OTR Interviews

Gingrich: Obama's a 'part-time president' ... he's like substitute referees in that he's 'not a real president'

Former House speaker and presidential candidate dissects president's address before the UN General Assembly, snub of Netanyahu, lack of meetings with world leaders and more

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 25, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former presidential candidate and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. Good evening, sir.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER/FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's pretty amazing when you have ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and even "Time" magazine with the headline, Obama comes to New York for Barbara Walters and sort of U.N." why isn't he meeting with anybody?

GINGRICH: I think it's a comment on the depth of his arrogance. I think this is a person that doesn't actually care what the world thinks, doesn't actually care what the American people thinks. And if he gets reelected, he'll be right and the rest of us will be wrong. I mean, his view his is all about a cynical, calculated approach. "The View" gets him more votes than meeting with 10 or 15 world leaders.

And the fact that he's not doing his job is irrelevant. You have to divide it into two parts. There's winning the office and there is actually being president. He's clearly said, If I can win the office, I don't care what the rest of you think.

And let me say, what should really deeply bother Americans is how does all this play out in the rest of the world? Imagine you were an ambassador trying to explain to the president of Egypt or the president of China or the president of Germany, the chancellor of Germany, You know, the president can't meet with you because there's no time on his schedule because he has to go do "The View."

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, and actually, as a matter of fact, his schedule is open this week. I mean, he could -- he could still -- he could still do "The View" and meet with these people. It's not like that -- it's not like that -- his schedule is -- is so compressed this week. He does have time.

GINGRICH: Well, but you have to wonder what he's doing. I mean, I'm assuming there's some rhythm to Barack Obama that the rest of us don't understand, whether he needs large amounts of rest, whether he needs to go play basketball for a while. I don't, you know, watch ESPN. I mean, I don't quite know what his rhythms are.

But this is a guy who's a brilliant performer as an orator, who may well, get reelected at the present date, and who, frankly, happens to be a partial sub -- part-time president. I mean, he really is a lot like the substitute referees in the sense that he's not a real president.

I mean, he doesn't do any of the things presidents do. He doesn't worry about any of the things presidents do. But he has the White House. He has enormous power. He'll go down in history as president. And I suspect he's pretty contemptuous of the rest of us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, there -- there are some women who oftentimes -- we oftentimes think that we do the men's work, and believe it or not. Did you know that? Were you aware of the fact that...

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: Callista has actually suggested to me that this model exists.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. All right. Well, you look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's schedule this week. She met with the president of Libya. She's not the president. The president -- President Obama is. She met the president of Egypt, the president of Yemen. She is meeting this week -- she found in her schedule time for the prime minister, of Netanyahu, and at the same time, she also met with foreign ministers, which are her -- are her counterparts in the government. She found time in her busy schedule to meet these people.

GINGRICH: Well, but there's a huge difference. Hillary Clinton is a serious person. Barack Obama is an ambitious person. They're very different personalities. Hillary Clinton actually gets up every day thinking about public policy. Barack Obama gets up every day thinking about Barack Obama. I mean, they're very different approaches to life.

And I think those of us who are his critics need to get over it and understand, this is who is president. This is a man who in the age of false celebrity-hood is sort of the perfect president because he's a false president. He's a guy who doesn't do the president's job. He's had 39 percent of the briefings on intelligence, the daily briefings. He goes to Las Vegas while there's an attack on Benghazi.

VAN SUSTEREN: Actually, I give him a pass on that because I now am (INAUDIBLE) ever want terrorists to think that you have disrupted that much, that you get that much effect on the president. I am critical of the fact that he's not meeting with presidents, which would be routine...

GINGRICH: Yes, well...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... in New York this week.

GINGRICH: Explain this, then.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

GINGRICH: For 10 days after the Benghazi attack, the Obama administration denied it was a terrorist attack.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's a different issue.

GINGRICH: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: That is a profoundly different issue.

GINGRICH: No. But after Carney that morning said, OK, everybody now concedes it's a terrorist attack, the same afternoon, Obama went back to the, Oh, it's really caused by the film. I think it's because he wasn't coordinating.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, with -- he was talking about the film today, which was sort of interesting. He's talking about the video before the U.N. in his speech and talking about how, you know, we don't insult -- we should not tolerate insulting religions, yet there was no mention of the fact that Ahmadinejad is going to be speaking tomorrow on the holiest day of the Jewish faith, Yom Kippur, so that he spoke about the insult to the Muslim world with this video, but he neglected to talk about the insult to Jews, while he's dissing the prime minister of Israel.

GINGRICH: Well, it's worse -- from an American perspective, it's worse than that. Obama spent I think three paragraphs on a nutcake film that nobody had seen. Meanwhile, in the same city as Cardinal Dolan, who has openly said the Obama administration's waging war on the Catholic church.

