Interviews

Help Wanted: Newt Gingrich

2012 candidate on campaign strategy, solving debt crisis

 

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REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am Michele Bachmann. I am running for the president of the United States.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Well, she just could be Mitt Romney’s Grand Old Party pooper, because Michele Bachmann now in, and next to Mitt, now even.

But while these two battle it out in the media, you might want to pay attention to the guy all but written off by the media, but still hanging tough in the polls. I’m speaking about the speaker, the man who led a Republican revolution in the 1990s and might be doing something just as remarkable right now, namely, coming back, because don’t look now, but former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is far from dead, polling fourth in the latest Iowa caucus poll.

Up next in our "Help Wanted" series: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

Newt, good to have you.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you.

CAVUTO: I looked at that poll, Newt. I did a double-take. I was surprised. Were you?

GINGRICH: No.

Well, first of all, I think that Michele has done a great job. And as a native Iowan, she has a good base out there.

CAVUTO: I was talking about you. I didn’t expect you to be that high up.

GINGRICH: Well -- but I want to start with her. But I want to start with her because she’s the story today, and she’s earned it.

In my case, we have had a steady base of support all through the last month of the media attacks. And the fact is I was just in Indianola on Saturday with Tea Party, talking to people about ideas about creating jobs, cutting taxes, repealing the Dodd-Frank bill and the other bills that are over-regulating America.

And I found a very good response. I’ll be back, I think, 16 days in the next two months in Iowa, campaigning, listening to people, and talking about a series of issues that are a little different, I think, than you normally get in traditional politics, because I think, with 14 million unemployed, and with housing in a depression-level collapse, deeper fall in price than during the Great Depression, you really need very bold, very new policies.

And that’s the reason I am running. I think it’s possible to turn this country around dramatically, to have an American energy policy, to have the kind of really dramatic tax changes that would lead to millions of new jobs, and, in the process, to bring back housing, so the people who currently don’t have mortgages that are worth less than their house could, once again, have a house that’s worth something by seeing the general economy rise dramatically.

CAVUTO: You know you make a compelling case on a number of the issues, but what gets obviously the attention of the media is all these people who resigned en masse from your camp, and they start raising questions about your wife: Is she too influential? Are you kowtowing to her?

I mean, it -- it reads like a soap opera. Is it?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think it’s, frankly, strange that, with 14 million unemployed, when you make a speech that outlines why we should have zero capital gains tax, so people would invest hundreds of billions in the U.S., why we would have a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, so that we would unlock a trillion dollars in profits kept overseas, and actually get companies like General Electric to pay taxes, instead of paying tax lawyers, why we ought to eliminate the death tax, so that family firms would focus on job creation, rather than on avoiding tax policy, and, finally, why we ought to have 100 percent expensing, so every new piece of equipment in America, including farmers, would be able to write it off in one year, so we’d have the most modern, most productive, most effective workers in the world -- now, I would think, with 14 million unemployed, those would be pretty good topics for the news media to cover.

But it’s very difficult to get past the gossip and get into substance. And I’m determined to keep campaigning and to keep focusing on substance, and, frankly...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No doubt. No doubt. But, Newt, you know how it goes. They judge a candidate’s worthiness for that high office with how he handles not only his campaign, but maybe his personal life. And that’s not necessarily fair or right. It just is.

So, I guess what I’m trying to ask you is, when they say they can’t reach you -- they like and admire your position on the issues, you’re very, very smart, you know history inside and out, you’re an encyclopedia and all that -- a lot of them who have since left said, they couldn’t get through to you, they couldn’t reach you, they -- they felt you were being dictated to by your wife.

Any of that true?

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: Let me just say flatly, I run my own campaign. I developed the Contract with America when no consultant in Washington believed in it. We balanced the federal budget when no consultant in Washington thought it was possible.

I helped Ronald Reagan in 1980 when 13 senior staff left on the morning of the New Hampshire primary and over 100 staff were laid off two weeks later.

I think the turmoil is, frankly, irrelevant. What matters is, with 14 million unemployed, with the national capital out of control, with a $2 trillion deficit, can you find somebody who knows what the challenges are, has real solutions, and has a track record of actually getting it done?

When you look at welfare reform, the largest entitlement reform in our lifetime, it was something I helped get done as speaker of the House. So, I’m prepared to talk about substance longer, I hope, than the news media can talk about gossip. And I believe, over time, the American people...

CAVUTO: But it’s more than just gossip, right, Newt?

GINGRICH: Well...

CAVUTO: I mean, when you -- when your staff resigns to the degree it has and your top advisers leave to the degree they have...

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: No. That’s greatly exaggerated.

CAVUTO: Well, it might be exaggerated. I’m just saying, the perception -- maybe allay people of their concerns -- is that you are rudderless right now. Are you?

GINGRICH: You know -- you know, nobody in Indianola at the Tea Party gathering, not a single person, asked me the kind of questions that dominate the elite media.

And that’s been true everywhere I have been. When you talk with Americans who are worried about the economy, they don’t worry much about this stuff. They want to know, do you have solutions that will work? They want to know, do you understand the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence? Do you want to get back to constitutional government?

Now, those ideas don’t seem to resonate very well in some of the talking heads, but, boy, do they resonate well with the American people.

CAVUTO: Newt, I got to tell you, I don’t think I am the elite media, and I don’t think I’m just a talking head here.

