This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," April 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight, Senator Clinton takes on Reverend Wright. What does she think about her opponent's former pastor? Now, Monday at the National Press Club here in Washington, D.C., Reverend Wright defended himself and his controversial views. Tuesday, Senator Obama for the first time blasted not just what the pastor said but the pastor himself. And today Senator Clinton tells Bill O'Reilly what she thinks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Can you believe this Reverend Wright guy? Can you believe this guy?
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know...
O'REILLY: What do you think?
CLINTON: Well, I'm going to leave it up to voters to decide.
O'REILLY: But what do you think, as an American? You're an American.
CLINTON: Well -- well, what I said when I was asked directly is that I would not have stayed in that church.
O'REILLY: No, no, no, no. But you're an American citizen. I'm an American citizen. He's an American citizen, Reverend Wright. What do you think when you hear a fellow American citizen say that stuff about America? What do you think?
CLINTON: Well, I take offense at it. I think it's offensive and outrageous, and you know, I'm going to express my opinion. Others can express theirs. But you know, it is part of, you know, just an atmosphere that we're in today, where all kinds of things are being said. And people have to, you know, decide what they believe. And I sure don't believe the United States government was behind AIDS.
O'REILLY: Now, when I see people jumping up and applauding when he says that and other things -- we're the moral equivalent of al Qaeda -- when I see my fellow citizens, I don't care what color they are, jumped up and applaud that, that disturbs me.
CLINTON: Well, Bill, this is part of the mosaic and diversity of America. And obviously, on opinions like that...
O'REILLY: That's hateful!
CLINTON: Well, you know, I happen to think that it is just totally off base. It's, you know, so far out, it's hard to even understand and take seriously.
O'REILLY: Are you surprised? And you got to tell me the truth here. You're looking me in the eye, so I'm going to believe you. Are you surprised that FOX News has been fairer to you than NBC News and a lot of the other liberal news networks? Are you surprised?
CLINTON: I wouldn't expect anything less than a fair and balanced coverage of my campaign.
O'REILLY: Now, I knew you'd be a little...
O'REILLY: But really, aren't you surprised?
CLINTON: Well, I have -- you know, look, I am not a pundit or a commentator. I'm going to...
O'REILLY: But they hammer you...
CLINTON: ... Leave that to you.
O'REILLY: ... Every single night!
CLINTON: You know, that comes with the territory. I mean...
O'REILLY: I know, but aren't you surprised?
CLINTON: This is -- I'm running for the toughest job in the world, and it goes with the territory.
O'REILLY: You're not going to tell me whether you're surprised.
CLINTON: Well, you know, I think a lot of people know that this is a campaign of firsts. Us sitting down today, another first...
VAN SUSTEREN: And this is...
CLINTON: ... In this campaign.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... Fun so far?
CLINTON: Well, I've been having a good time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, we spoke with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich just moments ago.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, nice to see you. We're going to talk about "Days of Infamy," your brand-new historical novel. But first, I have to ask you about Bill O'Reilly's interview with Senator Clinton. He asked her about Reverend Wright. So let me ask you, is Reverend Wright handled now by Senator Obama, or is this a problem that's going to be recurring?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Oh, I think it's mostly handled, but I think it's going to linger for weeks. And the question will be what's going to happen next Tuesday? Did this hurt him enough, did he lose enough momentum, that the gap narrows dramatically in North Carolina and that she -- and that Senator Clinton carries Indiana? And I think that's really the ball game. If she loses Indiana, and if the gap is wide in North Carolina, then I think he's probably the nominee. But if he can't win Indiana, which after all, is next to his home state and gets Chicago television for about 25 percent of the market, and if the gap has narrowed dramatically in North Carolina, then there are some signs that he is in big trouble.
