Ed. Note. Gingrich announced he was a candidate on May 11 via Twitter and Facebook (5:14 p.m.):

Today I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States. You can watch my announcement here. [video]. 

That evening he discussed his candidacy on Sean Hannnity. 

This speech, delivered on May 13 in the state where he served 20 years as a congressman, is effectively his announcement speech.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich
Georgia Republican Party Convention
Macon Centreplex
Macon, GA

May 13, 2011

Well first of all thank you all very, very much.  I am delighted to be home, delighted to be with very many old friends who go back a long way.  You know I was reminded recently of how long I've been doing this when I went into the American Solutions office and there was a nice young intern there and I said to him you look very familiar; have we met?  And he said no, but my father was a page for you.

So I look out at a lot of friends here who go back for a very long time.  I walked in a while ago and saw Emma Hinsley [phon.] and was reminded that she and I first started campaigning I think in 1973 together.  The only thing I would disagree with [name] is—excuse me I have allergies and it sometimes gets a little [inaud.]—but the only thing I would disagree with Randy's generous introduction about was I suspect most of you, at least the ones I was talking to getting pictures, don't think of me as Mr. Speaker.  I think most of you think of me as Newt, and I suspect we ought to keep it that way.

I don't know whether or not we can elect Speaker Gingrich, but I'll bet we can elect Newt.  [Sneeze, excuse me]  I did decide, Callista and I decided after long consultation with our family and spending really a year thinking about it, that I would run for president. 

And we made that decision, I think for the most profound reason.  The United States of America is in trouble, and it needs every possible citizen to come to its aid if we are to remain the great center of freedom, the great developer of prosperity, and the provider of safety to our citizens and to our friends around the world.

And I think the challenges we face are so large that it requires leadership of an unusual kind.  I don't believe that any one person in the Oval Office can make a decisive difference.  I believe there are 300 million Americans who have to be recruited, educated, convinced, led to work together so that all of us putting our shoulder to the wheel can make a decisive difference.  And I believe the gap between where the people in this room and the vast majority of the people of Georgia would take America and where President Obama would take America is so enormous that this will be the most consequential election since 1860. 

I believe we are at a crossroads.  Down one road is a European centralized bureaucratic socialist welfare system in which politicians and bureaucrats define the future.  Down the other road is a proud, solid reaffirmation of American exceptionalism, an insistence that we hold these truths to be self evident, a commitment that we are all equal and that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.

This is the boldest, most radical statement about political power in human history.  Our Founding Fathers asserted in the Declaration of Independence literally that power comes from God to each one of you personally.  You are personally sovereign and you loan power to the government, the government does not loan power to you.

So the first great choice will be between a Obama administration which believes that politicians define the future, that bureaucrats implement the future and that we are merely subjects who are supposed to do what the government instructs us to do.  In a Gingrich administration, which asserts proudly that we are Americans, that we are a free people, the power starts at home, is vested in the citizen, that we are going to enforce the 10th Amendment, that we are going to shrink government in Washington dramatically and we are going to return to a country that believes in the work ethic, in opportunity, in freedom and in every American having a chance to pursue happiness without being dictated to by bureaucrats, politicians and judges.

Callista and I believe in this so deeply that we have launched three parallel projects.   We have just completed a movie, A City Upon a Hill, which outlines in detail what American exceptionalism means.  On June 14th I'll have a book coming out called A Nation Like No Other, which outlines for historians, for people who want a deep, in-depth understanding of what American exceptionalism is, not only where it came from, why its important, but how you would apply it in policy terms.  And in September Callista's bringing out a book for 1st and 2nd graders called Sweet Land of Liberty, which is Ellis the elephant introducing children to American history by taking them to key events, starting with the Pilgrims and other events. 

And the reason we're doing all three of these is we want to make very clear to the American news media, which would desperately like to avoid this debate, that we're prepared to take on the pseudo-intellectuals of the left on the core definition of the nature of America, and we're going to do it not based on conservative ideology, not based on philosophy but based on the accurate historic representation of the Founding Fathers and on the concept that we hold these truths to be self-evident, and so that's going to be a key centerpoint of our campaign and we're going to say to everyone in America, of every background, in every neighborhood, of every ethnic group if you believe in America as a unique place then we want you to be on our side and we want to work with you to make sure that we continue to be a special place.

At the same time we're going to say you know if you really think a European model where you're passive, subjugated to the bureaucracy, dependent on the politicians, limited by the political structure, you have a party and you should be for Obama because that's what he believes.

