Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says the nation’s unemployment rate is a social issue and he points to his past record as speaker of the U.S. House as proof he could balance the federal budget in five years.

Gingrich spoke this afternoon in Pella as part of The Family Leader’s presidential lecture series.

“You can’t have strong families if they can’t earn a living,” Gingrich said at the start of his speech. 

Gingrich bemoaned the “passion for trivia” in politics and he touted his tenure as House Speaker as one in which Republicans worked to balance the federal budget.

“How can we have real conversations as a nation…and get beyond both demagoguery and trivialization?” Gingrich asked the crowd. “…I really believe somebody ought to stand up and say, ‘It’s time to have an adult conversation that’s not baloney.'”

During a question-and-answer period, Gingrich was asked about being in his third marriage. Gingrich talked about seeking reconciliation with God about the way he had conducted his private life, but then Gingrich turned the focus on his public life.

“You have to have somebody who has had an experience of doing some things that are real. The ‘Contract with America’ worked.  The fact is we did reform welfare. The fact is we did pass the first tax cut in 16 years. The fact is that we did balance the budget for four straight years,” Gingrich said. “And the question I would ask you in looking at it is, given my total experience as a public figure, am I person you can say: “He does do what he believes in. He does stand by the country.'”

Gingrich told reporters his campaign policy director is reviewing “The Marriage Vow” that The Family Leader is asking the presidential candidates to sign.  “The Marriage Vow” opens with a promise that the candidate will be faithful to their spouse.

Read and hear more about Gingrich’s appearance in Pella.