Gingrich Praised Romney's Health Care Plan?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 27, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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GREG GUTFELD, FNC HOST: In the "Impact Segment" tonight, Mitt Romney has faced lots of criticism over the health care bill that he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts. One of his chief critics has been former Speaker Newt Gingrich.


GINGRICH: And candidly Mitt, your plan ultimately philosophically is not Obama care. And that's not a fair charge. Your plan essentially is one more big government bureaucratic high cost system which candidly could not have been done by any other state because no other state had a Medicaid program as lavish as yours and no other state got as much money from the federal government under the Bush administration for this experiment.

So there's a lot of big government behind Romney care not as much as Obama care but a heck of a lot more than your campaign has admitted.


GUTFELD: Harsh. However today the "Wall Street Journal" reported on a 2006 newsletter showing Gingrich actually praised Romney's health care plan saying, quote, "The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to affect major change in the American health system. We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goals should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans.

Well, today Gingrich dismissed the report as old news and explained why he changed his mind.


GINGRICH: The difference between Romney and me is I have now concluded I'm prepared to say publicly I concluded just as the Heritage Foundation did that idea didn't work. Romney is still defending the mandate that he passed.


GUTFELD: With us Robert Zimmerman a strategist and member of the Democratic National Committee. And joining us from Las Vegas -- gosh knows what he is doing there -- Chip Saltsman who managed Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign. I want to go to you first, Chip. Will this flip flop hurt Gingrich in the Iowa caucuses?

CHIP SALTSMAN, GOP STRATEGIST: Well, you know he flip flopped there is no question. But he flip flopped to the right side of where the voters are on this. They don't like big government health care systems like what happened in Massachusetts. They certainly don't like Obama care.

I think what Speaker Gingrich left out is oh what a difference a campaign year makes. Because I think this is a campaign election flip flop for Speaker Gingrich. That's what you are going to see happening.


SALTSMAN: Yes sir.

ZIMMERMAN: Actually Chip, it's all what the difference pressure comes from the extreme right wing makes. You see the issue here is that, Chip, both Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and the whole team, they are so desperately trying to appeal to the extreme right wing of their party that they're losing all credibility. As we know --


SALTSMAN: No Robert -- Robert I'll tell you --

ZIMMERMAN: As we know the mandate -- the mandate was initially a conservative principle. That was articulated by Orrin Hatch and was defended by the Heritage Foundation amongst other -- amongst other leading Republican conservative organizations.

SALTSMAN: I think what conservatives will tell you is they were trying to figure out solutions to many of the health care problems. What happened in Massachusetts probably what most people say did not work. What happened with President Obama's health care system has not worked. Premiums are going up. Prices are going up. People are getting worse coverage. Prices are going across the board.


ZIMMERMAN: Actually Chip the price hasn't --

SALTSMAN: -- and what most people say is basically conservatives this is not what's going to work.


ZIMMERMAN: Chip, you've got to give it about a year before you put those talking points in place because the plan hasn't been implemented yet. The bigger issue though is watching the Republican right-wing so dominate the Republican Party. You've got Mitt Romney saying he wants to deport 11 million immigrants. You've got Newt Gingrich saying he wants to overturn the Supreme Court. I mean, where do they get their history lessons from, Michele Bachmann?

GUTFELD: Well, the history lesson -- the history lesson comes from 2008 when the progressive party took over the Democratic Party. Right?

ZIMMERMAN: Actually, quite to the contrary.

SALTSMAN: Yes there's -- there is no pressure from the left-wing to President Obama. That's because of the pipeline. No -- no problem from the left-wing stopping the pipeline in this last jobs bill. None at all, the left-wing dominates the Democrat Party of Obama. That's why he's been such a struggle with jobs. And that's why the pipeline is not going to make it in February.

ZIMMERMAN: And that's why Obama's approval ratings are going up.

GUTFELD: Wait a minute they're going up and then they're going down. It's like a seesaw in the park.

SALTSMAN: Yes it's a roller coaster.

ZIMMERMAN: Let's be clear though in every head to head matchup with Mitt Romney he's running ahead.

GUTFELD: Well, I'm not so sure about that.

SALTSMAN: Well, let's be clear where President Obama is today is where Jimmy Carter was this time in re-election mode and what happened with Jimmy Carter didn't quite make it to re-election. I think that's what you're going to see happen to Barack Obama.

GUTFELD: All right, I want to move on.