I think that if you listened earlier to Representative B.J. Pak he gave you a sense of this.  And one of the things we're going to have—I would urge all of you when you go home tonight if you want to help me, go on an e-mail, go on Facebook, go on Twitter and tell all of your contacts around the country to go to newt.org—it's really simple, my first name dot org—and to sign up.  It's literally that easy.  And one of the sections that we're going to roll out in three or four weeks is going to be a section for first generation of Americans, because I find everywhere I go in the country that some of the people who best understand American exceptionalism are people who have come here for the very first time because they've lived the contrast between American opportunity and what the rest of the world is like.  And B.J. Pak tonight illustrated that, and we're thrilled and I hope maybe he'll be one of the folks who helps us launch first generation Americans talking about American exceptionalism, so that frankly our children can learn.

You know folks often talk about immigration.  I always say that to become an American citizen immigrants ought to have to learn American history.  But maybe [inaud.] a voting standard that says to vote as a native born American you should have to learn American history.  Do you realize how many of our high school graduates, because of decay of the educational system, couldn't pass a citizenship test?

Now America is a cultural memory.  It's only one generation deep.  And so we stand at a crossroads.  If we lose this fight and we have four more years of radical left-wing values imposed from Washington this country will be dramatically weakened—the fabric of our society will be weakened, our economy will be weakened—and we will be in really deep trouble.

But if we win this fight, particularly if we win it on a principled policy basis, not personalities but policies, the American people faced with these two choices decisively choose a future of American exceptionalism, decisively choose a future of greater opportunity, decisively choose a future with the work ethic, then I think we will do very, very well.

The second thematic, let's just bring it back home to Georgia, what would a program of jobs for Georgians look like?  What would a program of jobs for Americans look like?  A let me tell you, the reason I think we have to focus on this is very straightforward.  Because we're a free society America only works when Americans are working.  People have to have a job.  The most important social welfare program in America is a job, and nothing replaces it as the center of how you get to a healthy country. 

I started the day talking to Art Laffer's conference in Washington—some of you remember that Laffer invented the Laffer curve which basically says there's a point in taxation where you start losing revenue because you raise taxes too much—and I was really struck talking to Art Laffer.  Art Laffer, Jude Winesky, Jack Kemp, a number of other people including me in the 1970s developed what was called supply side economics, which is actually a return to general economics in a pre-Keynsian model.  And part of what it said was if you want economic growth, you incentivize it; if you want more jobs, you incentivize it; if you want to encourage people to go out and take risks you incentivize it.  And it was a pretty straightforward model. 

In 1980 Ronald Reagan campaigned on that.  Now remember [in] 1980 we had 13 percent inflation, 22 percent interest rates, we were rationing gasoline every other day based on the last number of your car license tag, and we were sliding into the worst recession between the Great Depression and the Obama recession.  And at that point Ronald Reagan came along.  All the left-wing intellectuals wanted to do more of the stuff that was making us sick. 

And at that point Ronald Reagan came along, and he had a program that's very simple.  Dramatic reduction in taxes to incentivize people economically.  Dramatic reduction in regulations to make it easier to create jobs.  And being proud, happy and positive about business owners, whether they're small business owners, they're brand new start-ups, they're big companies, but saying you know if you go out every day and you take the risk and you create a job, I'm proud of you.  Now this is the opposite of the Obama model.

Remember the Obama economic model was illustrated when he went to Brazil recently.  Having stopped all American drilling for oil and gas offshore, he had the nerve to go to Brazil and say to the Brazilians, I am proud that you're developing oil and gas offshore.  In fact, I'm proud that we have loaned you several billion dollars to buy equipment, by the way for a company owned by George Soros.  And then he showed you how totally out of touch with the real world he is when he said, we want to be your best customer.  First of all he has a model that says we're going to borrow from the Chinese to pay the Brazilians.  Now that model's not going to work economically.  But second, we need a president who goes around the world and says I want you to be our best customer.  We need a president who says, I want to sell you American products.

I outlined this morning, and it will presently be posted at newt.org, an entire economic program.  I'm not going to go into all of it in detail, but I do want to share with you the tax component.

First, we freeze all the current taxes so nobody is faced with the danger of taxes going up in 2013, because if we do not freeze the taxes, we will get to an investment freeze about June of next year as everybody waits to see what the tax code's going to be, and we will actually increase the likelihood of going into a second, deeper recession.  And if we go into a recession from 9 percent unemployment, we have real problems.

