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ABC "This Week" - Transcript


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Our headliner hopes to be the one, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joins us now.

Good morning, Mr. Speaker.

GINGRICH: Good morning. It's good to be with you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Glad to have you back. Five wins in a row now for Mitt Romney. In the last eight contests, you have done no better than third, and you're well back in the delegate race. So even if you win your home state of Georgia on Tuesday night, how can you put together a viable path at the nomination?

GINGRICH: Well, I think, first of all, the big ideas matter. Twice in this process I have been the front-runner in national polling. I think we have a chance to get back by having ideas like having a national energy strategy that gets us back to $2.50 a gallon. Making sure that we are independent of the Middle East so that no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king. And I think people are responding to big solutions and big ideas.

The biggest state on super Tuesday in delegates is Georgia. I think I'll win Georgia by a much, much bigger margin than Romney won Michigan. We're going to go on. We're competing in Tennessee, in Ohio, in Oklahoma, in a number of other states. We'll pick up delegates in a number of places.

Then I think the following week, we're going to win Alabama and Mississippi, and we're going to be very competitive in Kansas.

This is going to go on for a good while. Governor Romney, who's outspent all the rest of us by multiples, is a front-runner without any question, but I think he's not a very convincing front-runner, and he's a long way from having closed out this race.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Speaker, you took a blow in Tennessee yesterday. Your state co-chair switched sides, State Senator Stacey Campfield. I want to show you what he said right here. He said, "I like Newt and I think he's a great leader, but I don't think it's his time, and I think he won't do what is necessary to win this election. I think Rick Santorum is the best chance we can get to have a conservative president."

Some conservatives think you need one person running against Mitt Romney.

GINGRICH: Well, oddly enough at the time he was doing that, we were winning a conservative caucus vote in Tennessee. And two days earlier, we won the National Business Council survey, beating both Romney and Santorum. So there are differences of opinion.

I think there is a huge difference between Santorum and me. Santorum has been historically a labor union senator from Pennsylvania. He voted against national right to work. He voted for Davis-Bacon, which cost state and local governments billions of dollars in favor of unions. And he voted for every single minimum wage increase that the unions asked for.

So, I think there's some pretty big policy differences there. And when you get out of the industrial states, I think it gets harder for Rick to put together a majority, so we'll see how it goes next Tuesday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Mr. Speaker, there's really no way for you to get enough delegates before the convention, so this, as you said, could be a long fight if it's going to be successful for you. When we have seen this happen in the past -- 1952 for the Democrats, 1976 for the Republicans, 1980 for the Democrats -- it means that party loses in the general election. Are you worried that this kind of long fight is going to put your nominee at risk?

GINGRICH: No. George, I'll be glad to swap history credentials with you. Four years ago, I believe it was, that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton went all the way to late June before their race ended. And yet that seemed to actually be more advantageous to then-Senator Obama than Senator McCain having gotten the nomination early. So I think it all depends on which year you're talking about and how it evolves, what happens.

But, we're up against an incumbent president. The thing people have to ask themselves is, who do you think could stand up to Barack Obama in October and win the debates? Because we're certainly not -- the Romney strategy of outspending isn't going to work against Obama. The fact is, Obama is going to have more money, he's going to be more negative, and if we don't have somebody who can win the debates in October, we're going to have a very hard time winning the election, and I think that's an area where almost everybody thinks that I've had a better ability to communicate our values and to define President Obama in ways that will make it very hard for him to get reelected.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned your promise of $2.50 gallon of gas if you are elected. President Obama seemed to have you in mind when he called that a phony election-year promise. And many of our viewers want to know if you can back it up. We had a question from Tony Times on Facebook. "How can Newt say he will bring the price of gas down when prices of oil are set in world markets? When something bad happens in the Middle East, that will spike the price of oil. Even if we are able to drill for all our oil, it is not supply setting the price right now, it is world events." Your response?

GINGRICH: Well, sure. If he gets a chance, Tony ought to go to and look at the 30-minute speech in which I outlined exactly how to do this.

Let me point out that when I was speaker, gas was $1.13 a gallon. When Barack Obama was swore in, gas was $1.89 a gallon. We've seen an explosion of opportunity in natural gas through drilling. The result is the price of natural gas has dropped from $8 per 1,000 cubic feet to under $3 per 1,000 cubic feet. I don't understand why the president does not recognize -- because he himself admitted in his speech in New Hampshire this week that on natural gas terms, we have had an explosion of new discoveries. We're going to create 600,000 new jobs in this decade. That's the president's number, and it all came from drilling. And it has lowered the price dramatically from $8 to $3.

