This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 17, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Newt Gingrich taking fire for something he said about Congressman Paul Ryan. Now, the former Speaker of the House is getting pounded by fellow Republicans.
Here's what he David Gregory about Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare plan on NBC's "Meet the Press."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, MEET THE PRESS: You think Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors some premium support and -- so that they can go out and buy private insurance?
NEWT GINGRICH, R-GEORGIA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think right wing social engineering is any more desirable than left wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: And now, Republicans, well, they're fired up.
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer told Fox's Bret Baier Mr. Gingrich, quote, "didn't have a big chance in the beginning, but now it's over."
And Rush Limbaugh had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I am not going to justify this. I am not going to explain this is -- the attack on Paul Ryan, the support for an individual mandate in health care? Folks, don't ask me to explain this. There is no explanation. What do you mean if I don't explain it who will? There is no explanation for it!
I mean, it's -- first off, it cuts Paul Ryan off at the knees. It supports the Obama administration in the lawsuits the 26 states have filed over the mandate. I know that -- I guess we are back in 1993, Newt supported an individual mandate that everybody should buy insurance. I am befuddled as anybody else is, is what I'm telling you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: So, does Speaker Gingrich want a do over? Well, he called Congressman Ryan earlier today and apologized for calling his Medicare proposal radical. But is that enough to snuff out the flames?
Former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential contender, Newt Gingrich, joins us.
Good evening Mr. Speaker. And I go out of the country for a week and I come back and you have blown up the Republican Party. So, what happened?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think that's exaggerated on every front.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm teasing you. I'm teasing you.
GINGRICH: I know. But I want to start down the road since you opened with three, four things. If Charles Krauthammer had been with me yesterday in four different cities in Iowa, where we had huge crowds, sometimes three times as many as they expected, I think he might reconsider.
In Rush's case, he had two different things. One of them was just plain wrong. I do not support a mandate. I am opposed to Obamacare. I'm in support of the 26 attorney generals who have filed suit.
The Center for Health Transformation that I supported, that I helped found has been actively opposed to Obamacare for 2 1/2 years -- that was a clip from 1993, when in fact, the conservative position was to have individual insurance in opposition to Hillarycare because she wanted everybody -- let's get that out of way, OK?
Now, let's go to what I'm --
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you, so I understand this. So, I'm sure to understand, so are you saying in 1993, that there was some sort of hybrid of mandate or whatever supported by the Republican Party. And now, that was in response to the Clinton administration. And now, you've changed, is that it?
GINGRICH: No, no. I'm saying that 18 -- imagine this in your own case. I'm saying that you see a 22nd clip from 18 years ago when you were fighting "Hillarycare" and when virtually everybody in the conservative movement was united in trying to stop "Hillarycare."
Now, nobody at that time was talking about the 10th Amendment. Nobody at that time was talking about this kind of constitutional issues. But to jump from that and say, gosh, if Newt said this in 1993, he must be for Obama -- skipping, by the way, 2 1/2 years of active consistent opposition to Obamacare? I mean, I think the kind of amnesia that Washington gets into is, frankly, silly.
But let me put that to one side because I want to set a precedent for a new kind of presidential campaigns. And I thank [Heritage Foundation founder] Ed Feulner and Bill Bennett for helping me walk through what people were hearing, which is not what I intended to say.
I made a mistake. And I called Paul Ryan today, who's a very close personal friend and I said that. The fact is that I have supported what Ryan has tried to do on the budget. The fact is that my newsletter strongly praised the budget when he brought it out.
And the budget vote is one that I'm happy to say I would have voted for. I will defend and I will be glad to answer any Democrat who attempts to distort what I said. And I made a simple mistake --
VAN SUSTEREN: When you say you made -- when you say you made a mistake, are you saying that you chose the wrong words or that's not what you thought? Or I'm not sure I understand. Are you speaking about using the words as right wing social engineering, because that seems to be what has really sort of lit your party on fire?
GINGRICH: Look, I made two mistakes. First of all, if you back and listen to the question David Gregory asked me, I should have said I'm not going to answer it. It's a hypothetical baloney question that had no hope of happening.
The Republicans don't control the Senate. They don't have the White House. They can't do what Obama did. And I should just dismiss it. So, that was a mistake.
The second was some of the words I used. But I was trying to say something that's really important. We are at the beginning of a process of solving the entitlement problems of the United States. These are enormous challenges.
I believe deeply, that the American people have to be an integral part. I think that what Paul Ryan has done is he's started that process. He has begun the opportunity -- something which President Obama failed to do -- to have a honest conversation, to go to the American people, to share with them his current ideas, and he agreed and said publicly.
Obviously, things are going to change some. We are going to look for improvements. We're going to look for alternatives. We're going to try to make sure the country feels comfortable. That is the opposite of what David Gregory asked.
So, I, this afternoon, called Paul because I thought it was the only practical thing to do. I'm a big fan of his. I've spent 33 years of my life trying to help grow and strengthen the House Republican Party. I want to make sure every House Republican is protected from some kind of dishonest, Democratic edge.
So, let me say on the record: any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood and because I have said publicly, those words were inaccurate and unfortunate. And I'm prepared to stand up -- when I make a mistake and I'm going to on occasion, I want to stand up and share with the American people, that was a mistake, because that way, we can have an honest conversation.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did Congressman Ryan say to your apology?