MANCHESTER, N.H. - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is fighting for fourth place in recent New Hampshire primary polls, sought to differentiate himself from his GOP presidential rivals on Monday. At a stop at a utilities company in Manchester, Gingrich reminded voters of his role in cutting government spending in the 1980s with Republican President Ronald Reagan and in the 1990s with Democratic President Bill Clinton.
"I am the only candidate on our side who has actually effected national change," he told Public Service of New Hampshire employees. "I helped change the country in significant ways in 1981 with Reagan and I helped again in very significant ways as Speaker in the 1990's. I'm the only one who's helped pass entitlement reform."
Gingrich took a few swipes at race front-runner Mitt Romney, calling him a "Massachusetts moderate." He argued the best chance for Republicans regaining the White House requires a stark contrast with President Barack Obama, something only he can provide.
"There's a real question that we are deciding this fall. Which direction do we go?" Gingrich said. "He gets to defend radicalism and I get to defend American exceptionalism."
He likened Obama to one-term Democratic President Jimmy Carter and cast himself in the role of Reagan.
"Jimmy Carter's economy is very similar to Barack Obama's economy. Reagan got it turned around almost immediately," he said.
Like second place Iowa finisher Rick Santorum, Gingrich also spent time touting his economic recovery plan on Monday. His proposal would allow for a 100 percent write-off for investments in equipment, a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, and elimination of the capital gains tax.
"Every company in America can compete in a global market and be successful," he said.
The Georgian also spent some time at the top of his remarks to compliment New Hampshire voters.
"This is a process where over the course of months, the American people talk with themselves, sort of take stock – where are we, what do we believe in, where do we want to go, who do we think can get us there," he said. "It's not just a game. It's not just who are the most clever consultants. It's a fundamental process for a people trying to think through our future for our children and our grandchildren and in many ways, every four years we help define our country."
The crowd was polite but unenthusiastic throughout the 40 minute speech, only showing signs of life when Gingrich broke out an-oft used joke about Obama's reliance on teleprompters.