This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 15, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. Good evening, sir.
NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE/FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Good evening. Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you. Mr. Speaker, I've been listening to you over the campaign saying that the place that we're going to -- that you were going to keep your eyes on, which is to me where you're going to pick up the surge, was in the state of Texas, that primary, that Governor Perry had endorsed you and you're looking for a really wind behind your back on that.
It has now been announced that there have been problems with that date of the primary. It's not going to be early April, but it looks like it won't be until late May, perhaps even the 29th of May. Does that dramatically change your strategy? And is that a blow, sir?
GINGRICH: No. It just means that we're going to have to pick up all those delegates in late May, just before the California primary, when we hope to pick up more delegates out here.
That still means that on super-Tuesday, we're looking at Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, we're looking at Ohio. It means the week after super- Tuesday, we're looking at Alabama and Mississippi.
Now, we have hopes that we're going to keep picking up delegates everywhere and continue. This race is going on for a long time, I think. And what Texas moving back means, combined with California being in early June, the two biggest states in the country aren't going to be deciding and may well be the two states that decide who the nominee is.
VAN SUSTEREN: As a practical matter, though, if you could pick up Texas early on, it would be -- it certainly would be a -- you know, good for donors. I mean, it'd be sort of a good incentive to get donors to pay into your campaign if you picked up 155 delegates.
GINGRICH: Look, it's always better to pick them up early, if you can. On the other hand, with Governor Perry on our side and with all the work we're going to be doing in Texas, we're pretty confident we can win Texas.
So when you start saying, What will it look like by the time we get to the convention, I think we're going to have a lot of delegates. And our job is to focus on what's practical, not to worry about what isn't. We're not going to affect the state of Texas's decision. So we have to go ahead, I think, and focus on what we can do.
And what we can do is work -- I'll be in Georgia Friday and Saturday. We're going to be in Oklahoma on Monday. We're going to be campaigning in Tennessee. We're going to be campaigning in Ohio. These are states that are real, they're immediate, they're now. Then we want to come back and pick up Alabama and Mississippi. We're going to have a pretty good number of delegates, I think, by the middle of March.
VAN SUSTEREN: You didn't mention Michigan. Michigan's a big state, February 28th, and it has -- there's a battle right now with Senator Santorum leading Governor Mitt Romney, whose father was governor of the state, and everyone thought that'd be a pretty easy win for him.
Your thoughts on that race tonight. And why aren't you competing there?
GINGRICH: Well, we are competing there. I'll be in Michigan campaigning next week. We have every reason to believe we're going to be competing there effectively. And we're going to have a number of surrogates also competing in Michigan.
You have to break 15 percent. It's a proportional representation state. I think we will do that. So I think we will pick up delegates in Michigan.
And my prediction is that if Mitt Romney goes and attacks Santorum as negatively as he attacked me in Florida and elsewhere, that what you're going to see is he'll peel votes off Santorum, but they're going to come to me. They're not going to go to Romney.
This is the challenge Governor Romney has, is he -- he really has sort of a three-part contest. He has, you know, Congressman Ron Paul, who's done very, very well in Maine, virtually tied him. He has Rick Santorum, who did very well last week. And I've done pretty well against him in -- I came in second in Florida and in Nevada. And I came in first in South Carolina.
And at some point, it's going to sink in to people, if all Governor Romney has is negative campaigning, where's his positive message? I've got a new message out, for example, of getting back to $2-a-gallon or $2.50-a- gallon gasoline, how to have a national energy policy, totally positive, totally designed to solve one of our major problems. I'm going to continue to focus on these kind of very positive messages.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you mentioned the negative ads. And I don't know if you were watching Sean Hannity's show a little -- a few minutes ago. They did text voting on it. And it actually was -- they said -- they asked which candidate was running the most negative ads, and Governor Romney did win that contest, one he probably didn't want to win, at 57 percent.
So I think that, you know, people -- although, you know, they may say that he runs the most negative ads, but they still vote for them because negative ads are very effective.
GINGRICH: Well, they're not -- they're not actually voting for him. I think, for example, in Maine, which is a New England state he ought to be doing good in, he got 39 percent. I think you're going to find in his home state of Michigan, as you pointed out, Santorum's now ahead of him.
