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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Gingrich 'moon' comments

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 27, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER: Every week viewers vote on your choice online in our Friday Lightning Round poll. This week it was close all day. But finally, Jonah's pick won with 46 percent of the vote, a big win for you, Jonah.

GOLDBERG: It was huge. I want to thank my supporters. My initial reaction was the moon people voted against me and now they must be punished. But I decided in the spirit of unifying the base, we're going to talk about the moon.

BAIER: OK, with that, we're going to play this sound bite. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: By the end of my second term --

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: -- we will have the first permanent base on the moon, and it will be American.

ROMNEY: If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I'd say you're fired.

RON PAUL, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think we should go to the moon. I think we maybe should send some politicians up there.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: OK, what about it, Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: It was politically crazy for him to do it. It was lunacy, shall we say. At the same time, because we have the budget crisis and he has a reputation for being grandiose. At the same time, I find it sad how much people are mocking it, because, going to the moon, having a moon base would have a wonderful thing. To me the crazier thing in that statement was that he is talking about a second term already.

BAIER: Liz?

LIZ MARLANTES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: I agree. I think the biggest problem that we have seen with Gingrich and you see this often with politicians is when he gets proved wrong, then sometimes there is this tendency to want to double down and say no, really, I'm right. You are wrong to be mocking me on this. This is one of those areas he needed to let it go, he needed to just back away. Because the whole line of attack from the Romney campaign has been this guy is crazy. You know, it's not helpful to have him then out there throwing ideas to kind of feed that image.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I want to commend Jonah on the clean campaign he ran, considering that the moonies went so negative, showing that you have huge holdings in green cheese. I thought that was really underhanded.

(LAUGHTER)

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, as you know, I'm a moon guy. I believe in the space program and I would have hoped that Obama hadn't canceled Constellation that would have had us with at least return trip by 2020. But having a base with 1,000 people on it really is out there. I think that the reason it hurts Newt is because it plays into the stereotype of a guy who has ideas that are out there. I mean, I think he might have jumped the shark with this one.

BAIER: Next up, Egypt. The situation there, the administration threatened to cut off military aid, unless the democratic process in Egypt is tangible. Meantime, the son of the transportation secretary Ray LaHood is being barred from leaving there. What about this, and the situation in Egypt, Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Puzzling. The only explanation is the military thinks the future is in alliance with the Islamist who won huge majorities in the parliament. And these pesky liberal urbanites who started the revolution who got less than 10 percent of the vote are an irritant because it's those guys go after the street and demonstrate for a quicker process whereas the Islamists are patient, they're willing to share power with the military. So they are trying to crack down on these liberals and the Americans and others who help them. Otherwise it makes no sense at all.

BAIER: Liz, thousands converged on Tahrir Square to mark the one-year anniversary of that day of rage that pushed Hosni Mubarak out.

MARLANTES: Yeah. I mean, I think all of this just emphasizes the fact that this is still an ongoing story. We have don't know yet where the Arab Spring is taking us. What kind of future it's going to unfold there. I would just say that this particular story I think has just highlighted for many Americans the fact that we are giving $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt every year. And that is something that has come up occasionally in Republican debates and, you know, may come up again in the general election.

BAIER: Jonah?

GOLDBERG: First of all, we should say the International Republican Institute and its Democratic opposite do fantastic work. These are not people trying to undermine. They're not radicals. They are doing fantastic work to support democracy. And it's a real shame what is happening there.

It also just shows that the Arab Spring may be moving to a Muslim Winter where you have the Muslim Brotherhood, are they basically being moderates in the parliament. And the people, including myself who have higher hopes for this, it may just be a long, long slog.

BAIER: Quickly down the row. The president at the Democratic retreat, the caucus retreat in Maryland, saying basically, I've got your back and here we go. What about his message to the Democrats?

GOLDBERG: His message was keep doing what you're doing. It's been over 1,000 days since we had a budget from the Senate. Basically it was a pep talk. I don't think there anything very serious about it.

BAIER: Liz?

MARLANTES: But I was going to say if anyone made news out of that maybe it was Biden with his remarks that he and the president had decided that the standard for judging the economy was whether people sitting at the dinner table could say, "Honey, it's going to be OK."

GOLDBERG: Can you say it in an Indian accent?

MARLANTES: I don't know. I wasn't there but I think that line may come back --

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: The other item that he said was that they are to take back the House. If he said it six months ago that would have been idle boast. Now it could be possible. I think the Democrats are enjoying watching the self-destruction on part of Republicans, and this could be their high point of the year.

BAIER: There's a lot of time between now and the conventions.

KRAUTHAMMER: Precisely.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for analysis of Republican establishment reaction to a possible Gingrich win in Florida.

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