TRANSCRIPT Newt Gingrich Talks with George

Former House Speaker offers recommendations to the presidential candidates

January 13, 2008— -- STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, to the Republicans and former House speakerNewt Gingrich. He's calling on President Bush to come up with a Stateof the Union that responds to the Iowa and New Hampshire earthquakeswith a change agenda.

GINGRICH: That poses an interesting question for SenatorClinton, Senator Obama, Senator McCain.

Are they willing, this year; are they willing, in February andMarch, to translate their rhetoric into reality, or is it just apolitical gimmick?

And if the president would offer that, I think the country wouldrally...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Senator Kerry didn't want to comment onBob Shrum's book.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm sure you want to comment on yours, the book"Real Change," Mr. Speaker. What kind of change are you talking aboutthere that you're calling on the president to announce?

GINGRICH: Look, I think there are dramatic changes we need inthis country. I think that the votes in Iowa and New Hampshire wereoverwhelming endorsements of change in both parties. And I think thata State of the Union that got up and said, here are 10 or 12 or 15things we can do together in the next 90 days, and challenge -- afterall, you've got Senator McCain, Senator Obama, Senator Clinton -- itwould be useful to challenge both parties in the House and Senate.


GINGRICH: To respond to the American people.

We produced a platform of the American people at AmericanSolutions. And it's at the back of our book "Real Change." It's alsoat Every single item on the list has amajority of Democrats, majority of Republicans, majority ofindependents favoring.

The easiest one is making English the official language ofgovernment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The No. 1 issue right now -- I take it that thatcould be easy -- the No. 1 issue right now is the economy. A lot offears we're going to be in a recession. What could the president doright now and the Democrats respond to on the economy?

GINGRICH: Look, I think the first two things the president andthe Congress can do on the economy is cut spending. If you'll notice,you have a primary in Michigan, a state which artificially had arecession, because its government is so bad, its taxes are so high,its unionized work rules are so destructive, that Michigan was in arecession when the rest of the country was growing.

Other than the states hit by Katrina, Michigan, which had beenhit by a Democratic governor, Democratic legislature that had raisedtaxes -- yet none of the candidates are willing to be radical enough.

Part of -- real change focuses -- a long section on Detroit.Detroit has gone from 1.8 million people in 1950 and the highest percapita income in the United States, to 950,000 people, and it rankstoday 62nd in per capita income. And yet nobody wants to get up andsay the total truth.

The truth is, large bureaucracies are destructive. High taxesare destructive. The system we've built discourages any business fromopening up in Detroit. The schools don't deliver. They do deliverpaychecks. They do take care of the union. But they don't deliverfor the kids. And this is at a time when if you're an African-American male and you drop out of high school, you have a 73 percentchance of being unemployed and a 60 percent chance of going to jail.

So I think we need dramatically deeper and more fundamentalchange. Let me just...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But I'm not sure you're going to be able toenact that in the next three or four months. You're talking aboutcutting spending. The Democrats are putting up proposals saying theywant to extend subsidies for mortgages for heating oil, forunemployment benefits. So there's a big...

GINGRICH: Fine. So -- but let's take things the American peopleagree on. The American people agree you ought to make it easier tobuild oil refineries in the United States if you want to bring downthe price of oil.

The American people agree that you ought to set up prizes formajor breakthroughs. And that would be very different than the systemwe've used since World War II.

The American people, in fact, agree that we ought to have taxcredits for people who are willing to go to greater conservation fortheir homes. I mean, far beyond just how do I subsidize your heatingoil, how do I make it unnecessary for you to buy as much heating oil?And there are dramatic things we can do in conservation.

But the point I make is that the Congress and the president,rather than say, that's an interesting political campaign, now let'sget back to politics as usual in Washington. The Congress and thepresident do have an opportunity to listen to the American people, whoare saying that real change does matter, and the real change is whatthey want.

And I think it would be a pretty good contest for the two partiesto say, so how much can you deliver in the next three or four months,as opposed to seeing politics in Washington over here and politics inAmerica over here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even though there are very different visions ofchange from both parties.

But let's talk a little bit more about where the campaigns aregoing right now. On the Republican side, you've got two primaries andcaucuses so far -- actually, three, Wyoming. Mitt Romney won Wyoming,with the big ones of Iowa and New Hampshire, two different winners.And now it looks like Mitt Romney may be ahead in Michigan.

If you end up with three different winners in the first threeprimaries and caucuses, are you heading toward a brokered convention?

