The GOP Prepares for War in New Orleans

Attendees gave her a standing ovation for that swipe at Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.

Newt Gingrich threw even more red meat to the audience with his critique of the administration's domestic policy, eliciting cheers and jeers from attendees. Using the "S" word that some Republicans fear could backfire on the GOP if they try to paint the Obama administration as "socialists," Gingrich brought the crowd to its feet:

"The most radical president in American history has now thrown down the gauntlet to the American people: 'I run a machine. I own Washington and there's nothing you can do about it,'" Gingrich said. He urged his fellow Republicans to stop what he called Obama's "secular, socialist machine."

The former House speaker seemed to relish his role as potential candidate for president in 2012. If he's not running, he's doing a darn good imitation of a candidate for president. As he did at the CPAC conference, Gingrich entered the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Riverside from the rear to the blaring of the "Eye of the Tiger" rock anthem, making his way to the podium through throngs of admirers, pressing the flesh and taking his time to allow the cheers to rise to even higher levels.

When he spoke, his conversational tone masked the harshness of his evaluation of Obama's presidency:

"This is a fundamental fight over the core definition of America," Gingrich said. He told the crowd they should be talking about culture, not politics. "The more we make this a choice about the nature of America, the weaker they are," he said.

Gingrich told a story about the Polish people when they were resisting communism, who he said came up with the slogan, "two plus two equals four," taking it from the writings of Albert Camus and George Orwell. He said the slogan grew from the fact that the authorities can't handle the truth, tying it to what he suggested were nonsensical numbers offered by Democrats about the health care bill.

"There are more of us than there are of the government," the former House speaker said, midway through his story about Polish resistance to communism. "So why are we afraid of them?"

He never said it outright, but Gingrich made it clear that he believed that President Obama's agenda was, at the very least, a radical break from America's past while he stopped short of saying it was "un-American." Again, as with the risk of painting the administration as "socialist," trying to sell the majority of voters on the "un-American" charge invites a backlash from independents and moderate Democratic voters who eschew that kind of extreme partisan rhetoric.

But the SRLC is hardly a place where such language is unwelcome. The GOP, more confident, combative, and fired up than it's been in years, relishes the coming fight as a former heavyweight boxing champion looks forward to a rematch with the fighter who knocked him out of the ring in their previous contest.

Judging by the mood of New Orleans attendees, the smart money will be on the challenger.