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Gingrich a hit at Des Moines social conservative event

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich seemed to steal the show Saturday evening at a presidential forum hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, focusing mostly on economics as several other GOP hopefuls tried to convince the social conservative crowd they have the strongest stances against abortion and same-sex marriage.

Gingrich, who’s consistently polled in the bottom half of the Republican field, may have received the most applause of any of the six candidates at the event.

Also speaking were Atlanta businessman Herman Cain; U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann; Texas Gov. Rick Perry; U.S. Rep. Ron Paul; and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. About 1,000 people attended the event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, which was the group’s 11th annual fall banquet. Tickets were $55.

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Newt Gingrich

Gingrich said defeating President Obama in 2012 will go a long way toward jump-starting the economy, claiming investors will begin spending and small businesses hiring as soon as the news is out.

“The process of recovery economically is not that difficult,” he said. “I predict that late on election night as it’s clear that Obama has been defeated and the Democratic Senate has been defeated, that late that night the recovery will begin.”

If the right approach is taken through tax cuts, repealing the Dodd-Frank Act and modernizing the Food and Drug Administration, Gingrich said, the economy will turn around quickly.

“If you praise and favor and like people who create jobs and get rid of class warfare at every level you will be astonished how much we will get done, how rapidly people will go back to work,” he said.

Gingrich also advocated for replacing the Environmental Protection Agency with an environmental solutions center, and said he would make permanent any kind of tax credit for wind and solar energy and continue development of crop-based fuels.

“This is the most anti-American energy administration in history and it’s just unbelievable,” he said.

Gingrich did make some comments on abortion and same-sex marriage, saying he would defund Planned Parenthood and devote those funds to adoption services. He also promised to sign an executive order ensuring that no doctor or nurse can be compelled to perform any activity against their will.

He also said “we don’t have to tolerate radical, anti-American judges rewriting the Constitution.”

“Most of our major crises in our culture are driven by radical judges who violate the American Constitution, violate American history and do things that are fundamentally destructive,” he said.

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