Newt Gingrich on Obama Campaign's Staff Shake-Up After 'Monster' Fallout

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 7, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: We get right to the top story tonight. The big story on the campaign trail today was the resignation of Barack Obama's foreign policy advisor Samantha Power after she referred to Senator Clinton as, quote, "a monster" during a newspaper interview. Power apologized but still resigned today after a flurry of finger pointing. We're going to have much more on the increasingly nasty back and forth between Democrats, which I like, coming up later in the show.

But we start first tonight with the former speaker of the House, FOX News contributor, author, New York Times bestseller, number three again on The New York Times bestseller list I noticed last week, Mr. Speaker. Author of "Real Change," welcome back.


Watch Segment, Part 1
Watch Segment, Part 2

HANNITY: Are you number three still?

GINGRICH: Number three, but, no, I'm just — I think when you start a show with somebody on Obama's staff referring to Senator Clinton as a monster — I mean, what are you going to do for part II? I'm waiting for Alan to explain whether monster was an inappropriate word? Is it a sexist word?

ALAN COLMES, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You never heard of good, lovable monsters?

GINGRICH: "Good lovable," there you go. Now there is a campaign slogan; vote for good lovable monster.

HANNITY: By the way, if you, Mr. Gingrich, said it or Sean Hannity, boy, we would be in big trouble today.

GINGRICH: I'm not going to say it, because I won't be allowed to stay on the show.

HANNITY: I'm not going to say it because, you know what, we're going to win this campaign. You have said this many times, keep it focused on substance, on issues, on significant differences between the two parties.

But what do you make of the following; we have the adjective monster, the pejorative "Ken Starr' that was used yesterday, of all things. I happen to admire Ken Starr myself. More importantly, this back and forth between the two campaigns, and now even a fight where Barack Obama could win the popular vote, win more delegates, and Hillary Clinton can take it through the super delegates. It's got a lot of people nervous. What do you make of what is happening?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, there are no Superdelegates. There are politician-delegates. Superdelegates is just a fancy word for politician who got the slot that they had no election rights to, but the party give it to them.

Secondly, I think they have got to revote Michigan and Florida. I don't see any way they can go into the convention in Denver in August not having had a primary in those two states that was legitimate.

HANNITY: Hillary Clinton back in September, Mr. Speaker, agreed, she was willing to disenfranchise when she thought this was all going to be wrapped up on February 5th. She was willing to go along with the DNC and disenfranchise those two states. Why should they change it now that it would benefit her?

GINGRICH: Well, it's not about her. First of all, it doesn't help her a lot. I think she is not likely to do very well in the two states. She is not going to win enough delegates from those two states to become the nominee. But I don't think a major party can go into its convention with the forth largest state in the country, Florida, and one of the largest states, Michigan, not being part of the party. I think this is crazy.

And I think that you can't accept the delegates who were elected in these false early primaries campaign, where Senator Obama didn't campaign. So, ultimately, I think in June they are going to have to have primaries in Michigan and Florida.

HANNITY: I brought this up last night and there clearly is building hostility and resentment [towards the Democratic Party]. Assuming that that scenario unfolds and they have a redo in Florida and Michigan, assuming that happens, assuming that, you know, with the 16 contests that remain that Hillary does not have an opportunity to catch up here, and that it's going to come down to these superdelegates or super-politicians, as you call them, that reminds me of smoke-filled, you know, back-door deals and donations to campaigns.

Douglas Wilder, former Virginia governor, said if that, in fact, happens — that if the superdelegates thwart the will of the Democratic primary voters that it will be worse than 1968, talking about the Chicago convention. Do you agree with that?

GINGRICH: First off, if you will just join me in calling them politician-delegates we'll delegitimize this whole phony process.

Second, I think what is going to happen is if when Senator Obama comes out of the primary, if he is still ahead of the popular votes, he is going to mass rallies in the Congressional districts of every supe delegate, all these politician-delegates. And they're going to be faced with the reality that if they vote against the will of the people, they will be primaried and defeated by the Obama forces.

He has a level of compassion, a level of organization that Senator Clinton cannot match. I don't think the Obama people are going to go home and allow a bunch of politicians steal the nomination.

