SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Now that the Iowa caucuses are behind him, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is focusing on New Hampshire. And just a short time ago, the GOP presidential hopeful held a town hall meeting in the Granite State explaining why he thinks he is the best candidate to take on President Obama in 2012.
Now leading up to Tuesday's primary, the Gingrich campaign has released a brand new ad on Mitt Romney's economic plan. Listen to this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney's economic plan? Timid. Part of it virtually identical to Obama's failed policy. Timid won't create jobs and timid certainly won't defeat Barack Obama.
Newt Gingrich's bold leadership balanced the budget, reformed welfare, helped create millions of new jobs. The Gingrich jobs plan? A powerful plan for growing our economy and creating jobs, rebuilding the America we love with bold conservative leadership.
NEWT GINGRICH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Newt Gingrich and I approve this message.
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HANNITY: All right, joining me with reaction, the man himself, presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, thank you for being back with us.
GINGRICH: I'm delighted. By the way, I do approve of that commercial.
HANNITY: OK, I think you said that in the ad.
All right, let me ask you specifically -- strategically and tactically, you have been around politics a long time. I watched you when you were in Georgia. I was there the night you became speaker. You always knew negative campaigns, negative ads work. There was a Super PAC that was running a lot of ads against you. You had Romney Super PAC. You had Ron Paul attacking you.
Why did you not respond in Iowa? In retrospect, do you think that was a mistake?
GINGRIGH: I think the only major mistake we made was not doing an ad early on that had somebody like Congressman J.C. Watts explain how false the Freddie Mac charges were and walk people through the accuracy of the fact that I didn't do any lobbying. I personally only got about $35,000 a year and the whole ad on Freddie Mac was a lie. That would have been a good ad to do and in retrospect, I wish we had done it.
But the rest of it, I frankly was watching to see what would happen. Now for two solid weeks, I asked Governor Romney to have his PAC quit doing this stuff. I thought it was demeaning. Not to me, I thought it was demeaning to the process. I think Iowans were sick of it. I wanted to make a case to the national news media. I have been persistently positive. The most I will do is draw a contrast as you just saw in that ad. I will draw a contrast only on public policy. I'm not going to go out and play gotcha games and I'm not going to distort Governor Romney's personal life or his personal records or his personal business. I am going to a draw contrast between what he did as governor, what he's done in public policy. I think that is fair game. He could do the same thing to me.
But I wanted to have it locked in everybody's mind that for three weeks, 45 percent of the ads in Iowa attacked me personally. I continue to be positive. All of my ads were positive. I did everything I could to set the right tone for America's future and the right tone for the people of the country. It's sad that somebody like Governor Romney was not prepared to have that positive campaign.
But that's fine. He and his PAC can run whatever kind of junk they want to run. I am going to run direct policy-oriented contrasts of a Massachusetts moderate and a Reagan conservative. I'm prepared to have that debate in every state in the country. I have no doubt that the Republican Party in the end will pick a Reagan conservative over a Massachusetts moderate.
HANNITY: All right, you started -- there has been a strategic shift. I mean from the moment -- I have the ad right here. The choice, only a bold Reagan conservative can defeat President Obama. That ad is different than what you have been running. You weren't really running comparative ads in Iowa. So, you are going to run the ads. What is the case now you are making? You know, because, look, you know, if I had Frank Luntz here and we had a group of people, 90 percent would say they hate negative ads, but negative ads work -- or if you want to define them as negative ads.
GINGRICH: Well, negative ads have an impact. Remember, we went through a long stretch -- and because we know each other so well, you were there. For two months the national media said I was dead.
