Gingrich's Take: Public Option's Failure in the Senate, Iran, Honduras, Afghanistan and More

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 29, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A stunner - the Democratic push to get a public option in the Senate bill is killed - and get this, it was killed because Democrats voted against it. Are the Democrats fighting each other now? Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us live.

I mean, they owned the House, they own the Senate, they own the White House, and now they are having a hard time agreeing.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, look - first of all, they clearly have been overreaching. They have been trying to impose on the American people something they don't want. Every poll has said that, virtually every town hall meeting in August said that, and I think that the Liberal or either Democratic Party just couldn't help itself, and so when they got to the Senate Markup, they brought up first a - a proposal by Senator Rockefeller, which was defeated decisively, and an amazing number of Democrats who voted no, and I think it puts them in a position where there's a clear signal to the House Democrats that unless you're suicidal, you're going to drop this because why would a marginal House Democratic member vote for a government option in the House knowing that it is absolutely dead in the Senate?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, some of the members of the House said, though, they will not vote for a bill that does not contain the public option. So, that's - you know, if suddenly they have thrown in the towel and go, "Oops, never mind."

N. GINGRICH: Well, the challenge that Speaker Pelosi has is that the socialist wing of the Democratic Party, the Henry Waxmans, the Barney Franks, you know, this is their chance. Some of them have been there - I think Waxman's been there 37 years. Finally, he has a big enough majority, he has a Democratic president, he has a big economic crisis. He thinks to himself the time for socialism has finally arrived. Let's get a big government health plan.

Now, ironically, in this morning's New York Times, page one, was a leads story that said socialism in Europe is reeling in defeat. All across Europe, people are voting against socialism. The German Socialist Party just had its worst result since 1953 on Sunday, and maybe there's a message here for the left wing of the Democratic Party.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there might be a message, but even Speaker Pelosi, she's got a problem if she's got someone her - in her House that want - that will not for her without the public option, and she has some who are more moderate, more conservative - I mean, she's still got to, you know, to rally the troops. She's still got to get it to pass.

N. GINGRICH: Well, here - here is the crisis that they're going to be in in the near future if this continues. They have a slight majority of the Democratic caucus who are very far to the left, but they're clearly a minority of the House. So she's got to decide at some point, and the president, more importantly, has to decide how is he going to - If he can't get the left wing of the Democratic Party because - because he can't get a government program, is he willing to actually reach out to Republicans, to try to get Republicans and moderate Democrats to create a majority?

Now, that's how we govern when I was junior member, and we had the Reagan tax program, and the Democrats had a majority, but enough Democrats voted with us that you had a bipartisan majority beat the left wing Democrats.

VAN SUSTEREN: There's a - but there's - if that happens, and let's say the government option's off the table and that some watered-down, modified bill does pass, but now with all the Democrats will champion in the last few months and especially with the government option, does that make them - did they lose? Or - or do they still say, look, you know, we did get some health care reform in this country. But I mean, they have - they've put all their eggs in the basket on this and some other parts of it.

N. GINGRICH: First of all. They've put an amazing number of eggs in this basket, and when you have - even the New York Times on Friday said that Medicare Advantage senior citizens would lose over 50 percent of their added value on Medicare under the Baucus plan. I mean, that is a staggering number, which explains why only 16 percent of senior citizens favor the plan.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which explains also why - if that happens and you're going to lose, you know, lose - Senator Bill Nelson's seat in Florida, with all the seniors. He's a Democrat. I mean, there's a huge political cost for many of these - many of people.

N. GINGRICH: So presuming from how the American system works and people in the Congress were actually elected by the people and therefore, actually, in the end, after a lot of kicking and screaming, do listen to the people. The challenge the president leaning - it's back from the Olympics, and the speaker are going to have this - to sit in a room and decide, all right, we cannot pass the left wing bill, and we can't pass a non-left wing bill with only Democrats. So all we.

VAN SUSTEREN: And the (INAUDIBLE) will be mad too, if they do that. I mean.

N. GINGRICH: That's right. And they.

VAN SUSTEREN: And plus you're going to enrage the - enraged people say you have abandoned us.

N. GINGRICH: That's exactly the challenge they're going to face is - And frankly, I suspect left wing Democrats, after today's votes, are stunned at how many Democrats voted no on the government option.

VAN SUSTEREN: And they're stunned about the GTMO, which is another discussion because now we understand that GTMO is a big deal to a lot of Democrats, and now GTMO is not going to be closed in January. So there are a lot of sort of stunning events.

N. GINGRICH: And Afghanistan. So the president's feeling probably almost as much heat from his left as he is from the right.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Iran. What in the world is the point of this meeting that's coming up this week if the Iranians say that they're not going to talk about putting their nuclear uranium enrichment plant on the table, a nuclear weapons premise - What are they talking (ph), tourist trade? I mean, what - what's the point.

