Transcript: Newt Gingrich on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a partial transcript of the Sept. 23, 2007, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":

"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Joining us now, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

And, Mr. Speaker, welcome back.

GINGRICH: Good to be here.

WALLACE: Let's talk first of all about Hillary Clinton, because I was struck by her appearance and several things she said. She said we need to get back to the center. We need to get beyond partisanship.

Are we seeing a new Hillary Clinton?

GINGRICH: I think at one level we are. I think Senator Clinton really does recognize — and I thought, for example, on electronic health records she's in the center. I mean, that part of her proposal is a very good, very sound step forward, something she and I worked on.

So in some ways, for a very liberal candidate who has a very liberal background, she's doing what she can to try to move towards the center, plus she knows if she's going to be the nominee, she's not going to win on the left.

You cannot get elected — as Celinda Lake points out this morning in The Washington Post, you can't get elected on the left in this country. So she's got to find a way to try to get to the center.

WALLACE: Let's talk about the Clinton health care plan, because she says that she's learned from all the problems of 1994 and, unlike Hillary care then, this plan does not create a massive government bureaucracy.

It allows people to keep their current plan or to choose from a menu of options — the word choice is used over and over again. And she points out it would insure all Americans. And she says, and it's true, none of the plans by Republicans that have been offered so far would do that.

GINGRICH: You know, let me offer a radical proposal. Instead of saying yes/no, why don't we take this as the start of a dialogue? Some things that she proposes are interesting and useful. Some things need to be challenged very directly.

There are two parts, I think. One is she's very disingenuous about the government part. This is a big government, high-tax, bureaucratic plan. It's much better than Hillary care of 1993, but it is nonetheless, in the end, a big government plan.

The thing I'm concerned about is that no one wants to make government accountable. We know that in New York state, there's $4.4 billion a year of fraud annually in Medicaid or more. Nothing's done.

We just had a report last week that in three counties in south Florida, there may be as much as $2 billion a year of fraud in HIV/AIDS programs. Nothing's done.

And the first question I'd ask Senator Clinton is why would you think government is an accountable, reliable provider of these kind of services. And I think that's the heart of her plan.

But to start with the idea, some of the goals are right. The delivery system is probably wrong. Now let's have a conversation rather than a yes/no debate.

WALLACE: Speaking of solutions, you're going to be hosting a conference this week called American Solutions with workshops across the country.

Give us a sense briefly of how big it will be and how it will work.

GINGRICH: It will start Thursday night at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, and we will have nationwide over 2,000 sites. It will be available on Dish TV and DIRECTV and will available on the Internet at It will be bipartisan.

Elaine Kamarck, who was the head of Al Gore's reinventing government, is doing a workshop on how to get rid of bureaucracy.

Governor Roy Roemer, former Democratic governor of Colorado, who spent 6.5 years as head of the Los Angeles school system, is doing an Ed '08 discussion workshop on education.

Brian Bilbray, the congressman from San Diego, will be doing a workshop from the border on immigration.

So it will be a very interesting development of ideas, and it starts with a very simple premise. We need dramatic change in our system, and we are not going to get dramatic change inside the current political structure without an enormous effort by the American people.

And that's not just the presidency, which is what this city focuses on, but there are 513,000 elected officials in the U.S., and Americans Solutions is aimed at moving the entire system over the next five years to 10 years.

WALLACE: As you talk about bureaucracy and immigration and health care and education, how does that get translated into a coherent set of principles, or doesn't this end up being Newt Gingrich picking and choosing whatever he thinks is right?

GINGRICH: Well, let me say first off, if you look at what Dennis Smith has done at New York University in studying how Giuliani dramatically improved crime using evidence-based government and metrics, you see a beginning.

If you look at what Elaine Kamarck has worked on in the last 10 years about replacing bureaucracy, or what Steve Goldsmith did in Indianapolis, we see the beginnings.

I did a very brief 3.5-minute video on YouTube called FedEx vs. Federal Bureaucracy. And if you look at that and you think there's a world that works — UPS and FedEx are examples. There's a world that fails, the federal government, which can't find 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants, can't control the border.

