This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 13, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Impact" segment tonight, just about every national poll this week has President Bush (search) at his lowest level job approval wise ever. Katrina, Iraq (search), gas prices, and the border have all damaged the president.
Joining us now from Washington is FOX News political analyst Newt Gingrich.
Well, Mr. Bush did a Harry Truman (search) today and said that he's taking full responsibility for the slow response and the screw- up on all levels of Katrina. Was that a smart thing to do?
NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it was tremendous both morally to have the president step up and say look, it isn't working, and be honest about it. And also, it's the right thing to do for the country and for politics.
This is pretty obvious it didn't work. I think to have the president get out front and say we're going to fix it, which really gives, I think, the Congress, the governors, and the country a chance to offer their ideas of what a fix is, I thought it was a tremendous thing for him to do. And I'm very proud of him for doing it.
O'REILLY: How about Brown resigning, the head of FEMA (search)? Were you happy with that? Was that necessary? Or is this guy just a scapegoat?
GINGRICH: Sure. No, I think it was sadly necessary. You know, I think that by itself it doesn't fix anything, but I think it was probably unavoidable to bring in the admiral and have them start to work on that particular problem.
And I think you'll see the president, you know, the president now has an enormous opportunity to lead the country in changing a lot of things. And I think that if this becomes a wake-up call, he could by next spring be in a stronger position than ever.
O'REILLY: Well, that's what Morris says.
GINGRICH: And a lot of his critics could be surprised.
O'REILLY: That's what Morris says. Morris is now — and Thursday night, the president's going to talk to the nation about what they're doing. And Morris has recovered.
I'm skeptical because if I'm on the other side of the aisle, I'm saying look, wake-up call? It takes them four years to wake up after 9/11 (search) and we still don't have protection. You know, you got Iraq. That's still chaotic. You got this.
And it's about performance. And the performance you can make I think a legitimate case isn't there at the executive level.
GINGRICH: And I think, Bill, if that's still true next summer, then the Republicans are in trouble.
On the other hand, if the president leads the federal government in a substantial period of inventing new solutions, changing bureaucracies, getting things done, having effective construction on the Gulf Coast (search) by next summer, people are saying this is a heck of a leader. And he actually pulled it off.
And if by next summer, Iraq is substantially calmer, and we're beginning to win that struggle for democracy in Iraq, again, I think people could look up and say there's a lot more here than I thought.
O'REILLY: All right. I think you might be a little hopeful here, but you're a Republican. And.
GINGRICH: Well, let's wait a second, Bill.
O'REILLY: Who, whoa, whoa wait. You know, look. This is my problem with not only Mr. Bush, with all politicians. They should be held like the New York Yankee pitching staff, accountable for how they perform on the field.
You got a border situation that's absolutely out of control four years after we're hit, OK? You got Iraq, which is not — it may turn around, I'm praying it turns around. I'm rooting it turns around. I think if it does turn around, it will be great for this country, OK. But it's dicey. You got a storm that the homeland security office simply couldn't handle. How many more chances do you get?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, there are two different questions here. I agree with your analysis that the system isn't working, and that the president right now is in a hole. He's going to have to dig himself out of it.
You asked me could he. And all I'm reporting to you is I served with Ronald Reagan (search) when he was at 39 percent approval. And people thought he'd lost his touch. And they thought he was going to be a one-term president. They thought this anti-Soviet empire stuff was crazy.
He came back, won a landslide victory in 49 states. The Soviet Union (search) disappeared. We look back and think he's an historic figure.
George W. Bush (search) right this minute has an opportunity to focus his administration to work with the Republicans in the House and Senate. And a year from now to be stronger than ever.
He also has an opportunity to let the bureaucracies drift onward exactly as you've described, to fail to solve the border, to not have an effective answer on gasoline, to not get Iraq mopped up, and to not fix the Gulf Coast, in which case frankly the Republicans are in big trouble next year.
O'REILLY: All right. So this is the tipping point, to use a cliché, in his administration right now.
GINGRICH: Absolutely. Absolutely.
O'REILLY: He's either got to do it or he goes down into Warren Harding (search), James Buchanan (search) territory, Jimmy Carter (search) territory.