GINGRICH: I think you are currently in a period of indecision.I think you had Governor Romney, in all fairness, I mean, GovernorRomney played under the rules and he won Wyoming. And the other guyscould have gone and contested him, and they didn't. He actually hasmore delegates right now than either Huckabee or McCain, although theygot more news as the winners of their two prospective things.

My personal guess is that Romney's going to win Michigan. It is-- you know, his father was governor three times. He does haveresidual name I.D. there. Plus, he's prepared to spend the resources.And nobody who is really serious about this business shouldunderestimate that Governor Romney, if he has the will to do it, canstay in this race longer than anybody else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because he has got deep pockets.

GINGRICH: He just has deep personal pockets.

The way the McCain/Feingold law currently discriminates againstthe middle class, is it sets up a system by which, you know, if you'rethe mayor of New York and you're Bloomberg and you're worth $11billion, you can contemplate buying the presidency and get away withit. If you are a self-, you know, a multi-millionaire governor andyou want to, you can buy a nomination.

GINGRICH: But it's an objective fact. I mean, Governor Romneyis not doing anything that isn't legal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Web site Daily Kos, which supportsDemocrats, is actually urging Democrats to cross over and vote in theRepublican primary, vote for Mitt Romney so that the Republican raceis wide open and it takes them forever to come up with a nominee.

GINGRICH: You know, but this may be a big mistake, for thisreason. Nothing is more killing in politics than boredom. Thiscountry -- and I said -- you remember I was on this show last yearsaying this. This country began deciding Iowa about four days out.This country apparently began deciding New Hampshire about a day out.

Because apparently 20-some percent of the Democrats decided thelast day. The idea that the Republicans have to be organized beforeLabor Day or they will be out of the race, I think, is a fundamentalmisunderstanding of television, the Internet, you know, YouTube, allthe things we now communicate with.

A very exciting Republican party that actually talked about ideasand actually had a fight over the platform based on real ideas, Ithink might be a more interesting party than one which nominatessomebody who's boring for five months.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And some of the Republican blogs are actuallysuggesting this may be the best hope for you, for Newt Gingrich.

GINGRICH: The best hope for me is to have people buy real changeand allow me to...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I know you want people to buy that, butthey suggest...

GINGRICH: I'm having a good time being me. I don't have...

STEPHANOPOULOS: They suggest a brokered convention might turn toyou. Are you...

GINGRICH: I do not think -- I think a brokered convention wouldpick one of the people who had filed for president. But I think theprocess -- after all, it was, you know, Abraham Lincoln was runningthird and won the convention. He didn't come in first on the firstballot.

And so, I just think there's nothing unhealthy about theRepublican Party having a serious discussion. We are at the end ofthe George W. Bush era. We are at the end of the Reagan era.

We're at a point in time where we're about to start redefining --as a number of people have started talking about, we're starting toredefine the nature of the Republican Party in response to what thecountry needs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On the Democratic side, last year, you werequite bullish on Hillary. You said she had about an 80 percent chanceof being president.

You tempered that a little towards the end of the year. Youthought she was making mistakes in Iowa by being too tough on BarackObama. Does she have the edge right now, do you think, on theDemocratic side?

GINGRICH: I think she has a narrow edge, but not a big one. Ithink that she learned. She changed. I said in my podcast this lastweek that I thought part of the courage of both John McCain andHillary Clinton helped them get through New Hampshire.

She was -- you know her vastly better than I do. I thought shewas a much more open, much more real person the last four or fivedays. And in that sense, the challenge from Obama has been very goodfor her. The clip you used a few minutes ago, however, was back tothe more disciplined, more aloof, more austere Hillary, and I'm notsure that that version necessarily wins.

The other thing we don't know yet is South Carolina's the firstrace, with a large number of African-American voters. I mean, theamazing thing about Senator Obama is that he's really the BobbyKennedy/Gene McCarthy candidate. He represents the reform...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those are very different candidates. You'resaying he's a merger of the two.

GINGRICH: He's a reform upper-middle class, if you look wheretheir vote patterns were as compared to Lyndon Johnson. And I thoughtit was slightly strange of Senator Clinton to identify with LyndonJohnson last week. I mean, this is not the sort of thing one reachesout to do automatically.

If he can actually take the reform wing of the party, the peoplewho voted for Bill Bradley, which was a big part of his base in NewHampshire, and can actually add to it the African-American communityby a large margin, then I think she has a very serious problem as youget to bigger states. And you have to assume that this could go on, Ithink, well past February 5th.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think those campaigns are starting to thinkthat as well. Mr. Speaker, thanks very much.

GINGRICH: Great to be with you.