Gingrich Toughens Up on Romney's Record

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 9, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to this special edition of "Hannity." We're live from Manchester, New Hampshire. And in just under three hours from now, the first votes will be cast in the first in the nation primary right here in New Hampshire. Now, we're going to be back live tonight at midnight Eastern, to watch as those votes are cast in Dixville Notch. But first, tonight, you'll hear directly from presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

Plus, we have analysis from former Clinton Advisor Dick Morris and much, much more tonight. Now, it was a busy weekend for the GOP contenders as they went head to head in two nationally televised debates. And on Saturday, my next guest, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, set his sights directly on the frontrunner Mitt Romney. Take a look.


NEWT GINGRICH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney? The fact is you ran in '94 and lost, that's why you weren't in the Senate with Rick Santorum. The fact is, you had a very bad reelection rating, you dropped out of office, you'd been on state on something like 200 days preparing to run for president, you didn't have this interlude of citizenship while you thought about what to do, you were running for president while you were governor, you were going all over the country, you were out of state consistently. You then promptly reentered politics, you happened to lose to McCain as you'd lost to Kennedy, now you're back running. You've been running consistently for years and years and years, so this idea that suddenly citizenship showed up in your mind. Just level with the American people, you've been running for at least since the 1990s.

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    HANNITY: And joining me now from the campaign trail right here in New Hampshire is presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

    All right. Before we get to that exchange, one of a number of kind of testy exchanges -- and you're smiling, I see, I guess no bad blood. Now, Rick Santorum --

    GINGRICH: No, no, I'm here.

    HANNITY: Go ahead.

    GINGRICH: That's what I'm saying, I'm here at The Draft in Concord which is run by Lori Sandburn (ph) who is my state-wide chair and we're going to watch the National Football Championship and we're all very excited, Sean, to be with you and an evening like this is exciting.

    HANNITY: Listen, this is far more important than any championship, I think it starts after midnight tonight after our second airing.

    Let me ask you this first, you apparently had an issue with some Ron Paul supporters here in Manchester and had to cancel an event. Rick Santorum had a problem with "Occupy Wall Street," pretty contentious debates this weekend, what do you think is going on?

    GINGRICH: Well, I think that our challenge was with "Occupy Wall Street" people and I've generally found that the Ron Paul people, while they're sometimes noisy, they're pretty civil and pretty decent. But some of the "Occupy Wall Street" people frankly have a touch of anarchism in them. I think ultimately, this society are going to have to say, their limits to those kinds of folks blocking people from having their right to free speech. But we decided it wasn't worth risking some kind of big confrontation so we frankly decided to just skip past that particular event. Unfortunately --

    HANNITY: All right. Lets' talk --

    GINGRICH: And I do think that we can't be held hostage by those kinds of people.

    HANNITY: Talk about this comment that you made during the debate on Saturday night, "pious baloney," and you had other exchanges with Mitt Romney.

    GINGRICH: Well, I've been trying to find the right phrase to explain what Governor Romney's technique is, and that is to sort of say something as though it sounds totally correct except it's not true. And I thought baloney was probably the best way to capture all that. You know, he was in the middle of a riff, that was just plain baloney -- and old-fashioned term, I was born in Central Pennsylvania. Bob Walker suggested that I could have said Lebanon baloney but I didn't want to pick down to some geographic location.

    You know, the fact is, this is a guy who was a Massachusetts moderate who voted for Paul Tsongas in the Democratic primary in 1992 when Tsongas was the most liberal person. He ran to the left of Teddy Kennedy in 1994, he repudiated the contract with America, he repudiated Reagan and Bush. As late as 2002, he called himself a moderate and a progressive. And now to run around saying, oh, I'm really a conservative, really conservative. So, it's at a point you kind of say, give me a break, you know, campaign as who you really are either win or lose in a fair straight way. But don't go around making things up and aren't accurate.

