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Fox News "Hannity" - Transcript

Interview

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SEAN HANNITY, HOST OF "HANNITY": Welcome back to special edition of "Hannity" live from Des Moines, Iowa and speaking about tomorrow's highly anticipated Iowa caucuses, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was quoted earlier today as saying he didn't think he was going to win in Iowa.

But Gingrich has since back tracked arguing that he initially answered the question inaccurately and is now saying that he may pull off, quote, "one of the great upsets in the history of the Iowa caucuses."

Now weeks ago, he was the top candidate in the state. But today, he is polling around fourth place. He has also discussed the sharp decline on the negative attack ads that are being run against him.

Joining me now to respond, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, good see you. Welcome back, sir.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's good to see you. I should say, Sean, the second half of the sentence that didn't make the headline as I said the Des Moines poll says 41 percent are undecided.

If that's the case, any of us could win. That is such a huge swing vote that all of us basically are in the hunt. I think the good news for conservatives tonight is that somewhere between 76 and 79 percent of the vote is going to go to outsider conservatives.

And the only moderate establishment candidate is going to get something like 21 percent to 23 percent of the vote. So this will clearly be a victory for conservatism and set the stage for the rest of the primary campaign, as a choice between Massachusetts moderate, and a conservative as we work our way through the issues.

HANNITY: Let me ask you about this. You used the term you had been "Romney boated.' Obviously, a reference to the term "swift-boating,' that had been used against John Kerry.

I asked the governor moments ago, he was on the program, if he would ask the PAC that is running the negative ads against you to stop them. He made no indication that they would.

What is your reaction back to him? Do you think these ads have been unfair? Do you think maybe you should go up with your own ads responding?

GINGRICH: I'm not going to engage in that kind of petty negativity. I think it demeans the politics and it demeans the country. It's exactly what we don't need in Washington. There's enough hostility and negativity already.

All I'll say is that I'll be prepared Wednesday morning in New Hampshire to draw a clear contrast between conservatism and the Romney record, which was to not be for Reagan in the 1980s, to be a Democrat for Paul Tsongas in 1992 when Tsongas was the most liberal candidate, to run to the left of Teddy Kennedy in 1994, which was not an easy thing to do.

To describe himself as a moderate running for governor in 2002, to have tax paid abortion in Romneycare, to have Planned Parenthood written by law into Romneycare as a key decider with no right to life group, by the way.

We'll just go through how wide the gap is between conservatism and the Massachusetts moderate policies that Romney and in the real world, not in this campaign speeches or his paid ads, but in the real world the moderate Massachusetts positions that he espoused for his entire career.

HANNITY: All right, if I am hearing you right, I kind of hear here a strategic or a tactical shift. That is that you feel that up until this point you tried to run a positive campaign. Now, kind of in Iowa the gloves are off and you're going to make some comparisons between you and Governor Romney. Is that a fair analysis?

GINGRICH: Look, I'd rather stay with a comparison between my tax plan, which the Wall Street Journal said Saturday was the best, most aggressive job creation plan available. The Romney plan, which they described so timid it could be Obama's plan.

I'd rather stick at this level of pure policy, but if the governor and his paid negative ads are determined to engage in negativity (ph), I'm going to tell the truth. We're going to have the video. We're going to have historic facts. We're going to let the people see for themselves.

None of the stuff I describe is the stuff he described. Let's have a discussion of who has been engaged of a movement conservative since I went to a Goldwater organize media 1964? And who's been aloof from the conservative movement, refuse to sign contract with America.

Rejected Reagan and Bush policies and has been clearly not part of the conservatism? I think over the next few weeks, you will see a much clearer understanding of who Mitt Romney is.

HANNITY: Yes, I spoke to you earlier today on my radio program. You said you thought you probably made a mistake in your handling of the issue with Freddie Mac. I want to give you a chance to explain that.

GINGRICH: Yes, I think after the very first debate, I should have recognized how confusing and how clumsy I was and I should've come back. Congressman JC Watts for seven years head of the Freddie Mac Watch Committee and he said publicly that I never once approached him at all.

Congressman Rick Lazio was the chair of the Housing Subcommittee while I was speaker. He has said I never once asked him to do anything for them. In fact, I backed all of his reform ideas.

The New York Times reported that one time I went to the House and talked about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to the House Republicans, I told them to vote no, to vote against giving them any kind of money.

The only time, only published article from Freddie Mac, I actually said they needed more regulation. So I think if we explained that and explained that I didn't get $1,600,000 any more than Mitt Romney got gross revenue of Bain.

I got about $35,000 a year and the rest of it went to staff, to offices and to overhead, to all the things a company does. I think when people look at $35,000 a year and they look at strategic advice.

And they realize my only act as a citizen was to say don't give them the moneys for them to reform themselves they suddenly have a whole new understanding of the issue. I think that's the ad we should have run about a week ago.

HANNITY: Mr. Speaker, two interesting things that you have said recently. One is you think that Barack Obama should forfeit his salary this year, meaning, as president. Another thing is you would consider Governor Palin possibly to be your running mate. I want quick answers on those if I could.

GINGRICH: OK, well, the president's announced in effect he's going to campaign all year. He's not going to work with the Congress. He's going to try to govern in a totally unconstitutional way.

If he doesn't want to be president, why is he drawing the salary and doing all the things? This is a bizarre administration in their recent statements.

I think Governor Palin has a lot of talent and lot of things she could do. One of the areas frankly is energy. I could imagine her being considered for a number of places.

I don't know that she'd want them. But if you want to really open up America's public land and have chance to really develop energy, I think that would be an area she would be enormously effective.

HANNITY: All right, Mr. Speaker thanks so much for being with us.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

HANNITY: I'm sure you are probably gratified that the caucuses are finally here and the game is on. Thanks for being with us.

GINGRICH: It's going to be very exciting. Thank you.

HANNITY: All right, thank you.


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