TAMPA—Newt Gingrich used the specter of America’s least popular Democratic president in more than a generation to suggest that President Obama, like Jimmy Carter, deserved to be booted out of office after a single term.
Gingrich, the former House speaker, appeared on the convention stage alongside his wife, Callista — a rare format for the convention if not unusual for the Gingriches. The pair alternated lines.
Gingrich, forced from the primaries by the man on whose behalf he was criticizing Obama, said the Democrat had diminished the United States’ standing in the world, crippled the domestic production of energy, blunted bipartisan compromise, increased the size of government and failed to enact economic policies that would make the nation prosperous again.
“It’s striking how President Carter and President Obama both took our nation down a path that in four years weakened America’s confidence in itself and our hope for a better future,” Gingrich told thousands of delegates and other guests on the last night of the Republican National Convention.
Gingrich and Mitt Romney had a bitter rivalry during the GOP primary, with Gingrich lashing out at Romney, accusing him of buying the election, and calling him a liar. After Gingrich dropped out of the race, he endorsed Romney.
Overall, the Gingriches remarks to delegates were far more focused on the legacy of President Reagan than on Romney, who will formally accept the GOP nomination later tonight. They mentioned the late president 16 times, and the nominee four times.
“Remembering President Reagan reminds us that the choices we make matter, and this year is as important as the choice we made in 1980,” Callista Gingrich said.
The couple hailed Reagan for restoring the economy, reviving the nation’s spirit and spreading democracy around the globe, and said Romney’s plans for making North America energy independent and helping the middle class were rooted in Reagan’s philosophy.
“Now each of us must commit ourselves in the tradition of Ronald Reagan to come together. President Reagan said, ‘There is no substitute for victory.’ And this November, we cannot settle for anything less,” he said to applause. “This is the most critical election of our lifetime. Each of us must do our part now to ensure that America remains, in the tradition of President Reagan, a land of freedom, hope and opportunity.”