Second, there are four tax cuts—and I'm going to be absolutely open about this, I am looking forward in October of next year to debating President Obama about it.  I am happy to have a long distance debate with the White House from now 'til then.  I stand for tax cuts designed to increase the number of jobs in the United States by incentivizing the people who create jobs.  President Obama believes in an America where we make the rich poor in order to get to equality by leveling down.  I believe in an America where we make the poor rich so we get equality by getting everybody up.  It is a fundamental difference. 

And my goal is to get back to where we were when I left the speakership.  Because we cut taxes, and we had the largest capital gains tax cut, it was the first tax cut in 16 years, the largest capital gains tax cut in history according to Art Laffer, we got from 5.6 down to under 4 percent employment about a year after I left office.  Now if we moved from 15 percent, which is the current U-6 number of unemployed, underemployed and quit looking for work, if we got those folks back in the job market and we got down to 4 percent unemployment, the number of people you would take off of food stamps, off of unemployment, off of Medicaid, and you would put them back to work earning a living, paying their own way and paying taxes, that is the biggest single step towards a balanced budget that you can take because you're lowering costs and raising revenue simtaneously.

So as a first step of moving back to dramatic economic growth I would have four major tax cuts. 

One, the correct capital gains tax rate is zero.  If we had no—  Just think about it.  Everybody tells you we're in a world market, and we are.  Fine.  Okay so all over the world there are people with capital; they want to build something; they want to make money for the future, they'd like to create a new company, they'd like to build a new factory.  If they woke up one morning and the U.S. capital gains tax rate was zero, can you imagine how much capital would flow into the United States in order to create new jobs?

Second, the correct corporate tax rate is the Irish tax rate of 12.5 percent.  The reason goes back to the Laffer curve.  We currently have the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  Which means guess what?  Corporations don't pay it.  I mean theoretically this is terrific.  You know Obama's up there, he's really socking it to the big companies.  He is so effective at socking it to the big companies that General Electric last year paid zero.  Now why did they pay zero?  Because at 35 percent it was worth their while to hire 375 tax lawyers, the largest tax department in the world, gets up every morning at General Electric and says what are the loopholes to allow us to avoide the taxes?  And I don't blame General Electric; I blame a tax code that is so destructive that it rewards the behavior of not paying the tax.   So I want to find the corporate tax rate at which they will lay off the lawyers and pay the government.  Because it'll be cheaper to just pay the tax than it will be to avoid it.

Third, we must go to 100 percent expensing for all new equipment.  This is a  big deal for farmers; it's a big deal for business.  You should be able to write off all new equipment every year in 12 months and that will—  The goal is very straightforward.  We want the American worker to be the best equipped, the most modern, the most productive worker in the world.  We want the American machine tool industry to have every incentive to be the most modern and the most effective in the world. 

Here's a great shock.  Germany pays 50 percent more for manufacturing labor than we do, and they today have their lowest unemployment rate in 19 years because they have a govenment that actually works on exports.  They have a government that actually favors jobs.  They have a government that actually wants people to go to work. 

So one of my pledges is that we will appoint as the U.S. Trade Representative a trial lawyer.  And we want somebody who has the right kind of personality that they can fly into Beijing every Monday looking for a fight.  And we simply want to teach the Chinese, glad you came into the big leagues, now we're going to show you what the big leagues are really like and we're going to fight for every sale around the world to maximize American industrial production and American job production.

Finally, the fourth tax change is to eliminate permanently the death tax.  One of the things that has always surprised me about Republican leadership in Washington is that they've never been able to understand that for my entire adult lifetime, eliminating the death tax is an 80 percent issue. 

People who are never going to pay it hate it.  And they hate it for the deepest of cultural reasons.  First of all most Americans believe it is just wrong to require somebody to visit the IRS and the undertaker the same week.  They just think its grotesque.  Second, Americans deeply believe that if you work all your life, you save all your life, you did everything right and your twin brother or your twin sister did everything wrong, there is something fundamentally wrong with the government reaching into your wallet the day you die and taking away half your money to give it to your sister or your brother in the form of some kind of government program, and they think it's your money, you earned it, you paid for it with your lifetime work, you keep it.

There's also a practical job-creating part of this.  You get some great entrepreneurial figure and they're out here and they create hundreds of jobs—  When I was teaching at West Georgia College, one of the great joys of my life was getting to meet Roy Richards and getting to know Roy Richards at Southwire, who was one of the great entrepreneurs in Georgia history, getting to know Bill Flowers and the Flowers Industries in Thomasville, great entrepreneurs.  You go around the state, great entrepreneurs.  I don't want them spending the last 20 years of their lives focused with their attorney and their accountant on tax avoidance, I want them to spend the last 20 years of their life growing a bigger company to hire even more people to be even more productive, and that's fundamentally what we've got to get back to.

