Newt's Take: Health Care Transparency on C-SPAN and the True Meaning of the Mass. Senate Race

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 13, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich agrees with President Obama! But there's a big catch. The Speaker says he supports candidate Obama's promise to put health care talks on C-SPAN. In fact, the Speaker has a petition he wants to talk about. What's it all about? Speaker Gingrich joins us live. And you can sign up to get the Speaker's free weekly newsletter at

So Mr. Speaker, what is it that you agree with him on C-SPAN?

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, President Obama, when he was a candidate, on at least eight different occasions said that he thought that negotiations like the health bill that they're trying to negotiate right now should be out in the open, available to the public. And he specifically said they should be on C-SPAN.

So when Brian Lam, the head of C-SPAN, offered to cover the negotiations, I thought it would be great for the president to keep his word. You know, he didn't just say this one time. There were at least eight occasions during the campaign where he specifically mentioned C-SPAN and said that they ought to be in the room, covering it. And he went on to say that they would shame the politicians against making really bad deals because everybody back home would see them.

So I think if you look at -- I think Drudge has all eight of them. And I think they're also on YouTube. When you look at it again and again and again, candidate Obama saying these will all be on C-SPAN, it's pretty hard to imagine how they're justifying in the White House not keeping his commitment and his word on something this simple and this direct.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if that is distressing to you -- I wish I had put this up on the screen. It's a statement that has just released from the White House. President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Harry Reid today - - they met at the White House for a number of hours. And the statement is -- it's almost -- it's positively ridiculous. It says that they made significant progress, doesn't tell you what it is. They repeat that they're making progress, don't tell you what it is. They said they met from 10:30 AM until approximately 6:40 AM (SIC), don't say what happened. They did say lunch was served. That was my favorite part of the statement.

But the fact that they issued this statement as to try to tell us what was going on behind closed doors today is absolutely appalling. I mean, bad enough we don't get C-SPAN, but they release these statement like we're idiots!

GINGRICH: Well, and -- I mean, it's all kind of strange. You know, Congressman Vern Buchanan has introduced a resolution to call on the Congress to have the hearing -- the negotiations on C-SPAN in public. I think that's going to start circulating tomorrow morning. And hopefully, every member will sign it. If they can get about 50 Democrats to join the Republicans in signing it, they can force a vote. It's called a discharge petition.

In addition, we have at the Center for Health Transformation -- you can go to -- we have a letter to the president that several thousand people have now signed, asking the president to keep his commitment.

But I agree with the way you just described it. You have a 2,000-page bill in the House, a 2,500-page bill in the Senate. They're now being merged, chopped up, cut and pasted. Nobody in the country knows what's going on. Nobody knows whether these bills are getting better, getting worse, how they would interact with each other.

Trying to write life and death for the American people and 17 percent of the economy in a secret series of meetings is a very bad way to do business, and I think -- and particularly painful, given that the president personally made the commitment over and over again that we'd be allowed to see it on C-SPAN. Now, he's the one who set the standard. So it's his standard that he's failing to live up to, not anybody else's.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you should see the guest list from this meeting today. Of course, there were no (ph) Democrats. And we even met with Congressman Roe yesterday from Tennessee. He seems like a -- he's a very likable, nice guy, moderate Republican, I guess. I mean, he's (INAUDIBLE) mild-mannered. And he said he'd love to -- he's a doctor. He'd love to talk to them, but he's not on this list.

But we're going to take a quick break. Mr. Speaker, if you'll just stand by, because we have much more with you in two minutes.

And next: This is huge. Do the Democrats have a secret plan even if the Republican candidate wins Senator Kennedy's open seat in Massachusetts? Speaker Gingrich we think is suspicious there's a secret plan.

Plus, the hottest tape making the biggest headlines! Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin face to face at last! And Conan O'Brien lashing out at NBC. We are back in two minutes.


VAN SUSTEREN: The eyes of the country are on Massachusetts, and we are days away from the special election to fill the late Senator Kennedy's seat, and it is still anyone's race. The stakes could not be higher. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid's filibuster-proof majority hangs in the balance. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says the election (INAUDIBLE) more than Massachusetts. Speaker Gingrich is back.

Now, Mr. Speaker, before I get to Massachusetts, there is a headline on which reads as follows. It says "Gingrich considers himself GOP prospect for 2012 presidential election." It then goes on to quote you saying, "I think I'm probably on a list of seven or eight possible candidates at this stage." Is that a correct quote?

