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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript


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BOB SCHIEFFER: Good morning again. And it was a stunner. Newt Gingrich won South Carolina in a landslide. He bet-- beat Mitt Romney who was leading all the polls at the beginning of the week. He got forty percent of the vote. Romney got twenty-eight percent. And the others were far behind. Good morning to you, Mister Speaker. And I'm going to start with the obvious question. How did you pull this off?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I think I didn't pull it off. I think the people of South Carolina did. They wanted somebody who is tough enough and bold enough to take on Obama because they really want to beat Obama. They also wanted somebody who was committed to jobs and economic growth because frankly South Carolina is really hurting. And-- and the Obama administration has made it hurt worse with their war against Boeing and-- and the National Labor Relations Board and other things they've been doing. In addition, I think South Carolinians were the first state to really understand how liberal Governor Romney's record was as the governor of Massachusetts. And I think there was-- he-- he lost, I think, probably fifteen or twenty points over the course of the two weeks as people began to realize that he had been pro-choice, pro-gun control, uh-huh, pro-tax increase and a whole range of areas that despite his advertising and-- and-- and his, you know, pretending, it's clear that he was way to the left of South Carolinians.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Speaker, no question he has a lot of money, he has a lot of organization, but I think most people would agree you won this one on the debate stage. I-- I just want to ask you this, do you think in retrospect ABC did you a favor by dumping that interview with your ex-wife outright in the middle of all this?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, you know, it was so outrageously dishonest. You know, both of my daughters, Kathy and Jackie, signed a letter asking the president of ABC to not release it. And-- and just said it was totally inappropriate. And I think what you saw was that the people of South Carolina agreed that it was totally inappropriate. Uh-Huh, you know, my life in that sense is open. I'm running for President. People can critic-- criticize, question, challenge. But the way they did it was almost as though ABC were an arm of the Romney campaign, deliberately trying to set the stage and rig the game. And what people rejected was that whole premise. And-- and it was particularly powerful in the CNN debate when they picked it up. And-- and people just repudiated. I mean I was amazed how intense the feeling was that night when people just repudiated that kind of trash in a presidential campaign.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Last night Mitt Romney suggested that-- that you're too similar to President Obama--

(Newt Gingrich laughing)

BOB SCHIEFFER: --to run against him. Listen to what he said last night.

MITT ROMNEY: In recent weeks, the choice within our party has also come into stark focus. President Obama has no experience running a business and no experience running a state. Our party can't be led to victory by someone who also has never run a business and never run a state.

(Crowd cheering)

BOB SCHIEFFER: So, this morning he adds to that and says that you're just unsuitable to be the candidate or words to that effect. I guess I get your response here.

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, one or two more defeats and who knows what he's going to say. Look, I have a long level of experience at something called the government of the United States. I have a long period of experience at national defense and national security. I am the only person in this race who has helped balance the federal budget four straight times. I'm the only person in this race who led the effort and negotiated with President Clinton to get welfare reform the first big entitlement reform of our lifetime. I don't know what, you know, Governor Romney may be running for CEO. I'm running for President. President of the United States has to understand the government of the United States. Barack Obama clearly didn't. And candidly I doubt of Governor Romney would. In terms of business experience for the last twelve years, I've run four small businesses. They're businesses that require you to meet a payroll, to have customers, to bring in the money. It may not seem like a big deal to Governor Romney but for millions of small business owners, they'll understand that Newt Gingrich is a small business owner really understands exactly what they go through in a way that I think sometimes big investors and big managers don't understand. So I'm happy to have all the small business owners in American understand that I do know what they have to go through to meet a payroll. And we'll let Governor Romney tout his experience which is very different and at a very different level.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Why do you think he's had trouble getting his message across? You seem to have made some connections with-- with folks down there in South Carolina. But he still seems to be having some problem. Why do you think that is?

NEWT GINGRICH: Look, I think the number one thing people look for in difficult times is authenticity. They want somebody who is what he seems to be, somebody who is comfortable with himself. Somebody who is able to have force in what he's saying or she's saying, because they actually believe it. And I think governor Romney's core problem was that the governor of Massachusetts moderate which by the standards of republican primary voters is-- is liberal. And he can't-- he can't relax and be candid. You know, Romney-care is the precursor to Obama-care. He can't admit that. He vote-- he had tax increases and ranked forty-seventh in job creation, fourth from the bottom. He can't admit that. He was pro-gun control and had a four hundred percent increase on taxes on guns. He can't admit that. He was pro-choice function. And no matter what he said about his views he can-- he led planned parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country written into law in Romney-care. He appointed pro-abortion judges. Romney-care includes a tax-paid abortion. You know, he-- he can't admit that. So you end up with a guy who is, I think, a very good salesman. Very-- very much wants to sell. But he has a really weak product. And so I think he's been dancing on eggs trying to figure out how to find a version of Romney that will work. And I think the more he dances the more people go, you know, give me the-- you know, I-- I have flaws. I have weaknesses. I've had a long career. But the fact is what you see really is what you get. And I'm prepared to stand toe to toe with Barack Obama and debate him, I think, successfully this fall. And that's the key to beating him with his billion-dollar war chest. And I think in South Carolina began to become really clear that if you want to beat Barack Obama, that Newt Gingrich is the only person who has the background, the experience and the-- and the-- the ability to get on the stage and drive home a conservative message with authenticity.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you willing to go so far as to say he's just a fake or a phony?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, look, you-- you and I went down this road once before, Bob, I will let you as a very sophisticated senior analyst and reporter draw your conclusions. But if you take what I just said, which are facts, it-- it does show you why-- why he has-- he keeps sort of bouncing around trying to find a message. You know, I don't do that. I've-- I've had the same message for many, many years. Re-- Reagan once said that he didn't change with the world came around. I have been saying things like this. I've written twenty-four books. I've given lots of speeches. Callista and I have made seven documentary films. It's all the same pattern. It's all the same core beliefs. We believe in America. We believe in free enter enterprise. We believe in national security. We believe in core values that have made this country great. None of that has changed in my career which goes back, you know, for almost forty years.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Speaker, I have got a proposal for you. We're going to be in Miami next week broadcasting FACE THE NATION, a special one-hour edition. If I could get Mitt Romney to come sit down at the table with us, would you come on and debate him for the full hour just the two of you?

NEWT GINGRICH: Is this-- will this be your first hour-long FACE THE NATION?


NEWT GINGRICH: Well, listen, I-- I have to consult with-- with R.C. Hammond as you know. But my-- I-- I will tell you I personally would like to do that. I have a hunch that if you can get Governor Romney to agree the three of us to sit down together next Sunday. It will be prefect and I suspect we'd be happy to come and do it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we'll look for you then. And I'll call him up right now. Thank you very much, Mister Speaker.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Congratulations.


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