This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 15, 2011. 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 is calling President Obama insensitive and uncaring. Now, it all started yesterday when President Obama either joked or admitted, take your pick, that "shovel-ready" was not as shovel-ready as he thought. Speaker Gingrich says those comments on the $800 billion stimulus plan show President Obama is out of touch.
Former Speaker of the House, presidential candidate, author of the brand-new book "A Nation Like No Other," Newt Gingrich joins us. Good evening, Mr. Speaker. And before we get to the shovel-ready comments that the president made, I'm curious if you have any response to the report by NBC that it is your wife, Callista, that essentially blew up your campaign and is the reason for the exodus -- or the exit of senior staff members.
NEWT GINGRICH, R-GEORGIA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE/FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Greta, I'm really glad you asked about that because you know Callista. We've spent time together. Like you, she's a cheesehead from Wisconsin. Like you, she bowls.
I just want the American people to know that Callista graduated as a piano major. She's played in the city of Fairfax band on the French horn since 1989. She sings in the basilica of the national shrine (INAUDIBLE) Immaculate Conception choir. She's the head of Gingrich Productions and has helped make seven different documentaries, one of which, about Pope John Paul II, was picked as one of the top three films by the Vatican this year about the pope. She chairs a foundation which has given away $800,000 to charities. And she's currently writing a children's book, in which Ellis the elephant introduces 5 to 8-year-olds to a sweet land of liberty, the history of America.
I say that as background because I thought NBC this morning, in a program that had nobody on camera, nobody quoted by name, that quoted reporters talking anonymously about cowardly people, who, frankly, lied about my wife -- and I believe NBC owes Callista an apology.
The fact is, my campaign is my campaign. Yes, we make decisions as a couple, but in the end, I take full responsibility. And I think the program this morning was totally irresponsible and personally reprehensible and the kind of thing that makes it hard to get decent people to run for public office.
VAN SUSTEREN: What was role -- what was her role in the campaign prior to the departure? What is her role now? And had there been any internal conflicts with Callista and any of the people who left?
GINGRICH: Look, Callista and I have a very similar relationship to Nancy and Ronnie Reagan. And people blame Nancy Reagan for things that Ronald Reagan did. The fact is, we are partners in thinking a lot of things through. We try to work out our schedule together. We try to work on a lot of projects together. We've made movies together. We've written books together.
I think that unnerved some of the -- some of the consultants who thought they ought to own everything, they ought to control everything. And they resented the idea that they had to have the two of us actually talk with them about things like our schedules.
So there's a fundamental difference between the modern world, where I think couples try to work together, and some of the consultants who I think, frankly, had no idea about how to deal with a couple that cared together about their lives.
VAN SUSTEREN: There's nothing I hate more than anonymous sources. It's a very easy way to slime somebody. Anonymous sources was supposed to protect someone who might be a whistleblower, someone from retribution from the government, getting fired, that kind of thing. When they do anonymous sources, that really bothers me. ... But I'm curious...
GINGRICH: And remember, these -- these -- by the way, these are supposed to be professionals, who we were paying, who supposedly had some sense of confidentiality, and who promptly, frankly, did some back-stabbing in a way that I just found amazing. After all my years in public life, I don't mind people attacking me. I'm the candidate. I'm a big guy. I can take it. But to go after anyone's wife I think is pretty despicable.
VAN SUSTEREN: Were there actual problems, though, with Callista and staff members?
GINGRICH: I have no idea. There were problems with me and staff members. I wanted to run an idea-oriented, grass-roots, solutions-based campaign that used Facebook and YouTube and all sorts of exciting things. And we had a couple staff members who wanted to run a 1952 campaign that I thought was hopeless and couldn't possibly win. So I'll take the responsibility.
I wanted a fundamentally different campaign than my staff did. I wanted -- and by the way, most of my original staff is still here. We only lost one person from my original team. Everybody else is an outside consultant who left, and they left because -- for example, the book you just mentioned, "A Nation Like No Other," is about big ideas. It's about the heart and soul of America.
