This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 24, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tuesday's a big day. But tonight, he's right here, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. So stay right where you are.
Also, seven state attorneys generals are on the warpath! They are so angry at President Obama that they are taking him to court. You're going to find out why from one of them. Stay right where you are.
Plus, the price you pay at the pump, now the political weapon. You will hear from RNC chair Reince Priebus.
And President Obama sends a letter with an apology to Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai. Why is President Obama apologizing? Ambassador John Bolton is here.
But first, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... to see you.
NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to talk to you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, I know from reading on the wires today and from hearing things that have come out from your campaign that you are very distressed -- my word -- about the president's apology to President Karzai in a letter having to do with the violence that's erupted after the burning of the Koran in Afghanistan. Tell me how you think he should have handled this.
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think that there's this one-sided continuing effort by President Obama to appease whoever it is that seems unhappy. You know, churches get burned in Nigeria, there are no apologies. Churches get burned in Egypt, there are no apologies. Churches get burned in Malaysia, there are no apologies.
The fact is that it would have been one thing to have had the American commander in the region and President Karzai together saying this was unfortunate, that we're working together, that, clearly, it was not done deliberately.
But what you have is a situation where an Afghan soldier, somebody who we probably paid, we probably trained and we probably armed, kills two Americans and wounds four others. I don't hear any apologies coming from the Afghan government for the killing of Americans by one of their soldiers.
And I frankly just think this one-sided process of apologizing for America has gone too far. The commander-in-chief occasionally ought to stand up for his troops. I do not believe they were being deliberately sacrilegious. I believe they were dealing with materials much of which was radical Islamic materials, and I think it was probably an honest and a sincere mistake.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess I'd back it up even a little bit further. I mean, why are we in the position in Afghanistan of destroying those Korans? Do we have no other partners in Afghanistan, even the Karzai government, who could have done it instead because it was obviously -- it was obviously going to create a problem for the United States to destroy a Koran?
GINGRICH: Well, you know, I mean, as Colonel West, who's now a congressman, points out, war is often a lot sloppier and more complicated when you're in the middle of it than when you're sitting thousands of miles away. I don't know who did it. I don't know why they did it. I don't know what the circumstances were.
I agree with you, you would think in certain kind of materials, particularly if they involve languages other than English, it would be useful to have somebody who is fluent and who is a native as your partner.
But this gets back to the whole way we've run both this campaign and the Iraq campaign. You have to have some kind of integration, where you have people that are right next to you all the time and those folks have to have an ability to help advise you in what you're doing because you are in a foreign country that has a foreign culture, that has other values, and you don't necessarily always understand it. But I do find it...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's...
GINGRICH: ... distressing both -- go ahead.
VAN SUSTEREN: No, go ahead. I'm sorry.
GINGRICH: I was going say I do find it distressing, just as happened recently with several Marines who did something truly stupid, that there's an immediate response by the White House and the Obama administration to blame the Americans, to highlight the Americans. And I'm not at all sure that it's valid.
And furthermore, I am really deeply offended, I think, on behalf of the families and on behalf of the American people that Americans get killed by an Afghan soldier, we -- President Obama doesn't seem to hold Karzai responsible for that. There doesn't seem to be any request for an apology from Karzai.
And I think we have to have -- we can't have a double standard where we are always the ones who are wrong, and no matter what they, we don't ever say anything.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does it not show, though, a deeper problem with how we're executing this war because the fact that Karzai is our opponent in this, rather than sort of our partner, trying to get out of the problem, that he's not trying to help us -- you know, we've already lost two soldiers on this and there's lots of violence?
But doesn't -- isn't that a bigger message that he's really not on board with us to try to help us out of an unfortunate incident?
GINGRICH: Sure. Well, first of all, yes -- yes, it is an indication, just as the Pakistani hiding of bin Laden in a military city for seven years less than a mile from their national defense university is an indication. These are not allies in any sense that we would historically think of them as allies.
But let me also point out these kind of sudden eruptions of religious fanaticism are very often politically directed. You'll remember a few years ago, when there were some cartoons in a Danish newspaper, and all of a sudden, all across the Mideast, there were these outraged cries and these attacks, and people in the West promptly kowtowed and apologized and backed off and appeased.
You know, the fact is those things were all politically inspired. There are people in Afghanistan who hate us and want to get us out of there. This is an excuse for them to go on a rampage.
