LAWRENCEVILLE -- In 1980, Newt Gingrich worked on a set of GOP promises that lead to the party winning the U.S. Senate.
In 1994, his Contract with America allowed Republicans to take over Congress and vaulted him to Speaker of the House.
Now, Gingrich hopes his new 21st Century Contract with America will bring momentum to his presidential race and take the former congressman all the way to the White House.
"We want to fundamentally reshape the American government," Gingrich said during a campaign stop at the Gwinnett Daily Post on Monday.
In that vein, he called, from Lawrenceville, for President Barack Obama to fire his Energy Secretary Steven Chu over the controversial Solyndra deal, where the U.S. government gave $535 million to the now-bankrupt solar energy company.
"This is, at best, an act of total incompetence," Gingrich said, adding that he would abolish the energy department in his own administration but would start, at least, by firing the secretary, after reports that the White House knew about the company's problems before visiting it a year ago.
Touting his new Contract, which outlines a legislative agenda, executive orders he vows to sign his first day in office and a process for Americans to give ideas, Gingrich said the plan could give him the boost that his campaign needs.
"I do think ideas matter," said the man who formerly represented Gwinnett in Congress. After struggling through the summer, Gingrich said his campaign has seen a surge in September, after a series of debates where he performed well. "I've tried to build a campaign that starts with substance ... and then moves to slogans."
Gingrich's first legislative priority, according to the 21st Century Contract with America, is to repeal Obamacare. Second is to help job creation with a set of tax cuts and regulatory reforms, and third involves energy. Other tenets include saving Medicare and Social Security, balancing the federal budget, controlling the border, national security, medical breakthroughs, reining in the judicial branch and enforcing the Tenth Amendment.
A year from now, Gingrich wants to challenge Obama to a series of Lincoln-Douglas-style debates, where there would be a timekeeper but no moderator.
But first he has to get through a crowded field of Republican candidates.
Gingrich spoke highly of his competitors, especially fellow Georgian Herman Cain. He added that he is engaging a strategy similar to Walmart, where he is building his own market instead of worrying about what the others are doing. He called the bickering between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry "bad strategic advice."
"This is real. This is not a game," he said. "The ox is in the ditch, and some of these people are throwing snowballs at each other."
Here is what Gingrich said of the candidates, when asked to give a word on each.
Perry: "Very sincere."
Michele Bachman: "Enthusiastic."
Ron Paul: "Determined."
Gary Johnson: "Interesting."
Jon Huntsman: Extraordinarily bright."
Rick Santorum: "Very patriotic."
Gingrich said he would not mind if former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gets into the race, and he said the possible entrance of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would have little impact on his strategy. "We'd have to have one more space (at debates), and a real big one," he said, adding that he admires the politician.
What could change things, though, is the recent decision of Florida and a handful of other states to have early primaries despite a pledge from the party to cut its delegates at the national convention.
"It's going to be a mess," Gingrich said. "It requires us to rethink December."
The change could mean that Georgia plays a key role in deciding the GOP presidential candidate on Super Tuesday, he added, and could stretch the campaigning all the way to the convention.
"Everyone would have an incentive to stay in," he said, adding that political turn of events hasn't happened since 1952. "That would be pretty wild."