Gingrich Previews Penn. Primary

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," April 21, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight, there are political jitters. Everyone is on edge because only nine hours until Pennsylvania voters storm the polls. There is political ad mudslinging going in both directions, and even Senator McCain is getting into the controversies. Senator McCain spoke about the latest controversy involving Senator Obama, Senator Obama's association with a former member of a radical group, William Ayers, now a Chicago professor, who was a member of the violent Weather Underground group in the 1960s. Ayers and Senator Obama have served on a board together and Ayers held an organizational meeting in his home for Senator Obama's state senate campaign in 1995.

Now, Obama has said, "Knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense."

Now, Senator McCain had a different take on the issue on the show "This Week."


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm sure he is very patriotic, but his relationship with Mr. Ayers is open to question.


MCCAIN: Because if you're going to associate and have as a friend and serve on a board and have a guy kick off your campaign that says he's unrepentant, that he wished he'd bombed more...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama says he was 8 years old when that was happening.

MCCAIN: But he became friends with him and spent time with him while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization.


VAN SUSTEREN: And just moments ago, we spoke with former Speaker of the House and author of "Real Change" Newt Gingrich.

Watch the interview: Part 1 |Part 2


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Mr. Speaker, tomorrow Pennsylvania, extraordinarily exciting in politics, especially for the Democrat Party. I want to talk strategy. Let's make some assumptions. Let's first start with the assumption that Senator Clinton beats Senator Obama by 10 percent. Then what? What does she do?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, then she's got to go on, I think, and win Indiana and try to get as close as possible in North Carolina. There's no way they're going to get her out of the campaign if she wins Pennsylvania. And so all these people that are wringing their hands ought to relax a little while because this thing is going to go on, I think, at least through all of the primaries into June. And if she wins enough of these, I mean, she's going to feel like she's making a case that when it comes to the big states, Obama can't carry them.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about North Carolina? Does she have any chance in North Carolina?

GINGRICH: I think it's very uphill for her. There's a very big African-American vote. Senator Obama has a big base there. They also have a lot of universities. He does very well with intellectuals and liberal activists and people who are at, say, Duke and UNC. So I think he'll do pretty well. The last (INAUDIBLE) he was up, like, 20 points. But she could carry Indiana the same day and get a split. And if I were her, I would put a lot of energy into carrying Indiana and just enough energy into North Carolina to keep him busy there.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. What about money? Will she get money if she wins by 10 points plus?

GINGRICH: Well, I think she'll get some money. One of the big challenges she has is that he has about two million donors now. And we've never seen any phenomenon like this in American history. This guy has attracted virtually every activist on the left. And using Internet very intelligently -- they've done a good campaign -- he has a huge financial base now. I think he's outspending her in Pennsylvania three or four to one.

What should make her feel better about it, though, is John McCain proved in Florida, where he was outspent 10 to 1 by Mitt Romney, that it didn't matter. When you're running for president, you're on the evening news, you're on the front page of the newspaper, you are a news story.

And I don't think that Senator Obama -- he may actually be at a point where the weight of his ads are beginning to hurt them because there are just too many of them. And they cut away at his being an idealist. I mean, you somehow say, Wait a second. This guy's got this many ads and he's throwing this much dirt, maybe he's just one more politician. That's very dangerous because his great strength up to now has been that he didn't seem to be a politician.

VAN SUSTEREN: If she loses by -- or strike that. If she wins by less than 10 percent, then what?

GINGRICH: The lawyer in you is coming back.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know. Strike that. Strike that from the record!

GINGRICH: That's right. Well, the closer she gets to breaking even, the harder it is to justify her campaign and to keep things going. I personally think the odds are pretty good that she'll be at 6 percent or 7 percent. That is, that she'll be at 53 percent, 54 percent, a win but not a decisive win. If she's up at 56 percent, 57 percent, I -- you know, and it's a double-digit victory, then I think she has a really strong case for going all the way to the convention.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is the impact of the relationship -- and I use that word lightly because I don't know how to describe it -- between the former Weather Underground, Ayers, and Senator Obama? Is that going to have an impact tomorrow, Indiana and North Carolina, and if he gets the nomination, in November?

