Gingrich Picks Up Endorsement From J.C. Watts
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 26, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARK STEYN, GUEST HOST: It made all the campaign chaos. Newt Gingrich has picked up a much needed endorsement from former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts.
Here to explain why he's chosen to throw his support behind the former speaker is none other than the man himself, former Congressman J.C. Watts.
Welcome to the program. What's Newt got that the other guys don't have as far as you are concerned?
J.C. WATTS, FORMER OKLAHOMA CONGRESSMAN: Well, Mark, thanks for having me on this evening. Let me say that I appreciate your work.
STEYN: Likewise, thank you, Congressman.
WATTS: You know, Mark, I am long past looking for my president or my presidential nominee to be my savior or to be my pastor. I'm looking for someone that is prepared to do the heavy lifting to get us where we all want to be and I think where we need to be. You consider in Washington, around the country today we are talking about balanced budgets, paying down our national debt, getting the economy going, defending ourselves, activist judges.
Newt Gingrich did all those things when he was speaker. We got tax relief. We got balanced budgets. We got, you know, job creation. We paid down our national debt.
If you think about it, Mark, we haven't done that since he left. So I think he's been there, done that. I think he is lot more seasoned person today than he was 15 years ago. I know him well. He is a personal friend. He asked me for an endorsement. I chose to give it to him.
STEYN: Now you were part of the 1994 Gingrich revolution generation. A lot of the people who were with you in the House back then don't feel that way about the speaker and have come out on TV. There has been this general line out of Washington that those who know the speaker the best are the ones who are most vehemently opposed to his resurgence. You are not part of that crowd. Why do you think you feel differently from so many of your former colleagues?
WATTS: Well, Mark, you know, we live in a country that we can throw our support to whomever we want to throw our support to. I would caution all of us or I would remind all of us that any candidate that we support, they are going to be flawed.
I think when you look at Romney, I mean, I could show you deep flaws there. When you look at Perry, I can show you deep flaws. When you look at the gentleman Congressman Paul, I could show you deep flaws.
But when you talk about the track record, been there, done that, when you talk about balanced budgets, tax relief, paying down our national debt, Newt has done those things.
You know, Mark, when you are speaker of the House, you do make enemies. When you are in politics, you make enemies. I would much rather tick off, you know, Washington politicians than to disappoint the American people.
When you look at the results that Newt Gingrich got when he was speaker, he got results for the American people.
STEYN: Now let's just go back to more recent years. Since you left Congress, you know Freddie Mac pretty well. You were up to your neck in dealings with Freddie Mac because you thought there should be more government oversight of Freddie Mac in recent years.
And so you come at the controversy over Newt Gingrich's Freddie Mac connections from a slightly different direction. What is your perspective on that?
WATTS: Well, Mark, I led the charge for five or six years to get reforms for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I was chairman of an organization called "FM Policy Focus." What we were saying was, if there was blip in the housing market, Fannie and Freddie would destabilize the greatest economy in the world. We had a meltdown of tremendous proportions. We're still recovering from it today.
In the five, six years, seven years I was involved with that effort, I never heard Newt Gingrich's name. If he was lobbying for Fannie and Freddie, he was pretty pathetic lobbyist in my opinion. I only heard his name associated with Freddie about a week ago. So, again, I do think that was a cheap shot.
It's interesting that you have candidates saying that, you know, he was selling -- it was legal bribery. Well, Mark, wouldn't you think if consulting for some corporation after you leave Congress, if that is legal bribery, why wouldn't giving someone a $5,000 campaign contribution. Why couldn't you make the connection to say that is a possible bribery.
Now it is a campaign contribution. I do believe that is free speech. I think it's protected under the first amendment but again, these types of things happen in campaigns and you get these types of things.
But Newt Gingrich was not problem in trying to get reforms with Fannie and Freddie. It was collected neglect, in my opinion, by Republicans and Democrats both who had votes and they were decision-making positions over those organizations. They chose to turn the other way.
STEYN: So just quickly, Congressman, Dick Morris a few minutes ago compared Newt to Napoleon and said Napoleon was brilliant for the big picture guy, but forgot to have ordered up enough pairs of long underwear for the Moscow winter.
And he thinks that basically organization wise in Iowa and New Hampshire, Newt is in his retreat from Moscow. Organization wise, he's at fault there.
WATTS: Well, Mark, I do this he's got to work to do there obviously and I think when you, you know, I think Governor Romney's got most of the establishment behind him and he's run two well-organized, well funded campaigns over the last four years.
But with his organization, he hadn't gotten beyond 25 percent, 26 percent of the vote so what does that say about someone that has the organization. I think it speaks just as well Speaker Gingrich to be where he is in the process with what they claim as no organization, as a candidate that raised $15-20 million. That's been in the arena twice in the last four years, but they are not getting more than 25 percent of the vote in most campaigns.
This is going to be, as you know, Mark, this is a state by state race. Iowa kicks it off. They go to New Hampshire and go to South Carolina. I think the speaker has to feel pretty good about where he is in Iowa considering he has $10-12 million worth of advertising. He has done pretty well considering.
STEYN: That's true. OK, thank you for your endorsement and I'm sure the speaker appreciates it immensely. J.C. Watts.
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