COLMES: Mr. Speaker, welcome back to our show. Let's deal with the "monster" issue for a second. You know, monster is a nice word compared to some of the things conservatives have called Hillary Clinton. And, look —

HANNITY: Like what?

COLMES: Obama did the right thing. I would rather not say, even though it's cable.

But, look, Obama did the right thing. He immediately dismissed Samantha Power and said that kind of language is not acceptable in his campaign. So, it was handled...

GINGRICH: I'm proud of Senator Obama. He is exactly right. I'm a little bit surprised, Alan, that you defend the use of the word "monster" under any circumstance.

COLMES: I'm joking, obviously.

GINGRICH: I don't think Senator Clinton is a monster. I think she is a very professional, competent person who just happens to be wrong on a lot of issues.

COLMES: Well, we agree on that — we don't agree on her being wrong on a lot of issues. We agree on the competent part and that "monster" is not an appropriate wrong to use in such a context.

But let's talk about the primary issue. You talk about change. This primary system stinks. — It is just unmanageable. It's un-doable. What's wrong with having one day where everybody in the nation votes in a primary or maybe four days, each section of the country, north, south, east, west, and doing it that way? It's got to be fixed and changed.

GINGRICH: Well, I think both parties need to come together, and really talk through a new approach and strategy for primaries. I think it's very helpful to keep Iowa and New Hampshire first. I think there probably should be a gradual buildup of primaries, because I think there is something really healthy about having an opportunity for a Governor Huckabee or a Senator Obama to emerge or, for that matter, a Senator McCain, who seemed to be wiped out in September and came back by hard work in New Hampshire.

And if we did not have the current ability for under funded candidate by sheer courage to rise in Iowa and in New Hampshire, I'm not sure you would have gotten either Senator McCain or Senator Obama at this stage of the process.

COLMES: Is that because those are small states where this opportunity to really do retail politics and get to know people and campaign in a way you can't in larger states?

GINGRICH: Absolutely. And, frankly, people in Iowa and New Hampshire have done this for so long that their level of sophistication in asking questions and judging candidates — you know, in Iowa, if they have only met you four or five times, they know it's still early in the campaign. They are waiting to really get to know you before they decide.

In New Hampshire they ask everybody tough questions. I mean, they don't hold any punches back. I think that's really healthy for the American system. It frankly weeds out a number of people who on sheer money might have gotten somewhere.

COLMES: Given the fact that we are stuck with this system now, and there is such a thing called Superdelegates, for good or for worse; they are not necessarily there to reflect the popular vote. If that were the case, they wouldn't have super delegates in the first place. What should the Superdelegates do if the popular vote — if they are different than what the popular delegates do?

GINGRICH: First of all, I don't understand the rationale for the Democrats, who are supposedly the party of the people, to have 500 and some politician who get to be the deciding factor, rather than the people in the primaries.

In the second place, I would suggest to you that a lot of these politicians better pay careful attention back home, because if they have a lot of pressure from back home, they better go with the senator who carried their area or they're going to face trouble.

COLMES: I guess that means Ted Kennedy has to go for Hillary Clinton and so does John Kerry, right?

GINGRICH: I don't think so those guys will be in trouble under any circumstance.

COLMES: We will take a quick break. More with Newt Gingrich after that break.


COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." We now continue with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, the is reporting that the Republican National Committee has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate. And, it's a secretive effort, which, of course, underscores, as they report, the risk senior GOP operatives see for a party criticized for insensitivity to minorities in campaigns going back to the 1960's. Those are the Politico's words, not mine.

You talk about Democrats going at each other's throats. One of them is going to face Republicans really attacking them, right, according to this?

GINGRICH: But I don't — look, I don't know that they are going to be really attacking them in the personality sense. Frankly, they would be professionally irresponsible if they didn't ask the two obvious questions, which is, if Senator Obama ends up as the nominee, how do you deal with a candidate of African-American background, and if Senator Clinton is up as the nominee, how do you deal with a woman in that kind of race?

