This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 14, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich -- he joins us from Illinois, the scene of the coming -- this coming Tuesday's big primary.
Nice to see you, Mr. Speaker.
NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, your Southern strategy came up short a bit. You didn't come in first place in Alabama and Mississippi, but you came in second place. I assume as you shift to Illinois, where you are now, there must be some sort of thought on how to change your strategy.
So tell me, is your strategy in Illinois different because you got to zero in, you got to win Illinois?
GINGRICH: Well, no. I think I've got to keep moving forward and talking about big ideas, talking about things like an American energy plan that would return gasoline to under $2.50 a gallon -- it's $4.25 in Chicago today -- and talk about big solutions to issues we're faced with.
And I think that there is a place for somebody who wants to develop the right kind of approaches to create jobs, to balance the budget, to pay off the national debt and to do things that most Americans want to do.
We came in -- we came in second in both Mississippi and Alabama, very, very close, almost a tie in Mississippi. And the fact is, the so-called frontrunner, Mitt Romney, came in third in both states and got about a third or less of the delegates. So I think that this is still a wide-open nominating process. And we're going to continue to move forward and talk about big solutions.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, if you continue to come in second, you'll continue to get delegates and it will give you more power and muscle when you get to the convention, but it's not going to give you the nomination of 1,144 votes going into the convention.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you have to change your strategy now to start winning these states. So I mean, continuing just along the big ideas...
GINGRICH: First of all, Greta...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... is not going to have you winning.
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Greta, look, I think that we have no idea how this is going to work out. We have never seen a nominating process like this in our lifetime. I think it's very possible we're going to be at the end of all the primaries on June 26 and have nobody at 1,144.
And then we're going to have a conversation about who would be the best person to defeat Barack Obama, and equally important, who'd be the best person to solve America's problems and to move us in the right direction.
So next week in Louisiana is only half-time. We literally have half of all the delegates left to come. And I think we'll keep picking up delegates. It's a three-way race, I think, at the present time. I'm third among the three, but we're continuing to campaign, continuing to develop ideas.
And I have a hunch that just as has happened in the past, the more we watch Romney and Santorum fight, the more attractive I'll look and the more I will regain strength as people look at my solutions, rather than politics as usual.
I don't pretend to be a traditional politician. I'm somebody who wants to really have very large-scale change in Washington.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess even there's a quote tonight from the dinner, your Lincoln Day dinner, in which you said something like, We cannot win with a normal party. "A normal party" sort of caught me. What's a "normal party"? And what did you mean by that?
GINGRICH: Well, I was outlining the idea of very big ideas. It's a Lincoln Day dinner. I was pointing out that Lincoln was for the transcontinental railroad. He had always been involved in science and technology. And he's the only American president to actually have held a patent.
And I was pointing out, for example, that we have an opportunity to offer an American energy program which not only makes us independent of the Middle East and means that no American president will ever bow to a Saudi king again, it not only means we'd have $2.50 or less for a gallon of gas, it not only means we'd create millions of Americans jobs, but you could create a debt repayment fund, take the royalties over the next generation from oil and gas and actually pay off the federal debt, if you had the discipline to balance the federal budget, which, as you know, I did for four straight years.
I'm the only speaker in modern times to have balanced the federal budget. So part of what I'll be campaigning on is, let's balance the federal budget, develop American energy and pay off the national debt. All of that's technically doable now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, far be it from me to tell someone how to win a campaign. I have never run for office. But I'm sort of curious -- I sort of -- you know, I've stepped back and sort of put myself in your shoes and the other candidates, and I think, you know, How would I do it?
And going out to a state like Illinois, which has about an 8 percent Hispanic population -- I looked at the demographics of the state -- I was thinking, you know, what kind of message, how would I get my message to that population? That's traditionally a Democratic population. In '08, President Obama won 76 percent of the Hispanic vote. If you can get 8 percent Illinois, that's good.
So I'm curious. Why should Hispanics in Illinois vote for you in particular? What's your message to them?
GINGRICH: Well, it's back with the same message. If you are a typical hard-working Hispanic American and you pull into a gas station tomorrow morning in Chicago and you're paying $4.25 a gallon, a Newt Gingrich plan to get you down below $2.50 is right in your pocketbook. It's right in your family's quality of life.
It may well be in your job. If you're an independent trucker or you run a small business, these high prices are really running a risk of driving you out of business.
So I think at one level -- and we're going to have a roundtable tomorrow with Hispanic leaders here in Illinois. And part of that roundtable's going to be economics. How do we create jobs, and how do we keep taxes low, and how do we get energy costs down so they actually have the money for their family, instead of having to pay all of it for gasoline.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think a lot of Hispanics might be a little bit fearful of the Republican Party, that they're trying to, you know, keep them out of the country, some of their relatives who can't be in here legally. So you know, combined with the message that you're going to get them $2.50 a gallon of gas, is there some other message you can impart to them to persuade them that they should not vote for President Obama, but should vote for you?
GINGRICH: Well, I think that there's a general agreement among Hispanic leaders that I have made the most serious effort to find a common sense solution on immigration. I am for controlling the border. I am for English as the official language of government. But I'm also for modernizing the visa system, for a guest worker program and for finding a solution for people who've been here a long time.
So we've had this kind of conversation all over the country. It's something I'm very eager to continue. The Republican Party has to be prepared to truly become a party of all Americans and to truly reach out to Americans of all backgrounds, whether they're Asian-American or they're Hispanic-American or African-American or Native American. You cannot be a governing majority in the long run unless you try to serve and work with every group in the country.
VAN SUSTEREN: Another demographic, a group that's thought to be sewn up by the Democrats is the union vote. Is there anything that you can -- any message you want to impart to union members to sort of peel them off President Obama in terms of voting? And you know, why should they vote for you instead?
GINGRICH: Well, let's say you're a construction union and you were hoping to get those 30,000 to 50,000 jobs off of the Keystone pipeline. The president just vetoed your jobs. The construction unions were very heavily in favor of the Keystone pipeline.
But let's say you're an average union member, not a union leader but a union member. Forty-four percent of all union members tend to vote Republican. Some years, it's even higher than that. And it comes back again to pocketbook issues.
You go out and talk to the average union member -- let's say you're somebody who lives in Chicago, but you have a fishing boat, you've got a pickup truck, you like to spend the weekends going somewhere in Wisconsin to fish. You're right now paying an awful lot for gasoline to get there.
You'd like the idea of a Gingrich plan for American energy that enables you to have a better weekend and have little bit of extra money so if you wanted to, you could also buy some beer on that fishing trip.
I think it's a very practical appeal. This is an old-fashioned pocketbook appeal. But I do think that the American energy plan that we're outlining, that people can see at Newt.org, and that shows you how we would actually do it -- I think that's very appealing to most Americans. And by the way, the White House apparently thinks so, too, because they've been attacking me now for a week.
VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of economics and jobs, that's a very important part of this election, we're told. But also, some of the social issues. Gay American vote is thought to be more Democratic vote. Is there any way, is there any message that you can get to a gay American to convince that gay American to vote for you? Gay marriage is very important to the gay population in this country. Is there any way you're reaching out to them to get their vote to say, Well, vote for me anyway, and this is why?