Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Violent Anti-War Protests Near GOP Convention

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 1, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: This is a FOX News Alert: Thousands of violent anti-war protesters descended on the site of the Republican National Convention earlier today, assaulting police officers, breaking windows and throwing bottles at convention goers. Now, police in riot gear responded with pepper spray before arresting dozens of the protesters.

Joining us now, former speaker of the House, FOX News contributor, Newt Gingrich.

Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Newt Gingrich

I literally was driving out of [the] radio [studio], and all the protesters, they all had the masks on their face, literally, riot police chasing them, people throwing rocks back at them. What does that accomplish? What does that say about a part of the base of the Democratic Party? It's a very small one. I'm not...

NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, look, I think there are two different groups out here, in all fairness. --Because I saw the same thing you did earlier today. There are probably 7,000, 7,500 people who are anti-war protesters, peaceful, you know, walking around, no masks, no problem.


GINGRICH: There's about 200 people who are nuts, who call themselves anarchists, who put masks on. And frankly, that — for the moment they put the masks on, they should automatically be arrestable. And I think this is a fairly liberal city. And I think it's gotten a lot more conservative as the afternoon went on.

HANNITY: Well, I actually saw it up close. It was actually pretty frightening when you see it up close.

GINGRICH: Oh sure.

HANNITY: All right. First of all, let's start with — now that the hurricane has pretty much passed, thank God the levees are holding for the most part. We're watching that situation. We have Shep Smith on the ground. It was the right thing to do for Senator McCain?

GINGRICH: Yes, as I said, I watched Shep about an hour and a half ago, and I looks like we have two small levee problems outside of New Orleans, but New Orleans is going to be fine.

I think he had to postpone the convention. I can't imagine running the risk of not doing it. And we're all very lucky — let's be clear — that, if Gustav had gained a little energy, if it had come a little further east, we could have had a big problem.

Now, the question is can they start tomorrow night? I think probably they can. I think the country gets it, and it's OK. I think the delegates who are here will be thrilled to have it start tomorrow night. I suspect that the news media who are here will be thrilled to have it start tomorrow night.

But it was — it was absolutely the right thing to do at that moment in time. And I thought it showed real leadership on McCain's part that he didn't mind breaking with tradition. This had never been done before, and I think it showed a real commitment to America over party.

HANNITY: Well, I thought what he said is we're all Americans, and this isn't about Republican and Democrat.

GINGRICH: By the way, let me just say, and this is — people don't often hear you and me praising Obama. But I think that Obama and Biden were exactly right on this. I think they handled it well.

And I think on another topic we'll get to later on, that Obama was as close to 100 percent...

HANNITY: ...about the daughter of Sarah Palin?

GINGRICH: I thought Obama was exactly right in tone and intensity.

HANNITY: Well, it couldn't be any different, because he has a very similar background, and — but it was the right thing to say. I agree.

GINGRICH: He did it well.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: We're going to get into that in just a second. First of all, nice to see you in person, by the way. I need some protection here. Are you going to be on my side here?

GINGRICH: If the anarchists come after you, we'll both...

HANNITY: Speak for yourself!

COLMES: All right. Let me say, first of all, that had nothing to do with the Democratic Party. These are anarchists.

GINGRICH: I know that.

COLMES: They hate liberals. They hate conservatives. And I just want to say, if you're going to rally in the name of peace, don't do things that are violent.

GINGRICH: Well, that's why I think It's important to distinguish between the two — I think, frankly, every one of the anarchists ought to just be locked up. I think these are people who are nuts. They're dangerous. They're violent. They're attacking the police.

COLMES: They're destroying property. And people are going to get hurt.

GINGRICH: And people who are legitimate anti-war protesters who want to go out and make a case, that's what America is all about. It's a separate...

COLMES: Yes. You can't say and then act in a violent fashion.

GINGRICH: That's exactly right.

COLMES: It's totally wrong.

GINGRICH: The anarchists don't claim that. The anarchists really do want to be violent.

COLMES: But unfortunately, it gets left into the peace demonstration without being peaceful. And that should not be happening at a peace demonstration, although the actual peaceniks are probably not the ones doing what we're seeing on screen right now.

GINGRICH: That's exactly right.

COLMES: On the screen right now.

GINGRICH: Sort of disgusting to be this much in agreement with you.

COLMES: Isn't that wonderful? Now let's go off in different direction.

GINGRICH: There we go.

COLMES: I keep hearing about Sarah Palin. I want to get into the whole issue of her daughter and the pregnancy in a little bit.

But I keep hearing she stood up. She was a reformer. She actually supported the Bridge to Nowhere. She actually supported Ted Stevens before she was against it. Now, John Kerry was for something before he was against it. She was for the Bridge to Nowhere until she realized she couldn't get federal funding, at which point it became a local issue.

So, you know, she's being portrayed in a certain way. And I just wonder — they're not particularly accurate when you look at what she's actually said.

GINGRICH: OK, she did run against the incumbent mayor and beat him.


GINGRICH: She did, as chairman of the energy commission, blow the whistle on the Republican state chairman, force him to resign and got him to pay a $12,000 fine. She did take on the incumbent Republican governor in the primary and beat him. Let's just start with the baseline here.

COLMES: ...she supported the Bridge to Nowhere. She was part of the incorporation papers with Ted Stevens's Excellence in Public Service, a 527 group, the kind of group that John McCain has spoken out against. So...

GINGRICH: Right. Sure. That was in 2003.

COLMES: Well, that was a long, long time ago.

GINGRICH: Okay, it was in 2003. She was one of three people incorporated. Nobody says she did anything illegal. Nobody says she did anything that was...