I mean, if they are not studying that and asking that, they are being totally irresponsible professionally. But, I think, as Sean pointed out earlier, the big issues in this campaign, do you help a weak economy by raising taxes or do you do other things? Do you defeat evil in the Middle East by withdrawing and surrendering or do you need a different strategy? Is bigger government a better answer to the environment or is entrepreneurship and creativity?

I mean, I think we need — I think the Republicans have got to decide that they are going to wage a campaign of very big choices in which they offer "Real Change" in a fundamentally different way than Democrats. If they try to get down to some kind of nit-picking, negative personality focused campaign, they will just get beat.

COLMES: And why even bring up the issue of race or gender? Why introduce that as an item to discuss in terms of what boundaries one can have, when the best thing to do would be to not bring those issues up at all in a decent campaign.

GINGRICH: First of all, in a decent campaign, if you are going to end up debating Senator Clinton, you better think through the body language and the approach necessary dealing with a woman candidate, because it's objectively different than dealing with a male candidate. I think there are things — people expect a level of civility, a level of respect. I think there are things can you could do to a male candidate that you can't do to a female candidate.

I think that's objectively true, Alan. I don't think this is about — you know, it's not about trying to figure out some kind of clever device, you know, to defeat them. It's trying to figure out what's the best way in this setting, with this candidate to run our campaign.

HANNITY: Hey, Mr. Speaker, can't we say we learned a lot from the mistakes of the Hillary campaign running against Barack Obama? The Drudge Report, getting this picture of Barack Obama in Kenya. We have Governor Shaheen's husband raising the suggestion of, well, did he sell drugs? Bob Kerrey, her supporter, using his middle name Barack Hussein Obama. These were all used by Hillary Clinton at a time when she wasn't winning. So I don't even see a need for polling on this. We already learned the lesson, didn't we?

GINGRICH: I think in terms of dealing with Senator Obama, the more we engage him on the high road and we offer a real choice between somebody who National Journal today said was the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate —now if you can't draw a clear, philosophical contest between the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate and the Republican nominee, you are not doing your business.

HANNITY: I actually think, for example, what we are doing on "Hannity's America" and we will tell people about it later — we are expanding the narrative about who Barack Obama is and we are looking into the relationship withf this controversial pastor. We are looking into the "friendly" relationship he has with this guy that was part of the controversial group the Weather Underground. I think that's all part of getting to know a candidate that has not been vetted very well. So, I think that's more the media's job. They haven't done their job. Ed Rendell suggests it would be a dream ticket, and it's conventional wisdom, if the two candidates aligned together. Do you agree they would be unbeatable?

GINGRICH: No, I don't know that they would be unbeatable. I wouldn't be too shocked to see — if Senator Clinton becomes the nominee, I wouldn't be too shocked to see her pick Senator Obama. I would be a little surprised to see him pick her as the vice presidential nominee. It's a very different psychological situation.

But look, I think either Senator McCain is going to make the case that a lower tax, smaller government, more entrepreneurial America is the right approach or he is not. If he does, he is going to win the election. If he doesn't, he is going to lose the election. It's that straight.

HANNITY: I also think — I agree with you that Senator McCain and his campaign, they should focus entirely on issues. And I think he's actually gone out of his way to make sure that that's where the focus of his campaign is. But I also think there's a role — we examined, for example, in 2004, at length, with specificity — we interviewed the Swift Boat Vets for Truth and they told a very interesting story about Senator Kerry.

We went back and listened to his attacks, accusing his fellow soldiers in Vietnam of murdering and raping and cutting off limbs in the fashion of Ghengis Khan, as he called them. I think these issues are important. But I don't think the campaign should be involved in them. I think that's something we should be doing.

GINGRICH: There is a difference. Look, the news media, whether they are left or right — the news media has an obligation to thoroughly investigate any person who is on the edge of becoming president. It is utterly irresponsible to give the level of power we give the presidency to somebody who's unknown. We did it once with Jimmy Carter. It was a terrible mistake and we shouldn't do it again.

HANNITY: I agree. We'll have these investigative reports about his associations with his controversial pastor and the Weather Underground Sunday night on "Hannity's America" and we will see you then, Mr. Speaker, talking about Ronald Reagan's two important speeches, so thanks for being with us.

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