Found: The Gingrich Notes

BY Ken Clark

When Newt Gingrich was first mentioned as a long shot to be considered as a presidential candidate, I had the following conversation with a salesman.

“Remember when Newt was our keynote speaker back in 2008? What if he makes a strong run for the Oval Office?”

“Well, then,” said the salesman. “You’d have a column for the magazine.”

Here is that column.

Unfortunately, no complete record exists of the keynote speech delivered by the former Speaker of the House at the 2008 ProDealer Industry Summit, hosted jointly by Home Channel News and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA). But since Gingrich began playing with “front runner” status, Home Channel News editors have pieced together this recap, based on recently discovered notebooks and recordings.

Here’s the setting. It’s Oct. 1, 2008 in Chantilly, Va. A few miles to the east, Congress is debating the details of a massive bank bailout. Gingrich takes the podium and describes the 200 or so industry leaders in attendance as “an intense and serious-looking group.” He begins a presentation that may still impact the presidential race:

“The real underlying economic weight of the planet is enormous and growing,” he said. “And there’s no sign that that’s going to change.”

He moved on to “the sheer explosion of communications. More and more people are connected to more and more people in ways that leads to more and more creativity.”

Still, the economy was clogged. Housing was in free fall. And markets were spooked. But Gingrich pointed to the resilience of U.S. enterprise and offered a gastrointestinal metaphor. “Think of this as a bad case of indigestion,” he said. “Once we come through the current indigestion, the odds are fairly high we’re going to resume a historic growth rate, which in this country averages better than 3% per year.”

Gingrich, the self-described historian, as opposed to Gingrich, the presidential candidate, said: “A sudden surge of energy from the American people will wipe out the current two-party system.”

He criticized Washington legislators and members of the executive branch for ignoring warning signs at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, being indifferent to the declining educational standards of U.S. high schools (“holding pens with athletic opportunities,” he called them), and stunting the growth of small businesses by passing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Those who saw the United States of late 2008 on a verge of a massive depression were guilty of “massive levels of stupidity.” And he added: “We’re still the best system in the world for attracting capital.”

Gingrich’s remarks were well received, and he was a kind and patient guest in the post-keynote reception. Sometime between then and now, he became a lot of people’s idea of a president. He’s still in the hunt.

— Ken Clark
[email protected]


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Jan-09-2012 05:05 pm

I well remember Newt's
I well remember Newt's presentation in Virginia. I think that what impressed me most was his intellect. I walked away thinking that he sure was smart, he knew his history, and he was an encyclopedia of facts. He seemed to really have a handle on the "real world" and common sense.



To what extent will your office be impacted by March Madness, which tips off this week?

Readers Respond


Lowe’s and “All-American Muslim”
Many readers responded to our coverage of Lowe’s decision to pull advertising from a TLC reality show. 

“Good for Lowe’s. [The company] has the right to put its sponsorship money any place it believes will get it the most exposure.”
— Don Dye
Mary’s River Lumber Co.
Corvallis, Ore.

“Americans in police and military uniforms have fought for the right to practice any form of religion without fear of persecution in this country. This was one of the fundamental principles on which our country was founded.

“Having said that, I don’t think a retailer deciding not to advertise on a particular TV show whose sole purpose is a religious PR campaign to push a specific agenda is ‘bigoted.’ There are plenty of fundamentalist Christian TV shows that most retailers wouldn’t want to advertise on simply because the people who watch those shows aren’t their core customer demographic. So, why are they bigoted if they don’t want to advertise on a Muslim TV show, but not bigoted if they don’t want to advertise on a Christian TV show?”
— Steve White

“Lowe’s Home Improvement made its decision to end advertising during the TLC show ‘All-American Muslim’ following the bigoted outcry of the Florida Family Association (FFA). The FFA claims the program is a form of ‘propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.’

“Ironically, Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock oversees the Lowe’s Social Responsibility policy for Diversity and Inclusion. The policy states: ‘Lowe’s is committed to treating each customer, employee, community, investor and vendor with respect and dignity.’ I urge Niblock to add the following amendment: ‘So long as that customer, employee, community, investor or vendor doesn’t practice Islam, a belief that offends an ignorant and backwards segment of our market.’ Society has an ethical and moral duty to stand up against an unjust influence of those attempting to pit Americans against Americans on account of differing faiths.”
— Adam Staerkel
Austin, Texas

“Now we are defining religious freedom by forced financial sponsorship.”
— Jeff Wilson 

“If Lowe’s had decided to quite advertising on a Christian-based program, would Senator Ted Lieu have called Lowe’s bigoted, shameful and un-American? I don’t think so.

“Lowe’s should be able to use its advertising money anyway it sees fit.”
— Steve Johnson
Johnson Hardware

Bulb ban delayed
The following letters were prompted by coverage of a federal delay in enforcement of the phaseout of certain incandescent light bulbs that was to take effect Jan. 1.

“Finally, a small glimmer of sanity in Washington, listening to the majority of consumers/voters rather than forcing a political agenda.

“Yes, make the delay permanent. Please let me choose when and where in my home to use new bulb technologies versus the traditional incandescent technologies. As the new bulb technologies continue to evolve and improve, I will eventually switch to 100% usage of the new bulb technologies once I perceive that the value-proposition (including all factors: light quality, energy savings, eco considerations, price, etc.) warrants doing so. But that should be my free-market decision with the bulb manufacturers working hard to improve bulbs so that product performance and value drive the change, not a government mandate.”
— Anonymous 

“What a brave group of legislators we have taking on the light bulb instead of the economy! I wonder how many fancy $25 light bulbs you can sell to the millions of people who are losing their homes because of these idiots in Washington. We better fix the economy, the deficit and the out-of-control Washington spending first! Let me buy whatever light bulb I want!”
— Bill Snyder
Payroll tax cut extension

“I look at this payroll tax cut extension as a political move that is relatively valueless in its ability to stimulate anything except some limited good feelings with some voters and as a potentially destructive move applied to Social Security funding, which is already in short supply due to the inability of Congress to manage financial affairs. This does not in any substantial way address the deficit or the lack of growth in our economy and is not in any way a positive economic move. Pure politics, pure and simple. Not one job will be created. Its implementation will not bring back any certainty to our economy. It is simply a poor version of pork barrel politics — pandering at its worst.”
— George McCullough


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Jan-28-2013 01:39 am

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Nov-30-2012 11:34 am

Everyone is edgy on this
Everyone is edgy on this issue. I guess they should be. It is the right to practice their own religion that is the subject. - Markus Lattner

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May-02-2012 02:53 pm

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To what extent will your office be impacted by March Madness, which tips off this week?

Spirit of Life in Orlando

BY HBSDealer Staff

Ray Griffith will find himself in good company on Feb. 7.

The CEO of Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware Corp. will share the spotlight at an Orlando, Fla., ceremony on the eve of the International Builders’ Show. Griffith will be the Spirit of Life honoree at the 30th anniversary celebration of City of Hope’s Hardware/Homebuilding Industry group.

“This is an honor for Ace Hardware, but I recognize that my name and photo are attached,” Griffith told Home Channel News. “I feel privileged and happy to help.”

City of Hope is the Southern California-based research and treatment facility known as one of the top cancer hospitals in the country. Over the past 30 years, the Hardware/Homebuilding Industry has helped raise more than $140 million for the charity.

Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, a 2001 Spirt of Life honoree, is slated to serve as master of ceremonies for the event.


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To what extent will your office be impacted by March Madness, which tips off this week?