'This Week' Transcript: Newt Gingrich and David Axelrod

This is going to go on for a good while. Governor Romney, who's outspent all the rest of us by multiples, is a front-runner without any question, but I think he's not a very convincing front-runner, and he's a long way from having closed out this race.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Speaker, you took a blow in Tennessee yesterday. Your state co-chair switched sides, State Senator Stacey Campfield. I want to show you what he said right here. He said, "I like Newt and I think he's a great leader, but I don't think it's his time, and I think he won't do what is necessary to win this election. I think Rick Santorum is the best chance we can get to have a conservative president."

Some conservatives think you need one person running against Mitt Romney.

GINGRICH: Well, oddly enough at the time he was doing that, we were winning a conservative caucus vote in Tennessee. And two days earlier, we won the National Business Council survey, beating both Romney and Santorum. So there are differences of opinion.

I think there is a huge difference between Santorum and me. Santorum has been historically a labor union senator from Pennsylvania. He voted against national right to work. He voted for Davis-Bacon, which cost state and local governments billions of dollars in favor of unions. And he voted for every single minimum wage increase that the unions asked for.

So, I think there's some pretty big policy differences there. And when you get out of the industrial states, I think it gets harder for Rick to put together a majority, so we'll see how it goes next Tuesday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Mr. Speaker, there's really no way for you to get enough delegates before the convention, so this, as you said, could be a long fight if it's going to be successful for you. When we have seen this happen in the past -- 1952 for the Democrats, 1976 for the Republicans, 1980 for the Democrats -- it means that party loses in the general election. Are you worried that this kind of long fight is going to put your nominee at risk?

GINGRICH: No. George, I'll be glad to swap history credentials with you. Four years ago, I believe it was, that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton went all the way to late June before their race ended. And yet that seemed to actually be more advantageous to then-Senator Obama than Senator McCain having gotten the nomination early. So I think it all depends on which year you're talking about and how it evolves, what happens.

But, we're up against an incumbent president. The thing people have to ask themselves is, who do you think could stand up to Barack Obama in October and win the debates? Because we're certainly not -- the Romney strategy of outspending isn't going to work against Obama. The fact is, Obama is going to have more money, he's going to be more negative, and if we don't have somebody who can win the debates in October, we're going to have a very hard time winning the election, and I think that's an area where almost everybody thinks that I've had a better ability to communicate our values and to define President Obama in ways that will make it very hard for him to get reelected.

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