'Hannity': Newt Gingrich Rates President Obama's Crisis Management

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 17, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And tonight, the nuclear emergency in Japan continues and the turmoil in Libya is at a boiling point. And finally today, after days and days of inaction, the Obama administration took some time to address these growing crises.

Now, first on Libya, U.S.-supported no-fly zone resolution was approved by the United Nations Security Council. Now, the vote went down just a short time ago and authorizes -- quote -- "all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya" including air strikes. And if you keep the score at home, that means it took this White House 31 days to layout a coherent strategy to address that situation.

And on the disaster in Japan, President Obama took a break from golfing and filling out his brackets to visit the Japanese embassy in Washington. He also delivered a brief statement about the uncertainty surrounding the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant this afternoon. But as usual, he refused to take questions from the press.

So, what took the president so long to grapple with all of these crises going on? Here with his take, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.


HANNITY: Well, first of all, let's start with Japan, which, you know, we're watching all of this. You know, he was out playing golf and the tsunami hadn't even receded at the time on Saturday. He's taking time for brackets. He's meeting, you know, all about St. Patrick's Day today -- your reaction?

GINGRICH: Well, I think what is increasing clear that we have a spectator in chief instead of a commander in chief. And I think each situation is very different. But the way in which -- remember, this is in a background still of terrible economic news. It's in a background of rising gasoline prices. It's in a background where the deficit is enormous and he's showing no leadership on the budget. It is maybe the most passive and out of touch presidency in modern American history. He makes Jimmy Carter's micromanaging the tennis courts at the White House look tiny compared to the degree to which he's avoiding doing his job right now. And I think you have to go sort of item by item.

On Japan, we ought to have a scientific commission made up of nuclear physicists and nuclear engineers -- not politicians, not people who already have a predisposed opinion -- but real experts to start digging into what has happened, what is happening, what are the implications for American policy. I think that's a very important first step. We've obviously indicated we will do all we can to help the Japanese and we should. I've talked to a number of people who are close to the American military who realize we have considerable military assets and personnel taking some real risks to try to help the Japanese. It is a tremendous tragedy. And all of us should I think keep the Japanese in our prayers, this is the worst crisis they've had since World War II. And we don't know yet how bad this whole thing is going to be. It's an enormous crisis.

HANNITY: All right. So, we've got...

GINGRICH: On Libya --


GINGRICH: Go ahead.

HANNITY: Well, but I'll just want to put -- he is taking a trip, another vacation to Rio. He has played golf 61 times. He played the last two Saturdays. He's filling out his brackets and making a big deal about this. The only thing on his agenda today was meeting with people from Ireland and that one quick comment that he made, fundraisers that he's been too. And you are talking about that he should have immediately set up a commission of some of the best, brightest, smartest nuclear minds and engineers in the country and help the Japanese out, but he didn't do it.

GINGRICH: Well, he didn't do it. And if you look at Libya, on March 3rd he said, Qaddafi had to go. There is no evidence Qaddafi is going to go. There is no evidence that the no-fly zone by itself will be effective. Americans need to realize that once the American president has publicly said a dictator has to go, if that dictator survives, it is a considerable defeat for the United States.

The whole region is in turmoil. You have problems everywhere from Bahrain, the Saudis may be in drifting towards a confrontation with the Iranians. You have problems in Yemen. Problems in Egypt. Problems in Tunisia. Problems in Libya. The president seems somehow to be disengaged. You had a terrible terrorist attack in Israel where a three-month-old baby was deliberately killed by a terrorist in a very gruesome way. The United States basically said and done nothing about it, even though the three children and the parents were massacred, deliberately by a terrorist in a very horrible way. The administration has just sort of checked out.

You know, the president has this fixation with the Final Four. Spent time on ESPN giving us his version of what really mattered to him, which was the Final Four. I like basketball. I think the president knows more about it than I do. He may well be right about Kansas. Although I must say, I have a personal affection for Duke. One of my best friends from high school, went to school, and they have a great coach. And I kind of have a soft spot in my heart for Duke winning. But Kansas is a great school. So, maybe the president is right.

But what is strange is, with all of these crises, how could you focus that kind of time and attention as president of the United States? Not as a private citizen, not as a spectator, not as a hobby. I put out today my Final Four. And I said, the Final Four for the president should have been one, enough jobs to get unemployment down to four percent. Two, enough American oil and gas production to get gasoline prices down to two dollars. Three, balance the federal budget with a much smaller federal government. And four, control the border.

Now, I would suggest to you, my Final Four comes a lot closer to what a president ought to do than Obama's. It makes you wonder what he thinks his job is.

HANNITY: Yes, in that 31 day interim up to today, Gadhafi said, he was going to win. And that he's been using, literally, bombings from the air, a massacre of literally -- we'll probably never know the accurate number of slaughters taken place. You mentioned the slaughter in Israel, the massacre, 3-year-old child, an 11-year-old, and a family has wiped out. Not a word. And the White House just sits passively. It's frankly a little shocking.

All right. We'll going to come back, we'll get your thoughts, the latest on where you stand in your potential run for the presidency, also on the economy. More with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich after the break.


HANNITY: And with all the turmoil around the globe, some key domestic issues have been overshadowed in recent weeks. But today, two major votes took place on Capitol Hill.

