Former Speaker Newt Gingrich
Primary Night
Hilton Hotel
Columbia, SC
January 21, 2012
[DEMOCRACY IN ACTION Transcript]

Let me first of all say thank you to everyone in South Carolina who decided to be with us in changing Washington.  Callista and I are particularly happy to have our daughters, our son-in-laws, my two chief debate coaches—Maggie and Robert who are both right here—and we're delighted to have, my sisters are here, Robbie and Susan are here, it's just terrific.  I also want to recognize several people who are just extraordinarily important in South Carolina in making this happen.  Judge Billie and Debra Wilkins just really took over and did a great job.  My former colleague, former Congressman John Napier is just such a terrific class act; he did such a great job statewide putting things together.  House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham came on board and really helped us with a statewide network.  Speaker Bobby Harrell was tremendous; we traveled the last several days together.  Andre Bauer made a big difference.  Vivian Wong was tremendous in helping us all across the state.  Peter McCoy was remarkable.  And finally, I just want to say we had a team on our staff who worked endless hours week after week; they did a great, great job.

So, there are so many things, I think Callista and I have so many memories from so many parts of the state.  Everybody, including people who by accident or misinformation were for the other candidates, but everybody was nice to us everywhere, and I just want to say that I think South Carolina showed Southern hospitality as beautifully as any place we've been.

I also want to mention in particular General Livingston, who is a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, who gave me the great honor on the Yorktown of introducing me yesterday, and to have a man of that courage, that patriotism and that dedication to freedom come out and support us really meant a great deal, and everybody who went to the Yorktown, it was a remarkable evening and I'm just grateful to everybody for that moment of patriotism.

The biggest thing I take from the campaign in South Carolina is that it is very humbling and very sobering to have so many people who so deeply want their country to get back on the right track.  So many people who are so concerned about jobs, about medical costs, about the everyday parts of life and who feel that the elites in Washington and New York have no understanding, no care, no concern, no reliability and in fact do not represent them at all. 

In the two debates that we had here in Myrtle Beach and then in Charleston where people reacted so strongly to the news media, I think it was something very fundamental that I wish the powers-that-be in the news media would take seriously.  The American people feel that they have elites who have been trying for a half century to force us to quit being American and become some kind of other system, and the reaction—people completely misunderstand what's going on.  It's not that I am a good debater, it is that I articulate the deepest felt values of the American people. 

You know this is a remarkable system.  What makes us different from virtually ever other country in the world [voice from audience: we're free]—we are free and because we're free we can produce leadership from an amazing range of places.  Now sometimes that leadership is good.  We once had an actor who made movies with chimpanzees; he turned out to be one of our greatest presidents and ended up with the disappearance  of the Soviet empire.  We once had a peanut farmer/nuclear physicist; he didn't turn out to be quite as good.  But the genius of America is that you can come from any background.  I watched tonight the fine speeches of the other three candidates on our side, and I was struck with how much they reflected the openness of the American system. 

You know Rick Santorum showed enormous courage in Iowa when he had no money, nobody covered him, and he just kept campaigning.  His [voices from audience: VP, VP]—I rest my case; I mean he has made an impact, right.  I mean here's a guy who articulates the values of social conservatism, who articulates the importance of manufacturing, and who may have been as right about the dangers of Iran as anybody in this country in the last ten years.

And then as a further example of how wide open our system is, you have Dr. Ron Paul, who on the issue of money and the Federal Reserve has been right for 25 years.  And while I disagree with him on many other things, there is no doubt that a lot of his critique of inflation, of fiat money, and of the Federal Reserve is in fact absolutely the right direction and it's something I can support strongly.

And finally Gov. Romney with whom I disagree on many issues, is nonetheless a good example of America.  He is hard-working, he has been very successful, he has organized large systems; he did a terrific job at the Winter Olympics. 

And the fact is if you look at the four of us, we are proof that you can come from a wide range of backgrounds and in America you have a chance to try to make your case no matter what the elites think in New York and Washington. [chants: USA, USA]  Well you've sort of just now captured the heart of this campaign.  The fact is we want to run not a Republican campaign, we want to run an American campaign because we are optimists about the future because America has always been optimistic about the future, and we believe, as our new sign which just got made today points out, that if we unleash the American people, we can rebuild the America that we love.

Now I believe, and Callista and I decided to run because we after a year of conversation concluded that this is the most important election of our lifetime.  If Barack Obama can get re-elected after this disaster [boos], just think how radical he would be in a second term.  So I have a proposal.  With your help we are now moving on to Florida and beyond and I want you to know that if—and by the way anyone here who knows anyone in Florida, please contact them by sometime tomorrow, okay?

