This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 13, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And we begin with good news tonight, day number 53 of this administration. Bye-bye doom and gloom, hope and change are back. Now, after weeks of talking down the economy and driving the stock market into a tailspin, President Obama is changing his tune.

Now for the sake of political expediency, the White House decided that since they seem to be doing is working, well, they better win some minds and some hearts instead.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A smidgen of good news and suddenly everything's doing great. A little bit of bad news, oh, we're down in the dumps. And I am obviously an object of this constantly varying assessment. I'm the object in chief of this varying assessment.

I don't think things are ever as good as we say and they're never as bad as we say. And things two years ago were not as good as we thought, because there were a lot of underlying weaknesses in the economy, and they're not as bad as we think they are now.

And my long-term projections are highly optimistic if we take care of some of these long-term structural problems.


HANNITY: All right. Now this is a sharp departure from the rhetoric that the president was using in order to get his stimulus package passed. Remember this?


OBAMA: And if we drag our feet and fail to act, this crisis could turn into a catastrophe. From the day I took office, I knew that solving this crisis would not be easy, but I am confident that we as a people have the strength and wisdom to carry out this strategy and overcome this crisis. In the midst of our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.


HANNITY: All right, looks like the White House has been reading the poll numbers that Americans are not exactly embracing their agendas. As pollsters Doug Schoen and Scott Rasmussen pointed out in The Wall Street Journal today, the president's numbers have now dipped below where George W. Bush's numbers were at the same point in his presidency in 2001.

And that's what Americans should keep in mind when they see such tactical political moves by the White House. This is just more politics as usual, not the change that you can believe in.

And joining me tonight is the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

Mr. Speaker, good to see you. It looks like you're sitting in the oval office. Am I right?

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, I'm actually at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. They built an oval office for high school and elementary school students to come and have various scenarios and find out what it's like to make big decisions and to be in these rooms. It's a great facility. And, of course, it's in our movie, "Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny."

But the thing that struck me with what you just reported, Sean, is that if you come here and you look at how Reagan led the nation out of malaise, how he led it out of an economic disaster, how he led it to ultimately win the Cold War, optimism and a confident belief in the American people was at the heart of the Reagan tradition.

And it's kinds of nice to see President Obama begin to leave the Jimmy Carter language and try to embrace more of a Ronald Reagan optimism.


GINGRICH: And it will be interesting to see if he can sustain it over the next week or so.

HANNITY: All right. Now here's the skeptical part of Sean Hannity. All right? Because I've been on this program critical of the doom, gloom, malaise talk of the president. And now he stops it. Now he strikes a more optimistic tone.

And am I wrong to have some questions about the sincerity of all this, whether this is theater, whether this is acting, whether this is contrived, whether this is political?

GINGRICH: Look, whether you assume that it is contrived theater acting for political purposes, it's still better than the earlier contrived political acting that was negative and sounded like Jimmy Carter. So — I mean, presidents to some extent have to be actors.

What I don't know and what you don't know yet is, you know, the difference is Ronald Reagan, in his heart, was an optimist, because Ronald Reagan believed in the American people. President Obama has this great difficulty that he believes in government. And it's pretty hard to be optimistic if you're trying to get bureaucracies to be as creative as the American people.

So it will be interesting to see if he can sustain it. I think he can only sustain it if he drops a lot of his policies, because his policies are ultimately disastrous for this economy.


GINGRICH: The huge energy tax increase, for example, would be a disaster for this economy.

HANNITY: You see, I don't think he's going to be able to keep it up, because I think ultimately that has been the single biggest weapon that he's used, the fear tactics, to scare people into supporting his agenda.

But, you know, one thing you said — I don't even identify myself as a Republican. And I know some people say, well, you're pretty identified with the Republican Party. But I consider myself a Reagan conservative, because, like you were saying, I believe in the American people.

There's two issues that I have that bother me. Number one, the sustainability of the amount of money he's spending, and more importantly, have the American people shifted in terms of their mindset and do they want the government in larger numbers to take care of their every need?

GINGRICH: Well, let me say, first of all, you're exactly right to focus on the amount of money. It is unsustainable. We can't keep printing money and dumping our debt on our children and our grandchildren.

And if interest rates start back up, the cost of paying for the U.S. debt will be astronomical and it will be a burden we carry for two generations. So there are some very profoundly bad things about this policy of just throwing money at the problem without having any kind of real impact.

In terms of the public, you know, I saw a recent Gallup Poll figure. By a significant majority Democrats believe in government and they think government will work. By a very significant majority Republicans don't believe in government and do not believe it works, and independents are sort of split.

Historically, I'll give you a number that's fascinating. When asked the question should the government spend more to bail out business, the Gallup Poll had a 57-34 against. That poll was in 1938.


GINGRICH: This country historically does not believe that printing money to have bureaucrats try to run businesses makes any sense.

HANNITY: Did you think, as we analyze these polls and the decline of his popularity, do you think part of it is maybe because he's been so negative? Do you think maybe that the guys like Sean Hannity were right in saying that he's far more radical and he was using conservative rhetoric as he was reading the teleprompter as he was traveling around the country — why are you laughing? I see.

GINGRICH: Well, because.

HANNITY: Go ahead.

GINGRICH: Because — look, you may have already done this earlier, but page 11 of the new budget is something every American should look at and cut out and treasure. It is a chart done by two French socialist economists, one of whom was a very close advisor to Segolene Royal, the socialist candidate for president last year.

Now, how any White House staffer could be foolish enough to put a chart by a French socialist in a budget of the United States is, I think, mind boggling. So now, Sean, I feel comfortable going around the country saying it's clear they're influenced by French socialism. Look at page 11 of their own budget.

HANNITY: All right, but...

GINGRICH: And I just think.

HANNITY: All right. But that was my argument. So — and you're having too much fun. But he has declining...

GINGRICH: Why can't it be my argument, too?

HANNITY: Well, it can be.

GINGRICH: I want it to be my argument, too, Sean.

HANNITY: So he — he has the declining popularity. I say it's, in part, contributed to doom, gloom and negativity. Hang on. I think he's far more radical. And there's this other factor — I think he may be in way over his head.

GINGRICH: Well, no, look, somebody sent me a note today that pointed out that in the first few weeks in offices he's already collected $150,000 in back taxes from his own appointees, and he ought to think of that as kind of an exciting breakthrough.

This administration in some ways does resemble Jimmy Carter, and I think the page 11 of the budget is a good example. I think some of the appointments are a good example. Every time I see Geithner I'm reminded that he couldn't figure out for four years in a row how to pay his own taxes, and we should pay attention to him?

But I think that there's an underlying big government, and in many ways fundamentally dishonest pattern.


GINGRICH: And the question I wan t to focus is the energy tax, which they don't really tell the truth about and would cripple this economy.

HANNITY: Well, that's just — we're getting a tax cap and trade by literally turning on our light bill. But that's going to come in the days to come, as is s the debate over national health care.

By the way the DVD is phenomenal and, Mr. Speaker, I put it on my Web site, Hannity.com, for people who want to get "Rendezvous with Destiny." Thanks for being with us.

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