Diane Sawyer: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joining us this morning. Not just as a politician, but also a novelist. Jake says he has a new book out, co-authored with William Forstchen, called "Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th" about that war, and other wars since. Good to see you this morning.
Newt Gingrich: Great to be back.
Sawyer: Want to talk about the war in Iraq. It is the giant undertow for Republicans out there. You have said some very tough things. You have said that it is tragic what has happened there. You have said that the Bush administration went off a cliff in handling the war. Tomorrow, not down the road, but tomorrow what would you like to see President Bush do on the war in Iraq?
Gingrich: First of all, I said we went off a cliff in December of 2003. So I've had a long period of saying we need to find a better way to prosecute this war. I think that requires major reforms in Washington. The system doesn't work. It doesn't deliver help.
Gingrich: Everything from the State Department to Treasury to the Justice Department. You can't get the civilian aspects of the American government to work. We saw this in Katrina. Is a major problem today -- you live in an age of worldwide television. The bureaucracies live in an age of very slow paper processes.
Sawyer: But what is it you want them to do? At one point you said there should not be an open-ended commitment. Do you want a deadline?
Gingrich: No, I think we have to turn over policing responsibility to the Iraqis as quickly as possible, pull our troops out of the city as rapidly as possible. I think in the long run the Americans can reinforce, but they can't enforce. We don't have the language capabilities. People who are policing have to know the neighborhood, they have to know the families. This has been a continuing problem we've had from Day 1.
Sawyer: A couple of quick political questions, then I want to move onto the book. Hillary Clinton, according to a report, you implied when someone said something about a nasty man that she might be a nasty woman. Also you talked about the fact that no one will outmug the Clintons, that they are ruthless?
Gingrich: Let me distinguish this. I was asked a question about Rudy Giuliani, and the editor said Rudy can be nasty. My point was, running for president is a tough business and [if] the Democrats nominate Sen. Clinton, she'll be as tough as she needs to be. She's not going to be shy about this. At the same time if you watch the history of the Clintons, and I think Obama will have an opportunity to revisit this, they are very effective on taking on their opponents.
Sawyer: At this point, things continuing as they are, if you don't get in the race, do you think she'll win the presidency?
Gingrich: I think she has a very good chance of winning the presidency. I recently wrote in a newsletter, that there's a French lesson for Republicans. That Sarkozy, who's in the Chirac Cabinet, I think unless a Republican who is nominated is committed to fundamental change in Washington, they will certainly lose the election.
Sawyer: Some threshold questions here because you saw the button there. Rudy, [Mitt Romney], which some conservatives are saying, can a pro-choice candidate ever be nominated? Could Rudy Giuliani ever be nominated?
Gingrich: He could be nominated. Part of the key is to talk to all the American people. We're in this virtually irrational process, where we have nine or 10 people over here as Democrats standing in a row at some debate as though it were "American Idol," nine or 10 Republicans over here. It becomes more and more partisan, more and more narrow. It's wrong as a way of choosing a national leader.
Sawyer: Yes, but Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention has said if a man will lie to his wife, he'll be dishonest with anybody. Talking about Rudy Giuliani, do you believe this?
Gingrich: I think Richard Land has his view but again, he is elevated by the news media as he represents a huge block of people. He represents Richard Land. I'm not defending it in of the candidates, but when you go out and you look, the issues are still not clear, but what's happening is the very process of politics in this country, polarizes us. I think that's very dangerous for the future of the country.
Sawyer: One of the interesting themes in the book, not only do you talk about a time of sacrifice after war, and we can all say as opposed to today, I suppose, except for the sacrifice of the soldiers. But also a time of seriousness in American life as opposed to today. How do you get back to a time after Pearl Harbor, when everyone came together and knew that this was grave, this was important?
Gingrich: Part of the reason we wrote it was to try to communicate that we can be surprised in very profound ways and hit so hard -- I mean today, the danger I worry about, starting with the commission back in the late 1990s is a nuclear or biological weapon, as opposed to 9/11. Imagine if it was a bomb? We lose all of southern Manhattan. I think we have to look at how dangerous the modern world is.
Roosevelt spent the late 1930s trying to educate the American people, and frankly he failed. Congress came within one vote of not extending the draft. In November of 1941, ironically after the Japanese fleet moved -- was on their way to Hawaii -- Congress refused to familiarize Guam. So how do you convince people that the world can be very dangerous and if we're not prepared to meet the danger that it can come here as it both did on 9/11 and of course, Pearl Harbor.
Sawyer: One of the things at the center of your book is how close we came to something worse.
Gingrich: We wanted to bring the Japanese commander forward with the fleet. It could have been worse than it was and led to an even more difficult Second World War
Sawyer: You said you'll make a decision at the end of the September. More likely, less likely this morning?
Gingrich: I think right now, it is a great possibility. But we're focused.
Sawyer: A great possibility you'll run?
Gingrich: We're focused on a workshop of Sept. 27, nationwide, at Americansolutions.com. I don't want to get into all this stuff. I want to focus on what we have to do to make America successful.
Sawyer: I think we moved you to thinking about to great possibility, that's my achievement.