MACON, Ga. -- Newt Gingrich returned to the state party convention where he got his start in politics Friday to lay out a platform in contrast to President Barack Obama.
He promised deep tax cuts to stimulate jobs, tougher trade negotiations and a foreign policy focused on American interests rather than those of multi-national organizations like the United Nations.
The speech was his first since announcing via Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday that he was formally running for president.
During his speech at the party's sold-out fundraising dinner, Gingrich said he would freeze taxes after taking office except for eliminating the capital-gains tax and cutting the estate tax and the corporate income tax.
"I stand for tax cuts to incentivize the people who create jobs," he said, expressing his eagerness to debate Obama on the issue.
The estate tax strikes most people as unfair anyway, he said.
"It's your money. You earned it. You saved a lifetime for it. You keep it," he said.
As a contrast between his approach and Obama's, he said it comes down to giving voters the choice between a paycheck and a welfare check.
The number of people receiving welfare under Obama is the highest in record, according to Gingrich, who pushed for welfare reforms as speaker that led to record drops in the welfare rolls. When the welfare rolls dropped, so did the unemployment rate.
"Obama is the most successful welfare check president in U.S. history," he said. "I would like to be the most successful paycheck president in American history."
On trade, he joked that he'd appoint a trial lawyer trade representative whose aggressive personality would pick fights regularly with trading partners like China.
On foreign policy, he said Pakistan had played Obama for a sucker by claiming not to have been hiding Osama bin Laden. And Obama's deference to international organizations has ignored American interests, he said.
Gingrich received a warm welcome from the audience, but many of them only got involved in party politics after he retired from Congress in 1998 and said they felt no obligation to support him as a favorite son. Delegates earlier in the day's convention business applauded louder for Herman Cain, another presidential candidate from Georgia.
Still, Gingrich saw many familiar faces in the crowd.
"I'm delighted to be home," he said, noting that the state party's chairwoman once headed Teachers for Newt during his congressional career.
Gingrich was a professor at West Georgia College in Carrollton when he entered politics, losing twice before finally winning a seat in Congress in 1978. Early in his career, he was the only Republican in Congress from Georgia, making him the darling of the state party at the time.
His district shifted northward to the Atlanta suburbs after redistricting and as his career advanced. He rose to become speaker of the U.S. House and a national figure.