Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on His Future Plans

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 27, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: But, first, we get right to our top story. Joining us here in Atlanta at his American Solutions conference is the man who everyone has one question for, former speaker of the House, FOX News contributor Newt Gingrich.

Good to see you.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's great to be with you.

HANNITY: American Solutions. What this is amazing about — you said there's an 80 percent chance Hillary Clinton could be our next president, unless Republicans get away from focusing on her and finding radical, drastic solutions to these complex problems we face.

GINGRICH: Well, I — I think that's right. I think the average American knows that Katrina didn't work, that the border is not controlled, that bridges shouldn't fall down in Minneapolis, that government should be dramatically better than it is, and they want change. But they don't necessarily want left-wing, high-tax, big bureaucracy, more trial lawyer kind of change. And the Republicans have to decide, are they going to be the party that makes a clean break and offers solid, bold, conservative solutions?

HANNITY: Alright. Has the Republican Party — as a matter of fact, I can't think of one specific thing as a party they ran on in 2006 — have they have abandoned their principles, have they abandoned some of their values, are they off course?

GINGRICH: Well, I think, clearly, we've been off course. And the question is, as we go through this cycle, not just Republicans, but Americans — I mean, the whole country — for example, 85 percent of the American people want English to be the official language of government. Now, that's a pretty straightforward. That means a majority of Democrats, a majority of independents, a majority of Republicans, that's an American position, not a Republican position.

And I think the reason we did American Solutions tonight, you know, it's a workshop that people can see at, it's a workshop again on Saturday, with some 35 different topics. The reason we did this is we think people want to come together, we think they're tired of red versus blue. We think they want a red, white, and blue solution.

HANNITY: The new Gallup Poll reveals, interestingly, to back up what you said, that there's less trust in the federal government that at any other point in the past decade, even lower now than it was during the Watergate era.

GINGRICH: Well, and I think what people want to be told is, don't — don't trap the Republicans in defending the indefensible. You know, if the issue is, do you want change? And Republicans say, no, we're going to defend the current mess, and the Democrats say, well, we're for change, they'll win. If the question is, do you want bigger government, higher taxes, more red tape, is that what you meant by change? They'll lose.

HANNITY: You know, it's — it's interesting, because I agree with you, that if people are going to run a negative campaign against Hillary, I don't think that's a winning formula. I've identified six issues, and you tell me if I'm wrong, that they've got to win the war on terror, they've got to stay on offense, they've got to control the borders, end earmarks, cut taxes, in that particular case, find energy independence — I said control the border — and free-market solutions to health care and education. Is that about right or...

GINGRICH: I think those are the right general direction, and I think that a change-oriented movement — and what we've tried to do is make it very bipartisan. We're very delighted to have Governor Roy Romer, former Democrat governor of Colorado and former superintendent of the Los Angeles schools, he's here with us. And we have Elaine Kamarck, who was the head of Al Gore's reinventing government. She's doing a workshop on how to replace bureaucracy. And we have the mayor, Shirley Franklin, of Atlanta who's welcoming us tonight, a Democrat.

Because we're trying to say to people: We should come together on big solutions. They're not left-wing solutions. They're center-right solutions of lower taxes, more entrepreneurs, better science and technology.

HANNITY: Could I — Is it fair to say — and I'll get to the question if you're going to president in a minute here — that you're following the paradigm in '94? Because there really are distinct differences. For example, when I listen to the Democratic candidates and where they stand on health care, where they stand on taxes, the war on terror, the war in Iraq, it seems at no other time has there been such a great divide and distinction and an opportunity to say, they've got their vision, we've got our vision.

GINGRICH: Yeah. Well, look, I think it's fair to say that I'm a student of Ronald Reagan and that Reagan in '80 and '84 and what we did in '94 is draw really bold, sharp contrasts. For example, I would like to abolish the capital gains tax; they want to raise it. I'd like to abolish the death tax; they want to raise it. I'd like to have a tax break for companies that keep their headquarters in the U.S. They want to tax them so much they drive them overseas. I want to reduce the number of trial lawyers to help New York remain the number one financial center in the world. They're going to have enough litigation that London becomes the financial center of the world. I think if you have that bold a difference, you make — you really have a different situation.

Alan. Our good friend, Alan...

