This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 12, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Joining us now, the author of "Winning the Future", former speaker of the house and FOX News contributor, Newt Gingrich.
What, Manchester, New Hampshire. That's a very addressing political place to be. Isn't it?
HANNITY: It's really odd.
COLMES: What are the odds of you being there? That's right.
NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You guys would love it up there.
COLMES: Yes, apparently you do, too. You've been there a lot.
Now listen, you're making some news today, saying some things about the Bush administration. Some say they contradict what you've said in the past. Here's what you said on "Hannity & Colmes" in June of 2005.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: The key question for critics is simple. What would you do? You have terrorists there who want to kill us. You have representatives of the old dictatorship who want to kill us. Do you really think America would be better off if we cut and run, if we showed to the world that we were afraid and we had no courage?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: And Mr. Speaker, here's what you said yesterday in your speech. You said: "It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003." You said this to, according to the Argue Leader of Sioux Falls, South Dakota: "We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it."
Have you had a change in thinking?
GINGRICH: No, if you go to Ambassador Bremer made a huge mistake by failing to try to develop an Iraqi interim government at that time and continue the process of liberating the country. And I have said that as early as December of 2003, long before the presidential election. I think that this was a mistake.
We were much better off in Afghanistan, where we developed a government with President Karzai, and we had Afghans from day one helping run their own country.
I also said something which I think secretary Rumsfeld and General Abizaid and General Casey have all said, and that is that as rapidly as we can train Iraqi police and soldiers, that we should pull out of the cities and pull back to bases that allow the Iraqis to do the policing every day and allow us to be reinforcers rather than enforcers. But I think that's actually the administration plan and is not a contradiction with their position.
COLMES: You said on "Hannity & Colmes," if we pull back, you referred to it as cut and running. We can't do that. It would be showing the world we are afraid and have no courage.
Yesterday you said we have to pull back; we have to recognize it. Very much like what John Kerry said last week. He came up with certain dates but he actually came up with a plan about pulling back, just like you suggested.
GINGRICH: Wait. But — no, if you read what I actually said, Alan, I said we may have well have troops there for a very, very long time because of the direct threat from Iran and the danger of Iranians developing nuclear weapons and the kind of things that Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, has been saying about defeating the U.S. and destroying Israel.
So I actually am the opposite of John Kerry. All I want to do is exactly what General Abizaid is doing, which is maximize the rate of training of Iraqi forces and minimize the direct exposure of Americans in trying to police the country.
I am not for any precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, and I think Senator Kerry was advocating a policy of absolute defeat when he suggested he would set a date, which I think he said could be as early as May.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Good to see you in New Hampshire, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to get to that in just a second. Don't think you're getting off the hook.
I actually spent the time, and I actually listened to the speech. It's almost reckless to the extent that which has been reported and taken out of context, your remarks. Because they were a much broader way delivered. And you're talking from a very philosophical, historical standpoint.
And then you went on to support the current plan and the way it's going and everything else, which is a stark difference. It was only reported negatively in one place. There are a bunch of other media there. They did not report it the same way there, because they actually listened to the whole speech.
GINGRICH: Well, I think actually the one headline writer, unfortunately, for that one newspaper, just was wrong in how he interpreted the report. That, however, it's interesting to note, was the thing that got picked up by other newspapers that apparently didn't check the speech itself even though in the age of the Internet you can.
GINGRICH: They didn't check the other reporting. And as you point out, Sean, there were two newspapers and a television station that all got it exactly right. And it's a little disappointing to have some national publications not go beyond that one headline to look at what I actually said.
HANNITY: I want to expand a little more on Kerry's specific statement that he made. "Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May the 15th to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw or military."
How dangerous is that?
GINGRICH: Well, it's extraordinarily dangerous but it is where Senator Kerry, I think, always has been. Senator Kerry in the end sadly advocated that America accept defeat in Vietnam. I think Senator Kerry is now advocating that America accept defeat in Iraq, and that's exactly what his plan would do.
If his plan would guarantee the defeat of the United States in the Middle East and would leave us dramatically weaker in dealing with the Iranians. It's a very sad thing to see.
HANNITY: Well, when you add the Iranian part of the equation here, and Ahmadinejad and now that they're enriching uranium and now that they're going forward with a full-fledged nuclear program and their pledge to annihilate Israel off the map, how important is it now more than ever that the job get finished and finished correctly in Iraq and that we win there?
GINGRICH: Well, look, I think that Iran is the greatest threat to the United States since Adolph Hitler in 1935 began his march to try to conquer all of the world.
And I think that for us to not accept and recognize that Ahmadinejad and the Iranian dictatorship is very desperately trying to get nuclear weapons, actively supporting terrorism, I think it's very dangerous for us not to succeed in the Middle East.
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