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March 31, 2011

Gingrich visits Salem, sounding every bit the candidate

SALEM — Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich sounded like a man preparing to make a presidential run when he took the stage last night at Salem State University.

Gingrich, who has been openly mulling a presidential bid, spoke on job creation, entitlement reform, his loathing of the Obama administration, and what the country needs to do to get back on track.

Gingrich stopped short of announcing a 2012 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, saying only that he is looking at his finances and talking it over with his wife. President Obama, he said, is ripe to be beaten.

"I think there's a good possibility he will be a one-term president," Gingrich said in a brief press conference before his one-hour speech in Salem. "Republicans need to show what the clear alternative is — if we can nominate someone who has clarity and conviction, we will probably win. As Margaret Thatcher said, first you win the argument, then you win the vote."

Gingrich took his best shot last night in front of what was a supportive, however less-than-sellout, crowd at Salem State's O'Keefe Center.

The former speaker spent the bulk of his speech lobbying for the United States to return to what he called the "incentive-based economy" that existed prior to the sweeping social reforms of the 1960s.

"We didn't say go West or we'll punish you. That goes against the American model. In periods where we were incentive-oriented, we were the most productive society in history," he said. "We have a fairly long history of creating jobs. It's a pretty simple principle: Reward job creation, make it expensive not to create jobs. ... Giving people money for doing nothing is fundamentally dangerous, because it teaches them to do nothing."

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