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Fox News "Hannity" - Transcript

Interview

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SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The race for South Carolina continues as the candidates attempt to rally supporters ahead of next week's primary. And among the candidates looking to reclaim the spotlight after Mitt Romney's victories in Iowa and New Hampshire is the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. And to help him in this fight, he is calling into question Governor Romney's conservatism. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed his position from pro-abortion to pro-life? He governed pro-abortion. Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion bills, put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board, but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board. And Romney signed government mandated health care with taxpayer funded abortions. Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney, he can't be trusted.

NEWT GINGRICH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Newt Gingrich and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And joining me now to layout his strategy for victory in South Carolina, former speaker of the House, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, welcome back. Thanks for being with us.

GINGRICH: It's good to be with you. And it's a very exciting time in South Carolina, as you pointed out. I think the message of a Reagan conservative jobs program, cutting taxes, cutting regulations, developing American energy, including offshore natural gas in South Carolina -- all of that is working very, very well. And the contrast between a Georgia-Reagan conservative and a Massachusetts moderate is a pretty decisive contrast in the Palmetto State.

HANNITY: There are a number of polls that came out today. Some more favorable to you than others. One very close -- has you very close with Mitt Romney, the Inside Advantage poll. What is different between Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, from your perspective?

GINGRICH: Well, the biggest difference is that we are drawing very clearly the distinction between Governor Romney's record, which is very different from his advertising, and my record. I'm for the Second Amendment. He was for Massachusetts gun control, and had a 400 percent increase in taxes on guns. I am for conservative judges. He appointed liberal judges in Massachusetts. You go down the list. I fought to cut taxes to create jobs. He raised taxes. In fact, there's an entire site called RomneyTaxes.com that outlines all the different tax increases he imposed. As a result, Massachusetts was 47th -- that is fourth from the bottom -- in creating jobs. Whereas, as speaker, we created 11 million new jobs working with Bill Clinton when I was speaker of the House, to cut taxes, cut regulations and have job creation. So I think difference -- the contrast is what's really beginning to work.

HANNITY: You know, this was not your strategy when you started in Iowa. And you -- last time you were on or the time before, you said you, frankly, were trying to have an experiment. That was you wanted to run a positive campaign. Now you are running what you're calling a comparative campaign. It is aimed directly at Romney. Would this be different had Mitt Romney Super PAC not run the millions of dollars of ads against you in Iowa?

GINGRICH: Sure, of course, yes. Look, I was very happy. I was running a totally positive campaign of big ideas, solutions for jobs, solutions for balancing the budget, solutions for national security. As a result, in the Gallup poll nationally, I was beginning to pull away by something like 12 or 15 points. So I understand that my competitors did what they thought they had to do. But as a result, they changed the ground rules. If you run a purely positive campaign when your opponent is spending $3.5 million attacking you, you have unilaterally disarmed. You might as well get out of the race. So we shifted gears to a straightforward contrast between a Georgia-Reagan conservative and a Massachusetts moderate. We're laying it out very factually. Everything in that ad you just played is factually correct. It's validated. And I'm very prepared to debate Romney next week over the accuracy of my ads versus his ads.

HANNITY: We have a debate right here Monday night on the Fox News Channel. I'll be there. I'm looking forward to being back down there in South Carolina. A lot has been made over the issue of Bain Capital in recent days. And I got into this with Governor Rick Perry the other night. He had some very harsh words, called it vulture capitalism. Ethics were thrown out the door. Those were his words. When I asked him about it, he doubled down. You seem to have pulled back. Your most recent comment was you are not attacking capitalism. You are attacking Romney's judgment. Explain the point you want to make on Bain. What is it?

GINGRICH: I do think it's kind of absurd that there has been this general response, mostly by Romney supporters, that to question his record is to be opposed to capitalism. Mitt Romney said he had two criteria for being president. One was his record as governor, which he now doesn't want to discuss because it's too liberal for South Carolina. The other was that he claimed he created 100,000 jobs. Well, the Washington Post yesterday gave him three Pinocchios on that jobs claim. They pointed out that in 1994, running for the Senate, he claimed to have created 10,000 jobs. And then he wasn't at Bain Capital in a management role after that. And they said they couldn't find any evidence that he created 100,000 jobs. Remember, working with Clinton, we created about 11 million jobs. So there's a pretty big difference in scale.

So I have asked questions about let's look at the record. Let's see the details. Don't just give us the claim. Show us what actually happened. That somehow got turned into questioning capitalism, which is baloney. This guy is running for president. He is making a set of claims. He bases a lot of it on his career. If you ask about his career, it's because he is running for president. I think he owes the country a much more detailed answer about what his career was like, what decisions they made. Because we're looking at the judgment, the values of a particular person, not of a system, but of one guy, Mitt Romney, who wants to be president.

HANNITY: You keep using the term Massachusetts moderate. I think most people recognize you are a conservative. Do you think that between you, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, you are splitting the conservative vote?

GINGRICH: Of course we are. That is of concern to us. Frankly, as the race clarifies over the next five or six days, my hope is, given the polls we've seen, where I'm clearly the only one who is close enough to Romney to beat him -- my hope is that the average South Carolina voter will decide they want to vote for the conservative who can stop Romney, not just cast a protest vote. And if we can consolidate conservatives -- it's very clear from the polling data. If we consolidate conservatives, we could beat Romney by a big margin. That is one of my major challenges in the next eight or nine days, is to convince conservatives to come together, to make sure that we don't nominate a moderate who I think would have a very hard time debating Obama.

HANNITY: How does Ron Paul factor into all this?

GINGRICH: I think Ron Paul is a protest candidate in his own universe, with his own supporters. I think you don't draw votes away from him and he doesn't draw votes away from anyone else. He is a unique protest candidate. He has a very strong message that is a combination of critiquing the Federal Reserve, calling for hard money, being basically an isolationist about Iranian nuclear weapons and indifferent to the survival of Israel. Then a lot of young people who want him to legalize drugs. I think that's a very interesting coalition. But it doesn't fit anybody else's campaign.

HANNITY: Mr. Speaker, thanks so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.


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