Gingrich Gaining Ground in Iowa

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: We are just less than two months away from the Iowa caucuses and this weekend GOP presidential hopefuls, New Gingrich and Herman Cain, they went one on one in a debate modeled after the Lincoln-Douglas debate from 1858. While both men disagreed at times, well, there was one issue that remained indisputable, that President Obama must be a one-term president. Listen to what the former speaker had to say.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have today a president and compare him to Ronald Reagan who told the truth, it's a great book called "The Education of Ronald Reagan" and lessons he learned at General Electric. And compare Reagan's ability to talk directly to the American people, make sense and have the American people move the Congress with the current president. This president is about as candid and accurate as Bernie Madoff in what he tells the American people.


HANNITY: Ouch. And according to a new Insider Advantage survey, Gingrich continues to climb in the polls in Iowa. Herman Cain is still on top with 30 percent, Romney 15. Gingrich rounds up the top three with 12 percent.

And joining me now with reaction to this and much more is the man himself, and by the way, his brand new book is out, "The Battle of the Crater" out tomorrow in book stores around the country, Mr. Speaker, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. How are you?

GINGRICH: I'm doing great. It's ironic, Callista and I now have dueling books because she has a New York Times best-selling children's book in "Sweet Land of Liberty" --

HANNITY: There a poll on that?

GINGRICH: I think she's going to win it. But "The Crater" is the fourth novel we've written about the Civil War. And it's a very, very interesting book.

HANNITY: Well, you know, it's interesting because you have said that, if you're the nominee, you want seven Lincoln Douglas style debates around the country, and you had one with Herman Cain. The thing that struck me as I watched it is the fact that it was so civil. It was a lot of information. You don't have 30 seconds to answer, buzzers going off. And look, if you have nine candidates on the stage, in fairness to the people who put them on, it's hard to get everybody in and be fair, you have to equalize the time, etc. But this was a whole different environment, and I think it worked very well and everybody else seemed to.

GINGRICH: Yes. I think there was a general agreement that we got a lot more substance in. We talked a lot about Social Security reform and the opportunity for younger Americans to have their own Social Security savings account. We talked about other big ideas, how to fix Medicare, how to fix Medicaid. I think people realize that when you allow adults to actually have a clear conversation and not just 30-second answers to news media sort of questions, you get a very different rhythm and a very different amount of really good ideas coming out during the course of an evening.

HANNITY: You know, there are other polls. One thing that is pretty amazing as we watch the polls throughout the summer and now into the fall, everyone's sort of had their moment, you know, Pawlenty, Congresswoman Bachmann, also Rick Perry when he got in, now Herman Cain. We don't know what impact as of this moment the charges that have been made now for the last week are going to have on his poll numbers. So far he looks to be holding. Mitt Romney stays even. You've seem to go up two or three points every poll. You're now at 14 percent nationally. I actually saw one poll, who was this put out by? I don't even know. It was, what is it, Did you see that poll? You were in second with 18 percent which is the highest number I've seen you at, 14 percent nationally. What do you make of your polling?

GINGRICH: That was an Iowa poll.

HANNITY: That was the Iowa poll. OK.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think the tortoise is sort of the model of our campaign. We go forward a little bit every day. We're talking about very substantive ideas. We're working with younger Americans across the country to develop the right to have a personal Social Security savings account. We're laying out a program for replacing the Environmental Protection Agency with a brand new environmental solutions agency. We're developing a very aggressive pro-jobs program, and we're working with the people from strong America now to apply modern techniques to government to save $500 billion a year. I think when people encounter that scale of change and they look at how much substance there is at, it puts me in kind of a different league than most of the candidates because I'm not talking about slogans, I'm talking about very deep solutions.

HANNITY: All right. You watch what has happened to Herman Cain in the last week or two. You spent the whole day with him pretty much. You spent a lot of time with him. You've known him for many years, both from Georgia. You have been very critical in the debates about the media and you've gone after the media. And my question is, do you think this is media hype? Do you think these are legitimate questions? Do you think it's a distraction, or do you not have an opinion?

GINGRICH: No. I think at some point in the near future that Herman and his campaign have to lay all this out and put it to rest. I think that the pressure on them to do that will become very real. But I do also think that the average American, you know, when I go out and campaign, outside of Washington, D.C., remarkably few people raise those kinds of questions. They ask about the price of housing, how to create jobs, what do we do about a giant government deficit, how do we get power out of Washington and reinforce the 10th amendment. Lots and lots of questions that are practical, substantive, and real, and they're not nearly as fascinated with gossip as the Washington Press Corps is.

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you this. I had Karl Rove on my radio program last week and he's coming up right after you. I'll ask him this question.


HANNITY: And he said, I said what about Newt Gingrich's rise in the polls. And he said, the one thing that I keep hearing on the ground when I'm out speaking to people is people say, Newt is really, really smart. Do you think you've had to almost persuade people that maybe images, right or wrong about you when you were speaker, that you needed to sort of push aside past perceptions? Are you a different person than you were when you were Speaker of the House?

GINGRICH: Well, I think both of those things are true. I think I'm a much more mature person. You know, I'm 68 years old, I'm a grandparent, you know, with Maggie and Robert hanging around at 12 and 10 years of age. I have a wonderful relationship with Callista. As you know, I'm very close to both my daughters. So, I think that's true.

But at the same time, remember what some of that imagery was. I mean, Time Magazine had a cover before I was even sworn in, in which I was scrooge holding tiny Tim's broken crutch. Think about this. If you ever get a copy of this cover for your TV show.

HANNITY: I have an autographed copy of it.

GINGRICH: OK. I'm just telling you, I mean, I didn't only steal his crutch, I broke it. And it was entitled how mean will Gingrich's America be to the poor. And I think when people watch me in debates and on the editing, they suddenly see a different person than the elite media image of me was.

HANNITY: Oh, maybe if they're going to bring up the past, maybe they can bring up the balanced budgets, dealing with Clinton, welfare reform, the Contract with America. And you have your new contract.

You've also -- your faith has grown a lot over the last few years. How has faith impacted you over the last decade?

GINGRICH: Well, I think in two different ways. One is very personally. And I think that the experience I've had at the basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has been remarkable and was a key part in my deciding that over time, I had become Catholic.

I think second, there is a sense that I've had starting with the Ninth Circuit Court decision that took one nation under God out of the pledge of allegiance, that all of us who have faith, all of us who believe we are endowed by our creator, whatever your particular faith, all of us are really standing here in a crossroads where America is either going to continue to be an exceptional nation where faith really matters or we're going to turn into a secular European style country remarkably different than the country you and I grew up in. And I think both the public pressure and the private experience have come together for me over the last nine or ten years.

HANNITY: Yes. All right. Mr. Speaker, congrats. Your book is in book stores as of tomorrow. And for those that love the Civil War and want to learn history, it's a great read. Thanks for being with us.


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