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Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia speaks during a gathering at Derry Medical Center yesterday afternoon.

DERRY — Patients at Derry Medical Center were surprised yesterday to get a dose of presidential politics during their doctor's appointments.

People coming in for medical appointments were treated to campaigning by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as he stumped in the state for the first time since recently announcing his GOP presidential bid.

Maria Parrella of Derry stopped by when she got caught up in a crowd of local residents, reporters and medical staff waiting for the Georgia Republican to speak in the center's lobby.

"I only came here to get some glasses and then all this commotion was going on," Parrella said. "Now, I'm curious. It's good to see (the candidates) come out. I was completely shocked."

Gingrich took aim at the Obama administration.

"Today, we have a real moral crisis in America," he said. "The American people will not stand for such a corrupting, unconstitutional state of affairs."

He attacked the federal health-care system and criticized the government for not creating jobs.

He said Derry Medical Center is a perfect example of a practice run by local doctors who have strong relationships with their patients.

But locally based health care is threatened by federal overregulation and bureaucracy spiraling out of control, he said.

"We must either limit government or government will limit us," he said.

He said the federal health-care plan has created 159 government entities charged with administering medical care, which raises costs and decreases efficiency. He called for a "free-market framework" for health care.

"We (must) move power out of Washington and return it to the people," he said. "That's why I will fight for the repeal of Obamacare until it is repealed completely."

Gingrich also criticized the Obama administration for the nation's 9 percent unemployment rate.

"America only works when Americans are working," he said. "Today, 40 months after the recession began, unemployment is actually going back up."

After his speech, Gingrich shook hands and chatted with people, including Derrick Wilson of Derry.

"Where were you two years ago?" Wilson said, asking Gingrich why he didn't run for president in 2008.

Wilson said change is needed in Washington.

"We gave one man a shot, so why shouldn't we see what someone else can do in there?" he said.

Gingrich fielded a few questions from reporters, but declined to comment on Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's controversial Medicare plan and a $500,000 debt he once owed to Tiffany's jewelry store.

Dottie and Don Quigley of Windham said they didn't want to miss Gingrich's visit. They said they like him, but aren't sure who they will vote for in the primary.

"I think he is a brilliant man," Dottie Quigley said. "He is a scholar of history, which is a big plus."

Her husband agreed.

"He also runs a business, which is a big plus," Don Quigley said. "But sometimes he has to watch what he says."

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