CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Newt Gingrich
Date: April 11, 2012
Location: Unknown

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BLITZER: All right. Remember, we're waiting the news conference, the special prosecutor in Florida about to file a charge, at least, one charge in the Trayvon Martin case against George Zimmerman, the shooter. We'll have live coverage. That's coming up here on CNN. Stand by for that.

We're going get to some other news right now, political news, important political news with Rick Santorum now formally out of the Republican race for the White House. Mitt Romney holding a huge delegate lead. The general election certainly appears to be under way. Romney versus Obama. There's one catch, though, two candidates, Republican candidates are still in the race. Joining us now is one of those candidates, the former speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich is joining us -- he'll be joining us in just a moment. We had a connection with him.

Unfortunately, I think we just lost that connection. As soon as we reconnect with Newt Gingrich, we have a lot of questions to ask the former speaker. Stand by. We'll take a quick break.

Also, other news we're following any minute, literally, potentially North Korea could launch a long-range rocket. Much more on what the U.S. is calling a grave provocation.

We're awaiting as well the charges against the man, once again, who killed the teenager, Trayvon Martin. We also have new details about the tough Florida prosecutor investing in the case there. You see there, Angela Corey. We know she's tried hundreds of murder cases, everything else. So, a lot of other information coming up as well.

I think we've re-established our connection with the former speaker, Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, are you there? Can you hear me?

I can hear you fine, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for joining us. I want to get to some politics, some substance in a moment, but the Trayvon Martin case, we expect fairly soon the special Florida prosecutor to file a charge, maybe manslaughter, maybe second-degree murder against George Zimmerman in the killing of the 17-year-old teenager, Trayvon Martin.

What do you make of all of this, because it's caused a huge emotional uproar around the country?

GINGRICH: I think she's got to do what she thinks is professionally right. I think we have to have faith in the criminal justice system. There will be, I presume, a trial. The jury will have to look at all the evidence and render a decision. I think we can talk about it on cable TV forever or on talk radio forever.

We don't have access to the evidence. We don't have access to the witnesses, and I think it's always dangerous to jump to conclusions.

BLITZER: I know you were critical of President Obama when he said, I guess a couple of weeks ago, that if he had a son, that son potentially could have looked like Trayvon Martin, and he was expressing his empathy for the family of Trayvon Martin and God only knows what they are going through.

They lose a 17-year-old son who, in the middle of the NBA all-star game, goes to a7-11, buys some Skittles, buys an Arizona iced tea, and is killed on his way back home. What was wrong with what the president said?

GINGRICH: My only point was we ought to have equal empathy for every American who gets killed. We've had lot of Americans killed in the last few weeks in a variety of terrible circumstances. Each of them deserves our empathy and our concern, and we should be concerned about every single one of them.

And I think this particular case has become sort of a national case where the national media can talk about it, but there are tragic cases around the country involving Americans of every ethnic background and of every age, and they deserve some real concern, too, and some real effort to understand what happened to them and why. That's my only point.

BLITZER: Is it appropriate, in your opinion, for a president, and today, the Attorney General Eric Holder, spoke out about this case, as well. Is that appropriate?

GINGRICH: I think it's very dangerous. I don't know that they have any more information than you and I do. And I don't know if they are in any better position to render judgment. I think you would hope that the attorney general of the United States would be in favor of the system of justice, and you would hope that the president who is a Harvard law graduate would be in favor of the system of justice.

And, I think at some level, you have to believe that the people of Florida and the state of Florida are going to handle this in a serious way. Apparently, this prosecutor is a very serious person. She has a considerable track record. I'm not a lawyer. She's handled 50 homicides.

I'm inclined to just -- to rely on her judgment, unless, there's some overwhelming reason by some other expert to second guess her, and since I'm not an expert, I'm not going to second guess her.

BLITZER: Let's get to politics right now. When Rick Santorum announced yesterday he was dropping out of this race, you tweeted, "It's now a two-man race," yourself and Mitt Romney. You tweeted this, "It's now a two-person race. Donate now to Newt.org for the last conservative standing."

You know, everyone else, except you and maybe Ron Paul -- I suspect not even Ron Paul thinks it's no longer a two-man race that Romney has it sewn up. He's way ahead in the delegate count. Now, that Santorum is out, he's going to get to that 1,144 delegates needed. Why do you think you still have a chance?

