Gingrich Rates Iowa Debate Performance

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 15, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


NEWT GINGRICH: I've been working on this project since 2002 when the Ninth Circuit Court said One Nation under God is unconstitutional in the Pledge of Allegiance. And I decided if you had judges who were so radically anti-American that they thought One Nation under God was wrong, they shouldn't be on the court. Now we have...


GINGRICH: That's why a short course in this at the University of Georgia Law School, I testified in front of sitting Supreme Court justices at Georgetown Law School, and I warned them, you keep attacking the core base of American exceptionalism and you're going to find an uprising against you which will rebalance the judiciary. We have a balance of three branches. We do not have a judicial dictatorship in this country.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome back to this special edition of "Hannity" live from Sioux City, Iowa. Joining me now is the candidate that is now leading in the polls in Iowa and around the country. The man you just heard from, former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

GINGRICH: How are you?

HANNITY: Welcome to the show.

GINGRICH: Great to be with you.

HANNITY: Did you enjoy the debate? Did you have fun?

GINGRICH: I thought it was a good debate. I thought, you know, we have all gotten to know each other better. And so, there is camaraderie up there. It may not seem that way but we're on, but there's camaraderie and we are all in a journey together. And I think it was very good.

HANNITY: I did notice at times it seemingly was openings for people to go after you. And they didn't take it. The one person that was going after you more than anybody obviously was Michele Bachmann.

GINGRICH: Yes. I think everybody has their own style. And I think that you know, because we're willing -- there's genuine affection, I really like Rick Perry. I really like Rick Santorum. I have known him a long time. Mitt and I have gotten to be much closer over the course, Jon Huntsman and I did a great debate last Monday evening in New Hampshire, very substantive, a lot of fun.

So there is a camaraderie building. Even the -- I think the toughest ads against me are being run by Ron Paul. It's very hard to really dislike Ron Paul. He is just sort of who he is.

HANNITY: You know it's very interesting. At one point in the debate they were asking you about temperament and running for president and whether or not you're disciplined enough. Do you think in the course of these debates that you stayed disciplined, not going negative and you just answer the question, that maybe you're proving some of that narrative is false?

GINGRICH: I think people are going to watch us and they will render judgment. But as you know, because you've seen me for most of my career, I'm actually very disciplined. I work very, very hard. I have a real sense of purpose.

But it is true, when you're trying to get something as big as balancing the budget for four straight years, you do some zigzagging. Because you deal -- I was dealing with a liberal Democratic president, you know. So, some of the guys who are purists saying well, wait a second, you actually did some things that Bill Clinton was willing to sign. Well, yes. I mean, if you want to get to a balanced budget with a Democratic president we've got to find some way to find common ground that will work.

HANNITY: I found tonight was the first time you in really honed in on your past record and wanted to get your side of the story out. I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond to Michele Bachmann in one more sense, because you said to her, and she seemed to take offense later in the debate, that when you said it was factually untrue, some of the allegations she was making about pro-life and in the earlier case about Freddie Mac. You say you're not a lobbyist. She's claiming you're an influence peddler.

GINGRICH: I said that's just factually false.


GINGRICH: And it's factually false for a practical reason. I've had a broad enough base of activities, and written 24 books, 13 New York Times bestsellers, made seven movies. We're doing tons of stuff. I had zero reason to ever once try to say to someone please give me money I'll go represent you, on any forum.

What I have done as a citizen is I've said what I believe the party needs to hear. I've said what I think the country needs to hear. I spent six years working with the Bush administration on both health and national security. It was all for free.

HANNITY: What did you do for Freddie Mac?

GINGRICH: I advised them largely on two things. How do you explain government-sponsored enterprises and second how do you design a program that enables the poor to be able to afford to get into housing?

And my focus was how -- because I came out of a background of Habitat for Humanity. How do you teach them budgeting? How do you teach them how to set money aside? How do you teach them to take care of the house?

I watched families that don't have very much money but they know how to take care of a house. And they can have a much bigger, much better house than a family that doesn't understand how to take care of a house.

HANNITY: Let me go back to the words you used that we are just playing a SOT earlier about the judiciary. You said arrogant, dictatorial. We should not have judicial dictatorship. And it was interesting because that not -- that had not, that I recall, come up in previous debates. And --

GINGRICH: Well, I commended Megyn Kelly for raising it and staying on it.


GINGRICH: So, tonight is the first time, I think probably since Lincoln's debates -- his inaugural in 1861, that you've seen a presidential candidate in this kind of a setting talking in depth about the need to rebalance the judiciary. I think -- and talking in a very, serious sophisticated way.

And not just railing against liberal judges but saying the whole attitude of the judiciary is out of sync. They're not dictators. They don't define the Constitution. They're one of three co-equal branches and we were promised in the Federalist Papers, they'd actually be the weakest of the three branches.

When I look at Judge Barry in San Antonio who on June first said to students, not only can you not pray at graduation, you cannot use the word benediction, you cannot used the word invocation, you cannot ask people to stand, you cannot mention God, you cannot ask for longer silence. And if you break any of these, I will pull your superintendent in jail. I thought to myself, this is an anti-American dictatorial ruling. That guy shouldn't be on the bench.

HANNITY: You said yesterday to me, when I was interviewing you on the radio, you had responded to Mitt Romney. And you said you felt you got off your message. In other words for the day, because he said you're zany, et cetera. And you were joking about it tonight when you said zany, editing -- I'll use mild words. So obviously, you were joking about it tonight. What did you mean by that? Is that you got off--

GINGRICH: There was a very brief moment, frankly, he got under my skin. And I responded in a way that made no sense, doesn't fit my values. And made some reverences to Bain, where I've said publically he's a good manager. He is a good businessman.

Well, you know, he got that round. If you were scoring rounds of boxing, I give that round to Mitt but I then spent a day thinking it through. We issued a letter. We issued instructions to our entire team. This campaign from day one has been based on very big solutions and a relentlessly positive approach. And I think people who watch debates know I've really worked at that.

HANNITY: Last question.

GINGRICH: I really work to that.

HANNITY: How do you get, if you become nominee, how will you convince Barack Obama with a Lincoln-Douglas style debate? I think you said what, seven of them. How are you going to get Barack Obama to agree to that?

GINGRICH: If he hasn't agreed by my acceptance speech in Tampa, I will announce as of that evening the White House is my scheduler. And whenever he goes I will show up four hours later and take apart his speech until he agrees to a debate.

HANNITY: You believe that will force him to capitulate.

GINGRICH: He'll look absurd. This is what Lincoln did to Douglas. That's why Douglas agreed to debate. And so, I'm prepared to do it to Obama.

HANNITY: Mr. Speaker good to see you.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you, Sean.

HANNITY: Thank you so much for being with us.

And coming up former Massachusetts governor, I'm going to tell him you said you are giving him that round.


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