Gingrich visits UNCW: No plans to drop out, brings message for young voters

Chris Faircloth | The Seahawk

And then there were three. Rick Santorum has dropped out of the presidential race, leaving Newt Gingrich in second place for the Republican nomination, followed by Ron Paul in third, but they are both far behind the frontrunner, Mitt Romney, in both delegates and funding.

After his rally at UNCW last Wednesday, Gingrich told Jon Evans of WECT News his strategy for securing the nomination, despite lack of delegates.

“Between Santorum, Ron Paul and me, we have to get enough votes to stop Romney. If we do that we’ll go to an open convention,” said Gingrich. “At that point, the fact that most Republicans believe I’d be the best person to beat Barack Obama, I think is a huge advantage.”

That quote came almost a week prior to Santorum pulling out of the race. Now that only Paul and Gingrich stand against Romney, they will likely have a harder time getting to an open convention. Santorum’s drop out is sure to net Gingrich more of the “not-Romney” voters, but chances are it won’t be enough and Romney will win the nomination before the convention.

Though Gingrich has made no mention of dropping out of the race, he did imply that he would support the eventual Republican nominee.

“It’s a straightforward choice,” Gingrich told the UNCW audience. “Who is better for the American future: the Republican nominee or Barack Obama?”

Two major themes from Gingrich’s speech last Wednesday were American energy dependence from the Middle East and his proposal for a brain-science research initiative.

Gingrich said the USA has an untapped 115-year supply of natural gas, which he called an unlimited supply considering that in 115 years we will have new technology.

“We have got to become an innovative country again,” Gingrich said.

While his opinions on energy were already well-known, his emphasis on brain-science research came as somewhat of a surprise. Gingrich hopes his initiative can find cures for Alzheimer’s and autism and also improve treatments for concussions and mental disorders. Additionally, Gingrich stressed that finding cures for these ailments would save the country a lot of money.

“We spend billions on treatment and pennies on research,” Gingrich said.

The former Speaker of the House also suggested a switch to personal social security accounts, an idea likely to sit well with young people that pay into social security, but are unsure if the fund will still be around when they need it.

Following the rally, UNCW’s Teal TV was fortunate enough to land an interview with the candidate and asked him about the importance of young people voting.

“I think it’s very important … the decisions that are made are going to affect you your whole lifetime. Whether the decisions mean you end up in a war in the Middle East, whether the decisions mean you end up with $10-a-gallon gasoline or the decisions mean you end up paying huge amounts of interest on the debt which becomes a burden on your taxes for the rest of your life. So you have a lot at stake in your personal life with what happens politically.”

North Carolina’s primary is May 8, and if Gingrich intends to stay in the race our state can expect him back soon.