Newt Gingrich hosts rally at Marquette campus Thursday night

MILWAUKEE — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich rallied with supporters on the Marquette University campus Thursday night – despite announcing this week that he is scaling back his presidential campaign.

A few hundred people turned out Thursday night at Marquette’s Weasler Auditorium to hear Gingrich speak. It was not the energetic campaign stop we generally see, but rather, a quiet lecture on innovation and the role of religion in government. “The first reason I’m running is pretty straight forward. I think we are having a fundamental argument about the nature of the United States. Are we a country of religious liberty, or are we a country in which only the government decides?” Gingrich said.

Gingrich also took questions from audience members Thursday night, who asked about education and religious liberties for non-Christians. One young man debated with Gingrich over American rights for non-Christians. “What about people who may be agnostics or atheists? What about those Americans? They can live here, but they have no explanation for where their rights come from,” the man said.

Marquette students turned out to hear Newt Gingrich speak Thursday night. “I was following Newt the whole way, but now I’m a little bit unsure where I stand, so I’m hoping tonight maybe will revive that,” Ashley Fleck said. “He’s Catholic and this is a Catholic university. I think there’s some bias maybe a little bit, but there’s definitely some interest,” Lukas Baker said.

Gingrich’s wife, Callista has been in Wisconsin all week. Callista is a Wisconsin native, and says she’s trying to help her husband pick up enough delegates to stay in this race.

At St. Roman’s Catholic Church Thursday morning, Callista Gingrich recalled past visits to the city of Milwaukee while growing up in Whitehall, Wisconsin. “I grew up in west-central Wisconsin, so that’s where I spent most of my time, but we would make occasional trips to Milwaukee, and I remember my swing choir in high school singing at the State Fair,” Callista Gingrich said Thursday.

Trailing in the polls, the Gingrich campaign announced this week it is scaling back its campaign, working with a smaller staff and making fewer stops at state primaries. Callista Gingrich says the campaign’s new goal is to pick up enough delegates to reach the Republican National Convention, without Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum clinching a victory first. “It’s been a rollercoaster of sorts as frontrunners have come and gone, and currently, we’re redesigning the campaign to look forward to the summer, with the goal of reaching the convention in Tampa in August,” Callista Gingrich said.

Callista Gingrich made a handful of stops at hospitals this week in Wisconsin, laying base for her platform as a potential First Lady. “I feel a need to focus on cancer research and early detection, so I’ve been visiting a lot of cancer centers – especially breast cancer centers,” Callista Gingrich said.

Gingrich has also planned stops in Oshkosh, Green Bay and Kenosha in advance of Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary.

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