Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., (L) and Callista Gingrich at the second inaugural of President Barack Obama in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., March 16 (UPI) -- Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich told conservatives Saturday the Republican Party establishment lacks new ideas and is "mired in stupidity."
Speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Gingrich held up a candle and a light bulb to make an anti-establishment point favored by Tea Party supporters.
"[Washington lawmakers are] all trapped in the age of candles," he said.
Gingrich said the Republican establishment is "anti-idea" and "just plain wrong" in its approach to politics.
"We stand today on the edge of a great future, but Washington is blind to it in both parties," he said.
Gingrich said congressional Republicans have been "determined to avoid" learning "how to think about a new world."
"It is sobering to me to be standing here, as a senior member of this party, telling you from 1976 to 2013 we have the dominant wing of this party, which has learned nothing and is as mired in the past and mired in stupidity as it was in 1976."
He said, however, the GOP should keep to its core principles, The Hill reported.
"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. "But we need lots of ideas about how to implement those principles in the 21st century."
Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., in a speech at CPAC Saturday, castigated President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for what she called a "life of excess" while many are without jobs and the federal budget is being cut.
"We found out there are five chefs on Air Force One," she said. "There are two projectionists who operate the White House movie theater. They regularly sleep at the White House in case the first family wants a really, really late show. I don't mean to be petty here, but can't they just press the play button?"