Juan vs. Newt: Did Gingrich answer the question?

Williams reacts to South Carolina showdown


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," January 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JUAN WILLIAMS, CO-HOST: I just got back from South Carolina, where I was one of the moderators in last night's debate right here on the Fox News Channel. And I had a little run-in with presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.


WILLIAMS: My e-mail account, Twitter account has been inundated with people all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minority. We saw some of this reaction during your visit to a black church in South Carolina. A woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as the food stamp president. It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people.

NEWT GINGRICH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.


GINGRICH: Now, I know among the politically correct I'm not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable. I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their Creator with the right to pursue happiness. If that makes liberals unhappy, I'm going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn someday to own the job.




GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: So, did you guys plan this beforehand?

WILLIAMS: Yes. I said, Newt, what about it? How can I help your campaign? How can I help you, man?

GUTFELD: Exactly.

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: Were you surprised by the crowd's reaction?

WILLIAMS: I didn't anticipate it, but actually people had said to me, you know, you could get booed. So I wasn't unaware. But what did you guys think?

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: Was his answer enough for you, Juan?

WILLIAMS: I don't think he answered the question at all.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Can I tell you the e-mail?


BOLLING: I e-mailed the producers at that very moment? Want to read it?

WILLIAMS: Wait. It says, ha, ha, Newt just schooled Juan.


WILLIAMS: You know what? It was like a wrestling match or basketball game. You just got dunked on. You know? You got posterized.

BOLLING: I mean, because a lot of us, I'm watching and I'm thinking, OK, why is Juan making this a racial issue, it's a food stamp issue. It's an economy -- it's an Obama economic failure issue.


BOLLING: Why did it become race to you? That was my first question.

WILLIAMS: Oh, well, because what he said was literally he plans to speak at an NAACP convention if he's elected president and he would say to black people you know what stop demanding foot stamps and I'm going to show you how to demand jobs. That's pretty racial, Eric.

BOLLING: But your question --

TANTAROS: What's wrong with that message, though?

WILLIAMS: There's nothing wrong with the message, but he's very racial. And it sounds as if, unless I missed it, black people have been out there demanding food stamps or marching for food stamps.

TANTAROS: I think it's a powerful message. I would like to see Newt Gingrich broaden that, to not just -- I mean, when he talks about minorities getting jobs, what about white kids getting jobs, too?

WILLIAMS: Well, of course.

TANTAROS: It's a great work ethic for young white adolescent to have a job or young Hispanic or young black. I don't think this is a race issue at all. This is an American issue.

GUTFELD: The thing is it's like whenever he talks about this stuff, it's always menial jobs because he believes menial jobs are important. If, you know, if he were more of a liberal, he should say kids should get jobs as movie stars, because those are much more glamorous than like mopping floors and cleaning toilets. I think he definitely lost the janitor vote.

WILLIAMS: Well, let me just tell you something.

TANTAROS: I don't think he had it.

WILLIAMS: I'm a guy who grew up poor in Brooklyn. And my first job was in the botanical gardens in Brooklyn, New York. And I was -- you know, I didn't know carrots came out of the ground. That's the --


GUTFELD: Really? Is that where they're from?

WILLIAMS: But if you start talking --

BOLLING: What do you think that it came?

WILLIAMS: I had no clue. I thought they came out of a can.



WILLIAMS: Anyway, if you start talking to a poor black kid, not black, any poor kid about, you know what? You could be a janitor. I mean, it feels like oh, that's your horizon in life. And I think you have to be a little bit in touch with that.

BOLLING: Juan, he didn't say poor black kids. He said poor kids.

WILLIAMS: Poor kids. What did he say? He said poor kids lack work ethic, Eric. I don't believe that. I think poor kids in America, they want money in their pocket, they want opportunity.

But you know what? We have been through a recession. Jobs are at a premium. It's hard to get a job if you are educated white kid.

PERINO: I got to meet Damon Dunn, African-American guy running for secretary of state in California during the last cycle and I got to for -- the "HANNITY" show, sent me out to interview him and do a package because he had this amazing life story. Born -- his father was killed early on, his teen mom. He was raised by his grandparents on a tenement farm in Texas.

He tells a story about when he was in the fifth grade, he was being a cut-up in class so the teacher kicked him out and he had to stand outside.

And he said he just had a lollipop and was sucking on it.

He said a janitor came by, he was African-American as well. And he said to Damon Dunn, what do you see in there? Pointing to the classroom.

And Damon Dunn was like ignoring him and wasn't really respectful of him. And he said, I'll tell you what I see -- 23 young people studying to be your boss.

And he said, "That stuck with me my whole life." And he had achieved a lot, not only just through football, but his business sense had been amazing.

I think one of the reactions to crowd was from the crowd, was we need more talk like that. To help get people -- like Philadelphia Mayor Nutter that we talked about the other day, which is: get up off your rear end, pull your pants up, do a good job. Like -- we want you to succeed as well.

