This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 12, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: First, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. Good evening, sir.
NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE/FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Good evening. How are you?
VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. Very tough news over the weekend, a bloody rampage in Afghanistan, 16 dead, 9 children even under the age of 2, three women shot in the head, burned, just the absolute worst.
Should we get out of Afghanistan now?
GINGRICH: Well, I think we're eventually going to have to get out of Afghanistan because we're not going to be able to solve the problems. And I think that it's tragic -- what happened is tragic, and we have to be committed to justice and we have to be committed to finding out exactly what happened. And I think we have to both express condolences and pay some form of compensation. It's a terrible event.
We as a country are dedicated to protecting the innocent. It is the opposite of the Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Taliban model, which is to kill the innocent, and we have to live up to our values.
VAN SUSTEREN: You say we have to get out sometime. I think that's -- you know, I think everyone agrees we have to get out sometime. It's a question...
GINGRICH: Fairly soon.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... of timing. Well -- well, I -- just as sort of an aside, on Gretawire, my blog, right now, it's 90 percent -- almost 90 percent say get out now. Not that that's scientific or anything, but this is...
GINGRICH: Yes, look...
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, people want to know why are we there. What are we doing right now, our mission?
GINGRICH: I mean -- I mean, here's the challenge we have. Given that the president's already said he wants to get out, given that we're not going to do anything to fundamentally change Afghan culture -- if anything, we're going to reinforce Afghan culture -- why are we risking the lives of young men and women?
I think this is a, you know, very dangerous environment and it's an environment where the anti-American sentiment could accelerate very dramatically. And we need to understand how dangerous this is and how much we have active enemies who want to fan every single flame against us.
And I just -- I don't see a positive argument for risking the lives of young Americans in this environment with the absolute lack of a strategy on the part of the president.
VAN SUSTEREN: If you were president, what would you be doing right now in the next few days? You know, tell me that -- tell me your plan for Afghanistan.
GINGRICH: I'd be asking the generals for the fastest, safest route to be able to pull out of the country and to basically tell Karzai that he is going to have to figure out how to survive because when you have an Afghan soldier killing the very people who are training them, when you have the Afghan government backing the religious fanatics in what was a totally phony explosion -- remember, the Korans that were being burned had first been defaced by Muslims, the prisoners who were using them to transmit communications. Nobody in the Afghan system spoke out against that.
We are right now on a very dangerous slippery slope that I think is likely to get worse, not better. But I think we need to rethink our whole strategy for the Middle East, which is why I've been advocating an American energy policy to deliberately make us independent of the region.
I think we need to go back to being the world's leading oil producer, and we need to make sure that no president ever again bows to a Saudi king or is intimidated by anybody in that region.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I'm going to ask you about the gas prices next, but I just have one last question on Afghanistan. I was in Afghanistan with Secretary of State Clinton, and the women there said, you know, Don't leave us. I mean, (INAUDIBLE) small room, and they -- and she -- and she said that the American people would not abandon the women of Afghanistan.
It's abundantly clear, at least I think, the minute we move out of there, the Taliban rolls right back in, and we're back to the situation with the women of Afghanistan. What do we tell them as we leave?
GINGRICH: Look, I think it's a tragic situation, but I don't see any evidence that Karzai is prepared to protect women. I don't see any evidence that the Afghan government is prepared to fundamentally change the society. And we're risking the lives of young men and women every single day in a mission that I don't understand -- given its current rules of engagement, given what we're currently doing, I don't see a path ahead that leads us to a dramatically changed Afghanistan.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now to gas, I mean, your energy policy for Middle East. I know you're having a little back-and-forth with the president's press secretary, Jay Carney. He says -- and I don't want to misquote him, but something to the effect -- he used the word "lie," that it's a lie to think you can get down to $2.50 a gallon.
I know you don't think it's a lie, so tell me why you think he's wrong about that.
GINGRICH: Well, it's doubly ironic because today, Stephen Moore reported in The Wall Street Journal that the amount of oil we now think is in North Dakota is actually 160 times as much as they thought was there 10 years ago, that every time they turn around, they're increasing the amount of oil we think we have available.
The amount of oil we have available in the Monterey formation in California may be 80 million -- 80 billion barrels. We have several formations in Texas that may be as big or bigger than North Dakota.
The fact is, the president of United States is committed to a very left-wing policy of higher and higher gasoline policies -- or gasoline prices. His secretary of energy has said publicly that he wants to see it at the European level, which is $9 or $10 a gallon. And the president refuses to accept the fact that drilling could make an enormous difference, that the pipeline from Canada could make an enormous difference.
You know, the President's solution is algae. I don't think any practical American believes that algae's going to replace drilling in the near future.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't understand how that would not be political suicide. I've heard a lot of people say that about -- Republicans say that about the president and his energy policy. I would -- I mean, I would think that, you know, if he really does want high prices, he'd want high prices after the election because the last thing he wants is high prices now.
So I mean, how do you reconcile your thought -- I mean, I just can't believe he wants high prices now, no matter what his strategy is, because it means he's not going to get reelected.
GINGRICH: Well, if you read his energy speeches, he can't reconcile it. His secretary of energy testified last week in the House -- he very specifically said he is not in the business of lowering the price of gasoline. He's in the business of developing replacements for gasoline. Now, that's the secretary of energy, which I think is a pretty good argument for abolishing the department.
We have a plan. I've outlined the plan. People can go to Newt.org and see a 30-minute speech that we videotaped that walks you through how to create enormous increase in our energy supply. If you look at what's happened with natural gas, an 11 percent increase in production has led the price to drop dramatically.
