OTR Interviews

Gingrich on Tea Party Power and 'Kenyan, Anti-Colonial' Worldviews

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," Sept. 17, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich goes "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, nice to see you, sir.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's great to be back with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, these are wild times, am I wrong or...

GINGRICH: Oh, they're unbelievable times! I mean, I've been active - - I've studied politics since 1958. I became a volunteer in 1960. I don't remember any time where you had seven upsets in U.S. Senate primaries and the establishment candidate lost all seven. I mean, it's just -- it's amazing. And you just watch all around the country, who knows what November's going to be like.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, as I was thinking the last couple of days, is that the Democrats must be sort of licking their chops because in the beginning, they got hammered. They got hit at the town hall meetings and everyone was saying, like, Why are you so tone-deaf? The American people are screaming at you. And the Republicans were sort of sitting back there sort of happy, watching Democrats get it. Now, though -- now the Republicans are getting a little bit, as well, and now the Democrats are sitting back, watching the Republicans scramble to try to unify their party.

GINGRICH: Yes, I think that's right, although I think this is good practice for McConnell and Boehner because the fact is, if they do become a majority, they're going to have a strong grass roots activist wing, and it is going to cause them headaches every morning.

VAN SUSTEREN: Much bigger problem, though, for Leader Boehner. That's like herding cats because of the sheer numbers...

GINGRICH: Well, no, the...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you had that, too.

GINGRICH: But if they end up with seven tea party members in the Senate, I mean, that'll be a huge bloc.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Christine O'Donnell.


VAN SUSTEREN: Did you think she was going to win the nomination?

GINGRICH: I was surprised that she won. I thought she could win, but I was surprised largely because I've known Mike Castle for a long time. He's a very solid guy. But I think once Palin, Governor Palin, intervened, once the national tea party movement intervened, the momentum built. And the thing that most analysts didn't pay attention to, they had the largest turn-out in the Republican Party in modern history. They had four times as many voters as they had in 2006.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are those new Republicans or are those regular Republicans who just decided to vote?

GINGRICH: I think it's both. I think you had a substantial number of new people. And if you look at the polling data, if you were a more traditional Republican, you probably voted for Castle. If you were a blue- collar worker, if you're somebody who came out of a background where you probably hadn't been active as a Republican, you almost certainly voted for Christine O'Donnell. And I think, in that sense, that she has broadened the party's base in a way that may surprise people come November.

VAN SUSTEREN: What happened to Congressman Castle? Is it just sort of throw the bum out because he's been in office -- I don't mean that he's a bum, but I mean...



GINGRICH: Mike is a very smart guy.

VAN SUSTEREN: I didn't mean it that way. I meant that because he's an incumbent, it doesn't matter who he is, you're out, or is it a vote for her?

GINGRICH: Well, I think two things. I mean, first of all, she had run twice. She had a real base in the state. There were people, you know, who were working. Her campaign headquarters was in her home and there were volunteers sleeping in her basement, working. I mean, there was a group of people that really believed in her.

In addition, I think that Governor Castle had -- Congressman Castle now -- had two challenges. One was, on several issues, he'd voted, by Republican standards, very far to the left. And the other was he's very reasonable, go along, let's work together and be bipartisan at a time when in the Republican primaries, people are really angry and they want somebody with an edge. There's a big advantage in the Republican primary right now to having an edge and looking like somebody who can go to Washington and fight the establishment.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, having said that, that wins the primary. How about a general election in Delaware? Can she win a general election for the Republican Party?

GINGRICH: Yes. I mean, the number one fact about her opponent is that her opponent raised taxes massively in county government, spent so much that the county had a dramatic reduction in its debt rating. And if she focuses her campaign on an Obama tax increase, spending increase, Democrat, she has a good chance. Plus, today Harry Reid described this candidate as his pet. Did you see the quote?


VAN SUSTEREN: I saw it. I saw it. It's an interesting -- it's an interesting concept -- interesting concept that...

GINGRICH: Can you imagine a campaign poster of Harry Reid...

VAN SUSTEREN: At least it wasn't a woman he said it about! I mean, can you imagine if he'd said it about a woman candidate? At least it was a man candidate.

GINGRICH: Well, that would have led to a whole different set of allegations.


GINGRICH: But can you imagine the poster that just shows Harry Reid and sort of a little doggy leash, and then here's this "pet candidate."


GINGRICH: Elect Harry's pet.


GINGRICH: Get a candidate who's trained to obey.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, she does -- I mean, she's got some issues.


