Newt Gingrich Speaks Out About Staff Shake-up, Hits Back at Critics

GOP presidential candidate committed to his campaign after rocky start


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 23, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET!

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: As you may know, Newt Gingrich is running for president. But his campaign has been difficult, to say the least. The former Speaker has lost a number of campaign workers, including his top finance people, and the press has intensely hammered Mr. Gingrich on personnel matters. Personal matters I should say, as well as personnel matters. Joining us now from Washington is the former Fox News analyst, Newt Gingrich. First of all, were you surprised that at least 18 of your campaign people resigned, Mr. Speaker?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I wasn't surprised because we had a basic difference about strategy. You just captured part of it in your "Talking Points." I think we're in a different environment, like 1980 and 1994. And I think we need a very positive solutions-oriented campaign and one that goes directly to all Americans and is very different from the traditional political campaign. So we had a very big difference.

O'REILLY: But why would people -- why would people who signed on to help you, who believed in you -- your message hasn't varied -- I mean, your message is the same now as it was a year ago when you were doing commentary on this network. So I don't understand how this happened, why these people quit. And I don't want to take other press reports and throw them at you. I want you to define it. There's got to be a reason, a specific reason that so many people said, "You know what? I don't want to work for the Speaker anymore. I'm going to go someplace else."

GINGRICH: I think -- I think part of it is just that the route I'm taking is a hard route. It's a route that says we're going to talk about very big ideas. We're going to use the Internet, we have a site called that is really designed…

O'REILLY: But they knew all of that. Didn't they know that when they signed on with you?

GINGRICH: No, no, no. You know, this is one of those strange things, Bill. I have been at this, as you know, a long time. I have probably been at self-government at least as long as you have been involved in reporting, and I found it a very unusual circumstance. But I'm comforted -- if you go back and look at 1980, Ronald Reagan lost 13 of his senior people on the day of the New Hampshire primary, and shortly thereafter his new campaign manager, Bill Casey, dismissed another 100 people. John McCain went through something like this in the summer of 2007. We had a fundamental disagreement about the approach to the American people and how you should structure the campaign and what you should focus on. And I, as you know, I have a new book out called "A Nation Like No Other." It talks about American exceptionalism, something you talk about a lot. I happen to think that's integral to the 2012 election. The consultants all thought it was fluff, that it was irrelevant. That's a pretty big difference.

O'REILLY: OK, so you have, as they call it in show business, creative differences and they went their way and you continue on your road.


O'REILLY: But you know the press is gunning for you and you know that the perception is often reality in politics. And the perception right now, Mr. Speaker, is that you don't have a chance. You're not going to be able to raise the money and that there are four or five candidates ahead of you. So you're going to soldier on. Obviously you're on this program and your message is I'm going to continue. But realistically, how much of a chance do you think you have if you had to put odds on it?

GINGRICH: Well, the Washington talking heads who in the summer of 2007 told us that Rudy Giuliani was the frontrunner and Hillary Clinton was virtually nominated, the same people, by the way, who in 1980 in January said that either Howard Baker, John Conley or George H.W. Bush, any one of the three was more likely than Ronald Reagan to be the nominee. In 1994, Bill, I lived through this before. In 1994, the two smartest analysts in Washington, D.C., two weeks before the election, said the ceiling for the House Republicans was 26 seats. We won 54. Now, when they're off by a hundred percent, I don't spend a lot of time paying attention to them.

O'REILLY: OK, and you shouldn't.

GINGRICH: I'm going to -- let me give you this one example.

O'REILLY: …if you -- go ahead.

GINGRICH: I was in 17 town hall meetings in Iowa the week that people in Washington said my campaign was over. The 17 meetings, every one of them had a larger crowd than expected. Many of them had to actually move to bigger venues. We expected 40 in Ames, Iowa, two in the afternoon. We had 178. So I'm surrounded by real voters in a real state. I will be back in Indianola, Iowa, on Saturday, and I wasn't getting any sense at all that this campaign is anything except exciting and interesting.

O'REILLY: OK and look, look, if you are committed to running the campaign, that's the positive attitude that you have to have. That look -- I think the folks are responding to my message.

Now in the debate in New Hampshire on CNN, you had all of you guys on stage. I didn't see anybody break out, including you, of the pack. I didn't see anybody really capture the moment and where everybody the next day was buzzing about, boy, did you see that? Now, you're a smart guy. How are you going to separate yourself from the other Republicans whose message is similar to yours?

GINGRICH: Well, I think first of all the messages will be somewhat different. Yesterday at the Atlanta Press Club I called for an audit of the Federal Reserve. I called for reforming it, taking all of its banking powers away, putting it in the Treasury. I called for repealing the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment phase and giving the Federal Reserve the job of protecting the dollar. And I called for repeal of the Dodd-Frank bill, which is killing small banks, killing small business. Tonight in Baltimore at the Maryland Republican dinner, I'm going to take on President Obama in detail on the disaster that's building around the world from his national security policy. You'll hear a number of significant speeches over the next few weeks. I -- my goal is to be a content-led candidacy where people can find real solutions, exactly the point you made in your "Talking Points." You had 14 million unemployed. Where are the solutions? You had -- every fourth house is under water in terms of its mortgage being bigger than the value of the house. Where are the solutions? I have real solutions and as Speaker of the House, I proved pretty decisively I knew how to pass entitlement reform. We did.

O'REILLY: All right.

GINGRICH: And I knew how to balance the federal budget for four years. We did.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Gingrich, listen, you know, fight the good fight out there, slug it out. You know it's not going to be easy, and we appreciate you coming on the program. Thanks very much.

GINGRICH: I'm glad to be with you.

O'REILLY: And again, the Speaker has a new book out called "A Nation Like No Other."

Content and Programming Copyright 2011 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright 2011 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.