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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

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NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you. BLITZER: Well, what do you make of this Occupy Wall Street -- these demonstrations? Some have suggested that this is the left wing's version of the Tea Party movement on the right.

GINGRICH: I think when you have over nine percent unemployment, a failing presidency, the truth is, with this level of failure, Geithner should be fired as secretary of Treasury, Bernanke should be fired as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Dodd-Frank bill should be repealed this week. We ought to have decisive action.

If you're somebody out there, and you've been looking around, and you begin to figure out, how come the big boys get all these billions of dollars, the big banks get all these billions of dollars, somehow the Federal Reserve and the Treasury collude together on behalf of people who are already rich and nobody else gets a break. I think people need to understand, there's something profoundly wrong with how Washington intersects with New York, and it means everybody else -- I'm here on Hilton Head talking to realtors who are feeling the effect of Dodd-Frank, feeling the effect of a housing decline, feeling the effect of all the money going to French national banks, to Libyan national banks, somehow not enough money for normal, everyday Americans.

You're going to see more protests, and it's really a tribute to the absolute failure of Obama's economic policy, that somebody who was elected by the left, now has the left rebelling and demonstrating and arguing against his policies.

BLITZER: So, am I correct in -- do I get a little sense of your identifying with these protesters, these Occupy Wall Street demonstrators who are so angry at the system, if you will, right now, the banking system, the Wall Street system?

GINGRICH: Look, I am as angry about the Dodd-Frank bill, about propping up big banks, about propping up big investment firms. I don't understand why Goldman Sachs got $13 billion of our money through the back door in 2008. I don't understand why the Federal Reserve has spent hundreds of billions of dollars of our money, I think at least $5 billion of it to the Bank of Libya.

I think people have every right to be very, very angry. And if we stay at nine percent unemployment, or it gets worse -- and the rumors are that it's going to be worse, not better -- I think the pressure to do (AUDIO GAP) to say to the Congress, why can't you repeal Dodd-Frank now? Why can't you get rid of Geithner now? Why can't you try to have a new policy now?

BLITZER: Listen to Herman Cain, another Republican presidential candidate. He gave an interview to "The Wall Street Journal." This is what he said when he was asked about these demonstrations on Wall Street.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you are not rich, blame yourself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. That's already generating, as you can imagine, a lot of commotion out there. Blame yourself if you don't have a job. Is that a fair statement from Herman Cain?

GINGRICH: Well, I do think there are a lot of people who ought to have a better approach to this. I proposed, for example, that we tie all unemployment compensation to a training program with businesses so that we don't give people money for doing nothing. I do think people have an obligation to try to work.

But I think when you have something on the order of 15 percent or 16 percent of the country either unemployed, underemployed, or dropped out of work, this is a genuine systems crisis. When you have 43 percent of young African-Americans, teenage African-Americans with no job, this is a systems crisis.

And yes, I think people do have an obligation to work hard. And I think they have an obligation to do the best they can. But I also believe that a lot of the system right now is mismanaged, that the Obama policies are killing jobs, and that the guys on the inside, the New York Federal Reserve network and the Treasury network, acted on behalf of the very rich and act against the average American. And I think that is a legitimate complaint that all Americans can make in demanding, for example, an audit of the Federal Reserve. We deserve to know where our money has gone and who got it and who didn't get it and why.

BLITZER: But you have to admit, and you refer to it yourself, the bailouts of the Wall Street banks and the investment houses back in 2008, that was during the Republican administration of President Bush. President Obama had nothing to do with that.

GINGRICH: That's exactly -- well, the Democratic Congress had a lot to do with it. President Obama voted for it, spoke in favor of it. Tim Geithner was a key part of it, Bernanke was a key part of it. They're the same team the president has today.

That's why if you're a normal American and you're watching this mess, you're saying to yourself there's no change in Washington. I don't know why the House Republicans don't repeal the Dodd-Frank bill this week, send it to the Senate, and force the Senate Democrats to confront it. This is a terrible bill. It does to financial services what Obama --

BLITZER: But he was the one who proposed all these bailouts back in 2008. Yes, Senator Obama and others supported it, but it was President Bush and his treasury secretary that put it forward.

