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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript

Interview

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COSTELLO: The governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, is a big Gingrich supporter and he's here with me now. Welcome.

GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL (R), GEORGIA: Thank you, Carol. Nice to be with you.

COSTELLO: Thank you so much for coming in. We appreciate it. So Newt Gingrich has to win big in Georgia. I mean, he can't win with like 35 percent or 40 percent. He has to win 50 percent of the vote. Do you think he can do it?

DEAL: Well, he has to win 50 percent to get all of the 76 delegates. Obviously, it's a proportional if you are less than that percentage.

We think he's doing extremely well, the polls indicate that. The weather is beautiful in Georgia today so there's no excuse for people not to get out and vote. We're hoping that he's going to have a big win here.

COSTELLO: What if he doesn't though. Will he remain in the race?

DEAL: Well, that's certainly his decision and not mine. But I do think that it will show that he has significant support for people who know him the best. That's the people in Georgia where he represented our state for 20 years, brought the speakership to our state, which is a huge distinction.

COSTELLO: Is this the strangest Republican primary that you can remember?

DEAL: It would certainly fit that qualification. It has certainly been one of the most brutal, I think, in terms of negative ads. I think people are getting tired of that.

You may recall that Speaker Gingrich started out with a pledge that his was not going to be a negative campaign. I think until about middle to the latter part of December last year, he held to that pledge.

But of course, he was getting bombarded during the whole time of that and certainly I think he felt like he had to retaliate or answer, but --

COSTELLO: So that kind of puts a politician in a rough spot because, you know, they can pledge not to do any negative campaigning, but it works, right?

DEAL: Unfortunately.

COSTELLO: But it also turns off voters in the end. So you're caught in this weird place. So what do you do?

DEAL: It is very difficult. You know, people profess that they don't like negative advertising, but the polls and the results indicate that it does work in some cases. I think that's unfortunate.

I think when you have it over such a prolonged period of time as we have seen in this primary season, I think it does begin to wear thin and people want to know, what are your ideas, how can you implement your ideas?

I personally think that having served with Speaker Gingrich in the Congress of the United States, I saw what he was able to do, translate his big ideas into reality. Welfare reform, balance in the federal budget. Those are things that are still issues that are important to conservatives in this country.

COSTELLO: One of his big issues is $2.50 a gallon gas. Most economists say it's just not reality. He can't do that, especially in the short term.

DEAL: Well, I think we all recognize that we are in a global economy in terms of the cost of energy. But the reality is that's a contrast with the administration's position about not allowing us to fully utilize the resources we have available to us here domestically.

COSTELLO: But even that will take a lot of time, I mean, we can like develop the Keystone pipeline, you know, if the president would allow it, right?

DEAL: Right.

COSTELLO: But that will take a long period of time and we're not going to see $2.50 a gallon unless the markets say we're going to see $2.50 until maybe that pipeline is completed and we increase domestic oil production.

DEAL: Well, the sooner we get at it the better and the closer we will come to $2.50 a gallon. The problem has been we have talked about this issue for a very long time and have not really significantly addressed it.

We have the capacity to be relatively self sufficient over the long haul with our natural gas, with our shale oil and with other traditional oil resources, both onshore as well as offshore.

We have put ourselves in a posture of sitting in a time-out corner for a very long time and when you do that you become subject to these international sources. I think that's what Speaker Gingrich is addressing.

COSTELLO: I would also like to talk to you about Obama care and something that Mitt Romney said yesterday in Youngstown, Ohio. He was comparing his health care plan in Massachusetts to Obama care.

And he said that his plan differs from President Obama's and he wishes the president would have called him at the time. So let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Mr. President, one more thing, why didn't you call me when you were working on this thing? Why didn't you pick up the phone and say, is what you are doing in Massachusetts a good model for the nation? I would have said, no, no, what you're doing is wrong. It's going to make a mess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: So you served in the U.S. Congress and one of your last vote, right, was against Obama care.

DEAL: Right.

COSTELLO: So as you listen to MITT ROMNEY and he strives to put, you know, a different stamp on his plan from President Obama's, is it -- are they different plans?

DEAL: Well, I'm not going to try to address what the Massachusetts plan is. It's not one that would work in Georgia, in my opinion. But I think the real distinction here is whether or not government is going to mandate that individuals purchase something.

You know, we've talked a long time about doing away with the death tax. This is a living tax. If you are alive, you're mandated to buy something. And I think that's the main difference here between conservative opinions and the Obama care plan.

COSTELLO: It doesn't really matter what Mitt Romney would say though because you have to buy insurance in Massachusetts.

DEAL: That's right. And the mandate, I think, is the critical focal point on which much of the discussion is hinged. I think, quite frankly, when the Supreme Court rules on it, it will be that question on which the decision may very well pivot.

COSTELLO: Governor Deal, thank you for coming in today. We appreciate it.

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