Calling All Conservatives

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 13, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I believe we have two futures this year. I believe we can be for real change now. We can put the Democrats on record every day from here on out. We can use the House and Senate as opportunities to have the country focused on what's the right change and what's the wrong change.


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And that was our good friends, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference telling Republicans what they need to do to win the presidential election.

Now, he didn't just offer advice, but he also laid out what he is calling a conservative Declaration of Independence from the Republican Party. He joins us on the phone to help explain further.

And don't forget he's the author of No. 3 on the New York Times, "Real Change," former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, you wrote this book before the word change became such an important word in this — in this particular campaign. And I particularly like what you were saying there. Real change now. Challenge the Democrats on specific issues. If the Republicans do not do this, what are the consequences?

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (VIA PHONE): Look, if Senator Obama, who is is a very, very attractive person, is able to carry out a campaign for president, in which he simply says, "I'm for change; you're for change. I love America; you love America. Life is good. Don't we want to be good friends forever?," he's just going to win.

If you look at the results in Virginia. Remember, this is Virginia. And there were twice as many Democratic votes in the primaries as there were Republican votes.

Now, that tells you there's an underlying momentum here that is awesome. And I think unless Republicans get a grip on life, figure out that if they're not the party of real change, if they're trying to explain the current situation and they're trying to defend the current situation, They're just going to get beaten this fall.

HANNITY: You know...

GINGRICH: And that's why I think this is so important.

HANNITY: You said and you pointed out that, on Super Tuesday there were 14.6 million voters that took part in the Democratic races. Only 8.3 million Republicans. You predicted a potential catastrophe on election night for the Republicans if they don't go forward and make the case for, as you're saying, real change here.

And as part of this, you talked about this Declaration of Independence for conservatives from the Republican Party. It's a theme, by the way, I — you know, great minds hopefully think alike — I have been echoing, that we've got to stand on conservative principles. You can expand on the specifics of that?

GINGRICH: Sure, let me first of all say I want to give Dave Bossy a lot of credit. Because he's the one that first pointed out to me that, when you added up all the votes on Super Tuesday, it was a, for Republicans and for conservatives sobering difference in total turnout. And I give Dave Bossy a lot of credit for that analysis.

Let me say, second, that we created the platform of the American people, which folks can get by either going to or to And that was designed to say here are issues so powerful, so popular, that if only somebody would figure out that the American people together, Democrat, Republican, independent, would like this kind of real change, they could actually begin to build a real majority.

Now, what worries me is, first of all, the conservative movement cannot be a subsidiary of the Republican Party. The conservative movement is a long-term...


GINGRICH: ... permanent commitment to fundamental philosophy. And we have to be prepared to reach out to conservative Democrats to form a genuine coalition.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this last question. I don't want to interrupt your thought, but I've got to get this in, because as it relates to all the discussion of conservatives like myself that have highlighted substantive differences with Senator McCain, the weariness that we have of Senator McCain. I think — and in that sense, we've got to be independent thinkers. The conservative movement is more important than any allegiance to a party. Can you expand on that?

GINGRICH: Well, let me shock you. I think — I think we did a disservice to George W. Bush by not applying the same principle to him. When the Bush administration was wrong and when the House and Senate Republicans were wrong and then sometimes, to be fair, you and Rush Limbaugh and others were pretty tough.

But, as a general feeling, the movement didn't really feel comfortable being as critical and as direct and as blunt as it should have been.

I like Ronald Reagan's phrase. He was asked one time about trusting Gorbachev. He said, you know, you ought to trust but verify.

HANNITY: Absolutely.

GINGRICH: I'm prepared to say if John McCain ends up as the nominee, as he almost certainly will.

GINGRICH: If my choice is Obama or McCain, I'll be for McCain. But I'll be fully prepared to oppose him when I think he's wrong.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Newt, it's Alan.

Part of what you just said you said in your CPAC speech last week. You said the Republicans were not critical enough of Bush. You said, quote, "We did a disservice by not being more vocal when he was wrong."

But that's easy to say after the fact, now that we see how unpopular he is. You've asked the American people ever since you were speaker to vote Republican, vote conservative. They listened. They voted for Reagan.

You helped bring in a Republican — a conservative Congress, the revolution of 1994. And now you're saying, "Well, I'm going to call myself an independent now, because you know, this other stuff isn't working." Because look what you guys have done with all the power you've had since 1980.

GINGRICH: Wait a second, Alan. First of all, if you want to get in a debate about Ronald Reagan, there is no Soviet empire. I know this may have not occurred to you. There is no Soviet empire. The Cold War is over. We won.

COLMES: I wasn't talking about Ronald Reagan. I was talking about what you said to get elected. And now you're distancing yourself from the very movement you said that you started.

GINGRICH: OK. Just a second. Let's talk about the Contract with America. We said we balanced the budget. We balanced it for four consecutive years, paid off $405 billion in federal debt.

We said we'd cut taxes. We had the first tax cut in 16 years. We said we'd reform welfare. We had the most fundamental social conservative reform in 70 years. And 65 percent of the people on welfare went to work or went to school.

COLMES: On Bill Clinton's watch.

GINGRICH: Now, I'm also telling you publicly, Alan, I concede this. It causes me enormous pain. The Republican leadership sometime after 2000 went off the rails. And how you can explain the Bridge to Nowhere. How can you explain earmarks? How can you explain all of that spending with no vetoes?

COLMES: Let me ask you this.

GINGRICH: How can you explain Katrina?

COLMES: All right. You make some great — you're, of course, singing my tune when you say those things. So why should the American people reward the very political party that's now asking again for their vote that just brought us all the things you just mentioned?

GINGRICH: Look, they shouldn't. This is — you have cut to the heart of my concern. If I thought that Senator Obama had any interest in genuine real change, which of course, is modestly the title of my new book, I would be much more interested.

But my hunch is that Senator Obama has a great slogan for backing up the same bureaucracies, the same unions, the same problem, the same systems that haven't worked.

And I'm not trying to — I absolutely believe if somebody runs this year on the principle of four more years of the last eight years, they're just going to get beat.

COLMES: Well, that's the problem that McCain is going to have.


COLMES: All right. Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for being with us. Thanks for your time.

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