Now we'll get back to dramatic economic growth.  And by the way I want to summarize this for you in an easy possible format for you to go back home and tell your friends and neighbors and all of you in every single county represented here tonight can take this to every neighborhood of every ethnic background in your county.  It's very simple.  Walk up to the door or go to a local grocery store and talk to people standing there and just say to them: Would you rather have food stamps or a pay check?  Now if they tell you they'd rather have food stamps, don't worry about it we know they're liberal Democrats.  But I'll bet you in almost every neighborhood in America 80 percent of the people are going to say you know I want a paycheck, I want my kids to have a pay check; I want the freedom, the opportunity of having a paycheck.

Now why is this important?  President Obama is the most successful food stamp president in American history.  More people are on food stamps today than at any point in American history and he's proud of it.  I would like to be the most successful paycheck president in American history.  And I'd like the voter, the last thing before they vote, one of the questions I want them to ask—there are about three or four questions you ought to ask yourself just before you vote—and one of them's going to be do you want a future of paychecks or a future of food stamps?  And I believe we win that argument dramatically.

Now let me also say if you really want economic growth, you have to have an American energy policy producing energy in the United States.  The fact is when we developed drill here, drill now, pay less we were right, they were wrong.  And if they had drilled here, drilled now, paid less in 2008, we'd be paying less in 2011.  It's not an accident.

Which gets me to one of the central themes of this campaign.  My theme is going to be: together we can win the future.  The right policies lead to the right results.  And I'm going to argue that in fact President Obama represents losing the future because the wrong policies lead to the wrong results. 

And the easiest two examples are Detroit and Texas.  If you want to study job creation, prosperity and a better future start with Detroit, which through three generations of bad politicians and bad policies went from 1,800,000 people and the highest per capita income in the United States and dropped to less than 700,000 people last year.  Over half the houses in Detroit are unoccupied.  It is a catastrophe comparable to a war.  Done by— it wasn't a tsunami, it wasn't a flood, it wasn't an earthquake; it was politicians.  This is a city destroyed by bad policies.

On the other hand Rick Perry— and I can tell all of you we're very fortunate, our campaign has Rob Johnson as its campaign manager.  Rob was Rick Perry's campaign manager last year and Perry started the year 27 points behind Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and ended the year 21 points ahead.  Now I'm not promising you a 48 point swing against Obama, but it's a nice model to start thinking about.  In Texas where they've had litigation reform, lower taxes, a bureaucracy that actually encourages businesses to move in, what have they done?  In two of the last four years over half the private sector jobs in America have been in one state, Texas.  Do you think anybody in Washington is studying Texas?  It has all the wrong lessons: small government, a legislature that only meets every other year.  I mean imagine an America where Congress was only allowed to come to Washington every other year. 

So part of my summary about economic policy is simple.  If you want a party that's going to try to learn from Texas how to create jobs in every neighborhood in America, the Gingrich campaign would love to have your help.  If you'd like to join a team that wants to do for all of America what its done for Detroit, the Obama team need your help.  It's that big a gap, that fundamentally different.

Let me take just a minute and talk about the third big program.  We're going to talk about American exceptionalism; we're going to talk about the economy, getting to a balanced budget, controlling spending, reforming the entitlements.  The third thing we're going to talk about is national security and homeland security.  And let me say about foreign policy, we should have one.  But I'm going to go a step further.  We should have an American foreign policy based on American interests doing what's right for America.

When the President of the United States goes to the National Defense University and makes a major speech explaining Libya by citing the United Nations and the Arab League eight times and the U.S. Congress once, you know that he does not have a clue about how to lead an American foreign policy.  And let me be very clear, you know you think about this.  He cites the Arab League.  Have any of you looked at what makes up the Arab League?  It's mostly dictators and monarchs.  Now they're important to recognize in the sense of dealing with the realities of the world, but they're not exactly authority figures.  I mean if you run into me and say you know the king of this and the sultan of that and the duke of this and the prince of that have come together and decided we should do x, I have less interest than if you tell me what five random people at the local grocery store said.  Why would we take seriously a self-serving group of people who want to manipulate us and use us for their reasons? 

And then you say, but well the U.N. said.  Have you looked at the United Nations?  I looked at the United Nations.  The truth is that George Mitchell, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader, and I chaired a United Nations reform task force.  The General Assembly is a totally corrupted institution.  The bureaucracy is totally corrupted, and the idea that an American president would take seriously the directives of the United Nations is a sign that he just doesn't understand the real world.