I am just concerned, as -- being a business guy here; I follow companies that get...

GINGRICH: Right.

CAVUTO: ... lost on distractions and otherwise get away from their mission to make money or their mission to deliver for their shareholders. Something akin to that has happened to you, maybe unfairly against you, but how do you -- how do you tell people you are not a candidate to be sold short?

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, by not being distracted, but focusing on substance and talking about the solutions we need as a country, and second by reminding people that Ronald Reagan had exactly the same challenges in 1980. John McCain had exactly the same challenges in 2007.

Both of them worked through it because, in the end, it turned out the candidates mattered more than the consultants. And I would just suggest to you that the track record we’ve had of helping elect the first Republican majority in history -- or in 40 years of history, the first reelected majority since 1928, having helped balanced the budget for four straight years, paying off $405 billion in debt, helping pass the first tax cut in 16 years, helping pass welfare reform, those are real achievements.

Now, did I have some arguments with political consultants? You betcha. Did most of my team, the people who have been with me for the last 12 years, when, by the way, I was running four small business, did my team tend to stay with me? Absolutely.

We lost one person out of the original team. All the people who made all the noise are paid consultants, who turned out to have a fundamental difference with me -- not anybody else, with me -- about how we ought to campaign.

I believe in campaigning on ideas. I’ve been going all over the country talking about ideas. I’m going to keep talking about ideas.

CAVUTO: So, what were they telling you, you shouldn’t do that you’re -- you’re obviously going to insist on doing?

GINGRICH: Well, I don’t want to get into lots of detail, but I’m determined to run a campaign that is inclusive, that involves Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, that involves people who are interested in topics other than traditional politics.

I’m going to campaign on, how do we deal with Alzheimer’s, which really affects millions of Americans? I want to campaign on issues such as, how do we fundamentally reform the Food and Drug Administration, so we can create American jobs with the best new medicines?

And I think, sometimes, you get consultants who would like to run 30-second attack ads, and they don’t exactly understand this idea of putting together real solutions, trusting in the intelligence of the American people.

I wrote a book called "A Nation Like No Other." I think it’s a very important part of the campaign, because it takes you back to the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers, the Constitution.

CAVUTO: All right.

GINGRICH: And how would Washington run today if it was run the way the founding fathers intended?

CAVUTO: All right. Now, let’s talk a little bit about the environment right now then with some of your colleagues. They seem to be tripping over themselves, Newt, to see whose tax cuts can be the biggest, who can offer even a zero caps gains rate or -- you know how it goes.

Do you fear that that’s overdoing it, that -- that there could be a pell-mell rush to overdo the tax cut thing, or -- or not?

GINGRICH: I believe the Washington establishment is so determined to raise taxes that having candidates who are for tax cuts is a very healthy alternative.

I watched discussions yesterday where people talked about, well, you have to raise revenue. And I thought, you know, what Republicans ought to be saying is, Ronald Reagan raised revenue by cutting taxes for three straight years. If you took the Reagan first seven years of recovery, starting in the fall of 1982, you applied it to the current economy and the current population, we’d create 25 million new jobs, we would add $4.4 trillion to the economy annually, and we’d increase federal revenue $800 billion a year by having people leave unemployment and go back to work.

Now, that increases revenue the right way, which is putting Americans to work, rather than raising taxes...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, a tax hike would certainly be off the table.

So, you, if you were back in Congress right now, to say nothing of becoming president, and you knew what the choice was ahead of this early August, might be mid/late August debt deadline, if in that mix were a tax hike of any sort, you would rather face that debt crisis head on, and not raise the debt limit...

GINGRICH: Wait.

CAVUTO: ... or -- or mix the two?

GINGRICH: Wait a second, Neil. I reject the Obama technique of pretending he’s not president of the United States.

Now, the fact is, if there is a debt crisis this fall, it will be President Obama’s debt crisis. It’ll be his refusal to sign a bill. The House Republicans are going to pass a bill that will avoid a debt crisis. He just has to sign it.

So, why is it, if they pass a bill that avoids a debt crisis, it’s somehow their responsibility to sell out to the president, give up on the people who elected them, turn their back on what the American people want, in order for Obama not to blame them?

I think that they ought to say to the president, you come up with the amount of savings you’re willing to sign. And we will give you exactly the size debt increase that you are prepared to sign savings on. If that’s $100 billion, that’s all he gets.

CAVUTO: In other words, that should be a -- dollar for dollar, whatever we’re raising the ceiling by.

GINGRICH: Absolutely, not a -- not a penny more.

CAVUTO: So, you say it would be on him if we don’t do that.

But it wouldn’t it be on Republicans as well?

GINGRICH: Well, of course he’s going to try to blame them. And most of the elite media will try to blame them.

But I believe -- and I lived through this once. The first reelected majority of Republicans since 1928 came after the government shut down. And it came because people thought we were serious, we had courage, and we were going to stand up for principle.

And I think the Republicans this year ought to look the president in the eye and say; we’re not giving you a penny in increased taxes to kill even more jobs. We’re in the middle of the Obama depression. We’re not going to let you make it worse.

And then they ought to say to him, you know, let’s -- let’s negotiate the spending cuts you’ll sign. And if he says he won’t sign any spending cuts, I don’t think he’ll have any support in 80 percent or more of the country.

CAVUTO: All right.

Speaker, always good having you on. Thank you very much.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

CAVUTO: Newt Gingrich.

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