On the Senate side, yet another continuing resolution was passed that will keep the government open for business until April the 8th. And in the House, Republicans scored a major victory voting to prohibit federal money from being used to fun National Public Radio. And back with reaction, all of this is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

All right. Mr. Speaker, I want to give credit where credit is due. Republicans, the new Congress, said, they would repeal Obamacare, they did. The next step they said if they couldn't get the Senate and president to go along, they would defund it. Now, Politico has a story today, some in GOP grow tired of the right wing. And there's a quote in there by a republican congressman that basically says, there's some on my side that want to cut anything that moves. We have four billion dollars in new debt we accumulate a day, four billion. And we found that the Democrats prefunded 105 billion in Obamacare. They didn't want to go through the proper appropriations process. And 54 House Republicans said no. We need to take that money out.

Did they miss an opportunity with the pressure involving funding the government to take that money out?

GINGRICH: Well, I think first of all that they've already eliminated 40 small federal programs in these two cycles with the continuing resolution. In a couple of weeks, you are going to see Paul Ryan the chairman of the budget committee unveil the most dramatic, the boldest budget in modern American history. I have no doubt that Congressman Ryan is going to set the benchmark for everybody who wants to cut spending. He's going to have entitlement reforms, he's going to have dramatic cuts in spending. And every Tea Party member, every fiscal conservative, every budget hawk in the country is going to have an opportunity. Some of them I predict will promptly say, it is not enough. Even though it will be by a big margin, the boldest budget in modern times -- much bolder than anything we did during the four years I was speaker.

And I think Congressman Ryan really understands what he's doing. He's really committed to creating jobs, to developing American energy and to balancing the budget. And he's going to drive towards that with enormous courage. And we'll see how many are prepared for real spending cuts at that point.

I do think that the freshmen came in, dedicated to cutting spending and they should. I'm talking to you tonight from New Hampshire where they are in the middle of cutting spending in their state budget. And there's enormous feeling in New Hampshire that they want the federal government under control. They think Obama has been spending an extraordinarily dangerous and reckless way. And so, I think they expect the Republicans to get this budget under control. And I think the Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are absolutely committed to doing that.

HANNITY: I've interviewed all three of them. And Paul Ryan. I've interviewed McCarthy. Every time I've walked away fully confident that they want to fulfill every promise. I agree. I talked to Paul Ryan. We are still dealing with the budget for 2012. It's gets a little confusing. This was the budget the Democrats should have passed when they have full control, they didn't pass it. And I am looking forward to bold spending cuts. Paul Ryan said he will deal with entitlements. They will do the hard work that Obama put off. Because Obama didn't deal with any of this when he put forward his budget. But I will tell you, there are some that are getting pretty yancy -- fiscal conservatives and saying, wait a minute here, a big part of our promise is defunding Obamacare. When can that happen then? And how is that happen -- go ahead.

GINGRICH: Well, I think it, you know, look, I think it is clearly going to happen in the Ryan budget. I suspect the Ryan budget will also include the defunding of and the elimination of Obamacare. I'm actually doing a press briefing tomorrow at the National Press Club on getting rid of Obamacare on behalf of the center for health transformation. And we are totally committed to getting rid of Obamacare. The country is overwhelmingly committed to getting rid of Obamacare. And I think that you'll see this gets worked out.

I'm not trying to second guess either the Tea Partiers who are legitimately militant and legitimately suspicious. Nor am I trying to second guess Speaker Boehner and the leadership team who are trying to handle a complex situation. You know, they have a Democratic Senate still. They have a president who is far more radical than Bill Clinton ever was. So, I think they're in a different environment.

What I do believe is that they are going to come out with a budget which is extraordinarily bold and which is going to be very different from anything we've seen in our lifetime. And I hope most conservatives are going to give Paul Ryan the benefit of the doubt. Rally the passing of that budget and make clear that the real choices between a lot of cutting and even more cutting, but the real choice is between dramatic cutting and Obama's gigantic spending. And I think that's the real choice for this year.

HANNITY: I think that as Mike Pence has been saying, I like the line, the fight has got to come. They've got to be willing to pick the fight. And I hope they are not going to be intimidated by fear of shutdown. But if they do all the things you are saying, I think there will be broad sweeping support.

Last question, where do you stand in this -- I see you smiling -- in your potential run for the presidency, where are you now?

GINGRICH: Well, we are making a lot of progress. We had a very good day today here in New Hampshire. There are a lot of people going to NewtExplore2012.com. We are testing to see if we have enough financial support and a volunteer support. And I would say, so far it is going very well. Callista and I are monitoring it every day. We are also in the process of taking our four small businesses and putting them in shape that we could in fact, run. And I suspect in a few weeks, you will have, you know, an answer, maybe about in parallel with Ryan or just a little bit after his budget.

We've certainly have had a lot of very positive supports here today as we did last Monday in Iowa. And we'll going continue to work to reach out to test the waters and to see whether or not there's grounds for a dramatically different candidacy that would challenge Obama head-on.

HANNITY: Last question, for those that say, we now have to rethink nuclear power in this country. I know you led the drill here, drill now pay less, it's one of your Final Four issues. What do you say to those that may question or politicize, because of the tragedy in Japan, the use of nuclear power in this country?

GINGRICH: I say we need a scientific commission of nuclear engineers and nuclear physicists -- not politicians, not ideologues, not left-wing extremists -- but a scientific commission. We need to get at the facts. The truth is, the Japanese government doesn't know the facts yet. The American government doesn't know the facts. And I'll guarantee you that Ed Markey and other anti-nuclear extremists don't know the facts.

And I'm prepared to say let's let the facts tell us the truth. If the truth is there are fundamentally flawed, then those of us who have been pro-nuclear have to look at that. If the truth is that the system can be fixed and with some reasonable steps nuclear power can be made safe, then those who are anti-nuclear ought to be required to face that. Let's have scientists and engineers, not politicians tell us what the facts are.

HANNITY: Mr. Speaker, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it. We'll be waiting for your announcement in weeks to come.

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