Now, why is Obama fixated on appeasing Muslims while attacking Catholics? And why is that not a topic that ought to be on every network talk show? I mean, here's a president who is a one-sided apologist for Islamic extremists while he is attacking Christianity in his own country! It's pretty bizarre.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me get back to meeting with these presidents because I -- I actually think this is serious, in -- in that -- that so many things going on in the world as that what you get so much done when you have relationships with people, whether you want to have a relation with Mubarak and you want to be able to tell him to get out of office faster in Egypt, or if you wanted to somehow have developed a relationship over the years with the president of Syria so you can tell him to get out quickly -- if you don't meet with these people, you cannot develop that sort of relationship, which has -- may have profound importance as we sort of march through history.

GINGRICH: Be sure to talk to John Boehner or Mitch McConnell or Eric Cantor. There's no evidence that Barack Obama wants to have a relationship with anybody except those who are sycophantically his supporters. There's no sign he wants to...

VAN SUSTEREN: But you can't get anything done unless...

GINGRICH: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you know, you may not like them, you know -- you know, he may not like the Republicans on Capitol Hill and they may not like him, but you've still got to have some relationship with them...

GINGRICH: Greta...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... to attempt to get something done.

GINGRICH: Greta, I don't want to be a naysayer here, but he's not getting anything done. I'll give you an example. He said today grandly the war will be over in Afghanistan by 2014. That's just a falsehood. Now, I think he believes it, but it's a total falsehood.

What he really means to say is the United States is going to cut and run in Afghanistan by 2014, whether you like it or not, and if the war continues, which it will, it'll be without us.

Same thing's happened in Iraq. He said the war was ended in Iraq. No, it wasn't. It was not certainly ended for Iraqis. People are getting killed in Iraq every week, but the Americans pulled out. And Obama confuses his willingness to run away from every problem on the planet -- I mean, if we end up with an Israeli strike on Iran, there's going to be a total mess in the Persian Gulf.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he said today about that, he said, in talking about -- he said -- he says the U.S. will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I'm not sure what he means by what we must do. I mean, I -- I mean, I don't expect...

GINGRICH: Well, I mean...

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't expect him to spell it out in detail, but he said it.

GINGRICH: Look, since he refuses to meet with Netanyahu, it's a little hard to figure out what he thinks what we must do is. Netanyahu has a pretty clear idea. I -- I -- my first meeting as speaker, before I was even sworn in, was in December of 1994 with Itzhak Rabin, who at that time was the prime minister of Israel.

He was worried about Iran. He said, I'm not worried about the Palestinians. We'll manage that. He said, We can't cope with Iran. That's 1994. The Israelis have been planning an attack on Iraq for well over a decade. They have been thinking it through. They have been practicing it. They have been equipping for it.

We have to confront the reality that if Netanyahu concludes that Obama is totally unreliable, they're going to attack Iran.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me go to another issue. What in the world where you doing campaigning for Congressman Todd Akin in light of what most people think is probably a (INAUDIBLE) ridiculous position he had about, if you get raped legitimately, you won't get pregnant?

GINGRICH: Well, my position is that Todd Akin said that was a stupid thing to have said.

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: He apologized for saying it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but it's one thing to apologize for saying something stupid, but I actually had the sense he believed it. And that's a more serious issue.

GINGRICH: I think he believed it. I think he now knows he was wrong.

VAN SUSTEREN: So he unbelieves it now? He unbelieves it?

GINGRICH: Look, you're talking -- let me just say, the president of the United States describes 57 American states. The president of the United States describes "bumps in the road," which includes the killing of an American ambassador. The vice president of the United States has so many falsehoods, so many inaccuracies and so many weird statements...

VAN SUSTEREN: Those are gaffes. I actually think Todd Akin believed that.

GINGRICH: I think he believed it, and he was told he was just factually wrong. And I think he now realizes he made a mistake. So if somebody says to you, I made a mistake, I apologize, and you look at six seconds of Akin being foolish and six years of his opponent voting wrong, it's pretty easy for me to say -- you know, she voted for "ObamaCare," 71 percent of Missourians voted against it in a referendum six weeks before she voted for it.

She has an "F" rating from the NRA. She has an "F" rating on right- to-life. She voted for all of Obama's big spending. So the contrast -- I think Akin, in fact, if you are in any way a moderate or a conservative, he is closer to your values than she is.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the state of the race for Governor Romney -- how's he doing?

GINGRICH: He's got to become more aggressive and he's got to become clearer and he has got to, I think, stick to issues in a very firm way. I think they've allowed the national media to define this campaign for two- and-a-half weeks, and that is an enormous disadvantage if you're a Republican.

I mean, Republicans in a general election have to wake up every morning and say, OK, the Obama team includes virtually every reporter I'm going to meet. And you've got to campaign in that context. and so you've got to be so clear and so consistent that you reach beyond them. And if you don't do that, you're going to stay in permanent trouble.

