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Krauthammer on Gingrich Surge

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 15, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight: The Republican presidential sweepstakes has featured a number of candidates surging and then falling back. It's been a good week for Newt Gingrich, as he is competing now with the leader, Mitt Romney, as Herman Cain has declined in many polls.

Joining us from Washington, Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer. So, Charles, right off the bat, can -- can Newt Gingrich secure the nomination, in your opinion?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Well, considering that a couple of months ago I said he had the worst launch since the Hindenburg, you would think that I'm due a little bit of humility now. But as you know yourself, Bill, humility doesn't come easy. So I will repair to my column of April 22, where I was predicting the future of the race at the beginning, where I had Gingrich at 12 to 1. I would say that right now, considering how so many of the other candidates have either knocked themselves out of the race through unforced errors or knocked each other out of race, like Pawlenty and Bachmann, that I'd say his odds are maybe 7 to 1 or 10 to 1. I don't think they're that much better.

O'REILLY: Let's then get into why you believe that because obviously the speaker has taken support from Herman Cain. You can -- you can always see where the support goes. Rick Perry gets into the race, he takes directly from Michele Bachmann, all right? Herman Cain gets hammered for seven days straight in the media, some of that support slips over to Mr. Gingrich. So, Gingrich now competing with Mitt Romney in most of the polls. Why do you see him as a long shot then?

KRAUTHAMMER: Because for every other candidate who rose and fell, as soon as they rose, they became a target. Up until now, Gingrich wasn't a player, at least in the polls. So that people didn't go after him. There wasn't scrutiny in the press; there weren't attacks from the other candidates. And he's got baggage. I'm not talking about the personal stuff. I find that distasteful, and I don't believe in preaching to anybody. But I'm talking about the ideological heresies. And look, he's had a long career. He's had a lot of ideas, and some of them are rather heretical.

For example, in the '90s he supported, with the Heritage Foundation, an individual mandate for health care. Now, of course he changed his mind. He's got explanations, but that's a fact.

The other thing that I think is rather deadly is an ad he cut with Nancy Pelosi, of all people, a few years ago, in which they're sitting on a couch, and they are talking about global warming being a real and threatening phenomenon and how governments have to do something about it.

O'REILLY: He believes in global warming. I don't know to what extent.

KRAUTHAMMER: Not so much anymore.

O'REILLY: Well, he doesn't want it to intrude on the economy.

KRAUTHAMMER: No, no, no, no. We asked him about this in our Center Seat portion of "Special Report," and his answer was, "I don't know who that was. I can't believe I did that."

In other words, what he's saying now is, unlike then when he thought global warming was real, he now is an agnostic. And he would not, obviously, have the government spend trillions on it, as he appeared to be advocating in the past.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, there's no doubt that the speaker is a brilliant man. You would admit that. Politically, a brilliant guy. Thinker. Problem solver. Comes up with -- you know, understands the issues and comes up with what he thinks is the best solution. You wouldn't argue with any of that, would you?

KRAUTHAMMER: I would say that after the performance of some of the candidates, who have revealed extraordinary emptiness and lack of knowledge, I think it's refreshing that the non-Romney candidate should be someone of his intellectual stature.

O'REILLY: I think you have to say that Gingrich, of all of them, is probably the most intelligent, politically speaking. He has the most experience at the federal level and really, really knows. OK, and Gingrich is trading on that now. I heard him on "Fox & Friends" this morning. Basically said, "Look, I know how to solve these problems, and I have a lot more to say than any of the other candidates, and I think that's quite apparent. I believe that people will forget about how polarizing I am and the personal stuff, and they're going to go for a problem solver." That's what his great hope is. Can it be realized?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, he's got a problem, in that he is -- he's a protean thinker. He's come up with a thousand ideas, and that probably is his best excuse for a lot of these heresies is that if you're going to write over 20 books and cast thousands of votes in Congress, you are going to contradict yourself at times and commit heresies against orthodoxies at times. And that, I think, is his best way out.

But the fact is that he comes up with eight ideas on every issue and not always thought through shows a very creative political mind, a Vesuvius of ideas. But a lot of them are lava, and a lot of them are toxic.

So I think he's going to have problems because if Romney errs, the ad of him and Pelosi in Iowa, he's going to have a hard time talking his way out of it. Now, he can say, "I've had a long career. I've rethought stuff, and my problem is excessive creative thinking and not pandering," which I think is his response if Romney attacks. So I think it will be an interesting contest, if the argument is about who's changed...

O'REILLY: Right.

KRAUTHAMMER: ...and who's stuck with principle.

O'REILLY: All right, Charles. Thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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