Dion Center.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Newt Gingrich arrives at the Dion Center at Rivier College Monday, November 21, 2011. Gingrich spoke to local business leaders and students in the Dion Center.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Sy Mahfuz, owner of the Persian Rug Gallery in Nashua, asks a question during the Q and A portion of Newt Gingrich's campaign stop at Rivier College Monday, November 21, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Newt Gingrich spoke to local business leaders and students in the Dion Center at Rivier College in Nashua Monday, November 21, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Newt Gingrich at Rivier College Monday, November 21, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Newt Gingrich leaves Rivier College Monday, November 21, 2011.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gingrich strikes familiar chords during talk at Rivier College

NASHUA – Newt Gingrich struck a familiar chord in his campaign Monday morning, saying that the “supercommittee” charged with finding $1.2 trillion is doomed to failure.

“I think it’s going to fail. I think it should fail,” Gingrich said.

Speaking to roughly 200 people at Rivier College, the Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. House speaker said the committee’s collapse “will be good for America.”

In a 40-minute appearance, which included a talk and question-and-answer session, Gingrich called the supercommittee one of many “dumb ideas” percolating out of Washington, D.C. A better approach would be for every congressional committee to target cuts within its area of oversight, Gingrich said.

Gingrich said the system of government isn’t responsible for the gridlock that pervades Washington. It’s that the players now in Washington are “inherently gridlocked,” he said.

Balancing the budget and reforming welfare in the mid-1990s was a bipartisan effort, Gingrich said, adding, “If Bill Clinton hadn’t been there to sign the bills, that reform wouldn’t have happened.”

Gingrich and the former Democratic president, though often political enemies, are generally credited with working together to limit welfare, pass the first-ever capital gains tax cut and pass the first balanced federal budget in decades.

Later in the day, the deficit-reduction supercommittee announced it failed to reach a deal.

Gingrich’s appearance was part of Rivier’s presidential candidates forum, and a number of candidates have been invited to speak in the days leading up to the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary.

Gingrich joked about the multitude of appearances candidates make in New Hampshire, saying that only after he’s been here “11 times” could he ask for residents’ vote.

The Rivier College appearance was billed as a forum for Gingrich to talk about entitlements, but his address was more general. He mentioned entitlements largely in the context of touting his success in leading welfare reform. In response to a question, he cited that success along with balancing the federal budget as factors that distinguish him from other GOP contenders.

Other factors are the “scale and magnitude” of his vision and his strength as a debater, Gingrich said. Which candidate would you prefer to see debating President Obama next October, Gingrich asked the partisan audience.

Encouraging technology and innovation is the key to growing jobs and turning around the nation’s economy, Gingrich said.

The current administration’s spendthrift approach resembles a 16-year-old who had been issued his first credit card, Gingrich said.

The Rivier College officials who moderated Gingrich’s appearance alternated questions between local business leaders and students, though there were far fewer of the latter in the audience.

Student C.J. Becker of Nashua asked what Gingrich would do to help young people graduating from college in debt from student loans and with bleak prospects for finding jobs.

The plight of students graduating into debt and unemployment is part of the reason for his “aggressive” approach for creating jobs by lowering the tax and regulation burden on businesses, Gingrich said.

That approach includes eliminating capital gains taxes, reducing corporate taxes to 12.5 percent and offering people the choice of not filing deductions but paying a 15 percent flat tax, Gingrich said.

Nursing student Stephanie Gagne of Lewiston, Maine, noted that Gingrich converted to Catholicism within the past several years. She asked what effect his new faith would have on how Gingrich would govern.

The most impressive thing about Catholicism is that “it imprints on your heart a genuine concern for the poorest among us,” Gingrich said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.