This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, March 2, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST:
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KERRY: I believe that in 2004, one united Democratic Party, we can and we will win this election!
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VAN SUSTEREN: That was Senator John Kerry just minutes ago here at the old Post Office Pavilion in Washington. Let's get GOP reaction to tonight's Super Tuesday results from former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Speaker Gingrich joins us here in Washington.
Speaker, let's talk about same-sex marriage. Is that going to be a huge issue in this campaign, do you think?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, it'll be an issue, but I think you have to start, Greta, by saying this is John Kerry's night. He earned it. People thought he was dead two months ago. People had written him out of the election. He came back. He fought his way back. This is a remarkable victory, I think the earliest nomination in a contested setting we've seen maybe in my lifetime. So I give him a lot of credit.
Now, he clearly does not want -- even though Massachusetts is the state that has the issue of gay marriage up right now, he doesn't want it to be an issue, if he can find a way to get away from it, and he will try to find a way to fight the campaign on his terms. But clearly, I think, compounded by the California supreme court decision to impose on the Catholic church employment rules that are essentially anti-Catholic, which occurred yesterday, I think, clearly, the whole question of activist judges and whether or not judges should be changing the constitution and changing the law is going to be an issue in this campaign.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You bring up the issue that it was a remarkable night for Senator John Kerry. Probably nine or ten months ago, none of us thought that he was really a contender. You've worked -- you've worked with him. He why is it? Is it that Governor Dean fell from grace and did poorly? Or why is Senator Kerry the winner tonight?
GINGRICH: Well, I think there are a couple of things. First of all, I would not take anything away from Senator Kerry, the team he assembled, the support he got from Senator Kennedy, the quality of the campaign management -- you know, he fired his original campaign manager, brought in somebody from Kennedy's staff. You've got to give Kerry a lot of credit because without that, he wouldn't have been there.
In his Senate races, against Governor Weld, for example, a very attractive, very smart Republican governor, Kerry turned out to be a very tough campaigner, much tougher than people expected. I think the Bush campaign realizes that and they're braced for it.
In addition, you have to say that if Howard Dean had not collapsed, Kerry wouldn't be here. I would say it a step further, Greta, and I think this will maybe cause some conversation. I believe if Howard Dean had not run in the first place, Kerry could never have been nominated because it would have been obvious for six months, as "National Journal" pointed out last weekend, that he is the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate. That was his voting record in 2003, according to "National Journal." Seen against the rest of the field, John Kerry would have been too liberal. Seen against the backdrop of Howard Dean, John Kerry became acceptable. And I think that's part of what you'll see play out over the next six or eight weeks.
VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, we'll have the whole campaign to look at this, as I'm sure that the Bush White House -- or the Bush-Cheney campaign will dig deeply into his background, as he will dig deeply into their records.
Speaker, stand by. We're going to take a quick break. Coming up: Who's the best running mate for Senator John Kerry? I'll ask former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. And later: What's in store for the Democrats when they go head to head with the Bush-Cheney campaign? I'll ask a member of the Bush-Cheney team in a moment.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're back live from the old Post Office Pavilion in Washington with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Speaker, in terms of picking a potential vice presidential running mate, what's the strategy you recommend to someone like John Kerry? I mean, I know that President Bush took Vice President Dick Cheney, but he didn't seem to offer much in terms of Electoral College votes, only three from Wyoming.
GINGRICH: President Bush at that time as a candidate was solving a very major problem, which was getting people to trust him on defense and foreign policy. And by having the team of Colin Powell as the probable secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice as the national security adviser and Dick Cheney as vice president, he basically took that off the table. And if you remember, for the whole rest of the campaign, the question of being capable in national security and foreign policy wasn't really a very successful issue for Al Gore.
I think John Kerry's got to decide where his majority is and where he wants to go. If he could talk her into it, I think the strongest vice presidential candidate, without any question, would be Senator Clinton. I doubt if she'd accept it, but I think she brings more strength to the ticket by a big margin...
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
GINGRICH: ... than anybody else.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why? I mean, in many ways, she -- in many ways, she's been a lightning rod. I mean, people either love her or hate her. I mean, in terms of -- that's at least what the conventional wisdom is.
GINGRICH: It may be heresy for a conservative Republican to say this, but I believe Senator Hillary Clinton is one of the two most competent politicians in the Democratic Party and is married to the other one. I think that the -- the difference between their political skills -- like them, dislike them, whatever your opinion, their energy, their drive, their intelligence is in a different league than everybody else. She would arouse a base of activists across the country. She would be formidable on the stump, and she's just very competent. I think she would also maximize the turnout of the Democratic base. I think the second choice...
VAN SUSTEREN: But they already -- let me just ask you one thing. They already -- I mean, the Democrats already pretty much have New York locked up, at least they did in 2000. That's the first thing. And secondly, she made the commitment to the voters in New York. Can she break that commitment?
GINGRICH: I said no. I said I don't think she'll do it. But you asked me, if I were advising Kerry, what would I advise him. My advice would be that Hillary -- Senator Hillary Clinton, if he can get her, is the strongest choice. The second strongest choice, I think, is Governor bill Richardson. He gives them a long-term opportunity to open up the Southwest.
And I'm not a big fan of Senator Edwards for this practical reason. I don't think Senator Edwards will carry a single state in the South for Senator Kerry. And if you're trying at a practical level to win the presidency, the only Democrat who can possibly carry a Southern state, I think, is somebody you have on the show, Senator Bob Graham, who might give them a fighting chance to carry Florida. But other than that, I don't see any Southern state that's going to be in play once people understand that this was Mike Dukakis's lieutenant governor, he was the most liberal in the Senate last year, according to "The National Journal." And I think Kerry will just become a noncompetitive player in virtually all the South once that sinks in. So I don't see how Edwards brings him much.
VAN SUSTEREN: So this is -- I mean, this race for Senator Kerry, this is a hugely important decision, not just sort of, you know, a sidekick, for lack of a better term. I mean, it really matters who he picks, in terms of November.
GINGRICH: I think he's got to look at Electoral College (search). Senator Graham in Florida is an opportunity. I think Governor Richardson, both in opening up the Southwest and appealing strongly to Hispanics, where President Bush is the most competitive Republican in modern times, gives him something. If he could find the right candidate in the Midwest, maybe an Evan Bayh (search) -- you know, I think those are the battlegrounds. The Northeast will be basically Democratic, except maybe for Maine and New Hampshire. The South is going to basically be Republican, unless Senator Graham were to deliver one state. I don't -- and so I think you go from there and work out, and you pretty rapidly find out where the real fights are, and that's what Senator Kerry has got to decide.
It has to be somebody he's fairly comfortable with, maybe not as comfortable as -- you know, Clinton and Gore the first time were stunningly comfortable with each other. Bush and Cheney clearly are stunningly comfortable. You don't always get that kind of chemistry. It would be nice if they found somebody who they had that kind of -- because you gain energy, as you know, Greta. When you're in a long eight-month campaign like this, the longest general election in modern times, it helps to have somebody you like to talk to in the evening when you call to say, How was your day? Here's what we did. What are we going to do tomorrow?
VAN SUSTEREN: And it's horrible to have to fake it, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, Speaker, thank you very much for joining us this evening.
GINGRICH: Take care.
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