COLMES: I'm not saying illegal. But you can't take — portray yourself as a reformer when you supported the Bridge to Nowhere.

GINGRICH: Wait a second. Even in the McCain (AUDIO GAP) ... she was operating within the McCain world.

COLMES: We're going to take — we're going to pick it up here in just a second with Newt Gingrich. And we continue with Newt right after the break.

And later on tonight, after tonight's pared-down agenda, how will the RNC proceed tomorrow? Karl Rove will join us, coming up in just a few minutes in this special edition of "Hannity & Colmes." We are live from the Republican National Convention.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm old enough to know that people like you led this country in a warm and people like you have blood on your hands. So go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself!

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS: That's an outrageous claim. What proof do you have to back that up that we did anything, other than try and get your message...?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blood on your hands. You people helped the Bush administration murder people. You spread their lies — You steal elections. People like you have blood on your hands.

JENKINS: I'm offering you an opportunity to get your message out, and that's all you want to tell me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FOX News sucks! FOX News sucks! FOX News...


COLMES: And that was FOX's Griff Jenkins once again, surrounded by hostile protesters, near the site of the Republican...

HANNITY: Are they related?

COLMES: He just loves putting himself right in the thick of things, that Griff.

GINGRICH: All the hostile groups he's been with over the years, it's almost an Ollie North quality to him.

HANNITY: Well, he's Ollie's friend.

COLMES: Kind of like me being here. Although not — I'm right in the middle of this. But everybody's in the middle.

So look, one of the issues that's come up over the last day or so is the vetting process for Sarah Palin, whether or not she was truly vetted. Did John McCain know that her daughter was pregnant? Did he really know her? Supposedly, he met her once in February, talked to her on the phone about a week and a half ago, made a last-minute decision.

Do you have any concerns that this hasn't been fully vetted?

GINGRICH: No, I'm not concerned about this part of it. She's a sitting governor. She went through a rough-and-tumble primary with the incumbent governor. I think people have looked at her a lot and the — the Alaskan media has looked at her a lot.

If I had a concern, it's more the question -- which I personally experienced -- that when you go from being even somebody as important as the governor of a small state to suddenly being a vice-presidential candidate, the jump is so large that it's very, very difficult. And the national press corps feels a legitimate obligation to pound on you from day one.

And we'll see how she does. I mean, if she can calmly and pleasantly take it and keep coming, then I think she's going to be very formidable.

COLMES: Listen, you went from a back bencher, so to speak, to a very prominent speaker of the House. Were you prepared?

GINGRICH: No. I wasn't. I would say that probably half the mistakes I made the first year as speaker were because I didn't — you know, when you're the back bench minority whip, you have to yell to get the media's attention. When you are the speaker of the House after the Contract with America, you can whisper. And you're going to — you know.

And she's going to — she's now going to have that same experience, that every speech, every answer, every smile, somebody is going to be watching her.

HANNITY: You know, I look at her background and her record. I think if they want to have this debate over experience and the community organizer, she was in elected office for five years before Barack Obama even ran for the Illinois state senate. He's never been an executive, except when he chaired a board with William Ayers, the terrorist.

I think this is a great debate to have for the country. Is he prepared to be president of the United States?

GINGRICH: Well, I told somebody today that I would love to see Governor Palin debate Barack Obama...

HANNITY: I would, too.

GINGRICH: ... on the issue of...

COLMES: I would, too.

GINGRICH: ... which experience really matters? You know, I mean, Obama represents and Biden represents, legitimately, the talking class in America.


GINGRICH: These are people where, boy, if he gets to be the — the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review, you know that's a big deal. If you've been on — Chris Wallace. I'm not going to say "Meet the Press," because it will make Chris mad. But if you get to be on Sunday morning talk shows, boy, that's a big deal. If you've made 273 speeches in the Senate, even if none of them were coherent...

HANNITY: Excuse me. Excuse me. Hang on. I want to talk about something you said to me. You — we now have polls out. Can you imagine after the speech before 80,000 people it's a one-point race in one poll, a two-point race in the Zogby poll, a three-point race in the Rasmussen poll. Virtually no bounce after this huge speech before the Greek temple. He descends from the heavens.

You — you said to me the other day you think real fear has set into the Barack Obama campaign.

GINGRICH: Yes, I think you can see it, first of all, with his decision to pick Biden. Because I think that Obama promised us change we could count on. He was going to have real change. It was going to be a totally new approach. He was going to represent the outside forces doing something to Washington. And then he picks the guy who was elected to the U.S. Senate when Sarah Palin was 9 years old.

And so for 35 years Joe Biden has gotten on the taxpayer subsidized Amtrak train to come down to Washington, and to go to the Senate chamber. And Biden is a smart guy --it's not that he's stupid, but he doesn't represent change.

HANNITY: So really, the issue of age, the issue of Iraq, the issue of experience is off the table, you know, when Barack Obama — because Obama doesn't have any real experience. And he's at the top of the ticket.

COLMES: Oh, come on!

GINGRICH: OK, why don't you share this for a second? Other than "present" 160 times in the state senate...

COLMES: That's wrong.

HANNITY: It's absolutely true.

COLMES: I mean, other than — that's all he's accomplished.

GINGRICH: That's all I'm saying he accomplished.

COLMES: Let's go down the list: the ethics reform — ethics reform,, the Lugar bill, getting rid of weapons. We can go down the list.

HANNITY: We've got to break. We've got to go. Speaker, good to see you. He can't answer.

COLMES: I just answered, I just gave you two big things he did!

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