But I think we should be pretty offended that this is used as an excuse to kill Americans. And we should be pretty determined to push Karzai very hard. I'm not prepared to say we have to tolerate allies who are totally unreliable and who, in fact, aren't allies.
I think we have to reconsider what our options are and whether or not, in fact, this is a government that is in any way reliable, just as I think we have a big problem in Pakistan when the Pakistanis -- they didn't go out and find the people who'd be hiding bin Laden. They went out and arrested the person who helped us find us. Now, that should be, frankly, a much bigger outrage, but this administration is unwilling to ever confront our enemies in the Middle East, no matter what they do.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you used the word "appease." Obviously, that's a -- you know, a -- that's a -- that's a strong -- it's a strong word. And it -- you know, it's one that's got historic reference going way back. Do you stand by that, that he is an appeaser?
GINGRICH: Well, look at around the region. You now have -- if you were an American ally like Mubarak, Obama dumped you immediately. If you're an American enemy like Assad, he's been wavering for months. If you're an American enemy like Ahmadinejad, he's been trying to find ways to communicate you and work with you.
There's talk about the Americans trying to find a way to have negotiations with the Taliban. We have been extraordinarily tolerant of the Pakistanis in circumstances where we, frankly, should be pretty angry at them.
And I don't see any sign of this administration being very tough. Yes, it's true, in very narrowly targeted ways, they have killed a fairly good number of terrorists. But the region has slid steadily away from the United States and the region has grown steadily more difficult for the last three years.
VAN SUSTEREN: Would you admit that the party in power has a very sort of complicated task, regardless of whether it's Republicans or Democrat, but the party out of power talking about foreign policy, it's always sort of -- I mean, it's always easier on the outside?
GINGRICH: Well, I'll admit that it's always clearer on the outside. But I would just suggest that Ronald Reagan in 1979, 1980 was described by a lot of establishment types in Washington as having this very simple view that the right outcome of the cold war was we win, they lose, that he was described in 1983 by the establishment as having this clearly unacceptable view that the Soviet empire was an evil empire.
And then in 1987, when he gave a speech and said that, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall, the entire State Department establishment tried to talk him out of saying it because they knew the wall would be there for 30 more years. It fell two years later.
Sometimes clear, simple language can be right. And I believe in the case -- in this case, some of us have been saying for a very long time this is a much harder problem than we have been willing to talk about. I said as early as December of 2003, when there was a Republican administration, that we had gone off the cliff in Iraq, that we were trying to do things that we couldn't accomplish and that we were faced with enormous problems.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now to bring the issue back home a little bit to our debt ceiling. Last August, there was budget act deal, and we raised the debt ceiling to $16.4 trillion. And it was expected that that would take us through to the year 2013. Now the budget -- now it appears the bipartisan Policy Center is now predicting that we could hit that ceiling before the end of the year.
That's very grim -- a grim report. How do we -- I mean, how do we get out of this problem?
GINGRICH: Well, I mean, if you have Obama as president, you probably don't. What he'll do is he will deliberately will bide his time. He'll wait until the last possible minute. He'll cause a crisis. And he'll announce that our choices are default or give in.
What the Republican House should do is start this week, given that report, and they should start reforming government, cutting spending and increasing American energy.
I mean, if we would go to an all-out American program of drilling oil and gas, not only would we get down to $2.50 a gallon gas and diesel, but we would also be in a position where it's been estimated by the leading expert on North Dakota and developing oil in North Dakota, we might get as much as $16 trillion to $18 trillion out of royalties over the next generation.
Now, let me explain what that means. Sixteen to eighteen trillion over a generation of royalties for gas and oil on federal land and on offshore areas that pay royalties to the federal government means if you sequestered that money and you balanced the budget, you would literally be able to pay off the en tire national debt. That's how big that is.
So the idea that we are helpless and that all we can do is go along with Obama's credit card and then bail him out once again is wrong. They should be passing...
VAN SUSTEREN: How can you -- how can you...
GINGRICH: ... very dramatic reforms.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I -- it's sort of hard for me to sort of lay this on President Obama when the Republicans that were, like, they're up to their eyeballs in this budget act, too, on Capitol Hill. So I mean, like, you know, I don't -- I mean -- I mean, do you lay the blame for this situation we're in, in terms of the budget act and where we are in collecting revenues and where we're going, totally on the president, or do you think that the...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... the Republicans on Capitol Hill share responsibility?
