Newt Gingrich: Q&A

After addressing more than 600 students and community members in Scripps’s Garrison Theater on Feb. 3, former Speaker of the House and conservative luminary Newt Gingrich sat down with The Student Life for a brief Q&A.Travis Kaya, The Student Life: Why did you feel it was important to come to Scripps?Newt Gingrich: Partly because I had known the Malott family [who endowed the speaker series that brought Gingrich to Scripps] through the American Enterprise Institute, and I really felt a deep commitment to Bob Malott, and partly because I like the Claremont system. I’ve been out here before to Claremont McKenna and thought being here at Scripps would be fun, and it was.TSL: Are there any issues that you think in particular affect women in America today?NG: There are lots of them. Every issue affects women…because women are daughters and mothers and sisters and have all sorts of roles to play in life. But clearly, the economy affects women, the education system affects women, physical safety affects women. I would say that women have as deep an interest in how the system works as men do.TSL: You recently attended a new media event in New Hampshire. Do you think conservative candidates can harness the power of the Internet in the same way that Obama did in the last election?NG: Scott Brown raised $10 million on the internet. He did $1.3 million in one day. That strikes me as a good start.TSL: What is the biggest problem facing our generation, and what should we be doing to counteract that?NG: I think there are three questions that are universal that your generation and mine have to deal with: Who are we and what does it mean to be an American, is the first one. What do we have to do to compete successfully with China and India so that your generation is in a prosperous society that can afford to sustain national security? And third, who threatens us and what do we have to do to win to keep Americans safe? I think those three questions will define most of the rest of your lives.TSL: What would you say to students who are disillusioned by the partisan politics that are happening on Capitol Hill and on the cable networks?NG: Change it. That’s why [William R. Forstchen, Albert S. Hanser and I] wrote To Try Men’s Souls. [In the historical novel,] Washington’s down to 2,500 men—less than one for every 1,000 Americans. Of the 2,500 men, one-third do not have boots; they’re wrapping their feet in burlap bags and leaving a trail of blood as they march to Trenton. So when I have totally successful, relatively wealthy young people say to me, “Gosh, this is hard,” try marching nine miles in a snowstorm with no boots. Self-government is hard. It’s the hardest thing people do other than fight a civil war.TSL: What has been your overall impression of Scripps?NG: I love it. First of all, it’s beautiful. I’m here on a perfect California day. The students are clearly smart and clearly deeply engaged. And I like their courage. We had some very direct, very interesting conversations—both here in the big meeting, but also earlier I spent time with 20 students in a classroom setting. It was very impressive. There’s a very, very solid education underway.

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