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Gingrich grows reflective in speech to students


BARRINGTON, IL -- His presidential campaign on the ropes, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich grew reflective on Thursday, encouraging students in Illinois to dream big.

“You should define for yourself what your dreams are and I would argue that one of the great weaknesses of American culture right now is we haven’t had a conversation about the size dreams we need for a country of 305 million people or 310 million people,” Gingrich, a former history professor, told the packed crowd in Barrington High School’s auditorium. “You don't lead a country this size with tiny things.”

It is because of these big ideas that the former House Speaker is not wavering in his decision to keep running for president -- following on the same “large ideas to try and get America moving again” that John F. Kennedy used in the 1960s.

“I'm staying in the race to see if I can't, in the second half of the race, Louisiana is sort of halftime, I want to see if we can't reset this whole race around the idea of really big ideas and really big solutions and insist that the American people have a chance to vote for a dramatically better future,” he said. The Louisiana primary is March 24th.

Gingrich’s nearly hour-long speech stepped away slightly from focusing solely on gas prices and national security, the two themes of his campaign as of late. Rather, he mentored the mostly high school student crowd, telling them to always be willing to learn, not to do something they hate, and be proud of the person you are.

“I find every single day of the presidential campaign, I’m learning new things,” the speaker said. “I'm suggesting to all of you, you have to have a habit of learning every day because the world is bigger than you are and it changes… you'll find yourself learning your whole life.”

And for Gingrich, who remains fighting for his political life during this Republican primary season, he says he still loves what he is doing.

“I love life. I love getting up in the morning. I love seeing what the weather is going to be. I love animals. I love the process of interacting with people. I like learning,” Gingrich said with a smile on his face. “So I really am basically cheerful everyday because in my mind everyday is cool, I am still here.”