Is the Presidency Within Newt Gingrich's Reach?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Last night's GOP presidential debate gave the Republican candidates a chance to layout their platforms and to make it clear how they will challenge both "The Anointed One" and each other. The former speaker of the House and Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich -- who will join me in just a moment -- announced that he is setting his sights on something even bigger than the presidency. Let's take a look.


NEWT GINGRICH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This campaign cannot be only about the presidency. We need to pick up at least 12 seats in the U.S. Senate and 30 or 40 more seats in the House. Because if you are serious about repealing Obamacare, you have to be serious about building a big enough majority in the legislative branch that you could actually in the first 90 days pass the legislation. So, it is very important to understand. It is not about what one person in America does, it is about what the American people do. And that requires a senatorial majority as well as a presidency.


HANNITY: Now, last week however, what looked like a mutiny took place within the Gingrich campaign as over a dozen of the former speaker senior staffers, including his campaign manager, resigned en masse. So while the speaker is rallying the GOP around the prospect of a new Republican majority, the question remains, is the presidency within his reach?

And joining me now is the former speaker of the House, GOP presidential candidate, author of the brand new book, "A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters," available on Mr. Speaker, welcome back.

GINGRICH: It's good to be with you. And I think what you just showed explains what happened last week. I'm for an idea-oriented campaign at the grassroots that builds a momentum so big that we pick up a dozen Senate seats and 30 or 40 House seats. And I think it is very important that we have a solution-oriented campaign.

HANNITY: What happened with the campaign staff? There were obviously disagreements. The public reports were that they were upset that you had gone on vacation. And they had one vision for the campaign, you had another. What went on?

GINGRICH: Look, I think that was the key to it, Sean. My vision, the one that I learned with Goldwater in '64, learned with Reagan in '76 and '80, that you saw in '93, '94, the contract with America, my vision is of a people oriented grassroots campaign where becomes the center of new solutions, new ideas, new energy. A campaign that's inclusive, that brings together everybody in America of every ethnic background who wants to change Washington. And I think that that was so different from the normal Republican model, that there just wasn't a fit.

I frankly feel liberated. With the exception of only one person, all of my original team is still with me. And in every single state where we loss some people, we've actually gained new people who are excited by the idea that we could have a genuinely different grassroots campaign to change Washington.

HANNITY: I've been a little surprised to read some of the commentary on you. Because if you go back, it wasn't until I think like September, October when Reagan showed that he was actually beating Jimmy Carter and he won by a large margin. Same thing, I lived in Atlanta when you became speaker. And I don't think a year out of that, you would have predicted you were going to be speaker of the House. It was a historic election.

It seems early in the campaign. And I'm listening to guys and reading columns, Charles Krauthammer, Mike Baron, they seem to be dismissing you and the campaign is just starting. One, does it bother you? And two, why do you think that is?

GINGRICH: I think that Newt 2012 is the biggest threat to end the 80 year majority of the left in the bureaucracies, the judgeships, the policies -- that this city has seen. And I think whether you are a member of the establishment on the right or a member of the establishment on the left, the idea of a genuine grassroots rebellion is very unnerving. Remember, Goldwater was opposed by virtually the entire Republican establishment. Ronald Reagan was opposed. People preferred John Connelly, George H.W. Bush, Howard Baker. Reagan was seen as a genuine outsider. And I think people here realize that I really am different. I'm totally committed to developing a generation of new solutions. And I'm prepared to side with the American people against the entire Washington establishment, if that's what it takes for us to change Washington.

HANNITY: What did you think of the debate last night? I have my own impression, I'll tell you in a second. But I wanted to know how it felt for you. Because you've been out of this arena now for quite a long period of time. You worked here at Fox News. You have written a lot of books. You've done documentaries. You've stayed in the arena. You've stayed engaged. You're obviously American solutions, health transformation. So, it is not like you've left the political arena in that sense. But to be back in this specific arena was new. And you hadn't been there, what? In over a decade.

GINGRICH: Well, I think it was actually helpful for me to be gone for the last 12 years. Because I really see my role as a citizen, not as a traditional politician. And I went to the debate last night as a citizen, I felt very comfortable, very relaxed. I thought the -- I'll be curious to hear what you think, Sean. I thought the funniest thing was how much we disappointed the elite media. They wanted us to fight each other.


GINGRICH: And instead, seven of us were fighting Barack Obama. And I think it really annoyed the national media that we decided all seven of us, that we would focus on how bad Obama is. And on the Obama depression that has left 14 million Americans out of work.

HANNITY: Well, it's funny, I said the exact same thing. The media is frustrated that you were all killing each other up there and that everyone, you know, was very focused. I'll tell you my impression as I was watching the debate. Besides the short time you had to answer, it is like if you had 10 seconds of an answer, you were interrupted, which was frustrating to me as somebody who has occasionally interrupted people, maybe I've learned a lesson.

But in all seriousness, you know, I've listened to the pundits, I've read the articles -- it's an unimpressive field, Barack Obama will sail into reelection. This is JV. I thought the opposite. I was extraordinarily impressed by everybody that I saw up there. And I thought every one of you could beat Barack Obama, whoever is fortunate enough in the end to get this nomination.

GINGRICH: Well, you know, it's very striking to me that -- the arrogance of the elite media. They don't get to choose the president. The people of the United States do. As you remember, I was wrong about Hillary Clinton. I thought for months and months, she was going to be the Democratic nominee. At this time in 2007, Rudy Giuliani was the frontrunner on our side, Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner on their side.

But the idea there are bunch of people sitting around in New York, in Washington talking on television who've never run campaigns, who don't have any background being out there with the American people. They are going to dictate?

Look who was there last night. There was a great team. Herman Cain is a genuine American success story. The entrepreneur who was the CEO of a fairly big company. A very articulate guy. Tim Pawlenty, he was good state legislator, a good governor, has a lot of smart ideas. The fact is, Ron Paul for years has been right about the Federal Reserve needing an audit. And in many ways, front Ron Paul has some very, very useful ideas. Governor Romney was a very successful businessman and a very successful governor. You may disagree with him about some things, such as health care, but he's nonetheless a formidable person. Michele Bachmann has a remarkable personal human story, was a very successful state legislator, and a very effective congresswoman. Rick Santorum is one of the most courageous people I know. A great advocate for social conservative issues and an extraordinary knowledgeable student of national security.

And frankly, having once upon a time been Speaker of the House, balanced the federal budget for four years, reformed the welfare, the biggest entitlement reform in our modern history. And passed the first tax cut in 16 years to bring unemployment down from 5.6 percent under four percent. I think I ought to have some standing as a potential alternative to a president who is a total disaster.

I mean, look at the Obama record, 14 million unemployed. One out of every four houses in America is worth less than its mortgage. Gasoline is going up and what is his answer? To run to Brazil, praise the Brazilians for drilling offshore and tell them he would like us to be their best customer. We don't need the president as purchasing agent, we need the president as salesman.

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