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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a one-time history professor, educates delegates gathering in Tampa, Fla., on how to get the party message out. The event was billed as "Newt U." (NPR)

At The RNC: The University Of Newt

by Brakkton Booker
Aug 27, 2012

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With Tropical Storm Isaac pushing the official start of the Republican National Convention off until Tuesday, delegates gathering in Tampa spent part of the day going back to school — "Newt U," to be precise.

The event was hosted by former House speaker and one-time history professor Newt Gingrich. It was billed as "a series of public policy workshops for delegates designed to support and expound upon the overall messages of the convention."

In layman's terms, the course was intended to help sharpen the way delegates get the party's message out and provide tactics to disarm their opponents.

"One of the great failures of Republicans, candidly, is that we tell the truth less effectively than Democrats lie," Gingrich told delegates gathered Monday in a Hyatt Regency ballroom. "And we are so startled by their dishonesty that we're sort of tongue-tied."

Monday's lessons covered themes ranging from the economy and leadership to Medicare.

And Gingrich had plenty of help in getting through the day's syllabus. Guest lectures included Utah Gov. Gary Herbert; Larry Kudlow, a host on CNBC's The Kudlow Report; and Lanhee Chen, who serves as Mitt Romney's policy director.

Many times Monday, the lessons served as attack lines intended to energize the delegates. Take, for instance, the jab delivered by Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock:

"The reason I'm so positive about this year's election is because we have men who have demonstrated the ability not to lay out plans, but more importantly to be able to get out action," said Schock. "You know, there's a lot of talk about leadership. A leader who is leading with no one following is just a man out for a walk. And we've had a president the last couple of years who's been a man out for a walk."

Later, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker spoke about why he believes in limited government.

"We understood, in our campaign, we talked about the fact that people create jobs not the government," said Walker, who won a recall election in June. "So it'd be nice if the leader in Washington understood that people create jobs, not the government. And so we got government out of the way."

"Newt U" was to resume classes Tuesday at a "We Built It" event focusing on small businesses. Gingrich's wife, Callista Gingrich, was billed as one of the featured speakers.

Brakkton Booker is an assistant producer for NPR's Washington Desk.

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