So, the race part made me a bit -- makes me a bit uncomfortable because I think don't we want everyone to succeed?

WILLIAMS: We do want everyone to succeed. And I think that what you want to do is to suggest, you know what? We prize work in America. We prize success.

But to suggest that somehow the problem is we got a bunch of lazy minority people who, you know, want food stamps not work. That's where I thought he crossed the line.

TANTAROS: I don't think that's what he was saying. I don't think he called anybody lazy. But there is studies that show that the millenials, the younger generation, are lazier -- that everybody gets a trophy generation with the helicopter parents.

Again, I think it's a message that is good for all kids. I don't think he was speaking to blacks.

WILLIAMS: If he was speaking to the millenials at a millennial convention, I'm going to the millennial convention and I'm going to say to those young people, that's one thing. When you say I'm going to the NAACP convention --

TANTAROS: But, Juan, you said you weren't happy with his answer. What could he have said? What would you like to hear?

WILLIAMS: Well, if he said, listen, if I'm talking -- the question was about his statement on work ethic. If he said, you know what? We are at a point where kids who have a strong work ethic need to get a job and we need to be able to provide them a job. And the problem is with President Obama's handling of the economy and I find that inadequate -- fine.

But when he starts going on as if you, know what? The problem is that these kids don't want to work, that they don't want dollar in their pocket, they don't appreciate what it means to take orders and do a good job, that's when I think people are attacking people.

BOLLING: Newt even prefaced the answer with his own daughter who got a job at 13 and enjoyed having money in her pocket, enjoyed having responsibility of a job. I didn't really see it that way. Honestly, it looks like he was just trying to say there's opportunity for kids --

WILLIAMS: When he talks about Obama as food stamp president, what is that about?

BOLLING: But he is the food stamp president.


BOLLING: Allow me, I'll show it at the rest of the block -- Obama has presided over the biggest expansion in food stamp usage, in numbers, in pure dollar amount, went from $60 billion to $83 billion program, the fourth largest entitlement program in America under Obama. It's exploitive.

Why shouldn't he be -- and by the way, food stamps, there are more white people on food stamps than black people. So, it's not a racial issue.

PERINO: And that is based on need, though. It wasn't President Obama's choice that they get to go on food stamps. They meet the formula -

- I mean --

GUTFELD: Can I point --

WILLIAMS: Hang on, hang on. Let's look at Jay Carney talking about just this food stamp president comment.


REPORTER: Is Newt Gingrich correct in calling the president the food stamp president?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The fact of the matter is this country is emerging from the worst recession since the Great Depression. The result of that terrible recession was dramatic increase in unemployment and a dramatic increase -- or an increase, rather, in the number of people who need assistance, needed assistance.



BOLLING: Well, OK. So, are things getting better or are they not? Because a couple of weeks ago, or a couple of days ago, we hear, oh, Obama is turning the economy around. See how great things are getting.

If they're getting good, then why is food stamp usage gone up and --


TANTAROS: Just a couple of hours ago, "Wall Street Journal" reported, posted a story, nearly half of U.S. lives and household are receiving government benefit. That's half of the U.S. households.

WILLIAMS: Yes. But that's been -- by the way, that's been true for some time.

TANTAROS: But here's my issue on it.

WILLIAMS: But this is a conversation, by the way, that we should -- that's what you said earlier. It's about the economic stuff. Not about him being some food stamp president --

TANTAROS: He is using this as economic stimulus.

PERINO: I think Greg has a good point.

GUTFELD: The bigger point here is about education. Education sucks. What Newt Gingrich was trying to say is there's no future in a classroom for a kid.

So, when he can't go to school, where does he go? He's got two options. Selling drugs or getting a job. Unfortunately, in our country, we don't allow kids to get a job at a certain age, but you can sell drugs at any age. That's all he's saying.

He's saying, give them an opportunity besides the street, because the school sucks and the street is deadly. Isn't that what he is saying?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know what? I agree to that.

TANTAROS: It's exactly what he's saying.



WILLIAMS: If that's the case, you should interpret for him because that's not what came to my ears. You know, I get upset when I see these kids. They all want to be NBA stars, rap stars.

TANTAROS: They're on their Xboxes. This is all kids.

WILLIAMS: They don't value education. That angers me. But that's not what I heard.

I didn't hear a respectful suggestion, let's -- I got to do this.

TANTAROS: I was going to say, I also heard an economic message from Gingrich, too, which was we're paying these janitors, union janitors a lot of money. You can get 37 kids volunteering after school and you don't have to pay the janitor and your teaching kids a lesson.

PERINO: Janitor is probably feeding the family. So --

TANTAROS: Feeding it expensively on the union salary.

WILLIAMS: I got to go. I got to go. We got to pay some bills.

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