Gingrich Fires Back at 'Gotcha Questions' in Republican Debate

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 11, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


NEWT GINGRICH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd love to see the rest of tonight's debate asking us about what we would do to lead an America whose president has failed to lead, instead of playing Mickey Mouse games!


CHRIS WALLACE, MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, if you think questions about your records are Mickey Mouse, I'm sorry. I think those are questions that a lot of people want to hear answers to, and you're responsible for your record, sir.


GINGRICH: Well, if I get a rebuttal.

WALLACE: Pardon?

GINGRICH: I think that there's too much attention paid by the press corps about the campaign minutiae and not enough paid by the press corps to the basic ideas that distinguish us from Barack Obama!


HANNITY: And welcome back to this special post-debate edition of "Hannity." We're in Ames, Iowa. You just heard from former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who was, well, never too shy to criticize the policies of President Barack Obama. Tonight, it was the moderators of the debate who got a, well, taste of his answers.

Anyway, speaker of the House -- former speaker joins us. How are you?

GINGRICH: Great to be with you.

HANNITY: All right, things a little heated out there. You know, it was interesting because Joe Trippi thought this was a "Where's the beef" moment with Mondale, and it reminded me a little bit of, you know, "I paid for this microphone." And you know, you really seemed to think, wait a minute, why are we talking about this when we've got to talk about the substance? You're not happy.

GINGRICH: Well, you know, what made it different was when Bret opened the show, he said, we want you to put aside your talking points. We want you to have a conversation about what you'd really do. And I wrote that down and I wrote right under it, then we want you to quit gotcha questions, because I knew that sooner or later, it would happen. I didn't know who would do it. But I just knew it had -- it's part of the Washington culture.


GINGRICH: And so I was prepared to say -- I mean, I really do think we're in desperate trouble as a country, and we do need a serious national conversation. And gotcha kind of questions disrupt and slow down the flow of really trying to find solutions.

HANNITY: You know, I don't mind hard questions. I think they're important. As I was watching tonight's debate, you know what ran through my mind? In all the time that President Obama ran, he didn't experience one of these moments...

GINGRICH: That's right.

HANNITY: ... that I can really think of. So it's -- the double standard is clear. Tonight was very interesting from a standpoint -- Frank Luntz characterized it that you won the battle tonight. So that...

GINGRICH: Well, the country will decide that.

HANNITY: OK, the country's going to decide. But that's what he said. But it was very interesting because I thought tonight you had an opportunity to lay out your record, your past, your solutions. So I think, eventually, you did get your substance in as it relates to these issues. How bad is it, and how soon could it be fixed, meaning the economy.

GINGRICH: Well, I think it's terrible. I think Congress ought to come back in next Monday. I think this 12-person committee's a disaster. That leaves 523 senators and congressmen basically sitting to one side until Thanksgiving. I think they should change the whole approach.

I would repeal the Dodd-Frank bill on Monday. I'd repeal Sarbanes- Oxley on Tuesday. I'd open up the Gulf and other federal areas for oil and gas exploration on Wednesday. I would apply Lean Six Sigma to the entire federal government, have every subcommittee in the Congress hold hearings on how to modernize the government.

Mike George, who developed it, thinks it could save $500 billion a year. That's more over 10 years than the assignment of the "Gang of 12." I am -- I can't tell you -- being out here, Iowa, Georgia, New Hampshire, South Carolina -- being with people who are not part of the daily Washington process -- I am so fed up with politics as usual. And I think, having been speaker and having done a lot of this, served for 20 years, I respect how hard it is, but there's something profoundly wrong with how Washington is working right now in both parties.

HANNITY: Are you saying that the Republican leadership in the House on their own should come back, get to work...

GINGRICH: Sure. Do it.

HANNITY: ... pass all these bills and lay it right on the Senate?

GINGRICH: Sure. If the House Republicans came back Monday and began doing this stuff, and since not a single Republican voted for Dodd-Frank last year, it should be pretty easy to repeal it.



GINGRICH: And then say -- and then said to the Senate Democrats, Do you want to come help fix the economy or do you want to stay home on vacation?

HANNITY: I agree with you. I think it would be a brilliant political move, but more importantly, good for the country because...


HANNITY: It's -- yes?

GINGRICH: You know, you and I are fortunate. God's been very good to us. We've both been relatively successful. There are 14 million unemployed Americans...

HANNITY: Right now.

GINGRICH: There are 10 million more who are underemployed or who have quit looking for work. We have the largest number of Americans on food stamps in American history. That's a level of pain that the political leadership, if it was sensitive to the country, would be coming back and doing something about.

And that's why I -- I didn't close by saying, "Vote for Newt Gingrich for president." I closed by saying, it's -- you know, it's 15 months to the presidential election. What are you going to do Monday to help this country?

HANNITY: Well, President Obama's going to Martha's Vineyard for 10 days.

GINGRICH: He ought to cancel the vacation, period.

HANNITY: I agree. I think -- look, I have people calling my show, people with degrees and backgrounds and experience that have lost their job. Their homes are underwater. Their investments now have -- we've lost billions of dollars in the stock market. And these guys are on vacation for a month? And he's on vacation 10 days? I don't take a 10-day vacation!

GINGRICH: And by the way, the Blue Dog Democrats...

HANNITY: Most people don't take a 10-day -- who takes a 10-day vacation?

GINGRICH: Well, the Blue Dog Democrats, about 15 of them, sent a letter today asking...

HANNITY: To come back!

GINGRICH: ... asking to come back. So you could have a bipartisan coalition...

HANNITY: Says, let's get the job done!

GINGRICH: ... that says, let's get the job done. And don't worry about Nancy Pelosi. We know she'll be a no. Don't worry about the three people she appointed to the "Gang of 12." We know they'll be a no. But you might find 30 or 40 Democrats who are prepared to vote for an American energy plan. There were six Democratic senators who were going to sign the letter to the president saying they want to get energy in their own states.

HANNITY: Do you like the "Penny Plan" by Connie Mack? I haven't had a chance...

GINGRICH: I think it's a start. I think there are pieces to it that are a little bit gimmicky, but I think his idea is basically right. You set a standard, you take a penny a year, one percent, you force...

HANNITY: Baseline the budget, no more increases...

GINGRICH: No baseline. You eliminate the baseline and say...

HANNITY: Exactly.

GINGRICH: ... an increase is an increase. I mean, I tell -- I told you on your radio show one day, imagine your kids talked you into a deal so they had a baseline allowance. If it didn't go up $20 a month, you were cutting it.

HANNITY: Yes! Exactly!

GINGRICH: You know, that's how...

HANNITY: That's how Washington works!

GINGRICH: The Congressional Budget Office was invented by liberal Democrats in 1974 for the purpose of growing big government and it succeeded.

HANNITY: All right. Mr. Speaker, we will...

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

HANNITY: ... see you again soon. Thanks for being with us.

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