VAN SUSTEREN: The -- many people look at the debate as being probably, you know, the linchpin for this race. Do you agree that...

GINGRICH: Yes, I think -- I think in the first debate -- and my newsletter at Human Events coming out tomorrow will walk through this. I think at the first debate, Romney has to come across as capable of being president, as a legitimate alternative to Obama, and as somebody who's not afraid to say what he really believes, even face to face with the president.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, one -- today it was reported that Senator Harry Reid went after him and said that he is not the face of Mormonism. And in the practice of law, we say open the door. Does this now open the door for Governor Romney...

GINGRICH: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... to come back at President Obama on things like Reverend Wright?

GINGRICH: Look, if President Obama had any sense of decency at all, he would demand -- he, the president, would demand that Harry Reid apologize and withdraw that. The kind of things left-wingers get away in this country in attacking religion, whether they're attacking Catholicism, they're attacking Protestantism, they're attacking Mormonism, they're attacking Judaism -- as long as it's not Islam, you can be on the left and attack any religion and get away with it.

And what Harry Reid said today is despicable, and it's the kind of reason I'm for Akin because I don't want to see Harry Reid as the majority leader of the Senate. I think he is a disgrace to this country!

VAN SUSTEREN: What's going on with Senator Harry Reid? I mean, he plays -- I mean, this whole business -- I mean remember he had this anonymous source saying that Governor Romney didn't pay taxes. I mean, it was the most bizarre -- I mean, you know, as a lawyer, and he's a lawyer -- nothing like that would ever be permitted in court. And now today, he goes after him on religious grounds. And actually, we should say that he's also Mormon himself.

GINGRICH: Harry Reid is a vicious machine politician who -- go back and look at how he won election and reelection. His approach to politics is to destroy his opponent, to say whatever he has to say, to have total disregard of the truth. And all he is interested in is raw power. And he's one of the reasons the Senate is a sick institution.

VAN SUSTEREN: And we have no budget because he's sort of pocket -- he's pocketed -- the -- he's the one who stops us from having a debate over a budget.

GINGRICH: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama in the next couple weeks, I guess that he's going to try to just avoid any -- avoid gaffes, and he coasts, right? Is that sort of the strategy?

GINGRICH: Well, they may decide to attack. I mean, one of the -- I noticed in the last couple days, one of the challenges Obama faces is that when he gets ahead, he gets very arrogant and he starts doing things that are self-destructive. And so it'll be interesting to see whether -- in some ways, he might be better off to coast.

But the debate's going to be a big deal for him, too. We have never seen Obama in a head-to-head debate with a competent person who is willing to take him head-on, not -- not since he debated Hillary. And frankly, I think Hillary won most of their debates.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now for another topic. And full disclosure. Congressman Paul Ryan, Speaker Newt Gingrich, you're also one of them, Reince Priebus, chair of the RNC who's coming up, Steve Hayes is going to be on this show, John Finley, who's the executive produce of "Hannity," and Meade Cooper's the executive producer of this show and I -- we are all owners of one share in the Green Bay Packers. So let's talk about the Green Bay Packers. That's full disclosure.

GINGRICH: I brought two props to set the stage for all of our viewers, a nice Green Bay helmet and...

VAN SUSTEREN: Signed by?

GINGRICH: Signed by Brett Favre. And I've got here a football signed by Bart Starr. So for those of you who doubt my commitment to the Packers...

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: And Ellis the elephant went out this evening in a Green Bay helmet at Lambeau in support...

VAN SUSTEREN: And we should put that up on the picture. That is Ellis the elephant. And who is Ellis the elephant?

GINGRICH: Ellis the elephant is Callista's character, whose new book comes out Monday, "Land of the Pilgrim's Pride," volume two. Her first book was "Sweet Land of Liberty." That's -- there's Ellis and Callista! And we just thought -- we knew that Ellis, who believes in doing the right thing, would want to stand with the Packers.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's amazing how it has just enraged the nation. I mean, it's actually sort of fun to have a topic that we can all sort of debate and get angry about that doesn't have quite the consequences of, like, like Libya or Egypt.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, anybody who, as I did and I suspect you did, who watched this play last night -- it was unbelievable. And to have the NFL today come back and pretend that it was the right decision was more unbelievable.

But there's also a serious part of this. My son-in-law, Paul Lubbers, is the head of coach education for the U.S. Tennis Association. He made the point to me today -- and he's also a big Green Bay fan. He and my daughter own stock, you know, one share each.

But he said this is actually a very serious problem because as the replacement referees start losing control of the teams, as the respect for them declines, as they're less and less able to police, you run a bigger and bigger risk of a serious injury.

So the owners really have an obligation to the game, to the fans, and to the players to settle this and get it over with.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess that's us. We are the owners. The list of our disclosure.

GINGRICH: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, nice to see you, sir.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.