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: I'm glad you have some Democrats there, because it might be contagious. Some of the DNA might rub off on you. You know, you talk about bigger government — by the way, welcome back to our show. You talk about bigger government. Here you have an administration now asking for $190 billion more dollars for Iraq. They took 22 departments, created a huge bureaucracy, Department of Homeland Security, building up more and more deficit and debt because of this war. Who is really the party of big government here?

GINGRICH: Well, that's exactly my point, Alan. I couldn't agree with you more. I think that there's a lot to look at in Republicans having spent too much in the last seven years, and I don't think that they are innocent of this. What's amazing to me is, when the Republicans have spent too much, the answer by the Democrats is they want to spend even more.

So I would argue that what you have currently is a party of big government and a party of even bigger government. And what we need is an alternative, and that's why American Solutions — and, by the way, Alan, if you decide you'd like to be for lower taxes, smaller government, we would love to have you consider working with us.


COLMES: Thank you for the invitation. But, look, how do you keep talking about lower taxes and keep prosecuting a war? You're talking about a war on terror, more continuing in Iraq, which we'll get to later in the show, but Democrats want to do some of the same things. How do you keep those policies in place without having a way to pay for it?

GINGRICH: Look — Look, you can easily pay for American national security. We pay less today than at any time under any previous president prior to Bill Clinton, all the way back to Pearl Harbor. The fact is, there is so much waste in the rest of the federal government.

Two quick examples, Alan. Four billion dollars a year in New York State in pure fraud in Medicaid. That means every American in the country — man, woman, and child — is sending $13 a year to New York to pay for crooks, for fraud. Probably $2 billion dollars a year in fraud in South Florida in medical expenses for the federal government in three counties.

Now, I would argue that we could — if we focused on trimming down the federal government, you could afford national security, you could afford lower taxes, and you would actually have better government if you had fewer crooks.

COLMES: And if we'd get out of Iraq, by the way, we could do it, too.

By the way, you are quoted as having said that, "unless the Bush administration admits that the war in Iraq is a failure, it will never develops a strategy to lead the country successfully." You've said that, "here we are, 5.5 years after 9/11," you would argue we're losing the war around the world. When Democrats say that, we're accused of disliking the military and not supporting the war on terrorism. You say it, and you're applauded.

GINGRICH: But listen, there's a difference. I say it because I want to find a strategy to win. My friends on the left said it because they're willing to have a strategy to lose. There's a huge difference...


COLMES: No, you say the same thing.

GINGRICH: There's a huge difference whether it's to win or to lose.


COLMES: We now continue with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, you said to the Washington Post two weeks ago the odds are very high you will not run. You said to the "Good Morning America" on Monday, "There's a great possibility" you'll run. I'm confused. They sound like contradictory statements.

GINGRICH: Well, I think they are a little bit contradictory, Alan. I think, a few weeks ago, I thought that it was much more unlikely. And as I went around the country, I was in Mackinac Island with the Michigan Republicans on Saturday, about 900 people. I was in Las Vegas Tuesday night with a conservative think-tank, the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

And as I went around talking to people, the number of folks who came up to me who said, you know, watching Senator Clinton begin to build a lead, they really want somebody who can debate her next September and October, somebody who can offer a clear and a vivid alternative.

And that's why next Monday, on exactly the timetable, by the way, that I've been telling you two about for over a year, when we get done with the American Solutions workshops, and we have finished these presentations on Saturday, next Monday, Randy Evans, who's my good friend and attorney here in Atlanta, will hold a press conference and announce that he is going to look for whether or not there are enough people out there who want somebody who can have that kind of ability to articulate issues, to raise $30 million in pledges.

If there are, frankly, I think, by the end of the month, we will end up in a situation where I'd feel compelled as a citizen to get in the race.

COLMES: So you're saying...

GINGRICH: If there aren't, then I wouldn't do it.

COLMES: If you come up with $30 million, you're gonna — you're in?

GINGRICH: Yeah, I think if enough citizens come forward and pledge on the Internet that they would be willing to support us, that you had that level of support, as a citizen, you'd really, I think, would have a hard time explaining why you wouldn't run.

But because I come out of a middle-class background, I can't write $100 million checks. So I don't think I could compete with Governor Romney, who can write that kind of check, unless we had a large enough base of support, that we'd have the resources to compete very effectively in the key states.