VAN SUSTEREN: ... money issues. Her mother -- now, is there any problem with her mother having received about $3,500 as consultant for the campaign? Any problem with that?

GINGRICH: No, I done think so. In fact, if you look at, historically, a number of campaigns have employed members of their families, as long as they did work.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about some of her -- the whole business about her academic background and whether or not she -- when she graduated, when she didn't graduate? I mean, I suspect the Democrats are going to say she's a little slippery when it comes to facts.

GINGRICH: I think that if -- if she is the issue on election day, she'll probably lose. The same thing's true, by the way, in Nevada. On the other hand, if the economy, jobs, taxes, spending are the issue on election day, the Democrats are going to lose. The Democrats' job is to make her unelectable. Her job is pound away at the economy, taxes and joblessness. And the side that wins that debate is going to win.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any way to measure in Delaware to what extent Governor Sarah Palin was a factor and even...

GINGRICH: Oh, I think so. Yes. I think -- there's no question that Governor Palin is the most dynamic motivator of primary votes in the Republican Party today, that her ability to -- for 25 percent of the party, which is a big bloc, to move them by YouTube and Facebook and Twitter is a remarkable achievement.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does she do that? Because I'll tell you, we've been up to Alaska, and it's Governor Palin and it seems like -- and her husband and her family. I mean, there's no, like, huge machine. There's no staff. I think she might have someone who does some work for her in southern California.


VAN SUSTEREN: But this is not a huge operation. What it is?

GINGRICH: First of all, you partly answered your own question. I've watched a number of your interviews in Alaska with the Palins. She's a national figure. She's on national television. She has an automatic reach. She's a unique character. I mean, you know, you've interviewed her at home. This is not your normal everyday boring politician. She is her own person. Her husband is his own person. They are different. And the result is, she has a huge following nationwide. And that following reads her tweets and they look at her FaceBook and they look at the YouTubes. And the news media picks it up. I mean, if Governor Palin endorses Christine O'Donnell, that's a page one story in Wilmington, Delaware.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what if she shows up in Delaware between now and election day? Does that move -- does that move anything for her, or she already...

GINGRICH: It mobilizes the base and it raises money. It does not help with independents and it does not help with moderate Democrats, but it clearly mobilizes the base. And it may well be that her greatest impact is in a Republican primary, but she -- you know, the Democrats have been a majority for all practical purposes since 1932. And the way they stay the majority is they're a huge coalition. And different pieces of the Democratic Party bring different aspects of strength to it.

We're beginning to be a majority. And that means you got to govern a party where you're going to have a Huckabee and you're going to have a Palin and you're going to have a Romney and you're going to have a Haley Barbour and you're going to have a Karl Rove and you got to somehow get them all occasionally gathered together long enough to win, and then let them go back to arguing with each other.


VAN SUSTEREN: Next, Speaker Gingrich is under fire for calling President Obama's behavior "Kenyan" and "anti-colonial." Now, what does that mean? Speaker Gingrich defends his comments next.


VAN SUSTEREN: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is taking heat for something he said about President Obama. We asked him about it.


VAN SUSTEREN: "Kenyan anti-colonial worldview" -- now, what in the world does that mean?


VAN SUSTEREN: And that's where you said that the president -- what did you mean? And is there any sort of -- you know (INAUDIBLE) you know, there's a lot of that sort of Kenyan stuff, people are critical, saying that he wasn't born in the United States, and we've got that whole sort of movement -- he was born in Hawaii, incidentally. Why did you -- why did you say that and what do you mean?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, he was born in Hawaii.


VAN SUSTEREN: ... born in Hawaii.

GINGRICH: This had nothing to do about anything except his mind.

VAN SUSTEREN: But what is that, a "Kenyan anti-colonial"...


GINGRICH: Everybody who is interested in this and everybody who's read some whacked-out left-wing attack on me about this should read either Dinesh D'Souza's fine article in "Forbes" magazine or in 10 days should buy Dinesh D'Souza's new book, "The Roots of Obama's Rage." It's about a 230- page...

VAN SUSTEREN: Rage? R? Rage?



GINGRICH: And -- and -- and D'Souza, who is from India, grew up in India, came to the United States, has a very similar understanding of third world attitudes and anti-colonialism, goes through -- it's a very fine book. And he basically makes the -- and raises the question, Why is no one -- you know, why are none of our elites willing to look at who Barack Obama is?

VAN SUSTEREN: What does that mean, though, "who he is"? I mean, like...


