Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich focused on social issues and national security during a speech in at the Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines on Saturday.

"Some people may tell you that we should stay away from values and stay from social issues," Gingrich told a crowd of conservative activists.


"I'm here to tell you if you don't start with values and you don't start by establishing who we are as Americans, the rest of it doesn't matter. Life is not just about money."

Gingrich appeared to be playing to the crowd at the gathering of GOP presidential candidates hosted by outspoken conservative Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whose support could be crucial to winning in Iowa next year. 

He repeated familiar GOP talking points on reducing the size of the government, cutting taxes and allowing offshore drilling while claiming the Obama administration's energy policies have left the U.S. relying on other nations such as Brazil to supply its needs.

"The Obama economic model is to borrow money from the Chinese to give it to the Brazilians," Gingrich said.

"If Reaganomics was the path to prosperity, Obamanomics is the path to depression. I think we need to repeal Obamanomics by repealing Obama. It's pretty straightforward."

Gingrich sounded confident that Republicans would be able to extend their mid-term victories into next year's presidential election, promising to re-center America around cultural values, economic policy and national security.

"I believe that in 2012 we can win a historic election and we could end the 80-year dominance of the Left and fundamentally re-center this country back into a center-right government reflecting the core values of the American people," Gingrich said.

Gingrich also pointed to the results of a Gallup pole of the U.S. public on American exceptionalism, noting that the vast majority view the country as superior to other nations.