GINGRICH: Well, you know, somebody told me many years ago that a pitcher always has an advantage in baseball, even at 3-2, because he knows what he's going to do. Presidents have huge ability to recover. But this is a very important crossroads for this president.
O'REILLY: All right. Now we're going to talk with the speaker about the John Roberts shootout today. And that'll be in a moment. And also ahead, another newspaper says no to tough mandatory prison terms for child sexual offenders. We'll find out why coming up.
O'REILLY: Continuing now with Newt Gingrich from Washington. The John Roberts (search) supreme court hearings resumed today in D.C.
I want to give the speaker one plug here. He's going to be at Naperville, Illinois, Anderson's Bookstore Sunday 3:00 to 4:30 in the afternoon signing his myriad of books, right? That's where you're going to be and all that?
GINGRICH: I'll be there.
O'REILLY: OK. Now today was Senator Biden from Delaware, his turn, to you know — I don't know what they're doing. They know that Roberts is too slick and smart to answer specifically any questions about how he feels about abortion or anything else. He's not going to answer those questions.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (search) didn't answer them. Nobody answers them. Yet they continued to ask. Total waste of time, in your opinion?
GINGRICH: Well, I think largely it was a waste of time. I think, I never quite understand why some senators use the style they use.
You know, Judge Roberts strikes me as somebody who comes across as so balanced and so reasonable and so thoughtful that I wouldn't particularly want to tangle with him and think that I'm going to necessarily win up, you know, come out on the high side of it.
And I think a couple of senators made some real mistakes in the way they approached him. This is a guy who kind of exudes a sense of confidence, of balance, of restraint. And I think that he gained strength with the country in the course of these hearings.
O'REILLY: But the ideologues — now Biden tried to be a tough guy today. You know, he's saying he doesn't — he's not answering the questions, his answers are misleading. You know, the tough guy Biden is too afraid to appear on this broadcast. So I want everybody to know that.
But Biden's questions were like eight minutes long.
GINGRICH: Oh, I...
O'REILLY: Go ahead.
GINGRICH: Bill, I just have to tell you, you are a lot tougher than Judge Roberts. And I think Biden tangling with Roberts is nothing at all like Biden trying to tangle with you.
O'REILLY: Well, I mean, we've invited him dozens of times. He's afraid. He's afraid. But he's running for president and he wanted to grandstand. That's what he wanted to do.
GINGRICH: But my sense was it actually backfired. I have known Joe for years. And I think that kind of eight-minute question actually doesn't work on television. I think it made him look, you know, like it was too much about Joe Biden (search) and not enough about Judge Roberts.
O'REILLY: Well, even Specter was making fun of Biden, so I think you're right. Now in the end, Roberts is a lock at this point, correct?
GINGRICH: Oh, I think unless something amazing happens, I think he's clearly going to win. I wouldn't be surprised to see him be confirmed with as many as 70 votes.
O'REILLY: So you think that Democrats like Hillary Clinton (search) are not going to burn up currency with the moderate center by opposing a guy who's clearly coming across as a thoughtful, patriotic American?
GINGRICH: I think the average American's going to say, you know, Chief Justice Rehnquist was a solid conservative. This was his law clerk many years ago. He's a solid judge. He comes across as a smart, even a funny guy in his memos. And what's the grounds for opposing him?
Now if you're the hard left, if you're Chuck Schumer (search) or you're somebody who represents the left wing of American politics, you kind of have to vote no because otherwise you can't go out to the fundraisers.
But I think a lot of moderate Democrats are going to say, you know, I want to give this one to the president. Keep my powder dry for the next fight and see who he nominates to replace Sandra Day O'Connor (search).
O'REILLY: Now is this going to matter for the country, John Roberts? Real quick, we got 30 seconds. Is this going to matter?
GINGRICH: Yes, I do think that the chief justice of the Supreme Court (search) sets a tone. I think this is a relatively young justice who is going to be around for a long time. And my guess is he's going to lead a very reasonable, responsible, and restrained court.
O'REILLY: OK, Mr. Speaker, as always, thank you very much.
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