HUME: Hello again. And happy Easter from Fox News in Washington.
And there is some news -- Pope Benedict celebrated Easter mass this morning in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Tens of thousands of faithful attended the service where the Pope delivered his traditional Easter address.
And now, 2012 presidential politics. With the next primary is more than two weeks away, the candidates are reassessing where to go from here.
Joining us, Newt Gingrich.
Mr. Speaker, happy Easter. Welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
NEWT GINGRICH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you.
HUME: Let's talk about you a little bit and where you see yourself going here. You seemed reconciled to the likelihood, if not the inevitability, of Mitt Romney as your party's nominee.
GINGRICH: Well, I think you have to be realistic, given the size of his organization, given the number of primaries he's won. He is far and away, the most likely Republican nominee. And if he does get to 1,144 delegates, I'll support him. I'll do everything I can this fall to help him defeat Obama.
The primary goal of the entire Republican Party has to be, to defeat Barack Obama. That makes this maybe the most important election of our lifetime.
HUME: Now, you have indicated that one of the reasons you are staying in the race is to influence the platform. What do you hope to do with the platform?
GINGRICH: I think platforms matter in the long run in the evolution of the party. And the party is more than just a presidential candidate. It's Senate candidates, House candidates, state legislators.
When I go around the country, the number of people who walk up to me and say, they use to listen to GOPAC tapes. Now the Senate minority leader --
GINGRICH: GOPAC was an organization I helped build.
GINGRICH: And we sent out training tapes. This was 25 years go.
And people walked up and say, you know, I'm now the Senate majority leader. I'm now the speaker of the House. You have this long term evolution --
HUME: In states?
GINGRICH: In states. You have this long term evolution of the party and we're not an Etch-a-Sketch party. It was an unfortunate comment by Romney's communications director. We are a broadly conservative party. We don't have to be severely conservative, as Romney said in CPAC.
We also need something else that is really hard to do in American politics. We need a new generation of breakthroughs. This country is in trouble. The industrial world is in trouble. You look at -- Spain has 21 percent or 22 percent unemployment. The Greeks may suffer a one-third decline of the standard of living. There are huge problems around the world.
HUME: What are the key elements you will see in this platform?
GINGRICH: One is an American independence energy policy, that really is aimed at making sure no future president never bows to a Saudi king and making sure that we bring several million jobs home by producing probably 4 million barrels a day more oil here at the United States.
Second would be a personal Social Security savings account. Back in 1993, the last time we tried to fix Social Security, if we had adoption a Chilean model, where people have a personal account, there would be $16 trillion in savings by today. That's how much the build up would have been just based on what's happening in Chile, which is not a theory. It's actually happening.
We need an approach trying to stand up very firmly for religious liberty. The assault on the Catholic Church is very real and it's not just the Catholic Church.
HUME: How do you phrase that? How do you express that in the platform?
GINGRICH: I think you have a platform that says flatly that the government should not force its values on any religious institution. I think that's a very key part of this.
I was at a Baptist school, not a Catholic school, Louisiana College, and the president said they are right to life institutions and the Obamacare is imposing, they will close the institution rather than violate their religious beliefs.
Now, you know, George Bush had issued an executive order that guaranteed right of conscience. Obama is doing just the opposite. He's imposing the government.
HUME: What else?
GINGRICH: I think we need to have -- I would like to see all of the revenue from this new expanded energy go into a debt repayment fund. I mean, if you look at the size of the federal deficit today and you figure --
HUME: So, you are saying that the royalties would flow from the opening up of --
GINGRICH: They'd be sequestered right in --
HUME: -- the federal land.
HUME: Now, where does that money now go?
GINGRICH: It goes into a general operating fund.
HUME: All right. So --
GINGRICH: So, you need to get to a balanced budget which Paul Ryan has started down the road towards. And you need to be able to --
HUME: Pay down the debt.
GINGRICH: Pay down the debt.
And this is -- so when you get to the general election this fall, you are talking about very large decisions.
HUME: Right. So, do you have any reason to believe that Mitt Romney, since he's the likely nominee, would resist you on any of those plans?
GINGRICH: I don't know.
GINGRICH: I think a lot he will adopt.
HUME: Now, you had a meeting with him recently.
GINGRICH: We haven't talked about specific details. But we've certainly talked in general. He is, as I said, he has said himself, he's describe himself as severely conservative in his CPAC speech. I think conservative is enough.
I suspect he will accept solid conservative platform but he does have consultants who are in the Etch-a-Sketch tradition, who would like to somehow go into the situation and not have anybody there. Look --
HUME: In fairness, Mr. Speaker, that Etch-a-Sketch comment was made in reference to the fact that you do a kind of an emphasis reset, not a -- you don't change your convictions going into the general. That's not what he was saying. I mean, that's unfair to describe him as a man who's going to rewrite his whole platform.
GINGRICH: First of all, Romney didn't say it.
HUME: I know he didn't. That's what I'm saying. The reference was to the idea that --
GINGRICH: So, Romney --
HUME: Every candidate makes a change in emphasis.
GINGRICH: Right. So, Romney is in a pretty good place to say to the party -- let's have a very solid and aggressive platform which he can campaign on, but which can also appeal to the (INAUDIBLE).
Take for example energy independence. That's like a 79 to 60 issue. I mean, there are very few Democrats who like us defending on Saudi Arabia, and almost no Republicans who like us depending on Saudi Arabia.
So, you can build an aggressive platform that also set the stage for a fall campaign. I mean, Reagan didn't exactly reset in the fall of 1980. He articulated a series of things that brought the country together in a pretty decisive victory.
HUME: So let's talk about what happened to you in this campaign and where you are now.
