This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 24, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: All right, we're just one day away from the so-called bipartisan health care summit and in the spirit of bipartisanship Prince Harry Reid has issued a message to his friends across the aisle.
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SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID, D-NEV.: Realistically, they should stop crying about reconciliation as if it has never been done before.
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HANNITY: Now oddly Senator Reid felt differently about the issue when Republicans wanted to use reconciliation to stop Democratic filibusters.
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REID, MAY 18, 2005: A government in which one party has control over all the decisions is bad for America and bad for all our people. Our country works better when we cooperate and work towards compromises that benefit the greatest good and not one group over another.
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HANNITY: Now Reid was not the only one who viewed reconciliation dimly way back when. There was a certain Illinois senator named Barack Obama who fought bitterly against it as well.
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THEN-SENATOR BARACK OBAMA, APRIL 25, 2005: What I worry about would be you essentially have still two chambers, the House and Senate, but you have simply majoritarian, absolute power on either side. And that's just not what the founders intended.
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HANNITY: Wow. Now I wonder when the mainstream media is going to ask the anointed one about that? Now they may also want to ask a few questions of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because she was another fierce opponent of the nuclear option back when she served as a senator from New York. And here's what she said back in 2005.
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THEN-SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON, MAY 23, 2005: So this president has come to the majority here in the Senate and basically said, change the rules! Do it the way I want it done!
And I guess there just weren't very many voices on the other side of the aisle that after the way previous generations of senators have acted and said, Mr. President, we're with you, we support you. But that's a bridge too far. We can't go there.
You have to restrain yourself, Mr. President.
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HANNITY: All right, so given the crass partisanship the Democrats have displayed on the issue, what is the best way for Republicans to approach tomorrow's health care summit?
And joining me now with analysis is the former speaker of the House, founder of the Center for Health Transformation, Newt Gingrich.
• Watch Sean's interview
Mr. Speaker, welcome back.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's good to be with you. I should say, by the way, that Governor Sonny Purdue and about 800 Georgia Republicans send their regards to you tonight. And we're very excited to hear that you and I are going to do the show.
HANNITY: Well, my best -- that's my home in the south, as you know. And I'm going to get to the election and we're going to have a special segment.
I was there the night you became speaker. I was emceeing the event at the Cobb Gallery. I want to make comparisons in a minute.
All right, so you hear Barack Obama, you hear Harry Reid, now you hear Harry Reid then, you hear Senator Clinton. We could have added Joe Biden to the list. What do you make of the hypocrisy?
GINGRICH: Well, I think that what you're seeing is a Chicago machine politics approach that basically says, if we can run over you and mug you, then we're going to get away with it.
And I think what they don't understand is that this is not Chicago. That the United States is not going to tolerate a group of people trying apply kind of a Hugo Chavez majoritarian rule in the Senate.
I don't it'll happen. If it did happen, I don't think the House would pass whatever came out of the Senate. I think the country would be so enraged.
You know, Bill McIntyre of Public Opinion Strategies collaborated with us at the Center for Health Transformation. We just released a poll this afternoon that -- McIntyre is a very well known national pollster and in Public Opinion Strategy poll, among those who feel strongly by 2-1, they want to drop the current comprehensive bill. They think it's a bad idea.
Now you can't, in a free society, ram through legislation, when two-thirds of the people who feel strongly are opposed to you doing it. And I think it's amazing that President Obama is so out of touch with reality, and his staff is so out of touch with reality, that they keep walking forward even though every single day they keep this up, they lose ground a little bit more, as the polling has shown in the last four, five days.
HANNITY: What I can't figure out -- the tone deafness because cause obviously the Democrats know that -- especially those up for re-election, especially everybody in the House, that they are seeing the same polls you are referring to here. They know they are walking the plank. Why haven't any of them stood up to the president, White House, leadership and said no?
GINGRICH: Well you are seeing some people like Keith Schuler who spoke out yesterday and said this is all about jobs. We got to go back to jobs. And then Schuler himself is a Democrat from North Carolina said, I can't imagine why they keep coming back to this, it's a dead loser. It's not going to happen.
I saw a note a little while ago which I think Senator Rockefeller from West Virginia came out and said he was against using reconciliation. He's a pretty liberal Democrat. That would be a very significant step. I think there are a number of other Democrats who are starting to say that they do not want to see reconciliation used.
