Krauthammer: Who is the true conservative running for president?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly

Factor," February 7, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be


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O'REILLY: "Back of the Book" segment tonight, will the real conservative please stand up? Remember that line from the old program "What's My Line?"

Well, in the presidential sweepstakes, many American conservatives are disenchanted over the lack of a right-wing candidate, even though the contenders all say they are conservative. Here's Newt Gingrich last weekend.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And as Charles Krauthammer said Romney's comments this week were a sign that he doesn't quite understand conservative philosophy. And I think that's important for the country, for Republicans, for conservatives to think about.


O'REILLY: And joining us now from Washington is FOX News analyst Charles Krauthammer. So you're a political ad now, Charles. That's what you are.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that was clearly the high point of Gingrich's address. And I commend him for the sagacity and the wisdom of his choice of authorities.

Look, he -- he had me sort of right. Although what I was saying is that Romney lacked the fluency in conservative language. Look, he's a guy who, admittedly, what he said in the second debate in Florida about what he had done for the movement. He frankly said, you know, "Not that much. I was a businessman. I was out of the political arena for most of my life. And then I became political. And in time I became a little bit more conservative."

There's nothing wrong with that. Ronald Reagan started out as a liberal Democrat. A lot of people have evolved in their lifetime.

But I think it's true to say that he doesn't have the same kind of conservative instincts, and he doesn't have a fluency with the language and the ideas that somebody who's been indoctrinated in it for 30 years.

O'REILLY: Well, and I also heard you say that he's not a conservative ideologue. He simply isn't. And he never will be.

But they say Newt Gingrich isn't because of his global warming stuff. Because of some of the votes that he had. Some of the things that he says. I mean, he's been under attack as a conservative. In fact, Rick Santorum attacks Newt Gingrich, saying he isn't a conservative.

I mean, I think Santorum is. I don't think -- he's probably the only one among the four that you could put the word "conservative" on pretty much down the line. Correct?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think I'd say that consistently in his record, ideologically, yes. Gingrich, look, has a great history as a conservative hero. He did something for the movement that hadn't been done in the early 1990s when he returned them to power after almost half a century in the House. I think he's instinctively a conservative.

The problem with him is he lacks discipline. He comes up with all kinds of ideas. Some of them are off the wall. Some of them are sort of non-conservative.

So when I asked him once on "Special Report" when we had the candidates about, you know, the sitting down on the couch with Nancy Pelosi, how could you do that if you're a conservative, and he basically said, "Well, that's the dumbest thing I ever did" without getting an answer.

I think the answer here is that, if you're not sort of intellectually disciplined, you're willing to pick up an idea here and there as it comes across the transom, as it becomes fashionable at the time, and thus a lot of conservatives have a worry that, if he were president, he'd wake up once a week with a new idea which may or may not be...

O'REILLY: Be conservative. But the world is changing. And in the Nevada vote, most people who describe themselves as conservative voted for Mitt Romney. So I don't know if -- if really hard-core conservative Americans are wielding the influence that they once did, for example, in the Reagan era. I think that the changes in the world have made problem solving rise above conservative ideology.

I'll give you the last word.

KRAUTHAMMER: No, I disagree. I think if you define it in terms of smaller government, not the social issues but sort of the social contract - - What does the citizen owe the state and the state owe the citizen? -- I think there's been a rise of conservatism.

I think particularly in reaction to Obama and the liberal overreach and the Gallup shows twice as many conservatives as liberals in the country. I think on the social issues, there's a generational change. Younger people are less concerned about gay marriage, for example. And I think over time that issue will wither away.

But on the fundamental issue of what should government do? How intrusive, how big, how wide, how...


KRAUTHAMMER: ... strong it should be, on that there's a very strong conservative majority in the country. And I think overall, it will prevail.

O'REILLY: All right, Charles. Thanks, as always. We appreciate it.

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