This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Earlier today, though, we did catch up with Newt Gingrich at The Machine Shed Restaurant in Des Moines. The former Speaker of the House and co-author of the new book, "Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny," went "On the Record."
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, nice to see you.
NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Great to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know if I should say welcome to Iowa to you or you should welcome me to Iowa.
GINGRICH: I've probably been here more often. Welcome to Iowa, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Actually, the count is I think this is your tenth trip here I think is the count.
VAN SUSTEREN: Recently.
GINGRICH: Yes, recently.
VAN SUSTEREN: As of recent time?
VAN SUSTEREN: Which is not insignificant, and I'll get to that in a moment. But first let me ask you about Libya. It's in the news. The president has said that military options with NATO are not off the table. What would you do about Libya?
GINGRICH: Exercise a no-fly zone this evening, communicate to the Libyan military that Qaddafi was gone and that the sooner they switch sides, the more like they were to survive, provided help to the rebels to replace him. I mean, the idea that we're confused about a man who has been an anti-American dictator since 1969 just tells you how inept this administration is. They were very quick to jump on Mubarak, who was their ally for 30 years, and they were confused about getting rid of Qaddafi. This is a moment to get rid of him. Do it. Get it over with.
VAN SUSTEREN: And why do you think -- you say you think it's ineptitude is why the pause or there's different political...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... or different diplomacy?
GINGRICH: I think the most generous comment would be ineptitude. It's also an ideological problem. The United States doesn't need anybody's permission. We don't need to have NATO, who frankly, won't bring much to the fight. We don't need to have the United Nations. All we have to say is that we think that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we're intervening. And we don't have to send troops. All we have to do is suppress his air force, which we could do in minutes. And then we have to say publicly that he is gone, that the military should switch sides now, and we should help the rebels. And if that means getting them weapons or whatever it means, the fact that there's no more Libyan air power and the fact that the United States has publicly come out for decisively replacing him, I suspect the military will dump him.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Let me switch gears now. Why are you here in Iowa today?
GINGRICH: Well, as you know, we have launched an exploratory process and we're looking seriously at running. You can't look seriously at running without coming here. But we've also had an American Solutions small business owners meeting. We've been in the state capital talking with a number of people about some very important ideas, such as broadband coverage for all of Iowa. And we have an opportunity this evening to be at a Faith and Freedom meeting and to outline some new ideas on using executive orders to turn the government around on the very first day of a new administration.
So I think there are a lot of good reasons to come to Iowa. I always like coming to Iowa. And had a chance to talk with a lot of students today about their concerns about the cost of higher education and the changes we need in higher education.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this more of a religious forum talking about social issues?
GINGRICH: Well, I think it's a forum of people who are concerned about social issues, but in the proposals that I'm talking about, we include abolishing the czars in the White House, which is certainly very important to the Tea Parties and to economic conservatives, and we're talking about instructing the State Department to allow countries to identify their own capital, which specifically reflects Israel and the fact that today, the U.S. refuses to recognize the capital of Israel, the only country in the world where our embassy's not in the capital designated by the home country, which affects national security conservatives.
So I think you'll find that Steve Scheffler and his Faith and Freedom group, while they are very staunch social conservatives, are also very strong economic and national security conservatives.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, in looking sort of -- looking into them, what I discovered is that in the last election, the mid-term election, they had contact with 560,000 voters, which is an awful -- I'm -- they have a huge Rolodex. So I assume that politically, they're very important. Plus, another statistic I read is that 60 percent of the caucus -- those who went to the caucus last time, GOP, were associated with evangelicals. So I assume that -- that's why I asked the religious question.
GINGRICH: Well, I mean, they're very significant, and I think they played a significant role, frankly, in defeating the three Iowa Supreme Court judges who were the first judges ever defeated in Iowa in the history of that process. They have a process here where you get to vote yes or no on whether or not to retain them. And historically, judges only got about a 40 percent no. This time, a majority voted no. And it looks very possible that at least three more of the Supreme Court justices will leave. And I think, in that sense, they probably played a significant role beyond the regular election process.
VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned that LA Times reports that you or your organization contributed $200,000 to that effort on those three that were tossed out of the Iowa supreme court, is that right?
GINGRICH: No, we helped find the money. It didn't come from our organization. But I've long taken a very strong position that judges have to operate within the framework of the Constitution. Judges can't rewrite the Constitution at will, based on the current fad or the current opinion or the choice of the day. And I did agree with those Iowans who felt that this court had clearly fundamentally changed the Iowa constitution in a way that the voters of Iowa would not have supported.
VAN SUSTEREN: So cutting to the chase, you're opposed to gay marriage, because that's essentially what this issue was about.
GINGRICH: Well, I'm very strongly in support of marriage being between a man and woman, which is what it has historically always been. And I -- but beyond that, I'm very strongly opposed to courts on many topics, not just on issues of marriage, but on many topics, we've been in a cycle where judges decide they will rewrite the constitution based on their whim. I think that's wrong. I think it's constitutionally wrong.
And I think that it represents an abuse of power by judges. And Iowa was an opportunity to start sending a signal that we need a national debate. I mean, the 9th circuit court is consistently wrong. It's overturned more than all the other courts. And I think we ought to recognize that when you have judges who are consistently wrong, they shouldn't be there.
VAN SUSTEREN: Every candidate -- and you haven't formally announced that you're a candidate, but I mean, we all pretty much know who's running, who's not running, or at least we make our guesses -- brings something he or has to explain. One of the things that you're going to have to explain to the voters out there is your infidelity in the 1990s. And how do you tell the group that you're going to speak to tonight that it is -- how do you make sure that they don't see it as a character flaw that can't be fixed and instead see it as someone who is repenting and that it should be ignored or overlooked in terms of voting?
GINGRICH: Well, I think they have to render their judgment, as do all Americans. I think they have to look at the totality of a person's life and decide who are they and what have they learned. I've made no bones about the fact that there were times I did the wrong thing and I've made no bones about the fact that I've asked for forgiveness.
And I think people then have to decide. I'm now, you know, a grandfather. I have two grandchildren I love very much. I have two wonderful daughters and two great son-in-laws. Callista and I, as you know, have a great marriage. And people have to decide, is this person who's there with him tonight somebody that they can feel comfortable understands he's made mistakes, but also understands how to live a life that they can trust with helping lead this country. I think people have to make that decision.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do they make that decision, though, because, I mean, like, Senator Ensign says today he's not going to run again and we all know because he had an affair and he's -- the numbers are terrible back home for him. You know, but how -- how do people know to trust you? If you can't trust you in a marriage -- I mean -- I mean, what is the difference? What's the...
GINGRICH: Look, I think that's something people have to decide, and they have to decide by looking at it and looking at the total person and looking at my total record. I think that if you look at all the things I've done in public life and the degree to which I have been prepared to fight for the values of the American people and to stand up to the establishment at times with people pretty angry at me, then you have to decide is that a person you trust, at a time when America clearly needs to have very fundamental challenges.
VAN SUSTEREN: You've now converted to Catholicism. When was that, how long ago, and why?