(CNN) - Newt Gingrich is often a political provocateur, taking aim at President Barack Obama and the Democrats, but at a book signing Saturday, he was simply a history buff.
At an event promoting his most-recent book, "Valley Forge," the former House speaker, who appeared with his wife Callista, took several questions from the small crowd, most of them focused on American military history. He also indulged in some historical what-ifs.
"What do you think would have happened if Stonewall Jackson had survived?" one audience member asked. "Who was the better general, George Washington or Robert E. Lee?" a second attendee asked.
Laura Itle, who calls herself a fan of history, attended the book signing at a Borders' bookstore in Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia.
"People often forget he's a historian," Itle said about Gingrich. She added she agrees with his politics only "sometimes."
Gingrich did offer some advice for President Obama after an attendee asked if George Washington's experiences could be a lesson for the current president.
"The president should slow down," Gingrich said. "He just suffered a dramatic defeat in the midterm elections … George Washington thought a lot. He was deliberate and slow."
Obama should "stop and come to grip with it," he said.
Gingrich's book tour comes as he considers a presidential run in 2012. He will make three stops in Iowa next week, an early presidential caucus state.
Potential candidates often release books and promote their image around the country before election cycles to drum up attention.
Gingrich's book, "Valley Forge," is a historical novel that tells the story of how George Washington, in command of the Continental Army, survived the harsh winter of 1777 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. It was co-authored with Bill Forstchen.