Newt Gingrich knows how to play to the base.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday, the GOP presidential hopeful said that, if elected, he would wipe out much of President Obama's legacy on his very first day in office.
"By the time I am sworn in, [Congress] will have repealed Obamacare," Gingrich said, explaining that he would ask Congress to get to work on the repeal beginning January 3, 2012, after its Christmas recess. "It will have repealed [the Dodd/Frank financial reform bill]. It will have repealed [the] Sarbanes-Oxley [Act]...That's a reasonable start."
He said that "by the time President Obama lands in Chicago we will have repudiated at least 40 percent of his government on the opening day."
Gingrich won his loudest applause with his promises to repeal the president's landmark bills. He spent less time attacking his GOP rivals than the other Republican presidential candidates did in their remarks at CPAC today -- and also appeared to get a less enthusiastic response from the crowd.
While he didn't take direct aim at either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum, Gingrich did criticize the Republican establishment for thinking too small.
"For the Republican establishment, managing the decay is preferable to changing the trajectory," he said. "This is the year to reset this country in a decisive, bold way. We are determined to rebuild America, not manage its decay."
Gingrich aligned himself the Tea Party and Ronald Reagan, which he said represented the "conservative movement" versus the "Republican establishment."
The Republican establishment, he said, doesn't "have the toughness, they don't have the commitment, and they don't have the philosophy necessary to build a majority in this country."
To illustrate the dysfunction in Washington that he said should be up-ended, Gingrich jokingly compared FedEx shipping to the federal government's tracking of undocumented immigrants.
While FedEx can track a package until its delivery, he said, "the federal government today cannot find 11 million illegal immigrants even if they're sitting still."
"We should send a package to everyone who's here illegally and when it's delivered we pull it up on a computer, we know where we are," he said, adding: " Let me say to my friends in the news media that that was hyperbole and we don't need a fact check."
While he didn't lay into his GOP opponents, Gingrich blasted Mr. Obama on a series of issues, including a controversial policy that women have access to birth control no matter where they work that has angered Catholics and other religious groups.
Gingrich said that no matter how Mr. Obama tries to appease angry religious groups, "he will raise war on the Catholic Church the morning after he's re-elected."
"We cannot trust him," added Gingrich, who became a Catholic in 2009, following the faith of his third wife.