HUME: You've seemed -- while you were here in Washington and you had a platform here at Fox News and elsewhere, you're essentially -- you are sort of in a post-political phase of your career. Then you ran and you got back in the middle of things.
So, where do you go now? Where are you -- where -- what's the future for you?
HUME: Do you want -- would you like to serve in the new administration?
GINGRICH: No, I think -- I mean, if I'm not -- if I end up not being the nominee, I have already talked to Chairman Reince Priebus at the Republican National Committee. I'd want to work this fall to help defeat Obama any way I could, whatever the team thinks I can do to be helpful, I would do. And beyond, to use your phrase, I go back to a post political career.
I'm glad I did this. For me, it was important as a citizen to try to do some very hard things, to try to bring ideas and new approaches. It turned out to be much harder than I thought it would, but it was right thing for me to do at that both in my life and for where I though the country was. I have no regrets.
But it's clear that Governor Romney has done a very good of building a very substantial machine. And I think Santorum is discovering in Pennsylvania right now, it's a challenge.
HUME: Do you think -- for his own good, do you think Santorum should get out?
GINGRICH: No, I think he has to make that decision.
And let me say, I hope everybody watching will have that family in their prayers. Their daughter I think is back in the hospital in a difficult situation.
Now, what is the situation regarding money? You've gotten broke doing it.
GINGRICH: It's hard. No, we are not going to go broke. But --
HUME: -- personal funds.
GINGRICH: No, not -- well, a little bit. But not dramatically. But we'll probably --
HUME: Carl Cameron, our Carl Cameron, reported this that you were something like $4.5 million in debt. Is that a fact?
GINGRICH: I think slightly less than that. But we owe much more than we wanted to. Florida got to be a real brawl. And I think -- unfortunately, our guys tried to match Romney. It turned out we didn't have anything like his capacity to raise money.
HUME: And also tell me how you could pass that.
GINGRICH: Well, we didn't see -- I mean, Hillary came out of the 2008 campaign owing $25 million. I mean, you go out and you do fundraisers and you work things out with people and spend a fair amount for a couple of years raising money.
HUME: Well, this will severely constrain the extent of what you can campaign and do ads and travel and whatnot --
GINGRICH: No, no. Only in terms of the campaign.
GINGRICH: Yes. Oh, yes. In the campaign, we are operating on a shoestring and we're frankly, we have great response in Delaware, which is a state you can operate responsively. We have a great response in North Carolina. And we'll see what happens in those two upcoming primaries.
But it's really interesting, when you're out on the road, or even last night, I went to (INAUDIBLE) basilica and afterwards, people walked up. In Delaware this week, in North Carolina this week, people don't walk up and say, oh, please drop out. People walk up and say, I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you're talking about ideas. Please stay in. How can I help?
And so, I do think there is a desire for more idea-oriented Republican Party -- even if that doesn't translate to being able to take on Romney on issues (ph).
HUME: So, you're a man who at one point was leading on the polls.
HUME: You even suggested that you were on glide path of the nomination and it didn't work out. I want to ask a question about your faith.
HUME: How does your faith affect the way you dealt with the disappointment and the defeat that came your way?
GINGRICH: I'd say whether the glide path started to have to run into anti-aircraft called Romney --
HUME: There you go.
GINGRICH: One of the biggest things, (INAUDIBLE) and I did a movie of John Paul II called "Nine Days to Change the World," where we spent a lot of time studying the Pope, going back to Poland and studying his life under communism. And before that, his life on Nazism, where he lived under a death sentence if he was caught.
He doesn't say, "Have courage," he says, "Be not afraid." And I think, I'll get emotional, but on Easter Sunday, it's good to remember -- if you can shadow, and if you can hide beneath the cross, there is nothing to be afraid of.
This is a great campaign. We have great experiences. Some things work, some things don't work.
HUME: Now, would you -- would you describe your relationship right now with Mitt Romney? You guys have said some very harsh things about each other. You essentially accepted and argued the vulture capitalism case, although that was not your phrase.
HUME: But essentially you agreed with that. Pretty harsh stuff coming from a conservative about a businessman. He said some quite harsh things about you.
HUME: Are you men at peace with each other at this point?
GINGRICH: Sure. I think look, I hit him as hard as I could. He hit me hard as he could. It turned out he had more things to hit with than I did. And that's part of the business. He's done the fundraising side virtually.
We are both -- and I think Santorum would agree with this. We are absolutely committed to defeating Barack Obama. If Mitt Romney ends up as the Republican nominee, I will work as hard for him as I would for myself. And I think in all honestly, you could ask Mitt. But I think if I would have ended up Republican nominee he would worked as hard for me.
We really see, we're both grandparents, we really see this as a fight for future of our grandchildren's country. And we really see this as not just defeating Obama but change in Washington is really, really central to the future of this country. I mean, this is the most important election in some ways since 1860.
Barack Obama is a genuine radical. And if he gets reelected with this economy and these gas prices and this deficit, who knows what he'd do in the second term.
HUME: Well, he'd be constrained of by the Republicans who control at least one House and possibly two.
GINGRICH: Well, this is president who exploits every advantage of the presidency to minimize constraint. You know, when you have a secretary of defense who says we don't need Congress' approval to go to war as long as we have the U.N. --
GINGRICH: I mean, this is -- this is not an administration I would rely on the ability of Congress to constrain very well.
HUME: Mr. Speaker, it's nice to have you this Easter Sunday. Happy Easter to you and Mrs. Gingrich and your family.
We'll see how the campaign plays out in coming weeks. Up next, President Obama and Mitt Romney square off in the battle of the budget. Two key senators continue that debate after this quick break.