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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: David, thank you. You'll be back later and we'll be joined by our White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell who will have more on all this. But let's turn now to the campaign, and Newt Gingrich who is with us this morning in Birmingham. Mister Speaker, good morning. What would you do this--

NEWT GINGRICH (Republican Presidential Candidate/Former House Speaker): Good morning.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --morning if you were President?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I think you have to reassure the Afghan people that there will be transparency, that justice will be done. We're the opposite from al Qaeda and the Taliban. They kill civilians deliberately. We protect civilians and when a tragedy like this occurs, we have an absolute obligation to deal with it out in the open and to do so to ensure that justice is done and that they know how serious we are about protecting the innocent of-- of every background and every nationality.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You were pretty strong about the President's apology over the burning of the Koran. Well, what-- what can he say now? What should he say now?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, look this-- this is a total different situation. With the burning of the Koran, they were killing young Americans. And no American President should apologize to people who're in the process of killing young Americans. This is a different situation. We obviously want to offer condolences to the families. We-- I think we want to offer compensation. We want to recognize this is a terrible event. And as I said, we-- we're in the business worldwide of protecting the innocent. Our enemies, the terrorists, are in the business worldwide of killing the innocent. And we need to make very clear that moral distinction. And then we have to live up to that distinction.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Is it time for us to leave Afghanistan, Mister Speaker?

NEWT GINGRICH: I think it is. I think that we have to reassess the entire region. I think the-- the revelations about Pakistan having hidden Bin Laden for seven years in a military city near their national defense university, and then hunting down not the people who were protecting Bin Laden, but hunting down the people who were helping America, I think the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and you look around the region, this is going to get much worse. It's why I've called for an American energy policy. We need to decide that we're going to produce our own oil and we're going to frankly be capable of surviving without having to define or dominate the region because I don't think we have the willpower or the capacity to do the things you have to do to fundamentally change the region.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You-- you say it is time to leave. Do you mean just let's leave. Let's start leaving right now. Not, go, wait around.

NEWT GINGRICH: I think we need to reconsider the whole re-- I think we need to reconsider the whole region. We need to understand that our being in the middle of countries like Afghanistan is probably counterproductive. We're not prepared to be ruthless enough to force them to change. And yet, we are clearly an alien presence. That was the real meaning of-- of the reaction to the Koran burning. I mean the fact is those Korans had been, in fact, defaced by Muslims who were prisoners. They had been abused by Muslims not by Americans. And yet, the instantaneous anti-foreigner sentiment is so deep that I think we need to recognize-- we're walking on eggshells in places like Afghanistan. And after twenty billion dollars in the last decade, it's pretty hard to argue that the Pakistanis are seriously our allies when they hide Bin Laden for seven years.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Let's talk a little politics here. Last week you told us you had to win Georgia and you did win. But now it looks like you've got a little competition shaping up in Alabama and Mississippi. Are these must-win states for you, Mister Speaker?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, they are the states I want to win. I think they are the states that we are going to do very well in. We're going to get a lot of delegates in both Mississippi and Alabama. And I think the odds are pretty good that we'll win them. We're campaigning in both Alabama and Mississippi today and tomorrow. We've had great reaction, great crowd response. And we have good organization in both states. You're always playing catch-up a little bit to Romney because of the scale of his money and how early he starts advertising. But the truth is we've caught up pretty dramatically. And I think we'll have a good day on Tuesday.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But--

NEWT GINGRICH: And I am committed-- I am committed to going all the way to Tampa. I've got, I mean part of this, Bob, is I have a hundred and seventy-five thousand people who donated to the campaign. Ninety-five percent of them have given under two hundred and fifty dollars. They want a visionary conservative in the Reagan tradition. And I think they deserve to have a voice and I'm doing everything I can, starting with our American energy policy and our proposal for two-fifty a gallon or less for gasoline--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me--

NEWT GINGRICH: --to outline the kind of future we'd like to have.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --let me just play for you something that John McCain, your Republican colleague said, he is a Romney man, of course. But he told me this week that the longer this campaign goes on, the more he worries about it. Here's what he said.

JOHN MCCAIN: So every day between now and November that is devoted to winning the primary is lost on winning the general election. And that I have to tell you it makes me very worried about our chances of winning in November.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Now, a group of conservatives, social conservatives, people like Tony Perkins, the family research council, and-- and others, said this week that you could be a king maker. That you ought to get out of this and throw your support to Santorum. What about that?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Senator McCain's memory is exactly backwards. It was Senator McCain who won the nomination early. It was Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who fought all the way into mid June. It didn't seem to hurt Barack Obama to have a vigorous contest. He won the election, remember? So I think that Senator McCain has it backwards. Second, the same people who-- who have been for Santorum are for Santorum. I get it. But the fact is I have significant differences with Senator Santorum. And, you know, all conservatives aren't the same. As leader of the House, we balance the budget for four straight years. As a member of the Senate leadership team, Senator Santorum ran up a trillion-- seven hundred billion dollars in deficits and-- and had to raise the debt ceiling five times. I am for less regulation. I have called for repealing Sarbanes-Oxley which is really hurting American business. Senator Santorum helped pass it. On economic issues, I am much, much more conservative than Senator Santorum. But more importantly, on big long-term vision level things like an American energy plan, like a personal social security account for young Americans, like a-- a project on brain science of Alzheimer's and autism and Parkinson's and mental health. We're just-- we're-- we're different kind of people. I represent the Reagan tradition of very large ideas. He represents being a team player on a Washington team. This is not the same kind of conservatism.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Speaker, we always appreciate you stopping by and answering the questions. Thank you so much. And I'm sure we're going to--

NEWT GINGRICH: (INDISTINCT).

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