I think I saw a note today that said Stupak, the pro life Democrat from Michigan, said in the House today that there are at least 40 Democrats in the House who are not going to be willing to vote for the Senate bill on abortion language, among other things.
So I think they're beginning to fall apart. But the hard-core left wingers -- Obama, Pelosi, Reid, their core group, Waxman, Stark -- they all get together in a room and they just -- they can't bring themselves to give up their dream of a socialist America. And so they keep trying to find one more way to get there.
Tomorrow I think is going to be very interesting. And at the Center for Health Transformation we're going to have a live blog the entire time of the summit so people could watch it on the C-SPAN or any of the news networks that carry it, and they can see the live blog where we have experts.
I'll be there among others, commenting as the day unfolds as to what is happening. And I think it's going to be a very interesting day.
HANNITY: Well, I think it's going to be fascinating. It's some interesting -- I have said from the beginning, I don't think the Republicans should be a part of this. I think it's a sham. I think it's a set-up. I think they already, you know, predetermined what they were going to do, which is reconciliation.
And you convinced me I'm wrong. Every once in a while you concede I might be right like the radicalism of Obama. So I figured, in fairness -- in fairness to my friend, you had a pretty good idea. And that is Republicans should go in the room and demand equal time.
I want you to explain it to everybody.
GINGRICH: Sure. What I said -- and I feel this very deeply because it's the base of the kind of principled responsible bipartisan ship we had to exercise with Bill Clinton when we did get welfare reform signed, we did get a tax cut signed, we did get four consecutive balanced budgets signed, and that took figuring out how to be tough but nonetheless be in the room.
And what I said was the first key test is simple. Will the president give half the time to the Republicans? And will he yield it to McConnell and Boehner so they can control it? It's not enough for the president to say, I'm going to give you half the time but I get to pick and choose.
He's got to allow the Republicans to operate as a team. He's got to allow their leadership to lead. If he does that, and this is pretty straightforward, and they walk in tomorrow, they say, now we have an agreement, Mr. President, that we get half the time, controlled by McConnell and Boehner.
If he says yes, then the president just gave the Republicans in the House and Senate three or more free hours of national attention to explain their good ideas. And I don't think they should be at all afraid to do that. Don't focus on what they disagree with. Tell the country all the good things they would do if only the president would give up on his 2,000-page bill and agree to pass a simple legislation.
I think it's a win-win for the Republicans if that's what happens. However, if the president does not give them equal time, they should get up en masse at that moment and walk out. And point out to the American people the whole thing was a sham and a falsehood.
HANNITY: Here's my only trepidation. You had me up until that point. But if they ask the president for equal time and he says no, and they walk out en masse, do they -- will that be viewed almost -- we know how the media will react as -- the equivalent of a government shutdown for example?
GINGRICH: Look, it might have -- first of all the government shutdown worked when we balance the federal budget so I've always been amazed that people thought it was a mistake when in fact we got to a balanced budget. And the first re-elected Republican majority since 1928 occurred after the government was the -- after the government was shutdown.
Yes, people believed we were serious. They believe we were actually willing to fight in order to get to a balanced budget by controlling spending, while cutting taxes not raising them.
Having said that, you know if they had not had the stimulus plan passed with nobody having read it, if they had not had the giant energy tax passed with a huge 3:00 a.m. in the morning amendment. If they had not had the corruption in the Senate and the bribery, then I think maybe it would be a problem.
Not with this administration. Everybody will applaud Republicans if they stand firm.
HANNITY: All right, Mr. Speaker, stay right there. When we come back -- I was there in '94. We'll look at comparisons and we'll ask you the question when we get back if it's perhaps time for a new contract with America.
HANNITY: And we continue now with former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
All right, Mr. Speaker, so I was there. I'm emceeing the event. 1994 is the year. I'm there the night you become speaker. I'm emceeing, I lose my voice. Pretty amazing lead-up. Every interview you did -- as a matter of fact you did one for me, when I was guest hosting one of my first guest host experiencing on a cable network.
And you pull out your contract and you'd show it people. And you say, you give us 100 days, we'll vote on all these items. Now nine of the 10 passed. The only one that didn't pass was term limits.
What's similarities do you see between now and then, if any?
