CUMMING, Ga. (AP) — Newt Gingrich warned members of a Georgia church Sunday that the "secular left" is trying to undermine American principles established by the Founding Fathers as he sought to rejuvenate his presidential bid.
The former House speaker is bypassing Tuesday's Republican presidential primaries in Michigan and Arizona and spending most of the week in Georgia, which he represented in Congress for 20 years. Gingrich said at a church north of Atlanta that Americans have faced a "50-year assault" by those trying to alienate people of faith.
"The forces of the secular left believe passionately and deeply, and with frankly a religious fervor, in their world view and they will regard what I am saying as a horrifying assault on what they think is the truth," Gingrich said. "Because their version of the truth is to have a totally neutral government that has no meaning."
Gingrich's campaign has struggled since winning South Carolina's GOP primary on Jan. 21, watching as Rick Santorum has emerged as Mitt Romney's chief rival. Gingrich is trying to regain traction in Georgia, Tennessee and a group of Super Tuesday states voting March 6, hoping to amass delegates to the national nominating convention.
He told reporters Sunday that "we have a pretty high likelihood of winning" in Georgia. "I think it's central to the future of our campaign. We're going to do everything we can to win here."
He has stopped short of saying a loss in Georgia would end his campaign, stating the Republican contests are likely to extend deep into the spring.
At First Redeemer Church, Gingrich said the nation's founding was supported by people of faith, saying those principles were under attack by the Obama administration.
"You loan power to the government, the government does not loan power to you," Gingrich said.
The former speaker also criticized President Barack Obama's decision to apologize for the burning of Qurans at a military base in Afghanistan. The incident has led to violent riots in Afghanistan, in which four U.S. soldiers have been killed.
Gingrich said George Washington would not have apologized for an incident that led to the killing of young Americans. "We are supposed to apologize to those who are killing us? I don't think so," Gingrich said to applause.
At the outset, the thrice-married Gingrich told a few thousand congregants that he was not speaking to them "as a religious leader, and I don't come here as a saint," referencing the attention that his previous marriages gained earlier in the campaign.
"I come here as a citizen who has had a life that at times has fallen short of the glory of God, who has had to seek God's forgiveness and had to seek reconciliation," Gingrich said.
Later, before another church audience in Milner, Ga., Gingrich spoke about his efforts to secure the GOP nomination and win the White House when a member of the congregation yelled, "You will!"
"This is up to God and the American people," Gingrich said. "I don't want to be presumptuous."
Gingrich travels Monday to Tennessee, where he will attend campaign events in Nashville, and will then return to Georgia for a bus tour around the state.
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- Newt Gingrich