The Washington Times - December 5, 2011, 08:23AM

Newt Gingrich is on the air in Iowa, releasing his his first television ad on Monday, roughly four weeks out from caucuses.

“Some people say the America we know and love is a thing of the past. I don’t believe that. Because working together I know we can rebuild America,” Mr. Gingrich, a former House speaker, says in the one-minute “The America We Love” ad.


The latest Des Moines Register poll shows Mr. Gingrich, who was left for dead earlier this year, running first in the Hawkeye State, where the starting gun for the nomination process goes off Jan. 3.

A win in Iowa could provide the Georgia Republican with an extra boost of momentum heading into the primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina, where Mr. Gingrich also leads, at least according to polls from early last week.

Now with the implosion of Herman Cain’s presidential dreams, Mr. Gingrich also is thought to have the inside track on receiving the endorsements of the former pizza baron.

Mr. Gingrich’s record, though, is coming under increasing scrutiny from his GOP rivals, who’ve pointed out that he has advocated for cap-and-trade, supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program and some sort of legal status for some illegal immigrants — positions that most conservatives abhor.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, meanwhile, has described Mr. Gingrich as a “serial” hypocrite for bashing Freddie Mac after collecting more than $1 million working on behalf of the mortgage giant.

On the television talk-show circuit Sunday, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said that after spending 30 years in Washington, its “impossible” for Mr. Gingrich to shake up the capital, while former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania claimed Sunday that Mr. Gingrich would put social issues in the “back of the bus” and painted him as an opportunist.

“Newt is someone who likes to get issues that are 80 to 90 percent in the polls, and 80 percent in the polls are generally not necessarily conservative — strong conservative issues,” Mr. Santorum said on ABC’s “This Week With Christiane Amanpour.”

Previous front-runners have wilted under the spotlight, which will continue to focus squarely on Mr. Gingrich in the national televised debates this month, where he’s expected to get the pinata treatment from the rest of the field.

In the ad released Monday, Mr. Gingrich advocates for replacing the federal tax code and vows that “we can revive our economy and create jobs” and “shrink government and the regulations that strangle our businesses.”

“We can regain the world’s respect by standing strong again,” he says in the ad. “Being true to our faith and respecting one another. We can return power to the people and the states we live in so we all will have more freedom, opportunity and control of our lives.

“Yes, working together we can and will rebuild the America we love,” he says.