GINGRICH: He writes a book "Dreams From My Father."


GINGRICH: OK. So why can't we ask the question, what were his dreams from his father? Who was his father? His father was from Kenya. I cited Kenya for a practical reason. It's a fact. His father was from Kenya.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can -- you know -- you know, it's hard for me to get too deep into that. I mean, it's, like, it sounds a little bit like -- I don't know, sophomorish to get into his mind. I'm more concerned as to why he can't get jobs for people, why he can't get the unemployment down...

GINGRICH: But I would argue he can't get jobs for people because the model he has in his mind is fundamentally flawed, doesn't work.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that may be something else, but is that a "Kenyan anti-colonial"...


VAN SUSTEREN: What is that? First of all, what is that? Explain that to me.

GINGRICH: Dinesh D'Souza's argument, and this is -- the original quote was me talking to somebody from "National Review," saying, You ought to read Dinesh D'Souza's article.


GINGRICH: I found it very insightful. Now, I think you can say three things about who -- about Barack Obama's worldview. Part of him is a Saul Alinsky community radical organizer, and you can read, you know, Alinsky's books and know what that means. Part of him is sort of the classic European socialist transmuted by Columbia and Harvard, and that explains a lot of the big government, big control, big bureaucracy stuff.


VAN SUSTEREN: ... everybody he hires in his administration are Harvard and Yale and University of Chicago...


VAN SUSTEREN: And they all have the same worldview, which is essentially European socialism. And then part of him, I think, has picked up on this -- whether you want to say it's Indonesian and Kenyan or Franz Fanon from Algeria -- I mean, there is a broad anti-colonial model intellectually...

VAN SUSTEREN: But what is that? What -- explain -- maybe I'm not...


VAN SUSTEREN: What is "anti-colonial model"?


VAN SUSTEREN: What does that mean?

GINGRICH: The anti-colonial model -- the anti-colonial model grew up in the 20th century as an intellectual model that basically said the European system is basically bad and the Americans are the inheritor of this basically bad system. And...

VAN SUSTEREN: But I thought he was European? I thought you were saying that (INAUDIBLE)

GINGRICH: No, he's a mix. He's a mix of three.


GINGRICH: And I think somewhere in that three (INAUDIBLE) The only reason I raise it is, of all the presidents that I've watched and worked with in my lifetime, I find him the most complicated to try to understand, the most complicated to try to figure out, Why would you do that? Why would you pick fights that puts you on the opposite side from 70 percent of the American people? Why would you have a series of policies that you know are very unpopular?

VAN SUSTEREN: See, you know how I look at it? I must be very basic because I think (INAUDIBLE) OK, this is what you did, has it worked? You look at the graph. Do we have jobs or we don't have jobs?


VAN SUSTEREN: You know, like...

GINGRICH: Well, I...

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess I don't go that deep. And if we don't have jobs, you picked -- you picked the wrong idea, so we got to regroup.

GINGRICH: But part of the reason you have the tea party movement and part of the reason you're getting this surge of candidates is that there are two things together. There's a performance failure, the point you're making, 9.6 percent unemployment is unacceptable. And there's this deep sense many Americans have, as my younger daughter, who writes a column, Jackie Cushman (ph), wrote one time, We were told we were voting for change you could believe in and we found we were voting for somebody who wanted to change what we believe.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I actually think that the tea party movement sprung up because right at the get-go, he said, OK, this is what we're doing with the stimulus bill. Take it -- or you're going to get it, whether you like it or not.


VAN SUSTEREN: And he didn't consider everybody in America. I mean, and I think a lot of people thought that that was arrogant and you're not listening to me. So then they go to all the town hall meetings and they find out you're still not listening to me. And the Republicans still don't get it. The first time Republicans have a wake-up call is when Scott Brown in January of 2010 is elected. And I think that's -- I think that many were offended that they weren't listened to.

GINGRICH: And they weren't listened to after Scott Brown was elected because then they rammed through the health bill despite Scott Brown's victory.

VAN SUSTEREN: And now the Republicans aren't listening, too, because now the Republicans are catching hell in the primaries!

GINGRICH: So you can add a fourth piece to the description, a Chicago machine. He is a perfect machine politician who says, I don't care what you think. I'm going to run over you anyway.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, never dull, and I do hope you come back. And I'll have to look at this book. It sounds like it's a little bit over my head, but thank you very much. Nice to see you, Mr. Speaker.


GINGRICH: Thank you.