This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 4, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: First, bruised but certainly not giving up, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us from Concord. Good evening, sir.
NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good evening. How are you doing, Greta?
VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. So Mr. Speaker, the strategy of Nice Guy apparently was -- didn't carry you too well in Iowa. Are you changing your strategy going into New Hampshire?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I want to thank the 15,000 people in Iowa, who did stay with me, despite millions and millions of dollars of negative advertising, and I think towards the end, we were actually gaining ground and beginning to move back into serious contention.
So the most we're going to do is draw a direct and sharp contrast with Governor Romney, who is a Massachusetts moderate, and contrast my fighting against tax increases and his tax increases, or contrast my very bold plan for jobs and economic growth, which The Wall Street Journal Saturday said was the best and most aggressive job-producing plan, with what they characterize as a plan for -- by Romney so timid that it resembles Obama.
And I think -- in a sense of contrast. But I'm not going to go into attack commercials and the kind of the negative baloney that some of these guys do. I think we ought to talk about issues, about policy and make clear how big the choice is between a Reagan conservative who's actually achieved things in Washington and a Massachusetts moderate.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I -- look, I'm not wild about the negative ads, although I confess that I do watch them. So they must have some -- I mean, I'm not, you know, so pure that I don't watch them. But the fact is, is you say you're not going to do it in New Hampshire. And as ugly and bad as they are, you were leading in Iowa, and then all of a sudden -- all of a sudden, you got all of these negative ads, and you -- you know, you sunk. You know, you went way down as a result of the negative ads. And so they do work.
So I mean -- so if you go into New Hampshire with this sort of high road -- I'm not going to do this and the most I'm going to do is an ad where I call Governor Romney timid, you know, you're doomed.
GINGRICH: Oh, I don't think so. I think the difference between my record as a Reagan conservative who helped to create jobs in the 1980s, helped to create jobs in the 1990s, helped pass the '81 tax cut, helped pass the 1995 tax cut -- or 1996 tax cut -- look at my record. It's very consistent.
As governor, he raised taxes. Now, that's a pretty big gap. And I think you can have a discussion that's much more pointed than it was in Iowa, but that nonetheless is a discussion of comparisons. It's a discussion of records. It's a discussion of facts. And that's very different than the negative -- remember, one of his ads got four Pinocchios from The Washington Post. I mean, that's fairly amazing to get four Pinocchios...
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it is...
GINGRICH: ... for an ad that was that dishonest.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is -- it is, Mr. Speaker, but unfortunately, is that I think you're treating this a little bit like the classroom that the people want to look at it substantively and you know, consider your program versus Senator Santorum's program...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... to Governor Romney. The probability is that you're getting rolled over with all these negative ads and so that no one's really looking at the substance, they're hearing what a horrible person you are.
GINGRICH: Well, I think, Greta, that the -- look, you have a different view of people than I do. I think the American people, given a clear choice -- we didn't try to give them a clear choice in Iowa. We tried to give them a very positive choice about me. And we ran very positive ads. We stayed very much on the positive side.
I said at the time it was an experiment. It did well enough that I came in above both Congresswoman Bachmann and Governor Perry. And I think considering the weight of ads -- 45 percent of all the ads in Iowa were aimed a me, were negative ads about me. So I think in some ways, it was a remarkable achievement. And the people of Iowa deserve to be commended for looking beyond it.
But all I'm suggesting to you is a clear-cut choice in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida between a Massachusetts moderate who raises taxes, who puts tax-paid abortions in "RomneyCare," who puts Planned Parenthood in "RomneyCare," who puts liberal judges on the bench -- you take the list, you compare it to a Reagan conservative who is opposed to tax increases and helps pass tax cuts, who is for conservative judges and who is right to life -- I think in Republican primaries, that clear, direct, principled contrast can be very, very effective.
VAN SUSTEREN: You raise the issue of the Reagan conservative in reference to yourself, and maybe you're the wrong person to explain this, but today, Senator John McCain, who beat Governor Romney in 2008 New Hampshire, has endorsed Governor Romney. And yet he ran an ad in 2008 in which he called it the two Mitt Romneys or something.
And the ad was a brutal ad, and you know, going after him -- you know, in one part of the ad, it quotes Governor Romney saying something -- We don't want to go back to the Reagan years, and it shows him changing his mind on choice and pro-life and everything. And yet today, it's, like, Oh, that was four years ago. Now we're on the same team.
I don't -- I really don't get you guys in politics, how you can jab each other painfully, and then you come out and it's all -- everything's fine and dandy.
GINGRICH: Well, I think almost the entire establishment is rallying around Governor Romney to try to stop somebody who would genuinely change Washington. And I think you got a whole range of people who are all in favor of a sort of "manage the decay," relatively timid, cautious approach that doesn't shake things up. And I think that that's sort of the mood you see in a lot of the folks who are on talking heads on television.
I represent a genuine insurgency. I really am committed to changing Washington. I'm committed to changing the way business is done. I'm committed to changing the way the Congress operates. I think the American people are sick of the mess that they're watching right now.
And I think, given the track record of helping Ronald Reagan change Washington significantly, and then coming back as speaker and helping change some pretty big things -- you know, something the size of Welfare reform, where two out of every three people went to work or went to school, is a pretty big change. Something the size of four balanced federal budgets in a row, the only time in your lifetime that's been done -- that's a pretty big change. And I think there are a lot of folks in Washington who don't necessarily want to see that size change.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I guess the whole -- then we go back to the whole thing is that, you know, what are people paying attention to, the negative ads or the message? And getting the message out, you know, is -- is the challenge.
All right, let me ask you, earlier today, you told Laura Ingraham, or at least it was quoted you said that you were -- that you could see, or in some way, you align yourself with Senator Rick Santorum. Explain to me what you said so I don't misquote you, and what you meant.
GINGRICH: No. No. What I meant was we're both conservatives. We're old friends. We've known each other a long time. If you compare us with - - let's take Iran. Both of us are very, very deeply worried about an Iranian nuclear weapon, which we think could be used on an American city.
Congressman Ron Paul thinks it doesn't matter if the Iranians get a nuclear weapon. Well, in that sense, Rick and I, who both have a national security background, are much more concerned about the danger of losing an American city than is Congressman Paul. So we're aligned there.
On the other hand, as compared to Mitt Romney, who is a moderate, we are both more conservative. I think in that sense -- and you've seen this in things he and I have said about each other on the debates. You've seen it in things we both said last night.
There's a natural split in this party, in which have you people who worry about the safety of America versus people who don't care about it. And there are people who want a conservative change in Washington, versus people who just want to go along to get along.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you saying that...
GINGRICH: I think on both of those grounds that...
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you saying that Governor Romney isn't concerned about the safety of the United States, or that he has a different sort of approach...
GINGRICH: No, no. I -- no...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... to doing it.
GINGRICH: No. No.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's why I'm asking you.
GINGRICH: The first reference was to -- the first reference was to Ron Paul. So I think there's...