Let me give you a radical platform. Levees shouldn't fail. Bridges shouldn't fall. Schools should educate. And these are just — I mean, think about what you see around you. Borders should be controlled.

And then you say, "You know, if those things were true, look how big the change in government would have to be."

WALLACE: You say — and you talked about change — that the Republican Party needs to make a clean break from George W. Bush.

What does that mean? And how can Republicans say that they're the agent of change when it's been a Republican president and a Republican Congress in power for most of the last six years?

GINGRICH: Well, I think that's part of the challenge, is to make the case authentically, but it's not about President Bush as an individual person.

The current system doesn't work. A couple of quick examples: We ought to have English as the official language of government. We ought to have intensive education in English for everybody who comes here.

We ought to guarantee that you have the right to say one nation under God as part of the pledge of allegiance. There are a whole series of steps people want.

The Detroit schools should actually teach kids, as opposed to just pay bureaucrats. I mean, there are a number of things we should be doing. That requires fundamental change.

And I tell every Republican activist they should read Nicolas Sarkozy's testimony, because...

WALLACE: The president of France.

GINGRICH: ... as the president of France, was in Chirac's cabinet when he issued a speech saying we need a clean break.

Now, he's serving as the interior minister of the government he's saying we need a clean break from. The left nominated a very attractive woman candidate, Segolene Royal. She should have won.

But in fact, by the election, people said, "You know, if I want real change, I need Sarkozy, because she represents reactionary bureaucracy and she won't change things."

WALLACE: You've been flirting with the idea of running for president for months. And this week you said you want to see if you can get pledges of $30 million before deciding. How is that going to work?

GINGRICH: Well, I've said all along for the last year, I'm going to focus — I personally am focusing totally on doing American Solutions, having the workshops on Thursday and Saturday, reaching out across the whole country on a totally bipartisan basis.

Next Monday, Randy Evans, who's been my friend and adviser for many, many years, will hold a press briefing. Randy will spend the next three weeks checking with people around the country.

If he reports back that, in fact, we think the resources are there for a real race — remember, Governor Romney has been very successful legitimately as a businessman. He can write a $100 million check.

I mean, there's no point in getting into a fight with a guy who can drown you unless you at least have enough resources for a vote.

And so if we have enough resources, then close to that we'll face a very big decision in late October. If there aren't enough resources, I'm not for doing unrealistic things.

WALLACE: But why even go through it unless, if you get the money, you'd run?

GINGRICH: I think the odds are very high, if we ended up with that level of pledges, we'd — I don't see as a citizen how you could turn that down.

WALLACE: So you'd run.

GINGRICH: I think you'd be compelled to.


GINGRICH: I think any citizen — how could you turn to all of your fellow citizens — if they walk in and say, "You know, we think you're the person who ought to debate Senator Clinton, and we think you're the person who can actually explain where we ought to go," how could you turn to them and say, "Well, I'm too busy?" Couldn't do it.

WALLACE: So basically, it's going out, reaching out, seeing if you get the commitments. And if you get the commitments...

GINGRICH: But I want the commitments first. I don't want to go out on personal ambition. If there is, in fact, enough people in the country who think we need this kind of approach and this kind of change-oriented policies, then I think I'd feel a responsibility to run.

WALLACE: We're talking less than two months, if this is now into November we're talking about — two months before Iowa, three months before Super Tuesday.


WALLACE: Do you really think you can mount a serious campaign in that short a time?

GINGRICH: I think in the age of television, we are reaching more people today than Abraham Lincoln reached personally his entire career.

I mean, you know, your show has literally that much more penetration than Abraham Lincoln's entire career. So I think in the age of television, I've been in Iowa many times. I just came back from Mackinaw in Michigan yesterday.

You know, we have many friends across the country. If we have enough friends, I think we could mount a campaign in a matter of weeks.

WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, we want to thank you. Thanks for coming in, and good luck with your conference this week, sir.

GINGRICH: Thank you.