LAKE IN THE HILLS – Former U.S. Speaker of the House and Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich laid out plans Thursday for how the United States can again see $2.50 a gallon gasoline and create jobs in America.
He called for more domestic drilling in places such as Alaska and North Dakota, where there are abundant supplies of oil, instead of asking Saudi Arabia to produce more oil to increase supply and decrease the price.
Gingrich spoke Thursday at a private hangar near Lake in the Hills Airport. He is battling for the GOP nomination with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
Gingrich is third in the delegate count in the race for the nomination. He also spoke at Judson University in Elgin and Barrington High School on Thursday.
Addressing a crowd of 150 to 200 people and flanked by small airplanes, Gingrich said the country needs a visionary as president.
He said he believed in the importance of science and technology funding.
“I am the candidate of the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, of the people who invented the modern world, without bureaucracy,” Gingrich said during his 25-minute speech.
The Georgian said the way to bring down the price of gas is to increase domestic production.
“If we in fact drill, if we in fact open offshore, if we in fact open federal lands, ... we would find more oil,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich said gas would reach $10 a gallon under President Barack Obama and drilling more in the U.S. would improve national security.
“This is a president who has decided to send our money to Saudi Arabia and thinks it’s a good idea,” Gingrich said. “This is a president who thinks it’s good to create jobs in Saudi Arabia. I’d rather create jobs in Illinois ... As your president, I want to go around as salesman for American products, not a purchasing agent for foreigners.”
Gingrich added that the country should avoid relying on Saudi Arabia for oil.
“I do not ever again want to see an American president bow to a Saudi king,” Gingrich said. “The Saudis are not our allies. The Saudis are a monarchy who sustain the most extreme form of Islam and spend billions of dollars a year exporting their ideology around the world and teaching people to hate. They subsidize the madrasas that produce terrorists.
“If we become the No. 1 supplier of oil in the world, and we are independent on energy, we can say to the Saudis, ‘Your period of subsidizing terrorism is over,’ ” Gingrich said.
He said drilling for oil in the U.S. could put trillions of dollars into the federal government’s coffers that could help pay down the debt. Gingrich also took a swipe at one of his GOP rivals.
“When I was speaker, we balanced the budget for four years, and when Santorum was in the leadership, they borrowed $1.7 trillion,” Gingrich said. “There’s a big difference between fiscal conservatism and politics as usual.”
John Jonelis, 59, of Crystal Lake said he enjoyed the speech.
“I thought it was a terrific speech. I thought he spoke to the entrepreneurial spirit of America,” Jonelis said. “He was articulate, he’s a great communicator; he’s the best communicator I’ve heard out of politicians since Ronald Reagan.”
Cendy Luto, 52, of Crystal Lake took half of a personal day from work to see Gingrich. She’s a fourth-grade teacher and was at the speech early to make sure that she was right up front.
“What he says, he’s going to deliver on,” Luto said. “I love that he’s going to get the gas down; I know he will. He’s not doing a bunch of empty promises.
“He’s very intelligent, nothing rattles his cage, and I respect that.”
Kathy McCole, 52, of Crystal Lake, who works in customer support for a software company, was thrilled that a presidential candidate came to the area.
“It was too hard to pass up; you don’t get this opportunity,” McCole said.
She said she is supporting Gingrich because she shares his conservative values.
“I think he’s smart, articulate, and he says it like it is,” McCole said.