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Public Statements

Fox News "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" - Transcript

Interview

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: First, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Nice to see you, Mr. Speaker.

NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE/FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Great to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you certainly didn't beat around the bush today, and you said that the president should fire the energy secretary, Energy Secretary Chu. Why?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, he's the anti-energy secretary. By his own admission, he wants American prices to be about the European level, which would be $9 or $10 a gallon. When he was asked yesterday, he said that he had no intention of trying to get gasoline to be less expensive and his goal was to get the American people to go to alternatives.

He then cited two examples, one a battery breakthrough, the other natural gas, neither of which is available in the near future nor will be available in quantity in the near future. Today, he gave himself an A- minus grade. This is the guy who, remember, had a half billion dollars thrown away on Solyndra.

But more importantly, it tells you that by his standard, the current gas prices are terrific. They're doing exactly what Obama and Chu want them to do. They're causing pain for Americans, and they hope that will force them into smaller cars and force them into other kinds of vehicles. And I think their strategy is to get to $9 or $10 gallon gasoline. So I just think...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's the...

GINGRICH: ... if the president were to...

VAN SUSTEREN: If that's the strategy -- if that's the president's strategy, why would he fire him? Because he's doing what the president wants.

GINGRICH: Because the president's now given two speeches in less than a week in which he tries to pretend he's concerned about energy prices. I have a simple test for him. Fire Chu, appoint somebody from the oil industry who knows what they're doing, have them assigned to go out and produce oil in huge quantities, and they'll get it done.

Then appoint a second person from that background to the Department of Interior so that they can also help open up federal land. Those two together could lead to a revolution in American energy supply, make us independent of the Middle East and ensure that no future president would ever again bow to a Saudi king.

That's pretty straightforward. This isn't...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

GINGRICH: It's a very direct policy fight.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me go to Israel now. Prime Minister Netanyahu is visiting Washington this coming week. If you were president and you were having that private conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the Oval Office, what would you be saying to him?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I'd be briefing him on the all-out American effort to replace the government through a variety of non-military means, using the strategies that President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher and Pope John Paul II used to destroy the Soviet empire. And I'd outline for him what we're doing to get to a government that you could survive with in Iran.

Second, I would let him know that we will share with him all of our intelligence assets, and that if, at some point, he believes, as the prime minister of Israel, that he has no choice except to attack Iran because he wants to avoid a second Holocaust, that he would receive support from the United States and that we would certainly understand his desire to make sure that his country was not annihilated.

I would also point out that a Gingrich presidency would communicate publicly to the Iranians that if they continue to do what they're doing, they should expected to get hit, and it will be their fault for having caused it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think that's what the president's going to say to him next week?

GINGRICH: No. I think this president is incapable of that kind of clear understanding of who our enemies are and who are friends are. I think the president will beg him to do nothing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me go to Afghanistan. What is our goal right now, realistically, in Afghanistan?

GINGRICH: I think it should be to get out. I believe you've had more than enough evidence that a huge number of Afghans regard us as enemies, that they see us as occupiers. You have a Karzai regime which has not apologized for the killing of young Americans by Afghan soldiers.

I think this is a total mess. I think the president has embarrassed America by apologizing. And you'll notice at the United Nations his apology's taken as proof of guilt. They're talking about the need to punish the Americans. This is a total outrage.

This Koran had been defaced by radical Islamists who were using them to ship messages out of the prison. If anything, the president should have said he hopes every cleric in Afghanistan will condemn those who would deface the Koran. We are giving in to religious fanatics who are using this as an excuse to kill Americans. And I think it's a terrible thing for the president to have done.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, in terms of getting out, you can get out really slowly over the course of two years, or you could stay -- you know, let's go right now, let's -- let's pull up stakes, let's head home. What would you do?

GINGRICH: I would tell Karzai if he does not apologize for the killing of young Americans by Afghan troops that he should expect us to wave good-bye as fast as possible, and we wish him luck in trying to survive because he won't. The fact is, the Karzai regime will not survive when we pull out. And if we pull out precipitously -- I mean, I think we should not ask young Americans to risk their lives on behalf of a commander-in-chief who refuses to defend them.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you're -- so you'd say -- if you were president tonight, you'd call them all home now?

GINGRICH: No, I'd call Karzai tonight and I'd say, This is your last moment to have any kind of American support. We're not going to tolerate this kind of fanaticism, killing Americans. And we expect you A, to apologize for it, and B, to help suppress it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me turn to the campaign. The Romney campaign super PAC has been running a campaign -- an ad against you, and one of the clips that's in it -- it quotes you from a 1986 speech in which you're quoted as saying that President Reagan is clearly failing. That's a sound bite. And I'm curious if I have the whole story, if there's more to it or not?

GINGRICH: You know, the Romney campaign's level of dishonesty is really sad for somebody who wants to be president. Everybody who has studied that period knows that I was a very loyal ally of President Reagan.

Ambassador Faith Whitlesey, who was in charge of strategic communications, the highest-ranking woman in the Reagan White House, has written an article on this, and she has said that these things are total fabrication, they are deliberately taking things out of context.

I was, in fact, on the side of the president fighting the Republican establishment, which did not want him to say, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. The Republican establishment did not want him to call the Soviet Union an "evil empire." The Republican establishment wondered why he was so fixated on defeating the Soviet Union when they thought it wasn't politically useful.

