Newt: 'I Have a Lifetime Record of Being a Consistent Conservative'

Gingrich discusses debate performance, why he's best choice for Republican presidential nomination


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: Let's get right to our top story: a no-spin analysis of last night's GOP debate. We begin with Rick Perry, who, of course, has struggled at previous debates. And he was doing fairly well last night until he tried to list three government agencies he would get rid of as president.


RICK PERRY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The third agency of government I would -- I would do away with: the education, the…


PERRY: Commerce, and, let's see, I can't, the third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops.


INGRAHAM: Today, Perry appeared on my radio show and other media outlets to try to save face.


PERRY: If we're electing a debater in chief, don't elect me. I mean, that's -- we've got a really good debater in the White House today: 2.5 million jobs lost, foreign policy that's in the tank. We have a president that, from my perspective, is an absolute disaster for our economy and this country. He is a great debater.


INGRAHAM: Herman Cain, who was probably the happiest person in the world to have the spotlight temporarily taken off him during the Perry gaffe, still found himself in the hot seat with a question about his character. But listen for the audience reaction.


MARIA BARTIROMO, DEBATE MODERATOR: Mr. Cain, the American people want jobs but they also want leadership. They want character in a president. In recent days we have learned that four different women have accused you of inappropriate behavior. Here we're focusing on character and on judgment. You have been a CEO. Why should the American people hire a president if they feel there are character issues?

HERMAN CAIN, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations.


INGRAHAM: And Newt Gingrich continued his pattern of slamming the media in his exchange with Maria Bartiromo.


NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Historically this is the richest country in the history of the world because corporations succeed in creating both profits and jobs, and it's sad that the news media doesn't report accurately how the economy works.

BARTIROMO: What is the media reporting inaccurately about the economy?

GINGRICH: I have yet to have hear a single reporter ask a single "Occupy Wall Street" person a single rational question about the economy that would lead them to say, for example, "Who is going to pay for the park you're occupying if there are no businesses making a profit?"


INGRAHAM: And joining us now from Manchester, New Hampshire, the aforementioned former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. OK, Newt that was fun there, OK. I liked the 99 percent vs. one percent; what the one percent does to employ people. But the tension between you and Bartiromo seemed to be pretty interesting. Was she fair last night?

GINGRICH: I thought she was fair overall, and I wasn't trying to be involved in a fight with her. But I do think that it's important to recognize that the real audience is not the news media and it's not the other candidates. It's the American people. And the American people deserve to have a full and clear conversation. And sometimes that, frankly, does involve the news media, which is a major player in how the country sees itself and how the country talks to itself.

INGRAHAM: I have talked to a lot of people today on my radio show, Newt, and with 16 or 17 more debates coming, some folks are saying OK, this is playing right into the media's hands. I mean, you made this case consistently. Why continue with these debates? I mean, I'm half expecting Simon Cowell to be moderating one of the debates down the road. I mean, this is -- this is getting a little bit ridiculous.

GINGRICH: Well I think the other side of that coin is that it is a chance to communicate with the American people unedited and it's a chance to communicate with the American people without raising millions and millions of dollars. I mean, one of the most interesting stories of this campaign has been that some people could go out and raise huge amounts of money but they couldn't survive the debates. Other people who did not have much money but gradually made bigger and bigger impressions because of the debates. I think Herman Cain took off because of the debate in Florida and without that he might never have had a chance to be the front-runner. I think you have to look at all these things. I think it's good for America to have a free-wheeling discussion at a time when frankly there are huge problems that deserve being aired.

INGRAHAM: Right, well, how do you fix health care in 30, 60 seconds? I mean, you pointed out how silly that was last night. But she would have given you the whole hour, Newt. You would have had the whole hour, Newt. I'm surprised you didn't take it.

