In Rock Hill, Gingrich slams 'crony capitalism'

Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich smiles at children prior to addressing a GOP town hall meeting, Wednesday, January 11, 2012, in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

ROCK HILL — Trying to breathe life into his struggling White House bid, Republican Newt Gingrich is striking a populist tone in South Carolina while railing against “crony capitalism” that he says undermines free enterprise.

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of about 300 in Rock Hill, the former House speaker also pledged to fight “anti-Christian bigotry.”

Gingrich has had disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire but made clear Wednesday that he isn’t going down without a fight.

South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary is the first in the South and critical for the Georgia congressman. Gingrich hopes to appeal to the state’s evangelical and socially conservative voters, some of whom are skeptical of Mitt Romney, the GOP front-runner.

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Gingrich played up his regional ties, saying “It’s good to be home in the South.”