N. GINGRICH: Let me make two points about Iran. The first is it's very clear that the Americans and the French and the British knew before the UN last week that the Iranians have been lying.

VAN SUSTEREN: It went back to the President Bush administration.

N. GINGRICH: Well, that they knew that the Iranians have been lying, yet they don't confront them at the UN, they don't announce it on Monday. The president doesn't talk about it in his speech at the UN, they don't discuss it - I mean, they had this entire phony UN Security Council Meeting on nuclear disarmament, they don't mention it there.


N. GINGRICH: They wander.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was it stunt?

N. GINGRICH: They wander off to Pittsburgh. I mean, why would you go to Pittsburgh to announce that Iran has a second nuclear program.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did - why did it happen? I mean we'll talk later about President Sarkozy of France who's really - he's mad that it wasn't discussed at the - at the UN Security Council.

N. GINGRICH: He's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: But what - what was the point of pushing it off to - to Pittsburgh?

N. GINGRICH: You'd have to ask the White House.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, why did it take so long?

N. GINGRICH: You'd have to ask the White House. But now notice - so now, faced with the objective fact that the Iranians have been running a secret second program and lying about it, faced with a deadline in Iran, faced with 9.7 percent unemployment - where is the president? He's in Copenhagen, on behalf of Mayor Daley, trying to get the Olympics.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, that's a whole other area this week. But let me ask you about this - this meeting that's coming up with the Security Council plus Germany in Geneva this week about Iran. The whole point of it, as I understood it, was to discuss Iran's nuclear weapons program, which they have denied but we know exist. Iran now comes out today and says we're not talking about it. It's non-negotiable. So can you tell me the point of this meeting?

N. GINGRICH: I think unless the United States is prepared to cut off gasoline supplies to Iran and basically force the regime into a crisis, there's nothing we're going to do that matters. That's all - it's all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can we do that - can we solo on that or do we (INAUDIBLE) with China and Russia?

N. GINGRICH: If we're serious about it we can solo. We have the only global navy on the planet. I mean, if we say one morning there will be no gasoline tankers getting into Iran, then there'll be no gasoline - we'll have to be able to say to the Russians and China, it's, you know.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I mean, that's really provocative, but on the - I mean, they were also.

N. GINGRICH: It is what John F. Kennedy did.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they were also quite provocative by firing the - the missiles on Monday, Iran. So, all right, I'm going to put you on the White House. What would you do?

N. GINGRICH: I - you know, if I'm (ph) maybe in the White House, if I were asked for advice by the current president of the United States, I would say you have a problem in Iran that will only be fixed with a new regime. This dictatorship is dedicated to nuclear weapons, it is dedicated to terrorism, it is doing everything it can publicly to humiliate you. It's showing you every way it can that it disgraces (ph) you, and any diplomatic game would make you look weaker and would give them more time to strengthen their position.

VAN SUSTEREN: So the meeting this week is what? What's the word to describe it?

N. GINGRICH: It depends on what - If the meeting this week comes out as a normal, State Department-led talk fest, it will be pathetic and will resemble the democracies in the 1930s who did nothing while the dictatorships gathered momentum.

VAN SUSTEREN: So is this a talk fest and it's pathetic? What's your prediction?

N. GINGRICH: I think it - unless they are prepared to - to disrupt the gasoline supplies, there is nothing they can do to the Iranians that has any real meaning.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And we'll switch gears to Honduras, this part - this neck of the woods in Latin America. What about the situation in Honduras? Is that - is that big deal or not?

N. GINGRICH: I think it's a very big deal because, you know, as a lawyer, the Honduras Supreme Court followed the Honduran constitution. Zelaya is in fact the president of the country, was in fact trying to become a strong man in the Chavez tradition. The Honduran constitution specifically blocks that from happening and says if you try to extend your term, you automatically have to resign.

The Supreme Court voted 15 to 0, with the majority of the court coming from Zelaya's party. The person who is appointed the interim president was the Speaker of the House from Zelaya's party, properly announced he would not run. They're going to have elections this fall which will be more honest than Afghanistan, more honest than Iran, more honest than Venezuela, and actually, (INAUDIBLE) has been bizarre.

VAN SUSTEREN: So why - why is the United States backing Zelaya, who is currently hiding out in the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras? Why - why - if it's as you say?

N. GINGRICH: Because the sympathy for the left in this administration is unending, and the fact is Zelaya is the Castro, Chavez candidate to be the strong man of Honduras. The fact is in Nicaragua, Somoza's trying to change the constitution so he can be a lifetime leader like Chavez, and you're seeing the redictatorship of Latin America from the left, from people who are both anti-American and anti-rule of law.

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