Newt Gingrich: Transcript of ABC/Yahoo News Exclusive Interview

PHOTO: GOP Candidate Newt Gingrich gives an exclusive interview to ABC News Jake Tapper, Nov. 8, 2011.
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JAKE TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper, and live-- we're live at ABCNews.com and Yahoo News for an original series called Newsmakers. We're interest-- interviewing, obviously, all the presidential candidates today. And I'm joined by Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, thank you so much for joining me.

NEWT GINGRICH: Good to be here.

JAKE TAPPER: So the-- we're asking this question of all of the Republican candidates, when did you first know you wanted to be president?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I first thought I might have to run for president in the summer of 2004, when it became obvious that the Republican party wasn't generating solutions large enough to meet the challenges that were building. And-- it was clear to me as an advisor and as somebody on the outside trying to bring in new ideas, that there was no market for the scale of change we needed, and no market for the kind of solutions we needed.

JAKE TAPPER: So when--

NEWT GINGRICH: So from-- from that point--

JAKE TAPPER: --when George Bush was running for reelection?

NEWT GINGRICH: When he was running for reelection, my-- my conclusion was that we were not gonna get the momentum of change we needed, because it was a personality campaign. It was an anti-Kerry campaign, rather than an anti-Kerry's-ideas campaign.

And that you didn't have the building of the big ideas on the Republican side. And I concluded then that we'd be in trouble, and that-- we needed a much more fundamental revisiting of what's going on than we were gonna get out of normal politicians.

JAKE TAPPER: Now, your campaign had a shaky start.

NEWT GINGRICH: Yes.

JAKE TAPPER: But you are rising in the polls. Why do you think that is, and how do you avoid the pitfalls of other surging Republicans like Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry, who have risen and then fallen?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I'm-- I-- I didn't take the logic of my own thinking. And so I brought in traditional consultants, and it didn't work because they wanna run a traditional campaign. And I'm running a very solutions-oriented campaign. If you go to Newt.org and look at the 21st century Contract with America, it's very different than normal politics.

The challenge is gonna be simple. Sooner or later-- something'll happen and either I'll be able to deal with it or I won't. If-- if I do-- then there's a pretty good chance I'll be the nominee. And I think that's just the nature of this business. I mean, you got lots and lots of smart people, all of 'em legitimately trying to test anybody who wants to be president, and frankly, if you can't make it through the campaign, you probably can't do a very good job as president. So there's nothing wrong with a pretty intense testing process.

JAKE TAPPER: Do you buy the-- the general thought about the Republican nomination? Which is that Mitt Romney may either be the frontrunner or tied for frontrunner right now with Herman Cain, but he's topped out, he really can't attract more than 25 percent of the electorate. And there is a big opportunity for a non-Romney candidate.

NEWT GINGRICH: I-- I think there's a big opportunity for an alternative candidate. That doesn't mean that Romney can't get the nomination. I mean, he-- he's smart, he's working hard, he has a lot of money and access to-- large amounts of money. And he may be able to beat whoever ends up as the alternative. I mean, in the end, it comes down to sort of a, which of these guys do you want.

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