You apply that same principle to oil-- you would actually lower the price of gasoline below $2.50. I would be very cautious at $2.50. It would be down in the $1.20 range. So I think the historic example sitting all around us is what's happening with natural gas right now.

This president and his secretary of anti-energy, Dr. Chu, have as a goal getting us to pay European-level prices of $8 or $9. Dr. Chu was clear about that before he became secretary. He wants us to get to be a European-level price structure of $8 or $9 a gallon. He said this week, in testifying in the House, he has no intention of trying to lower the price of oil or the price of gasoline. The American people on the other hand would much rather pay $2.50 and be independent of Saudi Arabia than be where we are today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I'm going to ask David Axelrod about Secretary Chu in just a moment.

But also, Rush Limbaugh created quite a stir this week with his attack on the Georgetown student Sandra Fluke who testified in support of President Obama's policy that insurance plans should provide coverage for contraception. Let's show what Rush said right here.


LIMBAUGH: She goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute? She wants to be paid to have sex.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The Democrats pounced. President Obama called the student. Under pressure, Mr. Limbaugh did apologize yesterday. I know you disagree with the framing on this issue. You believe this is an issue of religious liberty. The Democrats have called this part of a war on women. Do you worry that Rush Limbaugh helped reinforce that Democratic message?

GINGRICH: No, I worry that the elite media are so desperate to not describe this accurately. You know, Cardinal George has indicated, the cardinal of Chicago, that the president's policy -- which by the way, George, includes sterilization and abortion pills. And let's be clear about this. The president's policy, according to Cardinal George, would lead the Catholic Church to give up every Catholic university and every Catholic hospital.

Now, I'm kind of amazed that there aren't more voices in the elite media in favor of religious liberty in America and suggesting that, first of all, this young lady can buy contraception all she wants to. There is no place in America that's difficult for her to get contraception. The question is, should a religiously-affiliated institution -- not just Catholic, but for example the Christian University of -- the Ohio Christian University, which is Protestant, but is right-to-life-- finds that sterilization and abortion provisions of Obamacare totally unacceptable.

Now, is that something people are going to look at and say this is a religious liberty issue, or are we just going to have the government from here on out define for us what rights we have and say to us, oh, it's OK to be religious for one hour on Sunday, but let's not take it seriously the rest of the week?

I think this is a very profound question about freedom.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think Rush was right to apologize?

GINGRICH: I think he was right to apologize. But let's talk about apologies for a second. I think the president was totally wrong as commander in chief to apologize to religious fanatics while our young men are being killed in Afghanistan, and I think it was a disaster of an apology--

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you--

GINGRICH: We now have the U.N. commissioner to Afghanistan -- no, just let me finish. You have the U.N. commissioner to Afghanistan in essence saying, since the president has admitted the United States is guilty, these people should be tried. Now, I think that is a disastrous position for us.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you know, before the president apologized, the commanding general on the ground, John Allen, apologized. He did it, he said, in order to save lives.

GINGRICH: I think at some point, somebody has to also stand up and say, these Korans were defaced by the radical Islamist prisoners. Now, I haven't heard a single Muslim cleric say that it was wrong to deface them. They were being used to pass communications back and forth.

You know, there's a point here you have to draw a line and start telling the truth even if it's painful. And the truth is, this issue, much like the Danish cartoons several years ago, is being used by our enemies, and I think we don't have the nerve to stand up to them and describe it for what it is.

And I think this is a huge problem for us, because it puts us in a position again and again and again of apologizing, which is something this president has done all around the world. And I think it's wrong. I think America in fact has been trying to help the people of Afghanistan. And if they don't believe us, I don't think we need to be there having them try to kill us.

STEPHANOPOULOS: (inaudible) to speak on the issue of Iran, the president meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tomorrow. You have been quite critical of the president's approach. He gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg of "The Atlantic" -- Mr. Goldberg will be on the show later on the program --where he laid out his most clear statement on Iran yet, I believe. He said, the president -- "I think that the Israeli government recognizes that as president of the United States, I don't bluff. Both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say." The president seemed to put some teeth behind this idea that all options are on the table to prevent a nuclear weapon -- Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

GINGRICH: I think that's a good step in the right direction. But remember, he just had his intelligence agencies report once again as they did back in 2007, when they were totally wrong, that the Iranians are nowhere near getting a nuclear weapon.

The question for the president is, if the Israeli prime minister decides that he cannot afford to take the risk of waiting to see whether or not the intelligence agencies are right, and he decides that for the survival of Israel, he has to do something to take out the weapons systems, will the president in fact support him or will the president try to stop him? I think that's the core question. Because I think the Israelis are likely to move much, much earlier than an American president would.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Mr. Speaker, thanks for taking the time to join us this morning.


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