Watch the interview: Part 1 | Part 2
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, one of the things that's sort of interesting about it is that in North Carolina, the Republican Party -- not Senator McCain but the Republican Party aired an anti-Reverend Wright video against a Democrat. There's two special elections this weekend, Louisiana and Mississippi. Both those Democrats who are running have endorsed or embraced Senator Obama. They're getting hit with Reverend Wright ads. So here's the big question, is in the fall, are the superdelegates who are up for reelection, if they've endorsed Senator Obama, are they looking for trouble so they might want to rethink this?
GINGRICH: Well, they've got both Reverend Wright and they've got Bill Ayers, the terrorist who's now a very radical professor of education. And they've got questions about the Million Man March. I mean, there are enough pieces that make Senator Obama, who's a very attractive, very articulate person, but give him just enough of the left-wing sort of tinge that they have to expect that that'll be part of the conversation.
And then the deeper part, where I thought Reverend Wright was devastating, was when he was at the National Press Club, he said basically, Look, you know, Senator Obama lied. I mean, he said -- he said all these - - he said those things because he's a politician. He doesn't mean any of them. They're not really true. That's -- to have your minister describe you that way is pretty devastating if your rise is based on your being different, being a "change you can believe in," being the candidate of inclusion, the candidate of hope.
And then the description, I thought, of praying in the basement was almost weird. I mean -- I mean, here's a situation where Obama has decided he can't afford to have Reverend Wright at the public announcement, but he doesn't -- he can't say, No, you can't come, so he ends up literally praying in the basement, which I just thought was a very strange (INAUDIBLE)
VAN SUSTEREN: Hiding him. Showing knowledge.
GINGRICH: In a sense...
VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe.
GINGRICH: In a sense, saying to the country, I knew the day I announced that he was too dangerous to allow you to know how well I knew him, but I'm too close to him to actually reject him. I mean, it's -- think about the psychology of that. That's not going to go away, this whole sense of, Who is Barack Obama?
VAN SUSTEREN: But see, that's what I mean. He -- Tuesday is the primary, and he's going to win North Carolina, most expect, and if he wins Indiana, he's going to be the likely nominee, but for the superdelegates, and if the superdelegates from some of these more conservatives or middle- of-the-road districts suddenly get panic-stricken that they're not going to get reelected in November...
GINGRICH: Now, look, even if they decide he's in the McGovern-Dukakis tradition and he's going to collapse in the fall, if he wins Indiana, I don't think they can afford to stop him because I think you would have chaos in Denver. I think the Democratic national convention would literally disintegrate. I think -- I mean, his base is going to say, He won this, he took the beating, we still won Indiana, we still won North Carolina, he's the nominee.
VAN SUSTEREN: Even though it may have -- it's not going to have an impact on somebody who represents a district like Berkeley, California, but someone who represents a conservative district may not get elected in November.
GINGRICH: Go back and look at McGovern and at Dukakis. I mean, this -- the Democratic Party has cheerfully gone off the cliff before. You know, they sing great songs together and they march straight off the cliff. I mean -- and I think that they might be -- you know, if he can win both of these, they might be in a position where they literally don't have any choice. I don't see how they could turn him down at that point.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there something he can do? I mean, if you were advising him -- I know you're not in the business -- but to recover from this, so that if he is the nominee, he can recover?
GINGRICH: No, my advice to him would be pick a fight with Senator Clinton. Find some topic where you're popular, she's unpopular. Get to a new topic and get out of this thing.
VAN SUSTEREN: But it's only half the game is winning the nomination, which is serious (ph) at this point. You've got to have...
GINGRICH: But he's...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you've still got to beat McCain in November if you want to be president.
GINGRICH: He's just got to say, That's over. We've discussed it. I'm clear on this. New topic.
VAN SUSTEREN: And you think that -- if he's the nominee...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... That'll work in November?
GINGRICH: Otherwise, he'll never get out from under this. I mean, he'll spend the whole rest of the year in psychobabble, and he'll never get to any of his positions.
VAN SUSTEREN: But what -- what Republican candidate, if he gets the nomination, is going to let him change the topic? And is Senator McCain going to let him change the topic, once he's the...
GINGRICH: No, I...
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, if it happens that he's the nominee.
