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Returning to the state where he launched his political career more than three decades ago, the Republican former House speaker presented himself in sharp contrast to President Obama, whom he derided as a “food stamp president.” Gingrich sounded a hopeful tone as he pledged that a Gingrich administration would reaffirm American exceptionalism.

Gingrich sought to lay blame for the recession, as well as the economic and social upheaval in Detroit, on Obama and his policies. “President Obama is the most successful food stamp president in American history,” Gingrich said. “I would like to be the most successful paycheck president in American history.”

‘That’s bizarre. What I said is factually true,’ he said, pointing out that one of every six Americans receives food stamps.

‘And to hide behind the charge of racism? I have never said anything about President Obama which is racist.’

Asked about how he thinks Mr Obama views America, Mr Gingrich said: ‘Look, I believes he loves America. I think he has a very different vision of what America is.’

He added that he is ‘fairly confident’ that Obama does not believe in ‘American exceptionalism.’