ROCK HILL, S.C. -- To the critics who are angry at Newt Gingrich for questioning Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital, the embattled candidate responds that it's not the rich who are at stake in the election, it's the children.
"I'm frankly pretty fed up with the whole tone of America politics and the American government," Gingrich said, after asking kids in the audience to join him and his wife on stage. "These young people are what this campaign should be all about. It is their country, it is their future."
With nothing left to lose, Gingrich delivered a hard-hitting, populist speech to a crowd of approximately 300 people at the Laurel Creek Club Wednesday.
"You have a bipartisan establishment that has been running this country, that has created a gigantic mess," Gingrich said. "You have bureaucracies that are out of control, judges who think they can be dictators. You have systems around this country. You have laws that don’t work. So, we have got to change not just Obama, we have got to change the entire direction of the United States of America to get it back on track and that is our obligation to these young people."
Rush Limbaugh, Club for Growth and other prominent conservative voices have characterized Gingrich’s attacks on Romney's Bain Capital experience as an affront to the virtues of capitalism. Bristling at the charge, Gingrich said he wanted a free enterprise system that "is fair to everyone and gives everyone an equal opportunity to pursue happiness."
"I want you to know that I am running precisely because as an Army brat from a middle class family who taught in the college, I think middle class, tax paying, working Americans deserve to have a government that is honest, a government that tells them the truth and I believe that you have the right to know and you have the right to speak out and I am prepared to stand up to every level of pressure."
He also accused the elite establishment for sheltering Romney as an act of self-preservation.
"I think it's funny that on one hand (Romney) wants to run around touting his record, on the other hand, somebody asks a question about his record, he hides behind an entire framework. You know, to question the facts is to be anti-capitalist. That is nonsense. Baloney, I think, is the term I was using the other morning. The fact is we have a right to know."
Gingrich described a larger backdrop of corporate and political graft, which he used to throw his criticisms of Romney into sharp relief.
"We have a right to know what happened at Goldman Sachs, we have a right to know what happened with trillions of dollars in New York, we have a right to know what happens when companies go bankrupt. I think the country would like to know, and if we’re going to run a presidential campaign based on a record, the record has to be open to review.
And he didn't preserve his indignation just for private companies, tweaking Ron Paul's proposal to audit the Federal Reserve.
"Now, this is not anti-capitalism. That is the smokescreen of those who are afraid to be accountable. I am for a free enterprise system. I am for capitalism, I am for entrepreneurship, but I’m also for the American people's right to understand the games that are being played, how are they being played, are they fair to the American people, or in fact, as I think is the case clearly in the money coming out of the Federal Reserve, are the deals being cut on behalf of huge institutions and very rich people, at the expense of the American middle-class? And that’s why I think the Federal Reserve should be audited. I’ve simply suggested the same sense of accountability and transparency should be applied to any presidential candidate’s desire to run."