Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich is greeted to a standing
ovation as he walks into the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse in Lawrenceville on Saturday.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- The last time Brandon Doty got to introduce Newt Gingrich to an audience, he was in high school and Gingrich was a congressman still years away from becoming speaker of the House.
On Saturday, Doty, the outgoing chairman of the 7th Congressional District Republican Party, knew he was introducing a possible presidential contender.
"I've always admired what he brings to the table," Doty said of Gingrich, who is exploring a White House bid.
Bringing a message of tax cuts and once again reining in government spending, Gingrich said places like New Hampshire aren't the only important communities for a presidential campaign.
"It feels good to be back," he said of the area he once represented in Congress. "If I do end up running, I want to win Georgia by the biggest possible margin."
During a speech at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse opening the district GOP convention, Gingrich blasted Democratic President Barack Obama for his approach to economic, environmental and foreign policy.
"I want to bring a message of hope and opportunity," he said. "At the beginning of 2013, we're going to have an opportunity to put America back on track."
Gingrich drew applause when he talked about abolishing White House czars and drilling for oil off America's shores.
"I think the conversation for the next year and a half needs to be, do you want to have a future that involves a paycheck or do you want a future that involves a food stamp?," he said. "We need a serious, honest policy debate, not a personality fight."
Doty said Gingrich's appearance displayed the role the GOP stronghold will play in the next election.
"What that means is we are a player. We are an important part of the conservative voice here in Georgia," he said. "Gwinnett and Barrow and Forsyth and Walton and Newton are going to help him get into the White House."
Ben Satterfield, a GOP activist, agreed about the areas' role in picking the party's nominee.
"I would vote for (Gingrich) in a heartbeat," he said, adding that he expects the 2012 primary to be a fight between the former speaker and Herman Cain, a former businessman and radio host from Georgia.
Debbie Dooley, a founder of the Tea Party Patriots, took the opportunity Saturday to talk to Gingrich about hopes to be even more aggressive with cuts and a frustration with current Speaker John Boehner.
"I think it's good that he is here in Georgia," he said. "It also shows Georgia is in play, very much in play."
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