Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting in National Harbor, Md., Saturday, March 8, 2014. Saturday marks the third and final day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting in National Harbor, Md., Saturday, March 8, 2014. Saturday marks the third and final day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast (AP)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Full of confidence and speaking with his usual braggadocio, former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich hammered former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday while advising conservatives to approach the 2014 midterm elections with caution.

Come 2016, Gingrich explained, Republicans should go after Clinton as “the leading prison guard of the past, propping up every failed bureaucratic institution.”

But the former Speaker was careful to warn activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside of Washington, D.C., they need to focus on a range of issues in this year’s elections.

“If we spend the next three years being primarily anti-Hillary, we will virtually guarantee her election,” he said.

“To make sure that doesn’t happen, we must stop being the opposition movement,” Gingrich added, “and we must become the alternative-government movement.”

He explained that such a movement should be part of bettering Americans’ lives, which should lead to more Americans viewing conservatism as the right way to go — not simply that liberalism is the wrong approach.

Gingrich also touched on the crisis in Ukraine, explaining that America should focus on its own natural resources: “If this president had any sense of seriousness about Russia, he would explain to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin that we’re going to drive down the price of oil enough that Russia will once again be bankrupt, as it was in the Cold War.”

“If you look out five or 10 years, and that’s what [the] strategy is, a poverty-stricken Putin is not a very dangerous Putin,” he added. “Much of his current power comes from the high price of oil.”

The former Speaker ended his address by taking a shot at President Obama’s penchant for vacationing in luxurious resorts.

“The president spent all of last week proving that he was capable of being ineffective,” Gingrich said. “I believe he can be as ineffective in Key Largo as he was in the White House.”

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