By Emily Le Coz
TUPELO – Live coverage of the Newt Gingrich rally at the Tupelo Furniture Market. Check back for regular updates.
Dozens of Newt Gingrich supporters wave signs and chatter with excitement today while waiting for their candidate to arrive.
Gingrich, a GOP presidential candidate, was supposed to arrive at 3 p.m. at Tupelo Furniture Market’s Building Five, but it’s 3:15 p.m. and he’s still hasn’t showed.
Secret Service agents and local law enforcement swarm the room. Also present are representatives from numerous media outlets including CNN, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Politico.
The former speaker of the House is expected to rally his troops in advance of Tuesday’s primary election.
Still waiting on Newt….
More spectators and supporters have gathered. About 300-400 people now are gathered here. Some say they’re voting for Gingrich, others say they like him but aren’t sure they’ll cast a ballot for him.
“I don’t know if he’s the guy I’ll vote for or not, but I believe he’s the only one who can beat Obama,” said Dorsey resident Cindy York. “There’s something about Mitt that doesn’t fit and Santorum isn’t really able to do it.”
York named Ron Paul as her presidential candidate of choice but conceded he stands little chance of winning.
Resident Joe Gordon, though, said he’ll definitely vote for Gingrich because he’s a great debater.
“Obama is slick,” Gordon said. “He’s a talker who tells you whatever you want to hear. Newt can cut him off.”
Tupelo City Council President Fred Pitts introduces American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, who gets on stage and says a prayer. Wildmon then introduces Gingrich’s wife, Calista.
Calista Gingrich calls this the “election of a lifetime” and goes on to say that “our only opponent is Barack Obama, and we are committed to removing him from the White House.”
She then introduces the candidate.
Gingrich gets a rousing applause from the hundreds of people now gathered. Some of them chant, “Newt, Newt, Newt.”
The candidate smiles and says, “hi” before launching into his speech about how he’s the best candidate and this is the most important election ever.
Gingrich recalls his work in Washington under Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democrat President Bill Clinton and the numerous accomplishments he achieved. He said they put the country first.
He also said he has two strengths: “I can clearly articulate conservatism with conviction and can beat Obama in the debates. And when we win, I actually know what to do in Washignton to get our program enacted into law.”
President Barack Obama received a heap of criticism from Gingrich, who blasted his energy policy as a ploy to drive up gas prices.
He then gave a nod to U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., for his grilling of U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu last week. Under Nunnelee’s questioning, Chu admitted his goal wasn’t to lower gas prices but to wean America off of fossil fuel.
He said the president should sign the Keystone Pipeline bill, reopen the Gulf Coast for drilling and open up designated areas for drilling in Alaska.
“What’s the effect of all this drilling?” he says. “Since 2008, there has been a 11 percent increase in natural gas and price dropped from $7.97 per unit to slightly under $3. If you had that comparable breakthrough in oil, the price would drop to $1.13 per gallon.”
Now Gingrich blasts Obama for his foreign affairs records. He said the president apologizes to Islamic fanatics while attacking the Christian church.
“We do not today have the courage to stand up for Western civilization and the courage to tell the truth,” he said. “If you can’t tell the truth about who’s trying to kill you, you can’t develop strategies to defeat them. And that’s what we’re doing.”
This comment, as well as most others beforehand, received thunderous applause.
Gingrich talks about the U.S. constitution and how the idea of equality was radical in the 1770s. He also talked about the importance of God in the founding of America and the creation of the constitution.
But he said Obama and the Democrats are slowing eroding the foundation of the country and its guiding document.
“We believe everyone is allowed to dream their dreams,” he said. “But no one is guaranteed success. But the left is slowly crippling our ability to provide opportunity” with food stamps and dependency on the government.
Newt is done. Rally over.