GINGRICH: Right. And his treasury secretary was from where, Wolf?

BLITZER: He was from Wall Street. GINGRICH: What was the background of his treasury secretary?

BLITZER: From Wall Street, right.

GINGRICH: From Goldman Sachs.

BLITZER: That's correct.

GINGRICH: But I'm just saying to you --

BLITZER: But I'm just trying to be fair --

GINGRICH: So if you're a normal American --

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: Look, I'm being bipartisan. I'm saying that Bernanke, who was originally appointed by a Republican, ought to be fired. Geithner, who was the chairman of the New York Fed at the time, president of the New York Fed, ought to be fired.

I'm happy to be bipartisan about this. I think the average American has a right to say they are not very happy with Washington seeming to be locked down in paralysis and with New York somehow -- if you're big enough, you get taken care of. If you're big enough, you get bailed out. If you're everybody else, good luck.

I think that's a real feeling. I'm reporting from South Carolina, where I talked to people just today who feel very deeply that nobody in Washington notices what's happening to them, but they sure notice what happens if you're big enough.

BLITZER: Let me get you to respond to one of your other rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul. He very much opposed President Obama's decision to order the killing of Anwar al- Awlaki, the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader there.

Listen to what Ron Paul said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And they asked me whether that was an impeachable offense, and it is. I mean, just ignoring the Fifth Amendment and assassinating an American citizen without due process, and won't even tell us what the rules are. Oh, but he's a threat. Can you imagine being put on a list because you're a threat?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Are you with President Obama on this issue or with Ron Paul on this issue?

GINGRICH: Well, I wrote a newsletter today -- I write a weekly entitled newsletter -- entitled "Obama Gets One Right."

The fact is, Congressman Paul is wrong about the law. He's wrong about the Constitution.

If you are an active enemy combatant, if you are actively advocating the killing of Americans -- I did a movie called "America at Risk," and we have footage in the movie of Anwar al-Awlaki calling for the killing of Americans. We know that he was advertising the terrorist who killed 13 Americans and wounded 33 at Fort Hood.

He wasn't in American courts. He wasn't in Chicago or New York. He was running around Yemen plotting the killing of Americans.

If you do that, you are an enemy combatant. If you are an enemy combatant, you're subject to military action which includes (ph) killing you. You're not subject to going to court. This is not a criminal procedure. This is a war.

We have a long precedent for this. You're called a traitor.

Now, if he had showed up and he turned himself in, then we would have owed him due process as an American citizen. We would have tried him as a traitor. I think we would have convicted him.

But he has no defense if he is actively trying to encourage the killing of Americans. And the president was exactly right legally and he was exactly right morally in killing somebody who was a threat to everybody.

BLITZER: One final question. Give me a yes or a no.

If one of the other Republican candidates gets the nomination and asks you to be the vice presidential running mate, is it a yes from you or a no?

GINGRICH: Well, it wouldn't be a no.

BLITZER: That sounds like a yes.

Anything? All right. I'll leave it at that.

GINGRICH: I'm not going to --

BLITZER: All right. It wouldn't be the first time that a candidate asked somebody with more experience, a little bit older. President Bush asked Dick Cheney. President Obama, as you know, asked Joe Biden. I wouldn't be surprised necessarily if somebody else gets the nomination -- I know you want to get the nomination -- they turn to you and say, would you join me on the ticket?

So what I hear you saying is you're open that. Give me a yes or a no.

GINGRICH: Look, Ronald Reagan once said he was very glad Gerald Ford did not ask him in '76 because he didn't see how a citizen could turn down a president in that setting. And I think Reagan had a lot of profound wisdom about that.

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker, as usual, thanks very much. And by the way, I heard that your wife Callista's new book is a "New York Times" bestseller, a book on children. Congratulations on that as well.

GINGRICH: Yes. We're very proud of Callista. "Sweet Land of Liberty" is going to premier in its very first week on the "New York Times" bestseller list, and we're all thrilled for "Ellis the Elephant" and the children who seem to like it a lot.

BLITZER: Well, congratulate her, and thanks very much. We'll hope to have you back fairly soon.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate.

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