Newt Gingrich said on Saturday that while the Republican Party doesn't need new principles, it does need to rethink the way it implements those principles, using a candlestick and a light bulb to illustrate his point.

"Now, you can hear a false attack that we don't need new ideas. Let me draw a distinction: We don't need new principles," he said to a full auditorium at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

"But we need lots of ideas about how to implement those principles in the 21st century," Gingrich added.

He then held up a candlestick and a light bulb and charged that "[Washington lawmakers are] all trapped in the age of candles."

The former GOP presidential contender picked up on an anti-establishment vein that's run through much of the 40th annual CPAC this year, one of the nation's largest annual gatherings of conservative activists and leaders. The conference typically skews to Tea Party supporters and libertarians, and Gingrich's speech tapped in to the grassroots dissatisfaction with the GOP establishment, following a disappointing 2012 election.

"Let me be clear: The Republican establishment is just plain wrong about how to approach its politics," he said, to cheers from the crowd.

"We have to disenthrall ourselves of the establishment's anti-idea approach. We must disenthrall ourselves from an accountant green eyeshade's approach to thinking about budgets. We must disenthrall ourselves from a consultant culture whose politics can be reduced to raising money to run ads to attack somebody," Gingrich added.

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And in looking for new ideas, Gingrich proposed a reading list that included the somewhat atypical "Citizenville," written by the former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who attempted to legalize gay marriage in the city during his tenure.

Gingrich also proposed holding congressional hearings on "the future," and promoted his upcoming educational seminar session, called Newt University.

Though much of his speech centered on the GOP's future, Gingrich also showed an awareness of the contemporary principles of the party, closing with a defense of the anti-abortion-rights sentiment widely held within the conservative movement.

"I do believe that we ought to focus on the right to rise, because we want every American to have a better future. But I also believe we should unflinchingly stand for the right to life, because that's the predicate for the right to rise," he said, to loud applause.