    HANNITY: Let me ask you specifically about tactics and strategy as it relates to the campaign. You've been in this game a long time. I was there in the room the night you became the speaker of the House. That's a long time ago. Usually one of the first rules in politics, if somebody attacks you, you respond immediately. You decided to wait. Now, you're certainly, your posture is far more forceful. Why do you think you waited and do you think that might have been a mistake?

    GINGRICH: Well, look, it might have been a mistake if the world ended in, on January 3rd in Iowa. But that was the beginning. I've described it as the opening three minutes of the Super Bowl. I wanted to be positive, I ran a campaign being positive, I emerged out of nowhere being positive. At one point, it was up to 37 percent at Gallup nationally, had a huge lead being positive. Along comes this avalanche of negative, nasty and often dishonest ads. Forty five percent of all the ads in Iowa attacked me personally, just went at me.

    But I wanted to stay and see, could we be positive? Plus, frankly I tried to warn Governor Romney. And I said over and over for two solid weeks, this is not a good idea. This is not a campaign we want to get into. And he kept coming back and saying that, you know, I need to develop broad shoulders, and if I couldn't take the heat get out of the kitchen.

    Well, I've been doing this for a long, long time and I'm quite capable of doing what needs to be done. He has set the terms of the campaign. I'm not going to run the kind of negative, dishonest ads that his Super PAC did, one of which got four Pinocchio's from The Washington Post, which means, they had four falsehoods in the 30 second ad, which takes real effort. But I am going to draw a very sharp, very clear contrast between a Reagan conservative and a Massachusetts moderate. Between cutting taxes by me, raising taxes by Romney, between being pro second amendment rights by me, putting a tax on guns and being for gun control in Massachusetts by Romney. We're just going to straight out, contrast campaign, and I think in South Carolina, people are going to decisively repudiate the calls of that produced Dukakis, John Kerry and Mitt Romney.

    HANNITY: You have a Super PAC now out there that is supporting you, Mr. Speaker, in this race against Governor Romney, and they've got a 30 minute ad. Apparently, there were some type of bidding war that went on for this thing, and what's interesting is this came up during the debate over the weekend. And Romney's response and answer was, well, I would expect Barack Obama to attack capitalism, not my fellow Republicans. And your response to that is?

    GINGRICH: Baloney. I'm for capitalism. I'm for honest entrepreneurs investing, I'm for people creating businesses. Callista and I have created four small businesses in the last decade, I get it. But I'm not for looting. There's a company in The Wall Street Journal today that Bain put $30 million into, took $180 million out of and the company went bankrupt. And if you have to ask yourself, you know, was a six to one return really necessary? What if they had only taken $120 million out, will the company still be there? Would 1,700 families still have a job? I think there's a real difference between people who billed in a free market and people who go around, take financial advantage, loot companies, leave behind broken families, broken towns, people on unemployment.

    And I think Governor Romney in the next week or so is going to have to hold a press conference and he's going to have to walk the country through the things that they did at Bain because in three or four cases, they don't look like capitalism. They look like rich guys looting companies, taking all the cash and leaving behind all the unemployed.

    That's not the kind of free market I want to be part of. I want to be in a free market where everybody has a fair chance. That doesn't mean you always win. There are times you lose, there are times you go bankrupt. That's fine if the person who's getting rich is also taking the risk and is also suffering some of the consequences. It's not fine if the person who is rich manipulates the system and gets away with all the cash and leaves behind the human beings.

    HANNITY: All right. When we come back, we'll continue and have much more with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Including, he got a pretty big endorsement today. I'll give you a hint. The last name was Palin.


    HANNITY: And we continue now with former Speaker of the House from the Granite State, presidential candidate, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. You got a big endorsement today, Todd Palin. Reaction?