COLMES: So it all boils down to money at this point for you? The desire is there, the will is there?

GINGRICH: Well, I would say the will is there, and the willingness to do my duty as a citizen. I'm very happy doing American Solutions. I'm very prepared to create the second annual workshop in September of 2008. I love the stuff I do, in terms of writing books, and giving speeches, and we've had — it's a wonderful life. But I am very worried about the future of the country, and I do think we have to offer a change-oriented conservative alternative to Senator Clinton, if we're going to be able to keep this country from going very far to the left.

HANNITY: All right, you did give odds that — you thought at one point there's an 80 percent chance Hillary could be the next president, because you believe she's the nominee. What are the odds that come a week from Monday that you're going to get into this race?

GINGRICH: Well, I think it's more like two or three weeks from Monday. But I think today I would say the odds are about one-in-five.

HANNITY: So a 20 percent chance you're going to get in? That's not that — there's still a remote chance. That's somewhat remote at this point...


GINGRICH: No one that I know of has ever been able to raise $30 million in pledges in three weeks. It would require such an explosion of interest and desire across the country. If it happens — and we've certainly had a lot of people say to me, including this evening, that they'd like me to do it. If it happens, then I think — you know — you'll see me back. I'll probably announce in the morning on C-SPAN and come here in the evening and talk to you and Alan about it.

HANNITY: Well, we're going to hold you to that. But you, on one hand, you've been very complimentary of Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. You've said a lot of nice things about them publicly. Do you think they're missing on some level, though?

GINGRICH: Look, and I'd also add Mike Huckabee on that. I think Mike is a great guy. And they're all good people. Rudy was a great mayor of New York and a remarkable leader. Governor Romney did a great job in turning around the Winter Olympics and has been a good governor of a state with a huge Democratic legislature in Massachusetts. I think Fred Thompson is a terrific guy and issued a report in 2001 that, if the Bush Administration had taken it on reforming government, they'd be in better shape today. And Mike Huckabee may be the most personable and most interesting guy in the race.

Having said that, I'm not commenting on them. I'm commenting on the number of people who walk up to me and say, "I really wish you'd run." And I think I'm trying to respond to those citizens at a citizen level.

HANNITY: You got extremely passionate today about Iranians, that they can no longer be providing the weaponry and the soldiers to kill Americans without having some...

GINGRICH: I don't know what this administration is thinking about. General Petraeus comes to the Congress and says, "The Iranians are waging a proxy war against us." Three days ago, the military spokesman in Baghdad said, "Here is a list of Iranian weapons that are showing up in Iraq."

The fact — I can't imagine — if we're in a war, and the Iranians are killing young Americans — and, remember that Louis Freeh said unequivocally as the FBI director that Iranians killed young Americans at Khobar Towers in the '90s.

HANNITY: And we think — we think Ahmadinejad — we have tape — we think he was one of the hostage-takers in '79.

GINGRICH: Right. So I can't imagine why the State Department would allow Ahmadinejad to do anything more than land at the airport, go to the U.N., go to his hotel room, go back to the U.N., and go back to the airport.

HANNITY: That's what I say.

GINGRICH: And I believe we ought to have a strategy that says to the world, when you kill young Americans, we are coming after you, and we're going to use every diplomatic, every political, every economic, every covert weapon we have. We don't have to have a military response. We have many tools to break this regime.

HANNITY: What is -- what are Hillary's weaknesses?

GINGRICH: Look, I think Senator Clinton is a very professional, competent person whose greatest weakness is principled. She is essentially on the left. She is for higher taxes, bigger government, more bureaucracy. She would appoint socially ultra-liberal judges.

But she's a very competent person. I think the best way to defeat her is to have a clear, vivid, bold choice between abolishing capital gains, raising capital gains, abolishing the death tax, raising the death tax,

COLMES: Would you -- having English as the official language of government, having a multi- lingual-confused situation...

HANNITY: Hey — We've got to run. Good to see you.

COLMES: Would you be the best person to beat her?

GINGRICH: I don't think. I think I'm going to let the Republican electorate decide that.

HANNITY: Ask Alan if he's going to donate.

GINGRICH: And, Alan, I want you to know that we want to give you a chance. If you decide to make a pledge, we'll look forward to it.

COLMES: Are you holding your breath now or do you want to start — anyway, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for being with us. Appreciate it.

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