Gingrich rally left students with unanswered questions

“I want to talk to you today, particularly the young people, about where you’re at and the challenges your generation is facing,” said Newt Gingrich at his April 4 rally at UNCW’s Lumina Theater.

Gingrich’s speech, while opening with an address to students, quickly rehashed his campaign platforms. His main areas of focus were his lean six sigma management model, rising gas prices and proposing an energy independent America.

Gingrich also spoke about the North Carolina primary, saying, “It’s very important for North Carolina to send a signal that we want a conservative platform and we want a conservative campaign and we want to change Washington, not just manage it. I think you have a chance to actually send that signal when you have your primary.

“The change we need is more complicated than anybody in the traditional political system understands. It’s more complicated for one very simple reason: the world is changing very dramatically,” said Gingrich.

Students and community members going into the rally expressed interest in gaining an understanding on Gingrich’s policies and campaign.

“I feel like (his speech) was a lot of talk,” said student Shawnetta Wilson. “A lot of good ideas but I really didn’t get any answers about how certain things will be funded.”

“I came to see his speech because it is a great opportunity, seeing a political figure in our area,” said student Matt Faulkner.

“I attended the event because I wanted to learn more about the person I could possibly be voting for in the near future. This will be the first time I am able to vote, so I want to make sure I am educated on every person who is campaigning right now,” said student Meghan O’Donnell.

Others, like Ohio resident Paul Worley, a military veteran of 30 years, commented on Gingrich’s stance on veterans paying out-of-state tuition. “(Veterans and active military) should be able to go to college at the same expense as a resident,” said Worley.

Those attending the rally had also hoped to hear Gingrich speak on his controversial stance on the federal student loan program.

Gingrich plans on abolishing the program, saying that students spend too long in college, take less hours per semester and aren’t aware of tuition hikes.

“I think it’s completely the opposite,” said O’Donnell. “We completely understand (the student loan program) because we are left with the financial burdens after we graduate.”

“His position on student loans is absolutely ridiculous,” said student Brian Kurtz. “I work to pay for my college and I have to take student loans. The reason I have to take student loans is because the cost of tuition has gone up. I don’t see Newt Gingrich coming up with a plan to lower the price of college or basically eliminating student debt, I really don’t understand where his position is.”

Among those students polled, all of them answered that they paid for college by means of student loans, scholarships and help from their parents.

“I work 40 hours a week and I still couldn’t pay for school without loans,” said student Trevor Bradford.

Gingrich did say he would be in the race until the end. Also on April 4, Gingrich’s health care think tank declared bankruptcy.