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Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire

Monday, 01 Feb 2010 08:35 AM

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire - It's frigid outside but inside the basketball arena, conservative activists give a warm welcome to former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich who lectures them on the importance of social media in winning elections.

Gingrich spoke at a grass-roots communication boot-camp for conservatives that aimed to close the technology advantage in campaigning and fund-raising that Democrats enjoy -- one that helped sweep President Barack Obama to power in 2008.

Gingrich led the House from 1995 to 1999 but has not sought elected office since then. Still, he never discourages speculation he might seek the presidency.

He played coy again on Saturday.

"We are totally focused this year at on developing a generation of solutions for the elections this fall. Next February or March (wife) Callista and I will look seriously about whether we should do more than that," he said.

Obama will visit the state on Tuesday to promote his economic recovery and jobs agenda.

About 500 conservatives attended Southern New Hampshire University for workshops on "new media for activists and campaigns" and "Facebook and Twitter for political communications."

Conservatives were electrified this month by the Republican Scott Brown's upset win in the Senate race in neighboring Massachusetts -- the first time the Democratic party has lost the seat in more than 40 years.

The win deprived Democrats of their super-majority in the Senate and stopped Obama's signature healthcare reform legislation in its tracks.

Brown's campaign used social media to its advantage, reeling in millions of dollars in online donations.

Gingrich said Brown's win showed that Obama and the Democrats now owned the economy, even though the deep recession started in late 2007 under former president George W. Bush.

"There are probably 80 or 90 (Democratic Congressional seats) that are vulnerable. If we still have 10 percent or 9.5 percent unemployment in September, they have a long, long campaign ahead of them," he said.

Republicans could also pick up six Senate seats in November, he added. That would still leave the Democrats in charge of the Senate, but with a narrower majority.

One poll last October showed Gingrich lagging potential Republican candidates Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin -- former governors of Arkansas, Massachusetts and Alaska -- as choices for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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