Some of these consultants didn't understand why that mattered to a campaign, and yet I would say the heart and soul of America is what this is about. Barack Obama stands for European secular socialism. We stand for American exceptionalism. It couldn't be a bigger choice than that, but some of the consultants didn't get that at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know who it is on your staff who you suspect NBC spoke to, number one? And number two, did NBC call you or Callista before this report?
GINGRICH: We didn't -- we don't comment about anonymous back-stabbing comments.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know who it is, though? I mean, generally...
GINGRICH: I wouldn't respond tonight...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, I know if someone -- I mean, I got a pretty good idea if someone -- someone takes a slap at me, who it is. Do you have a pretty...
GINGRICH: I have no idea. And I'm not -- look, I don't care what the staff did. NBC is supposed to be a responsible news organization. And I think for them to attack somebody's wife is utterly reprehensible. And I hope none of them ever have the experience of having their spouse attacked in that kind of reprehensible matter.
VAN SUSTEREN: Would it be newsworthy if the person had been identified? I mean, is it -- the thing that bothers me is...
GINGRICH: Well, at least...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... anonymous.
GINGRICH: At least you could have -- at least you could have had a straight argument and explained who the person was. We had several people who quit, frankly, who had failed totally in their professional duties and who for the last month had not been doing their jobs. So I'd have been perfectly happy if they wanted to step up because we would have pointed out chapter and verse about why they were gone, and it wasn't for a very good reason.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's move on, then, to the president's comment -- shovel-ready. Some people have said the president was joking. I actually -- you know, I think it was sort of an awkward laugh at a comment that he made. I found more troubling the fact that the shovel- ready wasn't shovel-ready when we needed it to be shovel-ready. But you -- you took -- you call it uncaring.
GINGRICH: You know, there are 14 million Americans who are out of work. One out of every four American families is in a house which is now worth less than the mortgage. The president ought to have some deep sense of concern every day. Recently, he said he wasn't worried about a second dip recession. Well, he ought to be. He ought to be deeply concerned.
Yesterday, he sort of laughed off the fact that his primary solution, which was big government spending, turned out to be totally unready. Now, that meant that millions of Americans are in pain tonight because the Obama depression has failed to produce jobs.
And let's be clear this is his depression. Whatever George W. Bush did in 2007 and 2008 is long gone. Every recession since World War II ended and we had a substantial recovery by this stage. This is the only one which has continued for the longest time since the Great Depression to be at 9.1 percent unemployment. This is a depression if you're one of the people who's unemployed. And it's the Obama depression, and he ought to have some sense of concern for the pain his policies are causing Americans.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, if this were a president -- a Gingrich presidency, day one, what would you do to get us out of this financial mess? Give me your first week.
GINGRICH: Well, the first week, if we had -- if we picked up 12 Senate seats and about 30 to 40 House seats so we had working control of the Congress, the first week we would repeal the Dodd-Frank bill, which is killing the housing business, killing small business, killing independent banks. We would repeal Sarbanes-Oxley, which is killing venture capital. We would repeal the capital gains tax so that billions and billions would flow in the United States.
We'd establish a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, so a trillion dollars in repatriated money would come back home. We'd establish 100 percent expensing so that every business could write off all of their investments in new machinery in one year. We'd abolish the death tax permanently so family-owned businesses could focus on job creation.
And we'd replace the Environmental Protection Agency with an environmental solutions agency. We'd modernize the Food and Drug Administration. And we would create an American energy plan so that American money, $500 billion dollars a year, was spent in America buying energy from Americans, which by itself would lead to a dramatic improvement in the economy. Those steps would lead to you a dramatically healthier economy and millions and millions of new jobs.
VAN SUSTEREN: How are you going to pay for it?
GINGRICH: First of all, if you can go back -- when I was speaker, we cut taxes and unemployment dropped from 5.6 percent to under 4 percent. If we could get under 4 percent unemployment, we would pay for an amazing amount. If you took the...
VAN SUSTEREN: But this ... I mean, unemployment's a late indicator.
GINGRICH: Wait a second.