GINGRICH: Well, I was asked, if had you a list of seven or eight, would I be on it, and I said sure. But I mean, a list of seven or eight, you know, you could also throw in Jay Leno and three other people who are looking for a job. I mean, the fact is that it doesn't have any meaning except to be in a headline on FOX News.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. OK. Well, I couldn't let that one slide by. All right. Now let's -- let's zip over to Massachusetts. What's going on there? And is -- you know, is this really a national election or is it a state election?

GINGRICH: No, it's become a national election because the Democrat, who should have been winning very handily, suddenly finds herself in a 2- point race. And we're in a situation where the Republican actually now raised, I think yesterday, $1.3 million in one day on the Internet.

And I think that's because everybody in the country who wants to stop the health bill has figured out that the best place now to draw a line in the sand is Massachusetts. This is, after all, Senator Teddy Kennedy's seat, historically was won by enormous margins. It's pretty clear now it's going to be either a very close race, or if the Democrat can't excite people, you could actually have a much higher turnout among both Republicans, but also moderate Democrats, an awful lot of moderate Democrats in Massachusetts who are opposed to higher taxes, bigger spending, et cetera.

And so you could end up with a very, very significant number of people turning out on the "stop the health bill" side. And you could certainly have one of the -- this would be historically one of the most amazing outcomes in modern times.

VAN SUSTEREN: If -- let's just say, hypothetically -- it's a 2-point race at this point. And I realize the margin of error -- and a lot can happen -- even a lot can happen between now and Tuesday. But in the event that the Republican candidate does win, do you suspect that there will be any sort of effort to delay the swearing-in of him, you know, to try to get the health care bill vote before he gets sworn in? Do you believe that there's any sort of effort or the Democrats would do that?

GINGRICH: Look, I'm sure that there's some very clever staff trying to figure out some technique. There's been talk that the secretary of state in Massachusetts would hold up the papers for 10 days. If the earthquake happens and if you have this sudden, stunning, unbelievable result, I think it would be impossible for the Democrats in the Senate, for the president to block the seating of the Republican candidate. I think the country wouldn't stand for it.

This would be an enormous shock to the entire system. It's -- if you'd have asked me three weeks ago, I'd have said it was inconceivable. And yet now what we're finding is people all over the country are calling their friends in Massachusetts. People in Massachusetts are paying careful attention. Apparently, the Democrat lost the debate last night by a huge margin and just didn't perform very well -- or the night before last did -- not perform very well at all.

And the result is, suddenly, you have a race where Tuesday night next week, if this stays this close, virtually every politically active person in the country is going to be watching the election returns from Massachusetts. The next morning, Wednesday, if the Republican wins, you suddenly have a brand-new face, clearly against the bill. And there will be no moral case for the Democrats to try to hold onto that 60th vote.

At that point, the fact is the health bill is dead. How they would ever figure out a way to resurrect it is beyond me, if, in fact, they lose next Tuesday. Now, again, it's still an uphill race. Every union in the country is going to be pouring money in. Many special interest groups who want the health bill are going to be pouring money in. I think you're going to see a desperate last effort by the Democrats, who do now realize they're in real trouble.

But I do think that the voters may just be deciding to send a signal to Washington, and if they turn out and they decide this is the time to send a message to Washington, that message is going to be heard very, very loud and very clear.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, what I think is hurting Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate, is the $300 million paid to Nebraska. I think that so outraged people that it's sort of -- I think that that is something that she probably wished didn't happen because I bet there's somewhat of a backlash to her in Massachusetts because it was so appalling. It looked terrible. Even if it's already -- always done, that votes are -- you know, that things happen to get votes in the Senate, I think -- I think that disturbed people.

GINGRICH: Well, I think there's a general sense that there is something fundamentally wrong about this entire process. When you look at all the different deals -- there was $100 million dropped in one point for a hospital in Connecticut. I assume that that was for Senator Dodd. There's this multi-billion dollar deal that affects a number of other states. You had Bill Nelson got a special deal that I think is literally unworkable for a Medicare Advantage in Florida that didn't apply anywhere else in the country and didn't apply to any new Floridians after this year.

And you go through -- if you really go through the Senate bill with a fine-toothed comb, it's staggering how many special deals there were. And that's part of why this secret negotiation is wrong because we have no idea what's in, what's out, what's been added to this bill in these secret negotiations in the White House.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that statement sure didn't help, but I'm going to post the statement on GretaWire because I think it's so bad, it's funny. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, thank you, sir.

GINGRICH: Always good to be with you.

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