I was a Reaganite fighting the Republican establishment. And I just think it's sad to watch somebody run for president with a continuing pattern of dishonesty, which is what Governor Romney's done.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, this is a super PAC, which -- I mean, I actually -- I mean, there's supposed to be a wall between the candidate...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Whatever...

GINGRICH: Well, come on. Have you seen -- have you seen the New York Times chart? The same consulting firm handles the campaign and the super PAC? I mean, look at the chart on The New York Times. It is an absurdity. I don't see how they think they can get away with it, except common sense will tell every American, We get it. This is all a game.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't...

GINGRICH: This is just them manipulating the system.

VAN SUSTEREN: My suspicion is that most Americans don't think there is that separation, but that's just my guess. All right, but anyway, they're spending $950,000 against you to air these spots in Georgia. But the one thing I'm curious -- did you say President Reagan is clearly failing? And was it part of a bigger story? I mean, I'm just trying to put that in context, that actual phrase.

GINGRICH: No, look...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's the one that they would run against you.

GINGRICH: Greta, I gave hundreds of speeches on behalf of Ronald Reagan. I don't know the context in which they took it out. But I do know that they have been attacked by fact checkers for being false. I do know that the Reagan people -- for example, Tony Dolan, who was his chief speech writer for eight years, thinks this whole thing is disgusting and that it's a total fabrication to suggest I was ever anti-Reagan.

That ad in every plausible way is dishonest. It's factually false. If they any sense of decency, they'd pull it. But that's their style. That's what they did to Santorum in Michigan. That's what they do to me. They don't try to build up Romney, they just try to tear down the other Republicans. I think it's a very sad way to run for president.

VAN SUSTEREN: Right now, looks like it's a runaway in Georgia for you. Tuesday's several days off. I'm curious...

GINGRICH: I hope so. That would be -- that would be good.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is Georgia a do-or-die for you?

GINGRICH: Well, I think Georgia is very important to us. And I'll note that they're going to spend another $950,000 here trying to tell people who have known me for years that I'm not the person everybody here knows I am.

So we've had great rallies. I'm talking to you from Macon, Georgia. I'm on the way to Savannah. I'll be in Columbus an Brunswick and Valdosta tomorrow. We're doing very, very well. As you know, we're ahead, well ahead in the polls.

And it's a little mystifying to me why they think they can come down here and try to convince people I'm not the person I've been my entire career.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, but just so we're clear, if you do you very well on Tuesday in Georgia, you're still in. If something happens between now and Tuesday...

GINGRICH: Totally.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and you don't do well, are you out?

GINGRICH: Well, I think -- I've said all along I think each of us have to carry our home state. I think Romney had to carry Michigan. I think Santorum has to carry Pennsylvania. I think I have to carry Georgia.

If the folks who know you and the folks where you are a favorite son, and you can't win there, then you lose, I think, an awful lot of your credibility as a candidate.

So we take carrying Georgia very seriously. We'll also be in Tennessee. I'll be in Knoxville, the tri-cities are and Chattanooga on Monday. Herman Cain and my daughter, Jackie, are there tomorrow. And they're going to be with J.C. Watts in Oklahoma on Monday.

So we're campaigning in a number of states simultaneously. But clearly, in our calculations, Georgia is the keystone. It's also, by the way, the biggest number of delegates that are up on Super Tuesday.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, I know -- I've heard you that say that you're running because of your grandchildren. That's one of the reasons. And I'm -- you know, so each -- each candidate sort of has a personal reason to do it.

But I'm curious, is it at all fun? I mean, it's, like, you know -- you know, we take swipes at you, the candidates do, the super PACs, I mean, all the candidates back and forth are taking swipes at each other.

I mean, is there any sort of -- sort of excitement and pleasure with it, as well?

GINGRICH: Oh, look, it's extraordinary. I mean, you -- you have so many nice people come up to you and say they're praying for you. So many nice people come up to you and say that they've always -- they've always wanted you to do something like this. You get to visit fascinating places and see what people are doing that are intriguing and learn all sorts of different things that you'd never learn in any other experience.

It's exhausting, but it's also, I think, exhilarating. And I think there's a -- you know, my dad was a career soldier, and "honor, duty, country" really mattered to him, 27 years in the Army. And I think you have this wonderful sense of being of service to your country.

And I can't complain. Yes, it's a rough-and-tumble business, but it's also a great honor as a citizen to be allowed to come out and outline an American energy plan, talk about $2.50 a gallon gasoline, and know that you're actually making an impact on the country and that the country that you love might just have a better range of choices because you ran.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Wednesday night, the night after the super Tuesday, are you going to come back here to "On the Record"?

GINGRICH: I will certainly try to. And I will check with our R.C. and see if I'm allowed to. R.C. will check with Toby, who's his boss, and we will try to do that, OK?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I...

GINGRICH: I think we're going to be in Alabama, I think. But I'll try -- if you want me to, for you, Greta, I will try to do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Great. Well, we'll find a satellite truck to find you. Thank you.

GINGRICH: All right.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I always like trying to book you while you're on the air.

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good luck.

GINGRICH: Thank you.


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