“I don’t know who in the Obama White House thought the American people were so dumb that they couldn’t figure out that this was blatantly dishonest,” he said.
Saying that religious liberty matters, Gingrich turned to the controversy over memorial crosses in California.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the cross atop San Diego’s Mt. Soledad but did not order it removed, instead sending the case back to the trial court. It also ruled against the cross in the Mojave National Preserve, even though the land under it was transferred to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Gingrich did not mention that the Obama administration sided with the VFW when that case was argued in the Supreme Court. The court ruled the cross could stay, but it was stolen less than two weeks later.
“If you think, for example, that the cross in San Diego, the Mount Soledad cross, should be allowed to stay up, we want you to be with us,” he said, sparking loud applause. “If you think the 1934 VFW cross in the Mojave Desert ought to be put back up, then we want you to be with us.”
When he finished speaking, someone in the audience shouted: “Viva Newt!”
The first questioner wanted to know what the candidate was going to do for his wife, Callista, on Valentine’s Day. Gingrich said they would have a private dinner, hopefully exchange gifts and “reconnect a little bit,” which drew whoops from the crowd and led Gingrich to say: “No more details.”
He took a number of questions from the predominantly Latino crowd on immigration, reiterating his proposal to create a process that would have local boards determine whether long-term illegal immigrants could qualify for residence permits and calling for a guest worker program. He also said that he supported a narrow Dream Act that would not grant citizenship to immigrants who graduate from college, but to those who join the military. “I think it’s honorable to serve the country, and I think it makes it relatively easy,” he said, suggesting that college students could join ROTC.
When he finished, someone yelled: “Let’s go to the moon.” Gingrich, who has typically rolled out state-specific proposals, proposed establishing a colony on the moon when he was campaigning in Florida.