The former history professor in GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich emerged during his second day in the suburbs, as he told area students to dream big.
It's a motto he's taken to heart as he stays determined to contest the remaining presidential primaries even as the number of delegates he needs becomes harder to attain.
Candidates visiting the suburbsFriday
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected at 7:25 a.m. at Pancakes Eggcetera, 9643 W. Higgins Road, Rosemont.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is expected at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights at 2 p.m., then will appear at 7 p.m. at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights.
Romney is expected to be in the western suburbs, with details to be announced.
"I want to see if I can't reset this whole race around the idea of really big ideas and really big solutions," the former House speaker from Georgia told students, parents and area residents at Barrington High School at a morning visit, before heading to events in Elgin, Carpentersville and Lake in the Hills. He called the March 24 Louisiana primary a "halftime" of sorts.
One of the last presidents to successfully communicate such an idealistic vision, Gingrich said, was Democrat John F. Kennedy. Coincidentally, Kennedy also visited the North suburban high school during his 1960 presidential bid.
Going beyond his scheduled time allotment, Gingrich appeared more engaged and off-the-cuff than at his other Illinois appearances Wednesday and Thursday, opening up the end of the program to student questions.
While he spoke of his push for American energy independence and science and technological advancement -- campaign themes repeated in primaries across the country -- he also outlined some life lessons for the students. They included advice to be willing to work hard, to commit to learning long after their formal education ends, and to summon the "courage" to pursue those big dreams.
Gingrich also reminded teens to enjoy life, describing himself as an intrinsically cheerful person -- a description, he chuckled, that may shock other politicians and members of the press. Even as the prospects of a presidential nomination become dimmer, Gingrich said he is grateful for the opportunity at hand.
"I find every single day of the presidential campaign I'm learning new things," he said.
The town hall meeting at Judson University in Elgin was intended to engage members of the Latino community, as well as students on the quaint Evangelical campus on the Fox River. Invoking the words of former President Ronald Reagan, Gingrich suggested that many Latinos "are Republicans, they just don't know it yet."
Common ground, he said, can be found by starting "with the most basic of things that matter to people. Family. Jobs. Take-home pay. ... We must make sure we reach out and talk to folks and together we have a plan."
Standing in front of a set of gleaming organ pipes in the school's Herrick Chapel, Gingrich called for "holding sacred those items that other people hold sacred."
He criticized President Barack Obama for trying to forge "a one-sided peace with radical Islam, while crushing Christianity and Judaism."
That mentality, Gingrich said to thundering applause, "strikes me as exactly what is wrong with America today."
Gingrich has less than a third of the delegates of GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, and was bested by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in the Deep South, territory largely considered to be his must-win home region.
Yet, Gingrich quoted the biblical book of Proverbs as the reason he is staying in this race.
"Proverbs was right when it said that 'without vision, people will perish," Gingrich said. "I think we need a visionary leader."
He concluded his visit with stops to Barrington Republican Jack Roeser's Carpentersville engineering plant and a rally at Lake in the Hills Airport.
Dream: Gingrich also stopped in Carpentersville, Lake in the Hills