So I think we have to fundamentally reset our homeland security and our national security policies, building around American interests to protect American lives, working with those countries that are truly our allies.

Finally, I think all of us need to realize that one of the side effects of the killing of bin Laden has to be a real exploration of our relationship with Pakistan.  I don't know about the rest of you, but when I learned that after paying $20 billion since 9-11, they had been housing him in Pakistan for the last 9 1/2 years, I was trying to figure out what the word ally meant.  I know what the word sucker meant.  I mean there is a point where you have to say to people around the world, how stupid do you think we are?  Is there any person in this room who believes that bin Laden was living in that place in the town that size for that long and nobody in the Pakistani government knew it?  It's an absurdity.  So I think we need to have a very thorough reappraisal of what our policies are, what we're trying to accomplish. 

Now let me close by, if my good friend Sue will let me for a minute here.  You all know that long before she became an important statewide figure, she was the chair of my teachers advisory group in the 6th district of Georgia when I was Speaker, so we go back a fair distance.  Let me just say, let me just say really candidly, when I first ran in 1974 as Randy pointed out it was the middle of Watergate and people said I couldn't win and it turned out they were right, but I got 48 1/2 percent.  I came back and ran in 1976 and Jimmy Carter was running for president as the Democrat and had a huge turnout and people said I couldn't win, and they were right; I got 48.3 percent.  And I finally came back and won in 1978. 

What I want to drive home for a minute, because it relates directly to how I hope our presidential campaign will work, if we hadn't had the South Fulton Republican Women opening the office, we would not have been able to campaign.  If we had not had the Spaulding County Republican Women opening the office, we couldn't have campaigned.  If we hadn't had the [inaud.] County Republican Women opening the office we couldn't have campaigned.  If we hadn't had Young Republicans show up from all over the state on the weekends and help us out, we couldn't have campaigned.  I realize in trying to get from here to the nomination that I'm faced with some very fine people and that at least three of them could personally write checks for $60 million or more and not notice it.  Well I want to report to you that while we've had a good few years out of office, they ain't been that good.  And furthermore, the kind of campaign I want to run isn't about somebody writing a giant check.  The kind of campaign I want to run is getting every neighbor, every friend I can to Tweet, email, telephone, Facebook, walk their neighborhood, talk to their friends at church, chat with friends they meet with on Saturday morning for coffee. 

And so I would like to directly say to each one of you, people I've worked with in the creation and growth of the Georgia Republican Party, and Lieutenant Governor, I'm so grateful that this has happened, Commissioner, we go back a long way, my friends from the Congress who I've served with for so many years—and by the way Jack Kingston and I did a lot of good work together in the mid-90's and it's a great honor to be here with him tonight.  Austin Scott is doing a great job, was elected president of the freshman class.  Phil Gingrey of course represents my old district.  The nice thing about being gerrymandered so often in the old days is I have so many friends represent so many districts that I used to represent, because Speaker Murphy used to keep trying to get rid of me on the grounds that if he didn't get rid of me there'd eventually be too many Republicans.  He was right.  I just want to say that when we began the campaign we were very honored.  Senator Zell Miller committed that he would help lead the campaign and be one of our co-chairs.  Governor Perdue signed up and said he would help lead.  Governor Deal has signed up and said he would help lead.  I'd like to ask each of you to consider becoming a leader, not only here but across the country, helping us reach out, and I want to make this the most fun, interesting, idea-oriented campaign in history. 

And I'll close with this.  It's something I learned from Reagan years ago.  Because you know Reagan used to get attacked all the time by the New York Times and CBS News, and he never seemed to notice it.  And it was interesting.  I asked him one afternoon, you know what was going on.  I was a very junior member, and occasionally I would get to meet with the President.  I was fascinated with it.  He said look, I represent the vast majority of the American people, I represent the key principles that have made us a great country, I represent the ideas that actually work; why wouldn't I be happy?  They represent a bitter minority whose ideas are really destructive and they have no future.  Why would they be happy?  So when they're mean and miserable-spirited,  it just tells you who they are, not who we are.  Our job is to reach out happily and I'll close with this.  Just walk around your neighborhood and say, everybody who'd like to be a classic American seeking opportunity, pursuing happiness, having a great future; everybody who would like to have a paycheck; everybody who would like to have an American foreign policy and an American energy policy, you have a chance to have a great, happy 18 months, and then after we win we'll be even happier.

Thank you all very, very much.

time: just shy of 35 minutes