Then we gradually, slowly came back and I described my campaign as a tortoise. I said, you know, the bunny rabbits run passed and they fall asleep. I keep going forward one step at a time. Suddenly, we took off. All of it positive, all of it based on the debates, all of it based on good ideas and on a 21st Century contract with America. At one point, I was ahead I think by almost 18 or 20 points in the Gallup poll. That was all positive stuff. And now you have had a series of attacks and now we have to rebuild again so we will. We'll rebuild like the tortoise. We'll rebuild steadily, happily, positively. But I have always been confident in this race. Because I don't believe -- the state that produced Michael Dukakis, John Kerry and Mitt Romney is not going to produce the Republican nominee. That is just a fact.
In the end, Governor Romney will not be able to hide behind negative ads. People will actually look at his record and realize he raised taxes as governor. They'll realize he appointed liberal judges who were pro- abortion. They will realize he wrote Planned Parenthood into Romneycare. He wrote tax paid abortions into Romneycare. All of these things will add up. People will go, oh yes, that is not somebody I want to be Republican nominee.
HANNITY: All right, you got two debates this weekend. So I assume that this battle is going back and forth probably between the two of you. I know the country will be watching. They are paying very close attention.
As you make these comparisons though between the two of you, a lot of people say all right, what is the tone going to be? You were on I think the CBS morning show or you were asked do you think that Mitt Romney was lying and you said yes. Some people said maybe that is not a good tone to take. What is your reaction on what some of the pundits have said on that?
GINGRICH: Well, look, I didn't say it. If Bob Schieffer asked you that question, would you have answered him honestly or not? I didn't say it angrily. I'm not particularly angry. I have been in the process of the public life a long time. I understand that people can do all sorts of really stupid things. That doesn't offend me personally. This is about the country. This is about -- you know, if we're going to be angry, let's be angry about the economic mess we're in. Let's be angry about a Congress and a president who can't work together. Let's be angry about Barack Obama this morning fundamentally violating the Constitution by making recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess. There is lots of stuff you can be angry about that is real. Let's be angry about the fact that millions of Americans are sitting out here with their homes in danger of foreclosure. We can take care of the giant banks, but we can't take care of homeowners. A lot of good stuff to be angry about. I'm not particularly angry about the technique that Romney is using.
HANNITY: In Iowa -- sorry, New Hampshire, the latest poll that came out today, Romney was at 29, Santorum, 21. You were in third place, strong number, 16.
By all accounts, now that Mitt Romney squeaked out victory in Iowa and then likely to win New Hampshire, a state he was expected to win from early on. I guess all eyes then go to South Carolina where you are still leading in some polls there. How important then does South Carolina become in the entire process?
GINGRICH: Well, South Carolina is very, very important. I don't think South Carolina is going to vote for a Massachusetts moderate. I think you talked to voters of South Carolina, when you outline Romney's actual record, they look at you in disbelief.
They can't imagine that somebody who has those kinds of thing in his record would think he could run as a Republican. You saw this ad -- I think you saw the ad that John McCain did in 2008 indicating why Romney lost --
HANNITY: We played it last night.
GINGRICH: Well, Romney lost New Hampshire in 2008 as people looked to the ad and began to realize who is the real Romney as opposed to the candidate.
HANNITY: When I had you on radio earlier this week, you spoke to the issue of aligning a little bit with Rick Santorum. What did you specifically mean about that?
GINGRICH: Well, Santorum and Perry and I all three represent an American conservatism that is dramatically different than a Massachusetts moderate. So all three of us naturally have a very similar reaction I think to Romney's policies and a very similar sense. If you are going to write a platform, the three of us would write a platform dramatically more conservative than the kind of platform that Romney wants to write.
So I think in that sense, we all three have respect for each other. We all three share a broadly philosophical approach. Obviously, we're all competitors and each of us would like to be one who emerges as the ultimate winner.
So it's not -- you know, we're not going to be partners, but we do have a common agreement that we want a more conservative America than Mitt Romney does.
HANNITY: All right, so we're going to see you Monday night in New Hampshire?
HANNITY: It's getting more interesting by the day. Two debates this weekend. We'll be watching. We will see you Monday. Mr. Speaker, as always thanks for being with us.
GINGRICH: Good, see you then. Thanks.
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