GINGRICH: I think it has had two impacts on him. First of all, it's not being associated with a terrorist by itself. It is that plus his former minister plus the fact that he went to the Million Man March that Farrakhan had, plus other things. And you begin to add all the pieces together, and the pieces are chipping away at Obama as an idealist who somehow is different, and he's beginning to look like he's just a left-wing politician.

The bigger thing, though, is not what it does to him in a the Democratic primary because, frankly, most of his base doesn't care. They're going to be for him. They're going to be for him, no matter what. It is, I think, beginning to tarnish him for the general election. It's beginning to set up a situation where he could have a much harder time winning in the fall. And I think that begins to worry the political -- the politician delegates, the so-called "superdelegates," who begin to think, Boy, am I about to see Dukakis and McGovern and Mondale repeated and nominate somebody who looks OK in May and then collapses in October?

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, it seems that a large portion of the African- American vote is rooting for him -- I mean...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... and a lot of the women -- not to the same degree -- are rooting for Senator Clinton. So the gender identification, race identification -- how does she attract more women? Because she's not getting as many women as he is getting African-Americans.

GINGRICH: Well, honestly, first of all, it's totally legitimate in each case. I mean, there's no reason African-Americans shouldn't be very proud that they have an African-American major candidate who's intelligent, attractive, articulate, a serious contender to become president. You know, we've had ethnic pride in all of American history. I think that's perfectly legitimate.

Senator Clinton has not been able to consolidate -- although she's had a fairly significant lead among women, but she's never been able to consolidate the same net advantage that he does.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that Senator Clinton or is that women?

GINGRICH: Well, it's two things. First of all, women are diverse, so when you take African-American women, who are more for Obama as an African- American than they are for Senator Clinton as a woman, by definition, that reduces her share of the vote.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Why does that happen? They're on two teams, theoretically. I mean, they're on the women team and African- American team. Why -- you know, what...


GINGRICH: I suspect they identify more with an African-American man, particularly somebody who is as attractive and articulate as Obama. They identify more with him in the hopes for their neighborhood and their children and their future than they identify with a white woman. That's a guess on my part, but certainly, the polling data indicates that that's essentially true.

Well, African-American women is a substantial part of Democratic women. So if you're -- you're probably talking about Senator Clinton automatically losing about 15 percent of women to Senator Obama just by losing the African-American vote. And then I think if you're a younger left-wing activist woman, if you're a deep anti-war activist, a kind of Democrat, your ideological fervor for Obama is bigger than your identity with Senator Clinton as another woman. And so I think she loses a fair number of people there. Nonetheless, she still has a very respectable margin among women and has in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan done pretty well with white men.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any idea what the relationship is between Speaker Pelosi and Senator Clinton? Are they friendly or...

GINGRICH: I don't have a clue.

VAN SUSTEREN: No clue whether they're...

GINGRICH: I have no idea.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because, I mean, they're both high-ranking women within Democratic politics.

GINGRICH: Well, you know, it's an interesting question because Senator Pelosi -- I mean, Speaker Pelosi at one point was saying that who your state votes for should determine things, in which case, since California voted for Senator Clinton, she should be voting for Senator Clinton. On the other hand, she wants to argue that the superdelegates ought to make up their mind up without regard to how they voted, in which case, you have to say, Well, does that mean that even if Senator Obama comes in with a slight plurality, maybe they end up picking Senator Clinton? Although I think you'd have -- if she can't beat him decisively in the next seven or eight primaries, I think you'd have a civil war in the Democratic Party if they were to take away the nomination from Senator Obama, if something really significant doesn't happen to collapse his candidacy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Richard Mellon Scaife, who helped fund the investigation of President Clinton that led to impeachment proceedings -- his newspaper (INAUDIBLE) in Pittsburgh endorsed Senator Clinton on Sunday. Surprised?

GINGRICH: Oh, a little bit, but I think when you realize how far to the left Senator Obama is and you look at the relationship to Farrakhan and the relationship to Reverend Wright, the relationship to William Ayers, the "National Journal" saying he's the most liberal member of the Senate -- I think if you are Dick Scaife and you're saying, OK, I don't particularly like Senator Clinton, but compared to this, she's a heck of a lot more tolerable -- I do think it was a little bit of an interesting story when they came out for Senator Clinton.

