This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 19, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is riding a political roller coaster today. He picked up an endorsement from former rival Governor Rick Perry, but he's also facing sharp accusations from an ex-wife. Speaker Gingrich joins us from Charleston.
Good evening, sir.
NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: And since you just joined us, I'll tell you, in all fairness, that we started with that exchange you had with John King, and you hardly left any skin on him when you were finished with it, that back and forth.
But I'm curious, in all seriousness, is there any appropriate time in your mind that you be asked that question, you know, about your ex-wife?
VAN SUSTEREN: She's going on television. She's making some accusation. Is it a fair question? And if so, when should it be asked of you?
GINGRICH: Sure, look -- look, if voters ask it or if you get asked it in a normal press conference, you just answer it because you're running for president and you owe people a candid answer. You don't particularly want to get in fights that involve 20-year-old incidents.
You know, it wasn't true, and I'm happy to say it wasn't true. And we have five or six people who know us at the time, all of whom are willing to say it's not true. And we offered those to the media.
I just thought to open a national presidential debate at that kind of personal level, with such nonsense -- and the audience -- you could tell the audience agreed totally that it was just nonsense. We have big things in this country, jobs, balancing the budget, defending America, reestablishing American values, economic growth, lots of things to talk about other than that.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I'm -- I'm actually -- I'm always concerned about the fairness aspect of this stuff, and what caught my attention, besides the fact that you -- John King, my old colleague, hardly had any skin left on him -- was -- was the -- you said that you had offered these people to ABC. And I was only going to ask you one question about it, but I heard you say that. And I'm curious, I mean, was ABC simply unwilling to talk to the people to hear what they had to say? Because that's obviously an important issue.
GINGRICH: Well, after a great deal of conversation, they finally agreed to take my two daughters, who you know, Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman, and they are going to appear on the show tonight. I think they're doing "Good Morning America" tomorrow. But it was only after a great deal of conversation.
We have a number of other people who were personal friends, eyewitnesses at the time. They weren't interested. So you end up on one of these things where, you know, you don't want to go back and relive some kind of deep personal problems, knowing that each party had very different memories of 15 years ago.
And you just live it out. You try to smile and move on. But I thought it was a bit much to have it planted right in the middle of a presidential debate, as the very first question. So I hope I reacted appropriately. I certainly reacted the way I felt, and apparently, the way the people of South Carolina felt.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now to the election. Do you have any idea -- what's your estimate how many people are undecided? What's the percentage?
GINGRICH: Oh, I suspect there's still about 10 or 15 percent undecided, and another 10 or 15 percent who are leaning but could switch between now and Saturday. I mean, people are paying real attention. They're looking at things.
You've seen a very dramatic change in the polls this week. I think in four days' time, I jumped 11 points, for example. Governor Romney's come down a little bit. And so you've seen a lot of turmoil in that sense. And I think that it really seemed to start Monday night with the debate, and then, frankly, when Governor Palin said that she would vote for me if she was here, and then when Rush Limbaugh spent several hours reviewing the debate. Each of these things built more momentum.
We were thrilled today to have Governor Perry, who's a great friend of ours, decide that he would endorse me. He didn't have to do that. It was just a great moment. I think that sends another signal. The speaker of the house, Bobby Harrell, has endorsed me. Tomorrow, I'm going to be introduced at the Yorktown, the aircraft carrier, by General Livingston, who's a Congressional Medal of Honor winner and a very, very famous South Carolinian, and that's another step in the right direction.
So we're getting a lot of folks coming on board right now, and I think we have a very good chance to win on Saturday. And that, of course, would be a real earthquake in this race in a 10-day period. Nobody, I think, thought coming down here from New Hampshire that I was likely to win.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, during the course of the debate, I got an e-mail from Carl Cameron that your tax return went up on the Web, so immediately, I nabbed it. I figured out the math.
VAN SUSTEREN: And it's about -- it's a little bit about 32 percent for the year 2010. But I wondered, because one of the oldest tricks in the books is if you release one, you know, it's, like, that may be enough to satisfy everyone. But in order for me to sort of understand your finances, I need several years. Are you willing to release 2009 and 2008 so that we can take a look at this?
GINGRICH: Look, we're going to release 2011 as soon as we've got it put together, and I'm not going to go beyond that at this moment. I mean, Governor Romney hasn't released anything yet.
VAN SUSTEREN: No, I understand that, but -- but...
