By Bret Hayworth
Sioux City Journal
SIOUX CITY — GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Thursday said his ability to stand toe-to-toe with President Barack Obama is the reason people should caucus for him Tuesday night.
Gingrich, who flatlined in Iowa polling over the summer before enjoying a November resurgence, spoke about economic policies for most of his 35-minute Sioux City Convention Center campaign stop.
He predicted Obama will amass $1 billion in campaign funds, so the eventual Republican candidate will have to stand tough against a negative onslaught of ads and excel in debates too.
Obama “is going to run a relentlessly negative campaign,” the former U.S. House speaker said.
Gingrich also reiterated that he wants to have seven Lincoln-Douglas-style debates with Obama, mirroring the series of forums between U.S. Senate candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas across Illinois in 1858.
Gingrich drew many laughs when adding that he’d even allow the president to use a teleprompter in the debates.
One hundred people affiliated with area businesses attended the event, including Jim Keane, of Sioux City. Keane said he was upset with the Obama administration directing funding to the now-bankrupt Solyndra solar power company and for balking at helping advance the Keystone pipeline that could bring oil from Canada to America.
“We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it,” Keane said.
John Roost, who owns a motorcycle dealership and the Sioux City Explorers baseball team, described what he sees as a lack of verve among the 2012 Republican presidential candidates. Roost said he was at the Dec. 15 candidate debate in Sioux City and wasn’t impressed.
“I don’t see a passion that you’ve got to have,” Roost said.
Gingrich quickly responded.
“I’ve not met a single person who believes that,” he said.
Gingrich added that Iowans seem unified in wanting “desperately” to unseat Obama.
Before the Convention Center event, Gingrich visited a coffee shop then stopped at his downtown Sioux City campaign office.
Earlier, Fox News Channel broadcast an interview with the Rev. Cary Gordon, of the Sioux City church Cornerstone World Outreach.
Gordon said Gingrich should not be supported by Iowa conservatives for his soft stance on abortion. Gordon pointed to Gingrich in 1995 supporting federally-financed abortions for women who were victims of rape or incest.
In an interview, Gingrich said Gordon is misguided.
“I don’t know where he got his information from. My position is that life begins at conception, I had a 98.6 percent National Right to Life voting record. I helped twice pass the end of partial-birth abortion in the Congress, and it was vetoed by (President) Bill Clinton,” Gingrich said.