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Gingrich to teach free online course from White House if elected

By NBC's Jo Ling Kent

GOFFSTOWN, N.H. -- If elected to the White House, former speaker of the House and history professor Newt Gingrich wants to teach Americans a lesson -- that is, for free on the Internet about his policy views. The self-proclaimed "ideas man" said on Monday his course would be distributed on the Web in a format similar to the University of Phoenix or Kaplan.

"I think I will probably teach a course when I'm president," Gingrich told students and supporters after a campaign speech on entitlement reform at Saint Anselm College's New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

"I will probably try to do something that outlines for the whole country what we're going to try to accomplish," he said. "It will be free."

The former West Georgia College professor who holds a Ph.D. in modern European history from Tulane University rarely misses an opportunity to remind voters and journalists of his academic credentials. On the campaign trail, Gingrich often employs historical anecdotes involving the Wright Brothers, horse-drawn stagecoaches and Abraham Lincoln to illustrate his policy positions.

Gingrich said an online course would be one element of a major social media strategy that would allow him to communicate with more citizens directly, if elected president.

"The idea would be, why wouldn't you want a president in the age of social media to methodically in an organized way share with you what they're going to accomplish so that those people who really won't understand it can understand it," Gingrich said. 

Touting himself as a social media savvy candidate, Gingrich promised to tweet more as president but speak less.

How exactly? The former speaker vowed to deliver few speeches to his constituents, and only when absolutely necessary.

"As president, they would like you to only bother them when it really matters," Gingrich said to an amused audience.