Republican Ethan Hastert added a second former Speaker of the House to his list of endorsements Friday as Newt Gingrich came to St. Charles to stump for a candidate with a familiar family name in Illinois' 14th Congressional District primary race.
Gingrich was colleagues with Hastert's father, Dennis Hastert, when the two served as lawmakers in Congress during the last large wave of Republicans coming into power. Gingrich delivered a 40-minute speech to local Republicans, urging them on with a message that Ethan Hastert must be the candidate they support if Republicans have any chance of winning back a majority in Congress.
"We simply cannot allow the liberals to expand government and expand spending," Gingrich said. "This district is one of the battlefields that will decide if 2010 will rival 1994. For us to have the size of the wave we need, we have to have Ethan Hastert in Congress."
Gingrich received several rounds of applause during a speech where he ripped into Democrats for everything from "Climategate" to the lack of prayer in schools and health care proposals that he said an increasing number of Americans simply don't want. Gingrich called on all Republicans to commit to repealing any form of a health care bill Democrats pass now the second Republicans come back into power.
"There are parts of government that are so bad you can't fix them," Gingrich said of the health care proposals currently on the table. "If Democrats pass a national health bill deeply opposed by the overwhelming majority of Americans, we ought to have a commitment to replace it. Why should the country tolerate a group of out of touch politicians abusing their power?"
Ethan Hastert, who will be opposed by Randy Hultgren in the Feb. 2 primary, did not openly make such a commitment on health care Friday, but he did make a strong statement on another hot-button issue - the potential housing of terrorist suspects in Illinois penitentiaries. Hastert said Guantanamo Bay is the only place for that kind of inmate.
"I think the president has gotten this wrong, literally, since the second day of his administration," Hastert said. "The idea that we're going to bring foreign terrorists into this country and provide them with Constitutional protections that should only be allowed for citizens and those who fall within our protection legally is anathema. The idea that we're going to bring them to Illinois, and this is going to create jobs, completely misses the point."