GINGRICH: So I'm well ahead of him and -- right.
VAN SUSTEREN: But I understand that, but it's sort of -- you know, the -- I mean, like, you got out ahead of him with the one year, but in some ways, when you did the one year, I immediately became curious about the two years preceding. Are you telling me those years will not be released?
GINGRICH: I knew you would. No, I knew you would be, and eventually, we'll get around to doing all that. But we set the standard. We have been more open than any other candidate in this race. And I think we set the right standard for openness. Anyone who wants to can go to Newt.org. We filed both our charitable contributions through the...
VAN SUSTEREN: I got this...
GINGRICH: ... small foundation we created...
VAN SUSTEREN: I got 2010. 2010...
VAN SUSTEREN: 2010 I got. 2010 I got. Everybody's got it. It's on the Internet. We all got that one now.
GINGRICH: Anybody who wants to can see that, and we'll move on beyond that. But we've started in good faith, and I look forward to having Governor -- you know, I'd be happy if Governor Romney just released one year tomorrow. I don't have any evidence tonight he's going to. He's not even sure he's going to ever release anything.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's it like backstage with you and Governor -- Governor Romney and Senator Santorum? Right before the debate, are you guys kept separate or are you together and talk or...
GINGRICH: No, we chat.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... with Congressman Ron Paul?
GINGRICH: Well, we chat for a couple of minutes. I mean, we're all - - we all go to our own green rooms. We all get ready. We all talk to our staffs and think it through. But we get together for a few minutes. We also talk a little bit during the breaks.
You know, it's a little strange this week because we went from six to four in one week, and all of a sudden, it's a lot more intimate group than it used to be. But we also know each other better. I think this was our 16th debate, so we've been together a fair amount by now.
And I thought a couple times tonight, it was almost funny, you know, Ron Paul got into his medical doctor cycle, and he should have. And it was kind of funny, the personalities that were expressing themselves on the stage.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it was sort of interesting because I thought Governor Romney came out a little bit saying, Let's get to the real issue to -- you know, after the exchange with you and John King. And then you had congressman Ron Paul saying he wasn't going to release his tax returns because he was embarrassed because you guys made so much more money.
GINGRICH: Well, we have no idea, do we.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know.
GINGRICH: He's got to make his own decision. He's got to make his own decisions. I think it's fair. Whoever the nominee is will have no choice except to release their returns, and therefore, it's a lot better to go ahead and release them early so that the Republican voters have a chance to make sure that whoever we nominate can survive against Obama.
I mean, Obama is going to run a very ruthless, very big campaign...
VAN SUSTEREN: Haven't you tall...
GINGRICH: ... and whoever goes out there had better have full armor.
VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't it sort of inevitable -- I mean, you guys have all tipped your cards a little bit because you've gone at each other so much that, you know, he -- you're giving him a lot of sort of insight. I guess it's inevitable. You can't help it.
VAN SUSTEREN: But he's getting a good look at this field.
GINGRICH: Of course he is, and that's what always happens when have challengers trying to get a nomination. But the truth is, with a billion dollars to spend, he has enough investigators, enough researchers that he and Axelrod will figure out lots of stuff on their own.
We just have to have somebody who's able to win the debates, who is tough enough and who can think this stuff through fast enough. And that's why, you know, I've encouraged people to believe that I am the one conservative who could actually debate Barack Obama and could win the debates decisively. And we're going to have to do that to offset the billion dollars he's going to raise.
VAN SUSTEREN: How important was it that Governor Palin -- it wasn't really -- it was sort of an endorsement. I mean, she said if she were in South Carolina, she'd vote for you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there a way to measure what that does for you?
GINGRICH: Yes. There's no question. We saw it help us in fund raising. We saw it help us in volunteers. We saw people all of a sudden on the phones. She has a significant following in the Republican Party. And frankly, I mean, to have her say she'd vote for me in South Carolina, since we're in South Carolina and the election's on Saturday, that was a big break and it really helped us a lot.
And it really -- that combined with what had happened at the debate Monday night, those two things really accelerated what we've been doing this week. And then, of course, Governor Perry just sort of topped it off with his endorsement this morning, which has been enormously helpful.
VAN SUSTEREN: Speaker Gingrich, thank you very much. And we'll be watching Saturday.
GINGRICH: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.
GINGRICH: Good to see you. Bye-bye.