If gasoline dropped by the same percentage as natural gas, it'd be $1.13 a gallon. So people can't say drilling doesn't matter. It has led to an explosion of new natural gas sources. We've gone from a seven-year supply to a 125-year supply just in the last decade. The same thing can be happening in oil if you had an administration that wanted, in fact, to develop it.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, within hours, the polls are going to open in Mississippi and Alabama. It's -- right now, as I understand it, you and Governor Romney are neck and neck. Tell me -- I know you're going tell me that you're going to win both states, but tell me why I should believe you.
GINGRICH: Well, I'm going to tell you it's very, very close. We think we have a good chance to win both states. But in terms of the nomination, the biggest story tomorrow night's going to be simple. Governor Romney will get at most one out of every three delegates. Once again, he will fall dramatically short.
He may be the frontrunner, but he's the weakest frontrunner since Leonard Wood in 1920, and I think that the odds against his being able to get 1,144 delegates is very, very high. I think he's more likely to be a frontrunner who ends up not finishing the race.
VAN SUSTEREN: The -- earlier today, with Neil Cavuto, Neil, my colleague, asked Governor Romney about whether or not Senator Rick Santorum, if Governor Romney's the nominee, would be a vice presidential choice for him. And he said no.
That, of course, then brings up the whole question about you floating the name of Governor -- of Governor Rick Perry as your vice presidential choice. So tell me first your reflection on -- on the statement about Senator Santorum, and then I'm going to get to -- on Perry with you.
GINGRICH: Well, I've not talked directly to Rick Perry. I think it's way to premature to talk to anybody about anything. Governor Romney has every right, if he can win the nomination, to pick whoever he wants to that he thinks will help him win the election or who he thinks would be a good vice president. That's his call.
My point is I think that he is a long way from the nomination, much further than the establishment thinks he is. If you actually count the legally bound delegates, he has a long, long road. And like him, I'm not worried very much right now about who the vice presidential nominee will be. I'm worried about what's the path to the nomination.
VAN SUSTEREN: When you say he has a much farther path -- I mean, I'm sure you've seen the pundits. They have said that he's the frontrunner, he's going to get it, and that essentially, that you and Senator Santorum will be leaving the race at some point.
Tell me how he doesn't get it, how -- you know, explain that to me.
GINGRICH: Well, he's getting fewer delegates than he needs. He would like to pip and say Santorum can't get there, Gingrich can't get there, Paul can't get there. But the combination of the three is actually moving towards having more votes than he does.
And I think when you look at the second half -- think of Louisiana as the equivalent of halftime in a football game. The first half was actually better territory for Romney than the second half. And I think as we go through the second half, it gets harder and harder for him to finally get to a majority.
VAN SUSTEREN: I know you want more debates. Are there going to be anymore? I mean, do you think you'll get any debates?
GINGRICH: That's up to -- that's up to Romney and Santorum. I think if they're afraid to debate Gingrich, it's pretty hard to imagine how they think they can debate Obama. But that's their choice.
I'm having a pretty good time talking to people. We've done a lot of forums. We've had a lot of rallies. I think we're getting our message about $2.50 gasoline out pretty effectively. I'm going to continue to focus on big ideas and big solutions and let them, you know, play their games.
But I think we do have a chance here to really break loose, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow night. Then I'm looking forward to going on to Louisiana, which I think will be another very important battlefield.
VAN SUSTEREN: What does it mean tomorrow night if you win by just a couple of -- just a point or two or if you lose by a point or two? What does it mean for you and what does it mean for Governor Romney in those two states?
GINGRICH: Well, in either case, it would be so close that we'd be moving forward. Everybody would move forward. As I said, for Romney, who's supposed to be the front-runner, if he gets a third or less of the total delegates tomorrow night, that's not very strong frontrunner status. And I think it continues to just illustrate that he has a long -- much bigger mountain to climb than his New York donors and his Washington lobbyist advisers would like you to believe.
VAN SUSTEREN: British Prime Minister Cameron is in the United States, meeting with the president. If you were president, what would the discussion between you and the prime minister be?
GINGRICH: Well, the first thing would be, frankly, about the economy, the world economy, what's happening with the euro, the dangers of the collapse of Greece. The second would be an American energy plan and what's happening in the gulf, the Persian Gulf, with the Iranians and what's happening in the entire Middle East.
And the third would be to re-bond with Great Britain. You'll remember that it is President Obama who sent Winston Churchill's statue out of the White House and back to the British embassy. If I were president, I'd ask them if they'd loan it back to us again. I think it's a pretty good symbol of how close we have been historically.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any thoughts on Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to the United States last week?
GINGRICH: Yes, I think Netanyahu said quite clearly he's going to act when he thinks it's in Israel's interest, and president said quite clearly he hopes that isn't until after the election. I think the Israeli prime minister cannot take any risk of a second Holocaust. And the morning he thinks the Iranians have crossed a red line, I think he will strike. And I think he'll strike without any regard to the Obama administration.
VAN SUSTEREN: And Wednesday night, will you do "On the Record," the day after those two primaries tomorrow?
GINGRICH: I think you already asked me the other day and I already said yes. So I'm confident...
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, good.
GINGRICH: ... we'll work out something out. You are shameless in doing this on the air!
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, you do what you have to do. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, thank you. And we'll be watching tomorrow. Thank you, sir.
GINGRICH: Thank you.