GINGRICH: You know, it's fascinating to me, Wolf, you say everyone else. I was in North Carolina yesterday. Not a single person asked me to drop out, and many, many people asked me to stay in. We've had over 4,200 people go to Newt.org and give money since two o'clock yesterday and encouraging me to stay in.

I was in Philadelphia last night, not a single person asked me to drop out. A number said they're proud that I was staying in. I've been campaigning in Delaware all day today. Not a single person has asked me to drop out. Many have said they're glad I'm staying in.

I think it's fascinating that the voters in the states that have not yet voted think it's good to have a contest, and the only people who asked me about dropping out are the elite media. So, I think this is a Washington-New York fixation. These are often the same people who wanted me to drop out back last June.

I didn't do it then. I'm not doing it now, and I'm very happy to be campaigning. And anybody who wants me to continue, I hope they'll go to Newt.org and help us.

BLITZER: Listen to the chairman, the leader of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, after Santorum announced he was dropping out yesterday. He said this. He said, "Today, Senator Santorum has made a commendable decision. He has decided to put his country, party, and desire to defeat President Obama ahead of any personal ambition."

As you well know, Mr. Speaker, that was seen as a direct reference to you, I guess, he's suggesting that maybe it would be wise if you put yourself, the country, the party ahead of everyone else in order to beat President Obama in November.

GINGRICH: And because it was misinterpreted, Reince Priebus, an old friend of mine, called me to say that it should not be interpreted in any way except as exactly what it said about his effort to be (INAUDIBLE) about Rick Santorum's decision. And Reince and I talked clearly about my staying in.

I think he's quite happy with my staying in. And he understands that this brings new ideas and new energy to the party, and that's been my role for my entire career. I'm going to continue to talk about things like $2.50 a gallon gasoline, creating a national debt retirement fund with oil and gas royalties, developing a program that would make us energy independent.

I'm here tonight, and I'm going to talk at Wesley College about a personal, Social Security savings account for young people, much like the Chilean model. If we had that system today, if we'd adopted that in 1983, we'd have 26 -- I'm sorry, we'd have $16 trillion in savings in those Social Security savings accounts today if we'd adopted it back in 1983.

So, I want to continue doing what I do best, which is talk about big solutions and big approaches. I want to keep campaigning. We'll see what happens. As you yourself admitted, Governor Romney does not yet have the nomination despite every effort to get people to concede it. And I have every right to continue the campaign until he gets the majority.

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BLITZER: I'm not suggesting you don't have a right to continue or Ron Paul, for that matter. We were only assessing given the delegate count. But very quickly, what does it say about your campaign which has some financial problem, I think, right now that a $500 check in Utah from your campaign bounced?

GINGRICH: Nothing. That check was issued four months ago, and the account that it was issued to was closed in the interim. When the state (ph) finally got around to cashing it, that account was closed. We simply re-issued it, and they have the money. That was entirely a technical error in the banking system and had nothing to do with how much money we have in the bank.

BLITZER: Because to a lot of people, it makes you look like you're in deep financial trouble. I know you're going into debt like that. Go ahead.

GINGRICH: Wolf, I think, the nature of the media is Jerry Ford who was a great athlete was decided he was a bungler, and "Saturday Night Live" made him a bungler. Therefore, every time that he sleep (ph), he was bungling, although, he's, in fact, a very, very good athlete. The fact is the news media picks up a certain story and reinterprets everything into it.

If they called our office and anybody asked to verify it, we would have told them the facts, because it's purely a technical mistake. It wasn't in our part. We issued the check in December.

BLITZER: I think your think tank and I know you've spoken about it often over the years. The Center for Health Transformation, that too, has now filed for bankruptcy. I know you must be really sad about that, but what happened here?

GINGRICH: Well, I am sad about it. These are good people. And it turned out that one side left over a year ago. It was very, very hard for them to sustain it. It was very unfortunate particularly if Obamacare is repealed, the ideas and the concepts of the Center for Health Transformation, the books they'd written, the material they accumulated, the network they had would have been very, very valuable, but this is a very hard economy.

And what happened to them happens to a lot of small businesses, and because I had been gone for over a year, they simply weren't able to sustain the membership and the momentum that we had while I was there. It was a great operation. They're very good people, and I feel very sad they didn't work out.

BLITZER: I know you do. Mr. Speaker, as usual, thanks very much for coming in.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

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