Los Angeles – Newt Gingrich vowed Sunday night to continue fighting for the Republican nomination for president "no matter what it takes."
Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Los Angeles, Gingrich tried to reset his White House bid, roiled by a rocky rollout and crippled in recent days by the mass exodus of top staff and advisers.
"I will endure the challenges. I will carry the message of American renewal to every part of this great land," Gingrich told a crowded ballroom at a Beverly Hills hotel. "And with the help of every American who wants to change Washington, we will prevail."
Hitting the campaign trail for the first time since senior aides stepped down, the embattled former House speaker delivered a hawkish foreign policy address that won approval from his audience of hardline supporters of Israel. Gingrich pledged to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions, suspend funding to the United Nations if it recognizes a Palestinian state under the control of Hamas, and move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
But the recent upheaval in his political operation was clearly on Gingrich's mind. He reflected that his decades in public life have left him accustomed to the rigors of hard-fought elections.
"In fact, I have had some recent reminders," he quipped to appreciative chuckles from the audience of 600.
Gingrich was swarmed by reporters and television cameras as he shook hands with well-wishers at a reception before the speech. He largely ignored questions from the media.
But when asked by one reporter if he was still a viable candidate, Gingrich shot back, "Go ask the voters."
Among the Jewish Republicans gathered Sunday night, there was skepticism the former Georgia congressman could rebound.
"No," Abraham Wacht, a businessman from Santa Monica, Calif., said with a smile and a shake of his head. "You can't start a campaign like that. I love him, but reality is reality."
But Brett Nemeth, a lawyer from Huntington, Beach, Calif., said Americans love a comeback story.
"I think he's brilliant and if anyone can do it, he can do it," Nemeth said.
For Gingrich, the speech offered the former college history professor an opportunity to showcase his wonkish command of policy.
He also served up a stinging indictment of the Obama administration's foreign policy, accusing it of pushing "dangerous policies of incoherence and confusion." The Democratic White House, he said, has too often chosen political correctness over common sense. And those choices have had consequences, he said.
"While the United States and her allies have won important victories in the war on terrorism, it is impossible to look at the totality of the world 10 years after 9/11 and conclude that we are on the winning path, or that the world is a safer place," he said.
Gingrich argued that "both Israel and America are at a dangerous crossroads at which the survival of Israel and the safety of the United States both hang in the balance."
Troubles have plagued the Gingrich campaign since its formal launch just one month ago.
He blundered on NBC's "Meet the Press," likening a Republican budget plan that passed the House to "right-wing social engineering." Days of bad press followed revelations that he had a no-interest loan account at Tiffany's worth up to $500,000. And just as the GOP presidential race began to heat up, Gingrich disappeared on a luxury cruise in the Greek Isles with his wife, Callista.
Even as Gingrich vows to battle back, the path forward is daunting.
He must replace the core of his campaign infrastructure, a tough task after telegraphing to would-be staffers that he's difficult to manage. His campaign fundraising has so far been anemic, and with the GOP race still taking shape, Republican donors will be less than enthusiastic about filling the campaign coffers of a campaign in disarray.
Gingrich headlined a private fundraiser earlier in Los Angeles before Sunday night's dinner.
He now heads to New Hampshire for a debate Monday night among Republican White House hopefuls. Also on Monday, Gingrich's new book "A Country Like No Other" is set to hit bookstores. It's the 24th book for the prolific Gingrich, who has also been making political documentaries with his wife since resigning as House speaker in 1999.
He'll be screening one of those documentaries before tea party crowds in Philadelphia and Savannah, Ga., in coming days as he tries to craft what he describes as a citizen-driven campaign, heavy on new media and other nontraditional events.
It was, in part, deep disagreement over that strategy that prompted top Gingrich staffers and operatives on the ground in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to step down.
His aides had been urging Gingrich to hew to a more traditional campaign schedule of grassroots events in states like Iowa, where voters are accustomed to spending time with candidates in advance of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Departing aides cited deep differences over strategy and questioned whether Gingrich is committed to spending enough time on the road in key states to win.