Fox News Latino spoke with Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich Friday morning regarding his campaign, the importance of Latino voters, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the border, immigration and attacks from his own party.
Here are the candidate's responses.
Q: Do you have a plan, any specifics right now that you would institute regarding the border?
A: Well sure, we’re in the process of writing a bill that would simply create an ‘authority’ to get the border under control by January 1, 2014, and we are working to develop a budget that would set it… I’ve said I would take up to half of the 23,000 people in the department of Homeland Security in Washington and transfer them to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico if that’s what’s needed to have enough man power to control the border. Controlling our border has to be a significant part of it.
Q: Do you think the National Guard plays a role into that? There are people like (Fox News Anchor) Bill O’Reilly who say that the National Guard should be on the border.
A: No, I think that you want to actually build a police force. It’s very, very dangerous to have the military come in contact, potentially, with the drug trade. Potentially, it’s the corrupting of the military. And I think the military should be the reinforcements standing behind the police but you really want a very strong border patrol and a very strong Drug Enforcement Administration so that they are the ones in direct primary contact.
Q: How about the border fence, is that something you think is needed?
A: Well I think there’s some places you use a fence and there are places where you wouldn’t. And I think that’s a key thing to be thinking about, that it’s not just one thing or the other. There are parts where’s the rivers big enough where you wouldn’t need it. There are parts where you have I think cliffs and mountains where you don’t need much fencing and they’re in the middle of the desert but there are other places where you definitely need it.
I think...we ought to be able to pass a dramatic modernization of the legal visa system, so that it becomes much more convenient and much easier to get a visa to visit the United States than it is right now. I mean, right now we make it very difficult and very expensive and very time-consuming. Well, that’s just wrong.
Q: Last night, it was very intriguing because when you mentioned Marco Rubio. You said that you thought that he deserved to be considered for something more central, more central role than a cabinet position. Were you talking about vice president?
A: Well I think that anybody who has any sense as a presidential candidate is going to recognize that Marco Rubio has to be on the short list. That’s not to say that it’s automatic but he is so talented, he is so competent, his background is so strong, he’s such a good speaker, he represents one of the biggest swing states in the country and he has an ability to reach out and help with the very rapidly growing Latino community across the whole country. So he's inevitably on the short list, you know. Anyone who wouldn’t put him there I think is just not serious about how you win the presidency.
Q: President Bush certainly tried to bring both parties together to pass a comprehensive immigration law and he couldn’t. And he really tried. What would you do to try to bring bipartisan support for any change in immigration law that you would want to see happen?
A: Well, both President Bush and President Obama tried to pass a comprehensive immigration bill, and both failed. And I think that they failed because it’s not possible. You cannot write a bill that covers the entire topic and get it through the Congress. What you can do is go one step at a time. For example, (Florida) Congressman David Rivera just introduced the ARMS Act. The ARMS Act takes that portion of the DREAM Act which allows young people who came here with their parents illegally, but who’ve been here and are now of age to join the American military and become US citizens by earning it through military service. We allow foreigners to join the military in times of war and earn citizenship, but we do not allow people who have come to the US illegally, even if they came at 3 years of age and they’re now 19. David Rivera very correctly picked out a piece of legislation that could be passed pretty quickly, that gets something – is a step forward in a very positive way. And I’m hoping – I endorsed it today, said I hope that the congress will pass it as rapidly as possible. Because it opens a step of opportunity and a way of earning citizenship that virtually all Americans would find acceptable. So I would try to break down the immigration question into a series of steps. I think, for example, we ought to be able to pass a dramatic modernization of the legal visa system, so that it becomes much more convenient and much easier to get a visa to visit the United States than it is right now. I mean, right now we make it very difficult and very expensive and very time-consuming. Well, that’s just wrong.
Q: Right, how would you change it?
A: We can do a series of steps like that.
Q: Right. What would you do? What would you change about the legal visa system to make it…
A: Oh, look, I think legal visas should be almost as easy to get as an airline ticket. You should not have to go and stand in line for hours outside the US consulate. And in some countries the waiting list is 174 days because it’s being run so incompetently. If you want to come to the US as a tourist, we should make it relatively easy. If you want to come to the US to do business, we should make it relatively easy. If you want to come to the US to do business, and you are prepared to have assets back home, so you’re clearly not going to come here and cheat and not go home, we should make it easy. Right now we have it exactly backward. It is easier to sneak into the US than it is to get a legal visa from some countries.
Q: You’ve been taking a lot of hits from Tom Delay now, Ann Coulter, some of these people that some would consider on the far right of the conservative spectrum. What is your response to the criticism from those ones, why do you think they’re attacking you?
A: Look, I think there are a whole bunch of folks who represent the old order. They attacked Ronald Reagan in 1980 exactly the same way. They’re looking at the national poll that shows me ahead of Romney at 52/39 in a two way race and they’re recognizing that if I come back as president that I will be for very dramatic, very bold change and they are terrified. I have no interest in the kind of things that Tom Delay did that got him in trouble. I thought it was wrong and a mistake. I had a very different approach to that. And I have no idea what motivates Ann Coulter but I find that she is all over the map. Basically, she’s for Romney and anything she says about me is a reflection of the fact that she is for Romney. I expect people who are for Romney to attack me because they’re terrified because he’s losing.