• With: Newt Gingrich

    GINGRICH: No, I -- look, I don't ever operate out of fear. I think CPAC attracts a lot of young people. It is a very dynamic place for people looking to the future. But if you go back and you look at CPAC in the '70s, they had a clear sense of mission, a clear sense of purpose. One of Ronald Reagan's most important speeches was given in February of 1975 at CPAC, when he said we need bold colors, not pale pastels. And he talked about the nature of conservatism.

    I'm looking forward to Jeb Bush's speech, which is going to be Friday night. I hope that he matches that kind of standard. It's the Ronald Reagan dinner. But all I'm suggesting is -- you know, I'll give you an example. Look, Chris Christie, I can criticize him. I don't think he should have hugged the president quite that much. But the fact is, in a very Democratic state with a very strong state employees' union, Chris Christie has shown enormous courage and has done things that are remarkable.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he was the keynote speaker last year, so is that hug...

    (CROSSTALK)

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... is that the kiss of death with CPAC?

    GINGRICH: I don't understand why they didn't invite him back. I mean, I'm just using that as an example.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Governor McDonnell's not speaking, either.

    GINGRICH: Oh, well, then that just doesn't make sense to me. I mean, you know, Governor McDonnell's a very popular governor of Virginia who -- you can argue about his transportation plan, but overall, he's been a terrific conservative.

    So that's why I just raise questions. I don't understand the internal dynamics of CPAC, who's in charge, how they make their decisions, but some of them I would frankly question.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned Governor Jeb Bush. Is this sort of a coming out party for him? Are we going to see him -- is this a 2016 signal?

    GINGRICH: Look, it might be, but 2016 is so far away.

    VAN SUSTEREN: No, it's not!

    GINGRICH: Oh, sure. I know it's not for you, but it is in the real world. Trust me.

    VAN SUSTEREN: The real world? What world do I live in?

    GINGRICH: You live in the world of Washington media, where, you know, we've -- the second the last election is over, we've got to worry about the next election.

    Jeb Bush is a very talented person who was a very good governor of Florida. He has been a very important part of the evolution of the Republican Party. I think it's great that he's going to be involved. I also think there's going to be a lot of very, very competent, aggressive people running, whether it is from his home state, Marco Rubio, or it's John Kasich or it is Scott Walker or Rand Paul, who you're watching tonight. It's going to be a very exciting time from now to 2016.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Any women in that mix?

    GINGRICH: I think you could see Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico, who I think's very, very impressive, Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, and frankly, Kelly Ayotte, the senator from New Hampshire.

    VAN SUSTEREN: The -- you mentioned Florida. Governor Rick Scott has decided to expand the Medicaid, which is -- after he said he wouldn't, and I think -- I think Governor Chris Christie likewise. I can't remember. But does -- Governor Rick Perry says he's not taking it.

    GINGRICH: You know, the great thing about the federalist system is that 50 governors have to make decisions from 50 states. I would -- my bias is with Rick Perry, but I don't second guess a governor of a state who makes a decision that he thinks is right for his state. That's why you have a federalist system and that's why the 10th Amendment is important. We'll see over the next four or five years which person made the right decision.

    VAN SUSTEREN: The dinner tonight that we had -- that was in Washington -- the president -- we just spoke about over at the Jefferson Hotel -- Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell, both Republican leaders, weren't invited.

    GINGRICH: I don't think that's bad. I mean, I went to a lot of dinners with Bill Clinton when he didn't necessarily have leaders invited, back when I was the whip...

    VAN SUSTEREN: I was just going to say you were a leader, though!

    GINGRICH: No, no, but back when I was the whip. I mean, we had dinners that didn't involve the rest of the leadership. Anything which increases a bipartisan conversation in this city is helpful. I hope this is a useful dinner.

    My only hope would be that the president listened as much as he talked and that he thought later about what he heard. We have to break out of the current gridlock to be a healthy country. That's going to require both sides listening to the other. And if this dinner helps -- what I didn't understand, candidly, was why they didn't meet at the White House. I don't know if that was a Republican request.

    VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know if it's a sequester issue. Maybe the chef is laid off that you were talking about.

    GINGRICH: No...

    VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe he got furloughed. I don't know.

    GINGRICH: If the chef were laid off, we could afford to do the White House tours. I'm sure that's not the problem.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You -- you say you thought that was odd?

    GINGRICH: No, I just -- because the White House is a great historic site. In my experience, every time I went down to see a president at the White House, whether it was -- started with Jimmy Carter, through several presidencies -- it's pretty impressive and it's a pretty powerful place to be and presidents are great hosts and the White House is a great venue.

    So I didn't quite know why you would leave the White House to go to a hotel. But maybe the Republicans felt better not being on the president's grounds and wanted to be at a neutral site.

    VAN SUSTEREN: I thought it was interesting -- I mean, we're now into the second term, that the president has a sort of breaking bread -- and he probably has done -- he's had beer summits and the -- you know, over in the early days, we've had different events. But it -- it was -- he sent Senator Biden up at the end of the year having to do with the tax increase, and it was so apparent to me that he had no relationship with anyone on Capitol Hill, he had to sort of outsource it to the vice president, who has -- who has a fantastic relationship on Capitol Hill with -- because he served in the U.S. Senate.

    I wonder if he's suddenly realizing that -- you know, that the importance -- you get more things done in this town, you know, if you're not mortal enemies, if you make friends.

    GINGRICH: You know, I think they made a rush at trying to break the sequester. They failed. I think the polling numbers have collapsed for the president pretty dramatically, I think a 13-point change in two weeks. And I suspect (INAUDIBLE) You know, we'd better figure out a new dance because this one ain't working.

    And I think it's a better -- it's a healthier dance for America if you get Democrats and Republicans actually talking honestly with each other, and it might lead to some significant breakthroughs in a way that could be very powerful.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Which is the stronger party? And I realize that the Democrats are on power. But I mean -- who's -- I mean, who really -- who's the stronger party?

    GINGRICH: You know, who's really strongest is the American people. And I don't mean that...

    (CROSSTALK)

    VAN SUSTEREN: I tell you, they keep electing the same logjam!