People are looking for a positive leader who has a positive solution on jobs, a positive solution on gasoline and energy, and frankly, somebody who's going to stand up to the Obama administration's war against Christianity and is going to draw a line in the sand and say, We're prepared to fight to defend religious freedom in America against a radical secular administration.
So I think you have -- you have three or four different things coming together here, where people want positive, issue-orientated leadership. They don't just want somebody with a deep pocket of Wall Street money running negative ads.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you mentioned gasoline. Since the end of 2011, the price of gasoline has gone up 8 percent. And the rise of gasoline prices doesn't hurt the rich. They can pay it. But it really does -- it really does pinch the middle class and the -- and people who don't make -- who are even below the middle class line. And it can put a thumb on the economy.
If you are President of the United States tonight, what would you be doing about gas policy? And when would those prices come down?
GINGRICH: Well, gasoline was a $1.13 a gallon when I was speaker. It was $1.89 when Obama was sworn in. It is in California above $4 today in some places.
The fact is, one, I'd sign the Keystone pipeline immediately to start Canadian oil moving south into the United States. Two, I'd open up offshore development both off, for example, the Gulf of Mexico, but also in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska.
Three, I would open up federal lands. The one great breakthrough has been North Dakota, and the reason is it's on private land, and the liberals have not been able to stop it. If we allowed federal land to be developed, we would have a shocking amount of energy. We would, in fact, rapidly become independent of the Middle East. No American president would ever again bow to a Saudi king. And we'd get -- we'd get gasoline prices back down to $2 or $2.50.
VAN SUSTEREN: When?
GINGRICH: We could eliminate CAFE standards -- you don't need CAFE Standards if, in fact...
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but...
GINGRICH: ... you're moving towards inexpensive gasoline.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I mean, those are sort of -- those are broad policies that are going to, you know -- I understand that. But people who are going to the gas pump today, they want it down yesterday. And so I'm curious. Is there anything...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... you could do to get them down in the next month, the prices down, because these prices are going up. What could -- is there any -- or is that -- is that asking too -- is that asking something that can't be done?
GINGRICH: No, look, there's a big futures pricing factor in gasoline and in oil. They are very much affected by the uncertainty of the Straits of Hormuz and what Iran has been doing.
If the American president tonight announced that he was opening up the Gulf of Mexico, where we already have all the rigs available, if he announced that we were going to 100 percent expensing so people could write off all the new equipment in one year, and if he announced that they were going to open up federal lands, you would see the futures expectation of gasoline prices start to drop tomorrow morning, and you would pretty rapidly start lowering the price of gasoline. It might take up to a year.
Reagan -- when Reagan deregulated gasoline in -- which was the very first executive order of his presidency, it took about six months for prices to collapse. So I think if you opened up the market, you would see gas prices starting down pretty dramatically. And I think that if people knew that the United States was once again going to become the largest oil and gas producer in the world, you would rapidly see prices accommodate. And you could within a year see prices down at $2.50 or so, which is I think a stable investment price, occasionally dropping down to as low as $2, but running in the $2 to $2.50 range.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, one last quick question. We only have a minute left, the accommodation that the president suggested to try to cure this problem, this rift he's having with the Catholic church on contraception and the health care bill. I assume that you side with the Catholic church on this. IO don't -- I mean, that's my assumption. But is there any way to sort of reconcile this, to work this out between the two?
GINGRICH: No. Look...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, is...
GINGRICH: ... there's a very straight question here. Does the government of the United States have the right to overrule a religious organization on how it deals with its religious circumstances? Can the government of the United States dictate, whether it's an Episcopal church, a Baptist church, a Jewish synagogue, a Catholic church, a Greek Orthodox church -- does the government have the right to dictate to churches?
Those of us who believe in America believe we were founded by people who were fleeing religious persecution to come to America. We think what Barack Obama's doing is the most secular anti-religious bigotry that we've ever seen in a president. And I think it's not bridgeable. He's got to back down totally and concede that no government can come between man and God.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, not to be too flip, every single Catholic hospital, which it apply to the hospitals, not to the churches, has a chapel. I'd just rename all the hospitals a church and that'd be the end of it -- not to be too flip -- then they couldn't touch it. But anyway...
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, that's just me! Anyway, Speaker Gingrich, thank you, sir.
GINGRICH: Great to be with you.