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Transcript: Gingrich, Sanford on 'FNS'

The following is a rush transcript of the April 5, 2009, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: With Democrats controlling the White House and Capitol Hill, how do Republicans stay in the game and position themselves for a comeback?

For answers, we turn to the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, and former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

And, gentlemen, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday." Let's start with today's news.

Mr. Gingrich, before today's launch, you said the North Koreans should not be allowed to fire a missile and that the U.S., quote, "should take whatever preemptive actions are necessary." Are you saying that "President Gingrich" would have taken out that missile on the launch pad?

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yes, I'm saying if you look at the new book by my co- author Bill Fortune called "One Second After," and you look at electromagnetic pulse capabilities, which can take out — one weapon could take out a third of the electric generating capacity of the United States.

We do not appreciate the scale of threat that is evolving on the planet, and North Korea is a totally irresponsible dictatorship run by a person who is clearly out of touch with reality, and I think to say, you know, we're now going to have another meeting at the U.N. to have another paper resolution that has meaningless effect is very dangerous.

I think both with Iran and with North Korea, you have countries which could decide at any morning to try to actually use their weapons.

WALLACE: So you're saying that "President Gingrich" would have taken out that...

GINGRICH: There are — there are three or four techniques that could have been used, from unconventional forces to standoff capabilities, to say we're not going to tolerate a North Korean missile launch, period.

I mean, the world's either got to decide that North Korea is utterly dangerous — and again, I'd recommend — look at electromagnetic pulse, which changes — which we've known about since 1958. It changes every equation about how risky these weapons are.

WALLACE: Governor Sanford, would you also have taken preemptive action? And do we really want to get into a shooting war with the North Koreans when they have a million-member army stationed just across the DMZ about 30 miles from the South Korean capital of Seoul?

GOV. MARK SANFORD, R-S.C.: I would always defer to my former boss, if you will, as I was a pup freshman as he was speaker, on issues of foreign policy.

But what I would say is in the countryside of South Carolina, at some point you've got to back up words with action. And as the speaker just pointed out, there have been a long series of missteps, intentional steps, on North Korea's part and little in the way of action from the standpoint of either America or international community.

GINGRICH: If I could, Chris, one last point. We have been talking about this since the Clinton administration, and they have been building nuclear weapons and building better and better missiles while we keep talking.

And one morning, just like 9/11, there's going to be a disaster, and people are going to look around and say, "Gosh, why didn't anyone think of that?" Well, I'm telling you the time to think about it's before the disaster, not afterwards.

WALLACE: Well, do you think that we can do anything in the U.N.?

GINGRICH: I will be — I'm looking with great interest to see the president's promise of hard action, toughness, come this afternoon. I have yet to see the United Nations do anything effective with either Iran or North Korea.

WALLACE: Let me, Mr. Gingrich...

SANFORD: Well, but may I just follow up on that thought, which is there is something fundamentally wrong with an administration that says tough action, and a secretary of defense who says, "We absolutely have the capacity to shoot this thing down," and no action.

WALLACE: Mr. Gingrich, what do you make of the president's speech today in which he called for new limits and, in fact, the elimination, eventually, as a goal, of all nuclear weapons at the same time, as I discussed with David Axelrod, that he wants a cut in missile defense?

GINGRICH: There's a fascinating analysis of Jimmy Carter's Notre Dame speech when he spoke at the commencement in 1977. And that was the moment in which Carter's fantasy view of the world became clear, and the beginning, I think, of the end of his — of his administration.The president's in a world where Hamas is firing missiles every day into Israel, Iran is building nuclear weapons, and the North Koreans today during — basically during his speech fired a missile, and he has some wonderful fantasy idea that we're going to have a great meeting next year.

With who? I mean, who's coming to this meeting? The Pakistanis? The Indians? The Chinese? The Russians? And what are they going to promise? And why would you believe them?

I just think that it's very dangerous to have a fantasy foreign policy, and it can get you in enormous trouble, just like giving — you know, we don't have a war on terror anymore. We don't have terrorist attacks anymore. So now homeland security has manmade disasters.

I'm somehow not comforted with the thought that 9/11 was a manmade disaster but not a terrorist attack, and I'm not comforted with words instead of serious systematic policies.

WALLACE: Governor Sanford, you heard my discussion just a moment ago with David Axelrod about the president's trip overseas and the issue as to whether or not he has been pandering to the Europeans. Let's take a look at what he actually said in France. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There have been times where America's shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive. But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Governor, the Obama team says the president just recognizes there are faults on both sides and that we need to rebuild our relationship with our European allies.

SANFORD: I would say there's a bigger message for me taken on that front, which is he seems to be approaching his conversations with the Europeans with very much a contrite heart of we don't know it all, here we are, America.

What I'm seeing in terms of domestic policy is we know it all, and let us take over this industry and this industry and this industry, and spend more.

If there's any consistency that I saw between the European approach and the domestic policy approach, it's with spending, because he's going to come back and ask for yet another $100 billion to be spent on stimulus efforts.

And you had Sarkozy and Merkel both coming back and saying, "Wait, I don't know that more spending is the answer. Let's look at regulation." So the consistent theme to me would be spending. The inconsistency would be a bit of a more contrite heart in international affairs that I've seen domestically.

WALLACE: Let me get to the subject that we actually invited you both here for, and that's to talk about the future of the Republican Party and how you rebrand yourself.