GINGRICH: Look, I think -- I think the president has primary responsibility. I think the Senate Democrats have secondary responsibility. And the House Republicans have some responsibility but the least of the three.
There's no question that as early as the House Republicans passing their budget back in the spring, led by Paul Ryan, that they have offered very serious ideas. There's no question but that they've had -- John Boehner has pushed an all-of-the-above energy plan which would dramatically increase revenues to the federal government.
So there are a number of steps the House Republicans could take. The fact is that they get stopped by the Democrats in the Senate and they get zero leadership out of the president. And all I'm suggesting is they ought to go back at it again.
They ought to say, Look, here's how we avoid getting to a debt ceiling. Let's do the following seven things that will mean we won't have a debt ceiling before 2013. The new president can then cooperate in dramatic changes and you might well be at the peak of your debt ceilings if you are prepared to be very aggressive about other methods of solving the problem.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you've been quoted as saying -- and I'm -- I always pull these quotes out and I'm always -- I'm never sure if I'm getting the full quote or not. But I know that you're re in favor of a constitutional ban on gay marriage. But a quote today says that you're OK with states legalizing gay marriage through popular vote.
Are both those statements correct? And how do you reconcile them?
GINGRICH: No, what I said was that the process, for example, in Washington state, where the legislature's acting, putting it on the ballot to be voted on by the people -- that is a better process than having a single judge decide that the people of California were wrong and overruling the referendum in California, and I -- or having the judges in Iowa rewrite the Constitution.
So at least this is the right process. I would vote no on the referendum. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. And I believe that, ultimately, we may have to go to a federal amendment. But this is a very difficult issue.
And my only point was at least Washington state is procedurally doing the right thing, whereas places where judges imposed their elite will is explicitly a bad way to have change on that scale.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Right now, all across the country, there are gay couples raising children, having families, in relationships. In your mind, are they not entitled to any -- I mean, any sort of the, you know, rights and responsibilities that other couples, heterosexual couples, have?
GINGRICH: I think that there are specific legal agreements they can make, but I don't think that's a marriage. I think marriage historically is between a man and a woman.
And by the way, it'll be interesting to see this fall if this does come to a referendum, whether or not the referendum passes because consistently across the country, the American people have been voting for marriage being between a man and a woman.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's talk about the race. Georgia poll just came out, and right now, you know, you're burning up the numbers. You're way ahead in Georgia. So it looks like unless things change that that's going to be a very good primary for you.
But I'm interested in how you think you're going to do on Tuesday in Arizona and Michigan.
GINGRICH: Well, I think that we will get some votes, but clearly, the two front-runners in Arizona and Michigan are going to be -- Romney I think will probably come in first in both places and Santorum second.
I think Santorum is discovering in Michigan, where he was ahead a week ago, that when Romney goes negative and when he buys enough advertising, that he's very formidable. And so I think that this will -- this will probably be a fairly decent day for Romney. We'll see how good he does. He so far has only gotten above 50 percent once, and that was 50.1 in Nevada. So we'll see how he does by the time we get through with Tuesday.
Then we come here to Washington state, where I've been campaigning yesterday and today with very large crowds. We had 800 people in the tri- cities area yesterday, over 600 people in Spokane. We had standing room only, about 450 people just outside Seattle today at Federal Way.
And then, frankly, we had another 200 people standing outside. It was an amazing turnout, including people who stood in the rain for, like, 45 minutes. I was very, very humbled by the turnout. And we're now on the way to Everett. We have one more event here.
Tomorrow at the California state convention, I'm going to take President Obama's energy speech from yesterday in Florida and I'm going to methodically take it apart step by step.
It was a remarkably false speech and illustrates the passion of his ideological commitment to a fantasy world. He said, on the one hand, that you can't really drill your way to $2 or $2.50-a-gallon gasoline. On the other hand, his idea of a solution was algae.
I think the average American will find that while algae is an interesting long-range possible solution that over the next 30 to 50 years might be helpful, the idea that a President of the United States would say, "You can't drill, but I've got a jar of algae," will strike most people as something from a "Saturday Night Live" skit, not from a presidential speech.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. Thank you for joining us.
GINGRICH: Thank you.