On March 1, Mercer seniors Liz Bibb and Gene Mitchell met with Rebulican candidate, Newt Gingrich for The Cluster.
Liz: Thank you for being with us today, Mr. Speaker. In New Hampshire, you talked about people being able to set up personal retirement accounts. We haven’t heard a whole lot about that in the national news since. Is that still an important issue on your platform?
Gingrich: It’s very important. We’re actually encouraging students on college campuses to organize in favor of it. It helps save social security the right way, which is by moving to a savings and investment model rather than politicians in charge of your life. It will be totally voluntary. You will take the part of the tax that you pay and it would go straight into a savings account. It would build up your entire lifetime so that when you did finally retire you would build up probably two or three times as much money as you would with the current system, and no politician would control it.
Gene: it sounds like you thought a lot about this, and it sounds like a fascinating idea, but you have to win the presidency to implement it.
Gingrich: That’s right. And that’s part of my deal with young people is that they have to help me win the presidency to implement it. I think it goes both ways.
Gene: So Georgia is going to be very important on Super Tuesday for you. How well are you going to do on Super Tuesday and where are you going to go from there?
Gingrich: Well the number one concern has to be carrying your home state, as Governor Romney found out in Michigan. I think we’re going to do better here than he did in Michigan. I’m here campaigning for four straight days because this is important. I think by the middle of March this will look like a different race.
Liz: Speaking of college students, I remember you speaking in South Carolina about how most college professors are abundantly liberal. Do you believe this diminishes a college education if this is the case?
Gingrich: Yes. I think it ends up being mostly propaganda. There’s a significant degree to which the thing people are taught in college aren’t true, and they have to spend years unlearning them.
Gene: So as President of the United States, how do you fix that?
Gingrich: Well, you don’t. You just point it out and hope that people fix it themselves.
Gene: So then should students do something alternative to college education?
Gingrich: On occasion. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. I think as long as you understand that most of what you’re getting is propaganda, then you’re armed against it.
Liz: What are you doing to reach out to young people in your campaign?
Gingrich: First of all, we’re aiming for $2.50 gasoline, which most young people find desirable. Second, we have a very aggressive jobs campaign. You’re not going to pay off your student loans if you can’t get work, so I’m trying to find a way that every young person can get a job. Third, I’m trying to offer you a social security plan that takes power away from politicians, gives it to you, and gives you two or three times as big a return as you will get under the current system. Fourth, the issue of Islamist radicalism and the issue of national security is your generation’s issue. You’re the ones who will be at risk of getting killed. So I think having a policy of strength and peace through strength is a very important part of a message to young people.
Gene: You’ve spoken about being a bold Reagan conservative. One of the things Reagan was known for was being able to attract democratic voters in a general election, how are you going to be able to do that?
Gingrich: Well, 79% of the country believes we ought to be energy independent. So you campaign on issues that will bring people to you. I think you’ll find a lot of democrats in Macon who think $2.50 gasoline is worth voting for. I think you’ll find a lot of people who think paychecks are worth voting for. So, I hope on issues, not on personality, not on gimmicks, to bring people together in a big way.
Mercer Students sit down with Gingrich