No state is a slam dunk for any presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich said Saturday after speaking to a packed auditorium in Forsyth County.
"Anybody who thinks that (Mitt) Romney can count on Michigan or that (Rick) Santorum can count on Pennsylvania or I can count on Georgia doesn't understand how wild this campaign is," Gingrich said. "You can't take it for granted."
But with former presidential candidate Herman Cain by his side, the former speaker of the House said he believes he can win Georgia because of his policy and leadership.
More than 400 people filled the South Forsyth High School auditorium, with at least another hundred turned away as the Forsyth County Republican Party held its mass precinct meeting.
"I didn't get inside," said Forsyth resident Barbara Carver. "But I got to shake his hand when he came out."
Gingrich spoke about various issues, focusing mostly on energy independence and religious freedom.
When he served as speaker, Gingrich said the price of gas was $1.13 a gallon. While he said he envisions that happening again, he offered a promise that under his presidency: "We can easily deliver gasoline at $2.50 a gallon."
The presidential hopeful said this can happen by relying on shale gas technology, which allows gasoline to be drawn from deep underground.
"If you actually go out and look for oil, there is enough oil in the United States that we would be independent of the Middle East," he said. "As president, I will liberate offshore development and I will liberate federal lands so that in fact we can become absolutely independent so that no future president will ever again bow to a Saudi king."
Also, Gingrich poked fun at President Barack Obama's subsidy for those purchasing electric cars, saying "you can't put a gun rack on them."
Forsyth resident Ben Bolton said Gingrich's ideas like energy independence garnered his support.
"I like his bold ideas ... I think that's something that this country needs right now," Bolton said. "I think he's definitely the most electable and the most experienced."
Gingrich also talked about religion, saying the current administration is "waging a war against religion in America." He said he plans to make a few reversals on current policy.
That caught the attention of University of Georgia student Jeff Bagley.
"He's going to repeal all the anti-religious acts that Obama put in, so that's a great thing," Bagley said. "He was definitely very encouraging."
Cain, who endorsed Gingrich after suspending his own presidential campaign, said the candidate is the best option to help change course in the U.S.
"Newt's economic proposal is the only one that comes even close to that one that was developed by some guy called 9-9-9," Cain joked, referring to his own policy. "If you look at the other candidates, their proposals continue to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.
"They continue to throw out one set of loopholes and bring in another set of loopholes. We are sick of loopholes," Cain said. "Why don't we fix the problems for a change? That's what Newt plans to do."
Gingrich's campaign has been marked by swings in the polls. Last summer, Gingrich was all but counted out when much of his staff resigned, but he surged again a few months later and again in the South Carolina primary.
"I think the reason we've been able to survive and trudge onward is that people really want big solutions," he said. "It's not just that Barack Obama's bad, but the country is in
trouble ... we're just off on the wrong track."
"Help me win the primary, help me win the nomination," Gingrich told the audience. "We will defeat Obama, we will win the Senate and we will get back to an America that works because Americans are working."