Now, let's talk about the Perry gaffe because obviously that's the -- that's the buzz after this debate and -- and -- and look, Rick Perry was a brain freeze moment. I think we've all have them. But does that matter in the end? Do you think -- do you think it's something that is, in the eyes of the American people, a disqualifier because we don't want brain freezers in the White House as one of my e-mailers today said?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I am very sympathetic to Governor Perry. He's a very smart man. He is the longest-serving governor in the history of Texas. And I always worry when I go into these debates because there is now an exaggerated expectation of how well I will do. And I always have this fear that something will happen to me exactly as happened to Rick last night. So, I mean, my heart goes out to him. I wasn't gloating at that point. I was thinking, "Wow, that could have happened to any one of us."

What he has got to do is what he did this morning on your show. He has got to go back out in the open. It's got to be him, not his advertising, not his consultants. My recommendation would be do lots of town hall meetings. Let people ask you lots of questions. He is either going to get a lot better at it or he is not going to be in the race. But nothing will substitute for him being out there and letting the people see him.

And I like him a lot. He is a very good guy. His ideas, for example, on the 10th Amendment really shaped my own thinking on implementing the 10th Amendment. And Callista and I are very fond of he and Anita. And felt for both of them last night. It was a very, very hard moment.

INGRAHAM: Now, Herman Cain is getting some flack because some of the obviously the scandal is still brewing out there but when he called Nancy Pelosi "Princess Nancy," now Newt was that a mistake? Would you call her Princess Nancy?

GINGRICH: I don't know whether or not I have ever used exactly that phrase. You know, when you're a Republican partisan and Speaker Pelosi is as irritating as she has been at times…


GINGRICH: …and profoundly one-sided as she has been, you get tempted to use phrases that may not be totally worthy of the president of the United States. So I'm trying to, as I shift from Fox analyst to potential president, I'm trying to sort of not use some of those phrases. But I think there was more sympathy in that crowd for Herman using Princess Nancy than there was shock that he would use a phrase like that.

INGRAHAM: No, I think it's just after the scandal some people said might not have been a good thing to mention. What are the three main reasons why conservatives should prefer you over Mitt Romney today?

GINGRICH: First of all, I have a lifetime record of being a consistent conservative working with Ronald Reagan for years, helping in the 1979-80 election cycle, helping for eight years while he was president. As Speaker of the House, I led the first national conservative takeover of the House in 40 years and the first re-election for conservatives since 1928. And my record as Speaker is pretty consistently conservative.

Second, for us to win this election, we have to undo Obama's billion-dollar campaign by debating him head to head. And I think most people agree I would be the most effective at articulating our values and our philosophy and communicating his failures and his radicalism in the debates.

Now, and third, I have a track record in Washington. I balanced the budget for four consecutive years working with Bill Clinton, the only time in your lifetime that's been done. I helped pass the first big entitlement reform: welfare; two out of three people went back to work. I helped pass the biggest capital gains cut in history. Unemployment came down from 5.6 to 4.2 percent.

Governor Romney is a very smart man and a very good manager. But he's had no experience to the scale of change we're describing. And I think he would be very good as a manager if that's what Washington needs. But I think we need a change agent who is going to substantially put America back on the right track. And in that area I think I have just vastly more experience than he does.

INGRAHAM: And Newt, The Hill's poll this week, which I'm sure you saw, indicate that 85 percent of voters regard the way a politician conducts his private life as important on how she might discharge his public duties -- he might discharge his public duty. Are you worried if you keep going up in the polls that the media are going to bring up your personal life and how are you going to respond to that?

GINGRICH: Look, I expect they will bring up my personal life. And my response is that I have reconciled and asked for forgiveness from God. Callista and I have a great marriage. We are very close to our two daughters, who are both campaigning. We are very close to our two grandchildren. People have to look at me and decide, I'm a 68-year-old grandfather. I've learned a great deal in life. I think today I am prepared to be the kind of president the United States needs. And I think we need leadership that is capable of getting very large change to get us back to full employment, to balance the budget again and to strengthen our national security. And I think if people decide that's true, the odds are very high that I will be the nominee and as nominee that I will defeat Barack Obama.

INGRAHAM: And Newt Gingrich, it's always great to see you. Thank you so much, sir.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

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