THE VILLAGES, Fla. -- An audience of about 3,000 mostly elderly Republicans waited in a parking lot under the warm Florida sun to see Newt Gingrich, who made a last campaign stop at the retirement community before the state primary on Tuesday.
After urging the retirees to help spread his message on Facebook and Twitter, Gingrich put on one of his more energetic performances, mocking President Obama for the way he's handled unfriendly foreign leaders and pushing back hard against Mitt Romney for challenging his claims of being the "only true Reagan conservative" in the race. Gingrich hit the notes of his regular Florida stump speech, touching on his support for a space exploration, playing up his work with the Reagan in the 1980s, knocking Obama for blocking construction of the Keystone pipeline and hitting Romney for championing a government health care program while serving as governor of Massachusetts.
But, feeding off the energy of the crowd, Gingrich also decided to have a little fun.
When he began discussing foreign policy, Gingrich said that Obama "lives in a fantasy world where there are no enemies" and characterized the president's perception of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as "just misguided people with whom he has not yet had coffee." He went on from there:
We watched him go see Hugo Chavez and we watched him smile and be friendly while Chavez deliberately, cynically and insultingly gave him an anti-American book and Obama didn't have a clue he'd been insulted. You know, Ahmadinejad, the dictator of Iran, says that he wants to wipe out Israel and drive America out of the Middle East. Now, as a historian, I have a pretty good sense of what that means. It means he wants to wipe out Israel, and drive America out of the Middle East. But if I were a left-wing Harvard Law graduate surrounded by really clever left-wing academics, I would know that this is actually a sign that Ahmadinejad probably had a bad childhood. That his potty training was probably inadequate. And that it's time to come to grips with his mother's failure to love him enough. And therefore he's expressing himself in some manner. If only we could unlock it, we could be closer to him and we could be friends together. This is madness.
The crowd enjoyed it very much.
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