GINGRICH: I thought there was something that Senator Clinton said tonight to Bill O'Reilly that was very telling, when she said, People aren't asking how I feel about Reverend Wright. People are asking how I feel about gasoline, how I feel about jobs, how I feel about take-home pay, people (INAUDIBLE) about health care. I mean, I think you can get to a point where because he's such a great performer -- and he's one of the great performers of our time...
VAN SUSTEREN: Performer or -- or, you know, true believer and -- and...
GINGRICH: We don't know yet. But at a minimum, he's somebody who can build a theme and can build a speech, and I think he'd be very formidable saying, Let's talk about the real issues. Let's talk about the price of gasoline right now. He doesn't any answers for it, which is the problem of being on the left. But that's my personal bias as a conservative, that -- that he can demagogue it but he can't solve it.
VAN SUSTEREN: But he can get around all this.
GINGRICH: I think he's got to find a way to pick the kind of fights that give him a chance to get people to talk about a new topics because if he just stays stuck in this, he'll just keep eroding.
VAN SUSTEREN: So how does he pick a fight with Senator Clinton?
GINGRICH: Pick a topic that they disagree on, where he's...
VAN SUSTEREN: But they don't disagree on much. That's the problem. OK, now the gas tax...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean -- I mean, that's the interesting...
GINGRICH: I am not a consultant to either campaign, and I haven't looked at the polling. But there should be an item on which he can go after her, and he can create two or three commercials that go after her, and then the whole conversation becomes the Obama commercials attacking Hillary. That's a better conversation for him than round of 73 of Reverend Wright.
VAN SUSTEREN: And assuming the reverend doesn't speak again because then that would be...
GINGRICH: That's the other thing, is if Reverend Wright now -- I don't know what his speaking schedule's like -- it was interesting, by the way, that it is a Clinton supporter who arranged the National Press Club speech.
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, but I was there. She was just -- she was just on the speech thing. That's been debunked. I mean, I'm a member of the press.
GINGRICH: So that's not...
VAN SUSTEREN: That's not true. That's not true. I can -- in fact, she -- I will give you some behind-the-scenes. She introduced me to Reverend Wright, and she said to me -- I just thought she was a reverend. I didn't realize she was a member of the Press Club. She says, You'll be nice to him, won't you, when you meet him? And I said, I'm always gracious.
VAN SUSTEREN: More with Speaker Newt Gingrich in a minute. The North Carolina Republican Party, though, has been running some harsh TV ads. The ads attack local Democratic politicians, linking them to Reverend Wright because they support Senator Obama. Here's one of the ads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For 20 years, Barack Obama sat in his pew, listening to his pastor.
REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, FMR PASTOR, TRINITY UCC: ... And then wants us to sing, "God bless America"? No, no, no! Not God bless America, God (DELETED) America that's in the...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now Beth Perdue and Richard Moore endorse Barack Obama. They should know better. He's just too extreme for North Carolina.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The North Carolina Republican Party sponsored this ad opposing Beth Perdue and Richard Moore for North Carolina governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Clearly, the Reverend Wright controversies are becoming a problem for Democrats around the country. Could it eventually become a problem for some of the prized superdelegates? Now, after seeing these ads attacking their fellow Democrats over the Reverend Wright issue, some of the superdelegates might think twice before they choose to support Senator Obama. Could the same thing happened to them?
Now, this is your news show. We want to know what you think, so log onto Gretawire.com and vote in our live vote. Answer this question. And do this right now. Should Obama superdelegates up for reelection in November worry about ads linking them to Reverend Wright? First choice, Yes. Second choice, No. Log on right now, vote, and we will give the results at the end of the news show.
And coming up, we've got much more with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in just a few minutes.
Plus, the two-time Olympic gold medallist drugged inside a posh California hotel is here to go "On the Record." What does she think -- who does she think slipped her the GHB and why?
And later: Why was a 19-year-old college coed at her 51-year-old college professor's condo at night? And how just hours later did she end up dead? The bizarre details surrounding her death. Stick around.
