ABC News' Elizabeth Gorman reports:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the keynote speaker for the 2009 Senate-House Dinner, began by thanking Gov. Sarah Palin for taking part in the fundraiser at the Washington Convention Center on Monday night.
After flip-flopping between staffers and GOP committees, it was finally agreed that Palin, who originally headlined the event, would take her seat at the dinner without speaking.
"I felt looking at John McCain and Sarah Palin, this country would have been amazingly better off had they been in the White House," Gingrich said about seeing the two greeting each other before the dinner.
In his lengthy 56-minute speech emphasizing inclusiveness and unity for the 2010 and 2012 elections, Gingrich flew to the defense of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
"I am happy that Dick Cheney is a Republican," the former Georgia congressman said. "I am also happy that Colin Powell is a Republican…A majority party will have lots of debates within the party."
Critical of SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Gingrich spoke out against group identities, quotas, and any judge who makes reference to foreign law.
"The center of sovereignty in America is inevitably and inexorably with the citizen. Because it is inalienable . . . And that’s why quotas and Sotomayor are wrong," he said.
On stimulus spending, he said Obama’s plan has already failed.
"Let’s be clear, this is not something that President Obama inherited from George W. Bush. He got his stimulus, on his schedule, for his amount, delivered by his robots in Congress, who did exactly what they were told without reading the bill," he said. "So he can’t turn around now and so, ‘Oh darn, George Bush made me have a stimulus plan."
The event, emceed by Hollywood actor Jon Voight, raised about $14 million according to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
ABC News' Bret Hovell contributed to this report.