Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is speaking live at Heritage Foundation right now. Newt’s address caps Heritage Foundation’s Protect America Month that started with a speech by Mitt Romney on June 1. Newt’s speech comes while the Senate is debating President Barack Obama’s defense authorization bill that looks to cut missile defense and scale back on important modernization programs like the F-22 fighter aircraft and the Army’s Future Combat Systems.
UPDATE 10:10 AM: Newt jumps out of the box in saying what the conservative approach is all about—keeping the nation safe, free, and prosperous. That does not sit well with a White House that is undercutting defense and exploding the deficit—something not sitting well with the American people, as recent poll points out conservatives and independents out number liberals 2 to 1.
UPDATE 10:16 AM: Newt argues national security is about to become a big issue once again… the only question is, will the debate come before or after the next catastrophic disaster? The problem is not a failure of imagination, but failure of political will to deal with these issues. What keeps Newt up at night? The threat of ballistic missile attack with nuclear bombs or Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP); biological weapons; cyber attacks; and attacks on our systems in space.
UPDATE 10:20 AM: Newt on Missile Defense. “Missile defense,” Newt says, “is like 9/11. We’ll wake up one morning and say, ‘How could that have happened?’” It will happen, he argues, because this administration is neglecting missile defense (more on missile defense at 33 Minutes).
UPDATE 10:30 AM: Newt taking questions. Science is exploding… a lot of it taking place outside the United States. We have to be ready for strategic surprises—we are not. More on science and national security here.
UPDATE 10:35 AM: Newt on the Budget: “We need a safety-oriented, not a budget-driven, process,” Newt argues, “We need a full-service national security system… not a peacetime budget.” Secretary of State Gates’ budget will leave us unilaterally disarmed by 2025. The Gates budget is fine, Newt concludes, “unless you want to defend yourself for more than five years and protect your children and grandchildren.” More on the budget here. “When the calculations fail,” Newt added, “You pay in blood.” Newt urges Americans to sign the petition for a strong national defense.
UPDATE 10:40 AM: Newt rejects Secretary Gates’ approach to defense budget as just bean counting. He argues for a new round of “rainbow planning.” We need overwhelming capability not for what we face now, but for what we could face in the future. Today, “we are running very big risks to save a few billion that may wind getting millions of Americans killed,” For more on rainbow planning see: Beyond the Rainbow Plans: Military Industrial and Mobilization Planning in an Uncertain Century.