By Geoff Pender, McClatchy Newspapers –
GULFPORT, Miss. — Newt Gingrich told a Gulfport campaign rally crowd he was more than an hour late Friday because he detoured his campaign bus to film a Mississippi natural gas rig so he could show it to President Barack Obama.
He said Obama has many times said more domestic drilling will not work to lower energy costs in America. Recently, Gingrich said, in the same speech Obama said more drilling will not work, but then went on to extoll the virtues of natural gas.
“He says there’s this tremendous revolution in natural gas, and that in the next decade we will create 600,000 jobs from natural gas,” Gingrich said. “Now I ask all of you … Where does the president think natural gas comes from? … It comes from drilling. So we went out today — they’re working on it on the bus right now — and made a film of a drilling rig in Mississippi to introduce the president to how they find natural gas.”
The crowd appeared to forgive him his tardiness, giving him many loud ovations and rising to its feet several times as Gingrich focused on Obama, “the best food-stamp president in American history” and never mentioned his GOP rivals.
His wife, Callista, introduced him to the crowd at the Gulfport High School Auditorium Friday, saying, “Our only opponent is Barack Obama and we are committed to removing him from the White House.”
Much of his speech was focused on domestic drilling and energy independence.
If elected, Gingrich said, he’d push for drilling enough oil and gas in America “so that no American president will ever again bow down to a Saudi king.”
Gingrich showed his history professor background as he quoted the Declaration of Independence and explained the personal sovereignty he said is the “heart of America.”
“Unalienable rights means no judge, no bureaucrat and no politician can come between you and God,” Gingrich said.
He repeated many of his campaign themes, including his promise to bring gas down to $2.50 a barrel, maybe less he said, once more domestic drilling is begun and the law of supply and demand takes over.
He chided Obama over recent “algae” comments.
“He’s done this three times now, and again a little bit in a press conference,” Gingrich said. “He says that anybody who tells you they’ll bring gas down to $2.50 a gallon doesn’t know what they’re talking about … Then he gives us his solution. Anyone here remember what that is?”
Many in the crowd responded: “Algae.”
“Here you have President Obama’s solution to high gas prices — algae,” Gingrich said. “Just pull up to the gas station and say ‘I need two gallons of algae’ and you’ll be ready to go. I want to have a debate this fall with president algae versus president drilling.”
Friday was Gingrich’s second day in Mississippi ahead of Tuesday’s primary. He had rallies in Meridian and Ellisville before coming to Gulfport. His campaign has said winning the Deep South states of Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday are do-or-die for his campaign.
Dueling polls were released Friday. One, by Rasmussen, showed Mitt Romney in the lead, with 35 percent, with Gingrich and Rick Santorum tied at 27 percent. Another, by American Research Group, showed Gingrich in the lead with 35 percent, Romney at 31 percent and Santorum at 20 percent.