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Gingrich speaks to students

March 22, 2012

Newt Gingrich, Republican Presidential hopeful and former Speaker of the House, addresses Tech about his campaign. In 1995 Gingrich became the first Republican Speaker of the House in 40 years. –Photo by Sumeet Shrestha

 

KELLY BELTON & KALEB CAUSEY
Contributing Editor & Staff Reporter

 

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich made a town hall-style stop by Tech’s campus Tuesday morning just days before Louisiana Republicans head to the polls for the state primary.

 

In an effort to clinch a victory Gingrich talked energy with Tech students, emphasizing that energy policy affects jobs, quality of life and national security. He outlined a vision of two roads: the current path under President Barack Obama and Gingrich’s path of energy independence.

 

“We don’t want a policy for your generation where we borrow from the Chinese to pay the Brazilians,” he said. “We want a policy where we produce energy in the United States, and we want Brazil to be our best customer.”

 

Gingrich included several proposals, including a Pell Grant type system for K-12 education and personal Social Security savings accounts. But most compelling to secondary education major Stephen Taylor was unemployment training.

 

“One of my proposals that will change your generation is to have a training requirement for all unemployment compensation, so if somebody signs up for unemployment, they’re also signing up for some kind of training program to acquire a new skill,” Gingrich said. “We’ve been giving people 99 weeks of unemployment compensation. That’s enough time to earn an associate’s degree, but we’ve been paying them to do nothing.”

 

Taylor, a first time voter, said he was interested to hear Gingrich speak since he has been following the race. As a Ron Paul fan, however, Taylor said his first vote would be cast for the doctor from Texas.

 

“It’s exciting. I’ve always been involved and care about politics,” he said, but noted he was not sure Paul could get the GOP nomination. “I really feel like Romney’s going to pull out the nomination.”

 

Political observers believe that for the first time in 36 years, the Louisiana Republican Primary could be a defining moment in the race for the Republican nomination. In past Republican Primary election cycles, a clear winner had already been determined before the Louisiana primary. In 2008, Sen.

 

John McCain had obtained the nomination before reaching Louisiana, though Mike Huckabee won the Louisiana primary. A similar situation occurred during former President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign.

 

“You have to look all the way back to Reagan and Ford in 1976 (to find an exception),” said Jason Doré, executive director of the Republican Party of Louisiana.

 

“That’s the last one that I can remember historically.”

 

Gingrich, Paul, Rick Santorum and the current leader in delegates, Mitt Romney, are the four candidates on the ballot in Louisiana, though none could be called the frontrunner.

 

In the past, candidates were getting all of the delegates for a state by winning it.

 

Due to a recent change by the state Republican parties, now a candidate has to win with at least 50 percent of the votes to get all delegates. If no one obtains 50 percent, the delegates are divided amongst the candidates on the ballot.

 

Similar to the 1976 Republican primaries with Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, the 2012 ballot contains different types of Republicans. Some of the candidates are extremely conservative toward most issues, while others are a bit more moderate.

 

“The candidates are each representing the different aspects of the Republican Party,” said Lauren Vizza, president of the College Republicans. “They are each from a different background, backed by different age groups and really focus on certain issues that they are strongest in.”

 

With no more planned primary debates, campaign stops like Gingrich’s might be the candidates’ last hope for garnering support.

 

“Whoever wins the Republican nomination will have gone through the fire and will be ready for whatever the Obama campaign throws at them in the general election,” Doré said.

 

Email comments to ktc013@latech.edu or keb003@latech.edu.

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