Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hinted that he might run for president in 2012 during a visit to Liberty University on Wednesday.
“I have to say, as of today, that we’re taking it very, very seriously, recognizing that it may be our obligation,” Gingrich said during a news conference.
“I’m pretty serious about how much I think all of us should take seriously our obligation to save this civilization from the forces that threaten it.”
LU Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said Gingrich would make a “wonderful president,” calling him “exactly what the nation needs at this point in our history.”
With elections next Tuesday, Liberty officials invited both candidates from the 5th District Congressional race to Wednesday’s convocation, which was attended by more than 10,000 students, faculty and staff.
Sen. Robert Hurt, the Republican challenger to Rep. Tom Perriello, delivered brief remarks before Gingrich took center stage.
Perriello could not attend convocation due to another engagement, according to LU spokesman Johnnie Moore.
During his speech, Gingrich called for a return to conservative values and a “more openly religious America.”
“Our American civilization will only survive if we have the courage to stand firmly for the truth and to oppose those who radically undermine and destroy our values, our freedoms and our very way of life, whether they are radical secularists or radical Islamists,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich criticized President Barack Obama’s “secular socialist philosophy,” and drew hearty applause for his proposals to repeal the health care reform law and to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform abortions.
Gingrich, who last addressed the university at commencement in 2007, blamed the court system for “driving God out of public life” and called the educational establishment a breeding ground for “anti-religious fanaticism.”
At the end of his speech, he encouraged “every dedicated Christian” to vote in Tuesday’s election.
After the speech, a group of conservative and evangelical leaders met with Gingrich and Falwell to discuss the state of the nation. Among those in attendance were leaders from The Traditional Values Coalition, Freedom Federation and Concerned Women for America.
Falwell said during convocation that Liberty has become a “must-stop destination” for prominent leaders like Gingrich thanks to LU’s “commitment to support this nation’s founding principles, its Constitution and free enterprise.”
Hurt used the Liberty limelight to thank the members of LU’s College Republican club for making 35,000 phone calls from the GOP headquarters at Candlers Station.
Hurt won cheers from the crowd when he addressed President Barack Obama’s plans to visit Charlottesville on Friday in support of his opponent, Perriello.
“Tom Perriello can have Barack Obama. We’ll take Liberty,” Hurt said.