    GINGRICH: I was thrilled. Todd called me and we had a great conversation, he said, look, you're a populist conservative. You understand Main Street, you understand small towns, you're not part of the Wall Street gang and he said, I just personally want to endorse you. Sarah said a couple of days ago that she thought that Mitt was the weakest candidate we could put up and I was frankly thrilled to have Todd's support. You know, hopefully, sometime down the road Sarah may come along, but I got to tell you, the reaction we've gotten from the Tea Party people all across New Hampshire and all across South Carolina, has been terrific, to having Todd Palin on the team. And it makes me feel good going into tomorrow and I think it's that extra boost we needed to really get us sort of on takeoff here going into the primary tomorrow.

    HANNITY: Now, I did hear Sarah Palin's comments, specifically about, well, he may not be the most electable, but polls have shown that Mitt Romney, Governor Romney is most electable. And more importantly, there was an interesting 54 percent Yahoo! poll after the "Meet the Press" debate this weekend that said, Romney is still not -- he's still not made it as the frontrunner, but, yet, he did well in Iowa. He exceeded expectations and obviously, he's expected to do well here in New Hampshire. What does that mean for South Carolina and how would you define success for yourself here in the state of New Hampshire?

    GINGRICH: Well, first of all, he spent five years campaigning in Iowa, spent $20 million and he got, I think, 66 more votes than he got four years ago. Three out of every four Republicans in Iowa said no. So, in terms of ever getting to be the nominee, he's at 25 percent in a state where everybody knew him and 75 percent said no. Here if the Suffolk University poll is right, he has been dropping ten points in the last eight days, that was through last night, I suspect he's dropped some more today. He could easily end up with two out of three or more people in New Hampshire saying no.

    Now, this is a guy who lives here, has been Governor next door, has spent millions of dollars, has campaigned here both in '07, '08 and again this year. If he ends up with two out of three Republicans turning him down, I think he's going to be limping into South Carolina and South Carolina is not his kind of territory. He raised taxes. You know, just take his list of what he actually did as governor, that is indefensible in South Carolina politics.

    HANNITY: What do you think, and South Carolina interestingly has their own, I guess, history of voting very independently when it comes to these primaries, at least historically when you go back and you look at it. You said in an interview with David Brody who was on set with us and will join us later in the program, that your goal was to slow Romney down and to expose him. What do you want to slow down? I guess the momentum would be the obvious answer there.

    GINGRICH: Sure.

    HANNITY: What do you want to expose?

    GINGRICH: Well, I just want, I want people to understand that this is a Massachusetts moderate who after claiming to be pro-life, ended up putting Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America in Romney-are by name with no right to life group. He ended up putting state paid, tax paid abortions in Romney care. He appointed pro-abortion judges while governor. You go through the list. He said he was for gun control, he quadrupled the tax on guns so people in Massachusetts pay $100 per year per gun.

    Let me tell you, in South Carolina, there aren't going to be very many people who are excited about a pro gun control, gun tax candidate and that's his record. This is not theory, these aren't speeches. That's what he did as governor.

    So, I just want to make sure that everybody in the rest of the country begins to understand, this is a person trying to run as Republican nominee, who is the most moderate candidate in modern times. I think not since Nelson Rockefeller have we had a candidate like this and I think it puts him in a very difficult position to get in the Republican primaries beyond New Hampshire.

    HANNITY: Do you still believe, as you once said, you didn't think that Romney could win in the general election against Obama?

    GINGRICH: I think you'd have a very hard time. I would support him if he's the nominee. I think he's vastly better than Barack Obama. But I think when you get into a debate between Romneycare and Obamacare, you get in a debate between Romney's tax increases and Obama's tax increases. You get into a debate where Romney was functionally pro-choice and Obama is pro-choice, it's going to be pretty hard to round up the conservative base in party and get them enthusiastic, if that's what the debate ends up looking like.

    HANNITY: All right. Mr. Speaker, thanks so much for being with us, we appreciate your time. And don't forget that game is on late tonight. So, that I think 1 a.m. Eastern, so, if you want to take a look at it.

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