How many votes it carries, I don't know. That's a newspaper that's a lot more influential in the Republican primary. But she is doing well in western Pennsylvania, and she has, with Governor Rendell, a very strong statewide figure who is very popular in the Democratic primary.


VAN SUSTEREN: More with Speaker Gingrich in a minute. But now it is your turn, the time when you get to vote on the news. Go to and vote in tonight's live vote. Here's tonight's question. Which is more of a political problem for Senator Obama, his relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, His relationship with William Ayers, Both Wright and Ayers are equal problems, Neither will be a problem, he has explained them. We will tell you the results at the end of the show. Go vote and then stick around for your results.

And coming up, more with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, including who he saw this weekend, someone he compares to President Ronald Reagan.

And now, why should we admire the parents of this student? Yes, he's a top student, but tonight he's not studying. He's sitting in jail. Why? In part because of his parents. We will explain.

And later: You saw this horrifying video, six teenage girls attacking a 16-year-old girl. They're all charged with felonies. Tonight there is developing news about one of the teen suspects. There are more problems. We will tell you coming up.


VAN SUSTEREN: More of our interview with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.


VAN SUSTEREN: Besides being involved in Republican politics deeply and being former speaker of the House, you're a historian. How much does this race tomorrow interest you? Are you going to sit around and watch returns tomorrow night or are you just going to read about it Wednesday morning?

GINGRICH: No, no. I'm doubly interested because I was born in Harrisburg. I have family in Pennsylvania. I'm intrigued by the state. It's always been -- it's a very complicated state, with eastern Pennsylvania being Democrat and liberal, western Pennsylvania being Democrat and conservative, the middle of the state being very Republican. It's a very complex state.

And I'm kind of intrigued now. Senator Clinton -- this is a very interesting year of comebacks. You know, Senator McCain, I thought, was out of it last August. He fought his way back in. He's now the nominee. Senator Clinton continues to fight, continues to pound away, gets tougher and tougher in her critique of Senator Obama, and Senator Obama is slipping a little bit. He's like a boxer who's taking some punches and he's not quite as fast as he was earlier in the match. So I'm intrigued tomorrow night. I'm going to be watching. I'll watch to see what you have to say tomorrow evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So you don't just read it in the newspaper on Wednesday morning.

GINGRICH: No, this one's too good. This is a real -- this is a real contest. And you know, I have to say, I found myself the night of the Texas and Ohio primaries -- as you know, I wrote "Real Change," and we developed an organization called American Solutions. So I watched Hillary Clinton stand in front of a sign that said "Solutions for America." And then I watched Senator Obama standing behind a sign that said, "Change you can believe in." And I thought I was doing pretty well in terms of picking at least the general slogans of 2008.

VAN SUSTEREN: And we should probably add that you did have a great weekend.

GINGRICH: Had a great weekend.

VAN SUSTEREN: You saw the pope.

GINGRICH: Oh, I -- Callista did this, as you know, and you have it on Gretawire. She did this amazing series of pictures because we were very fortunate, had four different occasions from the White House welcoming ceremony. She sang as part of the basilica choir for the pope at vespers in a very intimate, small gathering. And then we had a chance, of course, to be with 45,000 of our closest friends at National Stadium. And then almost by a miracle, we ended up at St. Patrick's for mass with the pope in New York on Saturday. And she got great pictures at every single venue. And as you know, that's become a pretty nice little photo gallery.

So we had -- it was a -- I'll tell you the thing that most stunned me. This was a big surprise to me. Here's an 81-year-old pontiff, who I think carries -- is the pontiff. I mean, he has grown so dramatically in three years from the intellectual into the man who now personifies the Catholic church that I was reminded of Reagan in the sense that are occasionally people who inherit the charisma so it's their total being. There's no -- there's no gap between -- they get up in the morning, they are. You know, and I'm confident that Benedict XVI has totally infused himself into carrying the burden of being the spiritual leader of over a billion people. I thought he was very impressive on this trip.

VAN SUSTEREN: And Callista, your wife's pictures, you can see on Gretawire. They link to your site, so -- they're unbelievable -- they're great pictures. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, thank you, as always.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

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