Mr. Gingrich, you said the other day that you see the real possibility that some conservatives will split off from the GOP and form a third party by 2012. I know that nobody would ever accuse you of this, but are you just being provocative?

GINGRICH: No, I'm trying to say very clearly, particularly to those Republicans who continue to insist, for example, on earmarks, continue to insist that they like big spending, continue to insist that they don't have to pay any attention to the great vast majority of Republicans, that people are not trapped into a — into a system.

I think that where Congressman John Boehner and his team with Eric Cantor and others have done is very helpful. I think their effort on the budget with Paul Ryan as lead has been very helpful. I think the Senate amendments offered this week under Mitch McConnell's leadership is very helpful.

But Republicans need to understand that there is a country which did not like the big spending of the last administration, didn't like the interventionist policies of the last administration, and the country at large would like to see a genuine alternative to the Obama strategy of basically trying to run the entire economy from the White House and basically trying to increase government, I think, by 36 percent this year, which is the largest single increase outside of war in American history.

WALLACE: Are you suggesting that if the Republican Party as it now exists doesn't get that message that you would be part of a third party, you would...

GINGRICH: No. No. Look, I lived through watching Ross Perot run in 1992 and split the conservative movement in two. The reason we won in 1994 and the reason Mark and others were so successful in that — in that Congress was that we managed to offer a contract with America that brought everyone back to the table, and we had the largest one-party increase in American history.

If the Republicans decide to be a genuine reform party focused on America, not focused on the Republicans, but focused on America's solutions, we will, in fact, create a much larger party, probably as early as next year.

But we have to be committed to being a genuine reform party, not just the right wing of big government.

WALLACE: Governor Sanford, let's talk about conservative principles. You reluctantly accepted on Friday federal stimulus money for your state, but you say that you will not spend the $700 million that's earmarked for education and public safety unless your state legislature agrees to take that same amount of money to pay down the state debt.Now, South Carolina, I don't have to tell you, has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, 11 percent. The speaker of the House, who is a Republican himself, says without the $700 million in government stimulus, they're going to have to fire up to 5,000 teachers and close some prisons.

Is that your image for the Republican Party?

SANFORD: Well, first of all, that was called the so-called chaos budget. It was designed by the head of Senate Finance, and it was designed to scare people to death, to put political pressure on me to change my position. It was not a real budget.

I think that what we're talking about is this age-old tug-of-war between is simply more money the answer, or can you reform other pieces of government and come up with the same savings to pay for teachers and health care and all the other associated things of government.

That's the tug-of-war that's taking place in South Carolina. And it's that whole larger notion of grandmother or grandfather's idea of moderation in all things. Ninety percent of the stimulus money would be spent in South Carolina. But what we've said is let's take 10 percent, in essence, with state funds, not fed funds, state funds, and pay down debt, and wouldn't there be dividends going forward in doing so.

WALLACE: But just real briefly....

SANFORD: Absolutely there would be, yeah.

WALLACE: ... you're saying that you're prepared not to — if the legislature doesn't pay down the debt, in the middle of a recession you're saying you're not going to spend $700 million for teachers and public safety?

SANFORD: No, because I'll go back to — use G.M. as an example. What we were told some months ago by G.M. was if you just give us billions of dollars, we'll make reforms, we'll become more competitive in the global climate, we'll go off to the races.

They didn't make the reforms. Now the president of the United States has come in and fired the chairman of G.M., and we've lost billions and we've lost time. Any economic crisis allows for changes in the world of politics that would not be possible in rosier times.

And so what we're saying is there are a whole host of outdated governmental programs that ought to be reformed and ought to be changed, and you can redeploy those moneys.

It is not stimulative to simply go in and take federal dollars to keep bureaucracies that don't work up and going. And what we're saying is let's use this chance as a chance to do just that.

WALLACE: We've got less than two minutes left.

Mr. Gingrich, you have been a Baptist most of your life, and last Sunday you converted to Catholicism. Why, sir?

GINGRICH: I'm not talking about this much publicly, but let me just say that I found over the course of the last decade, attending the basilica, meeting with Monsignor Rossi, reading the literature, that there was a peace in my soul and a sense of well being in the Catholic Church, and I found the mass of conversion last Sunday one of the most powerful moments of my life.

WALLACE: You have — it's no secret — been married and divorced twice. Will you be able to participate fully in communion and all the other rites of the Catholic Church?

GINGRICH: Yes, we have done everything within the law of the church, following all of the rules of the church over the last 10 years. And it's been a process. It's been a very long process and something which was deeply affected, in part, by Pope Benedict XVI's visit and the opportunity I had to sit in — as you know, my wife, Calista, sings at the basilica every Sunday, and I was allowed as a spouse to be there as part of the vespers program when the pope came. It's been a long process.

WALLACE: And if I might ask, just briefly, what is it about the pope's visit that led to this?

GINGRICH: I really believe, first of all, seeing the joy in his eyes, listening to his message, and I really believe that his basic statement, Christ our hope, is right. And I think much of what's wrong with our country and with the western world is a function of looking inside ourselves, not just looking at money or looking at our wallets.

WALLACE: Mr. Gingrich, Governor Sanford, thank you both. Thanks for coming in.

SANFORD: Pleasure.

WALLACE: Please come back, both of you.

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