UPDATE: Gingrich 2nd in Gwinnett GOP Straw Poll; Paul Wins
In Suwanee, Gingrich calls Georgia crucial to his election hopes.
Updated Feb. 19, 2012
Calling President Obama the "most dangerous president in modern American history," Newt Gingrich made bold statements on the current administration and his presidential plans in a speech Saturday in Suwanee. The talk followed an earlier Gingrich rally Saturday in Forsyth County.
The former U.S. House speaker was introduced to the crowd of about 400 people at Collins Hill High by Atlanta-based businessman Herman Cain, who ended his presidential campaign in December and recently threw his support behind Gingrich.
Attacking Obama on several fronts, Gingrich said the president "refuses to tell the truth about people who want to hurt us." He said Obama's approach to national defense "is the most destructive unilateral disarmament I've ever seen."
Gingrich's speech followed a meeting of the Gwinnett County Republican Party elsewhere at the school. At that meeting, Ron Paul finished ahead of Gingrich in a straw poll.
Paul collected 115 votes to Gingrich's 73. Finishing third was former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum with 60 votes. Mitt Romney, currently the overall delegate leader among GOP candidates, got 25 votes.
State Rep. Buzz Brockway was among those wearing a Santorum sticker at the GOP meeting. Brockway said, "I don't dislike (Gingrich). ... At this point, the race is wide open, so I'm going to vote for the candidate with the best chance to win."
U.S. Rep Rob Woodall, who represents Suwanee and parts of Gwinnett in Congress, attended Saturday's GOP meeting. He has not decided on who to support, noting that his backing hinges on which candidate supports the Fair Tax.
Gingrich talked of the importance of the Georgia primary on March 6 (Super Tuesday), when the state's 73 delegates will be up for grabs. After the speech, he called his former home state a "springboard" for possible success in such states as Texas and California.
"I need your help," Gingrich told the crowd, which twice gave him a standing ovation.