According to the latest data, the financial gap between Americans and Representatives in Congress has widened considerably. And just yesterday, a Hawaiian newspaper reported that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spent Christmas Eve in a $10,000 per night hotel suite in Hawaii. I don't know. I think she deserves that. She has been working hard, Robert.

ZIMMERMAN: Here you go again. This is typical of the right-wing attacking the one percent of America, trying to have class warfare with members of Congress.

GUTFELD: I know isn't that crazy? Isn't that crazy.

ZIMMERMAN: I mean, you just -- well these are job makers.

GUTFELD: Yes, exactly.

ZIMMERMAN: You know the bottom line is that number about Nancy Pelosi's hotel suite has not been confirmed by anyone. What she does with her own money, whether she go for a massage treatment or a day at the spa that's her business as far as I'm concerned she has earned it.

GUTFELD: I don't know. I've got to ask you Chip. She does look like a hypocrite. Here is somebody who is like falling in love with Occupy Wall Street at the same time living like she works on Wall Street.

SALTSMANN: It -- it doesn't -- certainly doesn't look good. But it's going to pain me to agree with Robert just a little bit. I think it is her own money. She can do whatever she wants to.


ZIMMERMAN: Good for you Chip.

SALTSMAN: But if she's out there banging away on the one percent and staying in a $10,000 suite. It doesn't look good. Probably the paper -- she probably wasn't happy to read that in the paper today. But you know if she's -- she is worth $100 million. If she wants to go stay in a $10,000 a night suite she should be able to go ahead and do that.

GUTFELD: Why do they keep choosing Hawaii? Why don't you go to a place that's not -- like when somebody hears that you're going to Hawaii, they just feel jealous. They are envious and that's why it becomes a story.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think it's to get in touch with the people and go to the Hamptons.

GUTFELD: There you go.


GUTFELD: Exactly.

SALTSMAN: Oh Martha's Vineyard; that's where the real people are apparently in the Democratic Party -- Martha's Vineyard and the Hamptons that's where they should go and talk to real voters out there.

ZIMMERMAN: As opposed to the Republican Party that's on South of France.

GUTFELD: Oh please.

SALTSMAN: You know we're all in Iowa. We're all in Iowa this week. We are talking to real voters.

GUTFELD: All right.

I want to talk about Joe Biden. He wrote an op-ed piece in the Des Moines Register saying, quote, "Romney appears satisfied to settle for an economy in which fewer people succeed while the majority of Americans are left to tread water or fall behind."

Never mind the meaning of what that is because I'm not clear on it but why is -- why is Joe Biden writing an op-ed about Mitt Romney, Robert?

ZIMMERMAN: Because we Democrats are taking the case directly to the people. And we're not going to be on the defensive.

GUTFELD: Yes but why -- why Romney? Why now?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, clearly Romney has built a national campaign structure and that has to be recognized. Of course, he's got 80 percent of the Republicans apparently voting against him in Iowa. He can't break through 25 percent or 22 percent in most polls.

So -- but the point is because he has been out there with the national campaign, I think it's a pragmatic -- a pragmatic issue. But the bigger challenge really is not what Joe Biden says. It's whether the Republicans can reach the Independent voter.

And as long as they want to rewrite the Constitution and try to trash the issues like Newt Gingrich does of separation of powers. They are going to ultimately lose Independent voters and lose all credibility in this process.

GUTFELD: Chip, why -- why is he writing --

SALTSMAN: This is real simple --

GUTFELD: Go ahead.

SATLSMAN: -- this is real simple and I will spell it out for Robert because I know in Washington sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle.

ZIMMERMAN: You spell it out for me. I'm in New York.

SALTSMAN: They think Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee -- or in New York. They think Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee, they know one thing. Barack Obama cannot be re-elected based on what Barack Obama has done.

They've got to muddy the waters to whoever the nominee is whether it's Mitt Romney or Speaker Gingrich, whomever. And they are starting that process right now. And that's the only reason the Vice President got an op-ed --


ZIMMERMAN: Chip you know and I know --


SALTSMAN: -- Des Moines Register and start muddying the waters. That's the only they can win, they can't win on merit.

ZIMMERMAN: -- politics is -- politics is not a referendum. Politics is a choice. And it's going to be a choice between President Obama and what he puts forward in the agenda and the Republican agenda, which is to go back to the Bush economy.

GUTFELD: All right, guys.

SALTSMAN: Well, if the choice is what Barack Obama has done the last four years I'll take that choice; we win next November.

GUTFELD: All right Chip, Robert, thanks.

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