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Newt Gingrich speaks in front of veterans, students at the UNF University Center

By: Hali Harden, Contributing Writer


Military veterans and supporters were present Jan. 26 as Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made an appearance at a Veterans for a Stronger America rally held at UNF’s University Center seven hours before the CNN-hosted GOP debate took place on campus.


Gingrich discussed national security, necessary tactics the U.S. government should take to sustain it and what he feels the U.S. owes veterans, among other issues.


Gingrich said his ideas differ greatly from Obama’s on the topic of national security. He said there are issues that need to be discussed in greater detail than 10-second sound bites or 30-second commercials.


He expressed a need for serious national conversation on issues like health care and job creation.


He said he believed the potential threat to the U.S. government and freedom is high – adding that the most immediate threat is “Islamicism,” or Islamic fundamentalism.


“The fact is, there are people around the world who, for religiously upheld reasons, are prepared to kill us,” Gingrich said.


Gingrich also expressed a need for the government to invest more in the military, including better transitional programs, similar to the G.I. Bill, for young soldiers and more programs for veterans, such as Wounded Warrior.


Gingrich gained a number of loyal fans on the campaign trail. Kansas native Vicky Sciolaro and her daughter said they have traveled about 2,000 miles to follow the former House speaker. The media has nicknamed them the “Newt Tribe” in reference to their entire family’s support of Gingrich.


At the end of the speech, Gingrich asked the crowd for their help and support. One Gingrich supporter, Tommy Peacock, bellowed out, “You got it!”


“It encouraged the crowd, and it energized him,” Peacock said about his exclamation. “I want to see him go on with momentum.”


Email Hali Harden at [email protected].

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