Hours before the Republican debate in Jacksonville on Jan. 26, Florida Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told the grassroots organization Veterans For A Stronger America that he feels the most pressing threats against the United States are recent advancements in Chinese military strength and radical Islam.

“Islamism” in particular was a heavily hit upon topic, especially with the continuing upheaval in the Middle East kick-started by the Arab Spring and his belief that extremist Muslim political groups have taken advantage of that situation. He also noted the difference between Islamic extremists and Christians.

“It’s fascinating that in their world, that in their world, a martyr is somebody that kills you. In Christianity a martyr is some one who is killed for God,” he said.

There was heavy criticism on President Obama’s drawing down of military and defense spending, particularly in the face of a surging China. Gingrich called for increased efforts to stay ahead of the Chinese, not just in terms of defense, but in science and technology as well.

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