Interviews

Gingrich: Secretary Chu should be fired

2012 candidate lashes out over Steven Chu's gas price comments

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 1, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Well, apparently, we were not the only ones who noticed Energy Secretary Steven Chu did not seem all that worked up over those skyrocketing gas prices. So did Newt Gingrich when he specifically heard this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the overall goal to get our price...

STEVEN CHU, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy and to decrease our dependency on oil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: The speaker heard that and said this is how the president should respond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he's really serious about helping the American people, having seen yesterday's testimony, he will fire Secretary Chu.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: Well, the energy secretary isn't here, but Newt is, and he is not happy.

Welcome, everyone. I'm Neil Cavuto.

And Fox on top of an embattled Obama Cabinet official, not only being called out, but increasingly being told to just get out, and all of this in the face of gas prices that continue to ratchet up. Make it 23 days in a row now.

Newt Gingrich says enough is enough; it's one thing for the administration to say no to more drilling in the face of these high prices, but to have an energy secretary of the United States all but welcoming these high prices?

The former speaker now joining us from Macon, Georgia.

Mr. Speaker, good to have you.

GINGRICH: Well, it's great to be with you, Neil.

And, frankly, the goal of the United States ought to be to have energy independence by developing federal lands and developing offshore and accelerating our access to energy. We’ve done it with natural gas, where we now have such a large production, that prices are crashing.

There’s no reason we can’t do it with oil. The president’s just plain wrong about this. His speech today in New Hampshire is just plain flat-out wrong. But to have a secretary of anti-energy is, really, pretty absurd.

Secretary Steven Chu ought to be fired. He said openly a couple of years ago his goal was to get us to a European price level. Someone in Nashville, Tennessee, told me that they now have figured out that Obama had a 9-9-9 plan, like Herman Cain, except Obama's was $9.99 a gallon.

And if you look at what Chu has said and you look at his arrogance again yesterday, he's basically saying to the American people, I will punish you until you have to buy the kind of car I want you to be in, and I don't frankly care how much pain you're in.

Now, I don't think you need a secretary of energy to do that. I think he can go back to being a scientist at Livermore, and let’s try to find somebody who actually wants to help the American people by getting us back to energy independence.

CAVUTO: Speaker, the secretary gives himself an A-minus for his performance thus far in this gas run-up.

What do you think?

GINGRICH: Well, I think look what he's grading himself against. He wants to punish the American people with higher prices. He's succeeding. He wants to waste a lot money on things like Solyndra. He's succeeding.

CAVUTO: All right, we’re losing that connection. But, hopefully, we will...

GINGRICH: Can you hear me now?

CAVUTO: Yes, I can. Go ahead, Newt.

GINGRICH: OK.

I was saying this is a guy who threw away a half a billion dollars on Solyndra. I think that he doesn't understand what we're doing. And he doesn't -- he doesn't share the values of the American people.

CAVUTO: Do you get a sense, Speaker, that the administration up to now -- maybe things are changing because now the president is open to opening the southern part of lands affected in his Keystone plan. Some interpret that as him blinking. And others say it’s -- Speaker Boehner has said that he’s not going far enough -- but that he is getting alarmed now?

GINGRICH: Oh, I think he is.

Look, everywhere I have been -- I have been, in the last two weeks, in Oklahoma, California, Washington State, Tennessee, here in Georgia. Everywhere I go; people are being hurt directly by the price of gasoline. And what that threatens to do is start hurting the economy, both indirectly, because the price of everything goes up, because every truck that deliveries groceries has to pay more, and directly, because people simply give up all of their discretionary money to pay for gasoline.

And I think that the president’s political advisers, I’m sure, are telling him that if he doesn’t find some way to dance around this, that it is going to eat away -- eat -- his reelection chances.

I've got a plan for $2.50 a gallon. People can see it at Newt.org. There's a 30-minute speech that outlines it that we're putting on TV in different markets as rapidly as we can raise the money. And it’s based on very serious ideas. I wrote a book called Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less back in 2008. Callista and I made a movie called "We Have the Power" outlining all of our options. And the president’s just not being candid. He has this line where he says, I have approved pipelines to Canada.

Sure, but he hasn’t approved the pipeline that matters. He suggested that drilling is up. Well, of course it is. It’s up on private land in North Dakota. It’s down everywhere that Barack Obama could get it down.

And even in North Dakota, his U.S. attorney filed a law against the oil industry. So, this is a very anti-American-energy president, who has appointed a very anti-American-energy secretary.

CAVUTO: Do you think -- in his latest budget plan, Speaker, that he wants to take all the tax breaks away for the oil companies, and swap a lot of them to promising -- what he calls promising green technologies. Would you be for just wiping them all out, all the tax breaks, all the subsidies?

GINGRICH: No.

Look, I'm not in favor of raising taxes. And if you wipe them out, you're raising taxes. I'm in favor in fact of 100 percent expensing for all new equipment for everybody, for farmers, for factories, you name it, so they can write it off in one year. I’m in favor of a massive reinvestment in American manufacturing and a reinvestment in American energy.

That’s why I'm also in favor of zero capital gains as a tax rate. But I’m -- Neil, I’m very much outside the Washington establishment model. I think the key for the American people is to shrink the government to fit the revenue coming in, not to raise taxes and try to catch up with Obama’s government.

And I think that just requires a level of change that the Washington establishment finds very frightening.

CAVUTO: Do you -- I know you’re in Georgia right now, Speaker, your home base, where your career really took off. Most expect you will win Georgia -- and I am sure you have said as much, that you hope to win Georgia -- but that there would be a Southern strategy here that might include pickups in Tennessee. You’re off the ballot in Virginia.

But is that really what you are looking at here, that pick up Georgia, maybe take Tennessee, have a shot at Oklahoma? What is -- what are you building here?

GINGRICH: Well, I think we’re going to be in Ohio again on Saturday. We think that we have a real shot in Oklahoma and Tennessee at doing well.

We have a real shot in Ohio. We have an effort under way in Washington State. And we have an effort under way in Idaho and Alaska. And we have -- we think there are some folks in Massachusetts who are not all that happy with Romney, and under proportional representation, there may be some votes.

Our goal -- and then North Dakota, frankly, which I've talked about a lot, is a very exciting possibility. Our goal is to continue developing big solutions like $2.50 gallon gasoline, combined with American energy independence, so no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king.

And I think, if we continue to develop big ideas and big solutions, for the third time, I will be back in the lead. It may take another five or six weeks, but there’s no reason not to believe it’s possible, because my two competitors, my two primary competitors do not have large ideas. They basically are very traditional politicians.

CAVUTO: So, when we were covering the Arizona and Michigan primaries, Speaker, on Fox Business -- I know you were busy, but I'm sure that was your default channel in watching the coverage -- we had one of Rick Santorum's supporter on who said the pressure will build on Newt Gingrich to sort of come to us. You are not at that point. It doesn't appear like he's at the point to jump to you. So, if I am Mitt Romney, aren’t I enjoying this?

GINGRICH: Well, you would be if you could get a majority somewhere.

Romney's problem is he can’t close the sale. He has outspent of rest of us probably by 10-1, and he just can’t close the sale.

CAVUTO: OK. Speaker, great having you. Thank you very, very much.

GINGRICH: Good talking to you.

CAVUTO: Newt Gingrich.

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