GINGRICH: Well, you know, Haley Barbour -- Governor Barbour who was the national chairman that year, has said he thinks that this is a bigger, stronger wave than we had in '94. Charlie Cook has indicated recently -- the observer who writes for National Journal -- that he's beginning to think this is a bigger wave than '94.
If they are right, then the odds are very high that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are going to lead the House and Senate respectively. And I think that that could well happen. I think the -- I've never seen a team as absolutely totally deaf to the American people as the Obama, Pelosi, Reid team.
It's almost as though -- doesn't matter what the polls say, doesn't matter what the tea parties say, doesn't matter what the town hall meetings say. They just don't -- doesn't even matter that they lose Senator Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts. They just don't seem to get it.
HANNITY: All right. But the difference -- one difference that I see upfront is they've had a warning in Virginia and New Jersey and in Massachusetts. So '94 perhaps, you know, caught them a little off guard, a little bit by surprise.
Do you think that's a factor? Now recently I interviewed Karl Rove, Scott Rasmussen and John Zogby. And I agree with you. I think this is the year that conservatives can take over, Republicans can win.
But the question is, neither of those three do think at this time that if the election were held today that in fact that would happen. So are people may be jumping the gun? Are they -- you know, counting their chickens before they are hatched?
GINGRICH: Well, I don't know -- look, I respect all three of those guys. But when you have the numbers that we are beginning to see about disapproval of the Congress. And the fact that the country overwhelming knows the Democrats run the Congress.
When we see the kind of numbers you see, where Steve Chabot in Cincinnati, the former congressman, is now 17 points ahead of the Democrat who replaced him. When you see numbers where you've got, for example, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania now ahead of Arlen Specter for the U.S. Senate seat.
I just look around and I see state after state where Democrats are having to carry the burden of bad economy. They have to carry the burden of high tax increases. They are carrying the burden of left-wing socialist policies. And the total weight of that I think is beginning to truly grind them down virtually in every state in the country.
HANNITY: All right. I have a new book coming out. I talked to you about it even before I wrote the book. And I told you that I want to -- I broke the book into three parts. How bad the president is, what worked in the past, and I have two chapters. One is about why I'm a Reagan conservative and another is how successful the contract was.
Do you think the time is right for a contract? Now you've stated in the past, you liked the idea but maybe not exactly the same thing.
GINGRICH: Yes, I think there should be some kind of contract in September, not before September. I've strongly supported the tea party effort to create a contract from America. They have a project underway online. And we've written about it in American Solutions and in my newsletter.
I want a participatory approach which is why at Healthtransformation.net tomorrow we're going to be live blogging at the Center for Health Transformation so people can be involved.
I do think come this fall, probably in mid September, there should be some kind of general contract. But here's the biggest difference, Sean. I think people are so sick of politicians' backroom deals, secret bills, bribery to incumbency at their vote, that you can't right the contract quite the way we did last time.
Because I think people want to see more process transparency. They want to know that it's going to be fair, out in the open, and that you're going to be able to see the process as it goes through.
We were doing things in a different world 16 years ago. And we could do it differently. So I think you've got to be sensitive to the fact that people now are really fed up with insider politicians doing secret things. And they're really pretty angry about it.
HANNITY: It almost takes your breath away, the arrogance, doesn't it? The fact that they're so tone deaf to the American people.
HANNITY: I can't even explain it, it's dumb politically, not only bad for the country but it's just not bright politically. I can't -- it's unexplainable to me.
GINGRICH: It's -- I don't remember ever in my lifetime, and I've been trying to think back as a historian to earlier periods. I don't remember a team that is this self-centered, this self-absorbed. This confident that they have all the answers. And therefore, this totally out of touch with the country.
I mean even Jimmy Carter at his worst was substantially more aware of the American people than the Obama, Pelosi, Reid team. And I think part of it is when they get in the room everybody in that room is a hard-line left winger. And there's no dissent. There's no real discussion.
And they're all now, I think, on a mission to do whatever it takes, even if it destroys the presidency and destroys the Congress. And Obama has said he'd rather be a one-term president who gets a lot of radical things done than be a two-term president who doesn't accomplish much.
So what we hope, of course, is he ends up being a one-term president who doesn't get much done.
HANNITY: All right, Mr. Speaker, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.
GINGRICH: Good to see you.
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