Gingrich visits Newport Beach

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich promised to drive down the price of gasoline and change the culture in Washington during a Southern California fundraising tour that included stops in Newport Beach, Tustin and Pasadena.

He emphasized lower gas prices during his Monday night stop at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, according to an interview with the Orange County Register.

"I think we focus on very big ideas like $2-a-gallon gasoline, 4% unemployment, allowing young people to have personal Social Security savings accounts, and we rebuild our momentum," he told the newspaper. "We have to get past the brief Santorum boomlet, and another two weeks from now I think we'll be back in the hunt."

The former House speaker from Georgia mocked liberals and earned cheers during his Pasadena stop, when he laid out plans for a scaled-back federal government that would foster vigorous job growth.

Gingrich decried what he called "President Obama's war on the Catholic Church." The president recently eliminated a part of his health care plan that would have forced religious groups to provide health insurance covering contraception services.

Gingrich also blasted the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a recent decision finding a 43-foot cross displayed at a public park was an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. Gingrich slammed what he called a "bigoted, anti-religious court."

Before calling for tax cuts and more domestic oil exploration, Gingrich said, "Everything I'm about to talk to you about is doable, but not with the current Washington establishment."

He blamed President Obama, but added, "Frankly, some of the Republicans are not very helpful, either."

At another stop in South El Monte, Gingrich never mentioned his rivals, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.

Gingrich insisted he was sticking to talking about himself and what he believes is important to Californians.

"My big message is going to be more jobs and lower gas prices," the candidate told KTLA. "I think in California that should work reasonably well."

His visit comes as the National Review, a conservative publication, released this scathing opinion about Gingrich: "It would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee."

"I ignore them," Gingrich told KTLA, saying the National Review "for a long time has been an insider establishment group."

Gingrich hasn't had a win since South Carolina. Romney, meantime, won Maine on Saturday, and Santorum is seeing a surge after his three back-to-back wins.

The latest poll by American Research Group has Santorum leading Romney by six percent in Michigan — the next primary, and Romney's home state.

"Last Monday you would have said, what should Rick Santorum do? He came in fourth for three primaries in a row," Gingrich said. "He had a good Tuesday. Now he's the flavor of the week."

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