VAN SUSTEREN: More with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
VAN SUSTEREN: "Days of Infamy" -- this is your second historic novel?
GINGRICH: Well, no, it's actually our -- we've written three on the Civil War, and we've written...
VAN SUSTEREN: Second on Pearl Harbor, I mean.
GINGRICH: It's the second in Pearl Harbor series.
VAN SUSTEREN: The Pearl Harbor.
GINGRICH: But it is -- basically takes the question, If the Japanese had brought forward Admiral Yamamoto, their best admiral, and if they'd been very, very aggressive at Pearl Harbor, what could they have done? And "Days of Infamy" picks up where "Pearl Harbor" left off last year and basically shows you a Japanese admiral who has won a huge victory at Pearl Harbor who's now hunting American aircraft carriers, and it shows you Admiral Bill Halsey, our most aggressive admiral, in charge of the aircraft carrier Enterprise, and he's hunting the Japanese. It's a very action- packed, very exciting novel, and we're very excited about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the thing that I thought was interesting about it is that you have Admiral Yamamoto, who was not the one who was running the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but that instead, they had a -- instead, the admiral that was doing it had a completely different military philosophy. And so they attacked, and they left. Whereas, you think -- the way it's written is that if Yamamoto had been the admiral in charge, he would have stuck around.
GINGRICH: Yes. Well, it was very interesting when we first began researching this because Admiral Nagumo, who was the one who was in charge, had launched two waves against Pearl Harbor and then left. All of his junior officers, who were aircraft carrier officers, were begging him to launch a third wave.
And as you dig more into his background, you realize this guy spent his life on destroyers and on cruisers, and those are smaller ships and their job is to raid. They run in, they hit and they run like crazy because they're too small to stay and fight. So his entire psychology was, How can I raid and get away safely? Yamamoto's totally different. Yamamoto's a great aviation admiral. He had been the captain of an aircraft carrier. He was the head of the bureau of aeronautics for the Japanese navy. And he was a great gambler personally.
VAN SUSTEREN: I was just going to say that he was a gambler, a poker player!
GINGRICH: And it's...
VAN SUSTEREN: A poker player!
GINGRICH: Yes, that's right. In the United States, he played poker and made a lot of money when he was based here. When he was in Europe, he made money playing roulette. He had a deep belief in his luck. And so we said to ourselves, as we first began designing the series, What if the younger aviation officers had got to Yamamoto in September and said to him, This is the key moment of the war. You're the best admirable we have. You have to come personally. And what if they'd convince him? And that's how we got him to Pearl Harbor, and then from Pearl Harbor, how we got into "Days of Infamy."
And it's -- I had a four-star general tell me the other day who'd read this in a draft for me, and he said, It is a great study of command and doctrine. In fact, he said he had recommended it to a group of generals and said to them, If you want to study how the difference in personality and the difference in doctrine can decisively change something, he said, read a good history of Pearl Harbor, and then read these two volumes and realize, Boy, it could have been a lot worse if the Japanese had sent their best admiral.
VAN SUSTEREN: So another good title would have been, "What If?" Yes, it would have been. One other quick thing is that his luck, though, sort of ran out at the end, Yamamoto.
GINGRICH: Well, he did. We actually managed to ambush him in a very famous raid and shoot down his airplane. But he had a very good run for about two years, and he was very formidable.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I mean -- I mean, it's a fascinating book because how different -- how different all of history would have been.
GINGRICH: It makes for huge changes.
VAN SUSTEREN: And just -- and reading the book, you know, it makes you stop and think about that, so it's fascinating. "Days of Infamy" -- you can get on line or at any book store. Mr. Speaker, nice to see you, and we'll see you Tuesday night at 10:00 o'clock PM. We've -- we've -- hopefully, have booked him for the primary. Now I really trapped you.
GINGRICH: You're certainly going to hear from me Tuesday.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're going to hear from him, anyway.
GINGRICH: We'll see whether you're going to see me.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir. Nice to see you.
GINGRICH: All right.
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