And my good friend [inaud.] knows many people in Florida and I'm confident he'll have an impact.  But if I do become your nominee, and I think with your help I will become your nominee, but I need your help, together—if that happens, and it's all up to all of us to work to make it happen, if that happens, then I will challenge President Obama to seven three-hour debates.  To be fair, to be fair, I don't want you to be disappointed, but I already have conceded that he can use a teleprompter if he wants to.  After all if you had to defend Obamacare, wouldn't you want to be able to use a teleprompter.

Now there are a number of key issues that we have to talk about with the president. [shout from audience]—I'm going to get there in a second. 

I believe this campaign comes down to economics including jobs, economic growth, balancing the budget, the value of money; it comes down to national security, what threatens us and what we have to do about it; but the centerpiece of this campaign I believe is American exceptionalism versus the radicalism of Saul Alinsky. [chants: USA, USA] 

You know there's a lot to just doing that because the fact is, what we are going to argue is that American exceptionalism, the American Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution, the American Federalist Papers, the Founding Fathers of America are the source from which we draw our understanding of America.  He draws his from Saul Alinsky, radical left wingers, and people who don't like the classical America.

And one of the issues, one of the issues we're going to address head on [shout from audience]—She would be a great first lady and with your help she will be a great first lady.

One of the key issues, and I'm prepared to take this straight at the president and frankly straight at the elite media, one of the key issues is the growing anti-religious bigotry of our elites.  And if you get a chance, if you go to Newt.org, my campaign site, there's a 54-page paper there on the balance of power, putting the judiciary back in its proper role, and eliminating dictatorial religious bigots such as Judge Berry [phon.] in San Antonio, who issued a ruling that not only could the students not pray at their graduation, if they used the word benediction, the word invocation, the word God, asked the audience to stand, or asked for a moment of silence, he would put the superintendent in jail. [boos]  Now we don't have speech dictatorship in America by anti-religous bigots, period.

The second big theme frankly is one that every South Carolinian understands.  It's jobs, economic growth, balancing the budget, having stable money.  And let's be very clear.  Again, this makes some of the elite media nervous.  President Obama has been, historically, the most effective food stamp president in American history. 

I worked with Ronald Reagan to create jobs and 16 million jobs were created by the American people in the 1980s.  I worked with Bill Clinton, a Democrat, to create jobs, and 11 million jobs were created by the American people during the four years that I was Speaker.  I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history.  And I want to go in every neighborhood of every ethnic background in every part of the country and say to people very simply, if you want your children to have a life of dependency and food stamps, you have a candidate and it's Barack Obama.  If you want your children to have a life of independency and paychecks, you have a candidate and it's Newt Gingrich, and I'll bet you we have votes everywhere. [chants, Newt, Newt]

Part of the job in the economy frankly is to shrink the power of Washington—I just talked tonight with Gov. Rick Perry who is deeply committed.  I was very generous for his endorsement this week.  His passion is implementing the Tenth Amendment.  We are going to work with him to return power to the states, to local governments, to get it out of Washington, DC.

But one reason that I ask you to be with me and not just for me, if we shrink the Washington bureaucracy we have to grow citizenship back home to fill the vacuum.

I am also committed to getting back to a balanced budget and since I am the only Speaker of the House in your lifetime to have helped to create four consecutive balanced budgets, I think I can tell you as president I will work very hard to get back to a balanced budget as rapidly as possible, and then to run a surplus to pay down the debt so no Chincese leverage exists on the United States by having our debt.

Part of our long-term national security has to be having an American energy policy.  I want America to become so energy independent that no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king. 

And let me give you an example of a commonsense conservatism that solves problems.  You have well over $29 billion of natural gas offshore.  If—and as president I will authorize on the very first day the development of it—that natural gas offshore will create jobs that in Louisiana average $80,000 apiece.  In addition it generates royalties.  Part of the royalties should be used to modernize the Port of Charleston, which affects one out of every five jobs in South Carolina.  But it's not enough just to find the money.  The Corps of Engineers' current bureaucracy is so long and so stupid that they currently take eight years to study—not to do the project—to study the project.  We fought the entire Second World War in three years and eight months.  Now if you can beat Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and Imperial Japan in three years and eight months, it is almost unimaginable that it now takes eight years to study the project.  So I want to fundamentally overhaul the entire federal government at every level to produce a modern, lean, effective federal government. 

Let me also say that the president's decision to veto the Keystone pipeline [boos]—you know you have to wonder how out of touch with reality this administration is.  It's one thing to say that they can't play chess at the White House.  It's another thing to say they can't play checkers at the White House.  But if they can't play tic-tack-toe?  The president says no, we don't want you to build a pipeline from central Canada straight down with no mountains intervening to the largest petrochemical center in the world, Houston, so that we would make money on the pipeline, we'd make money on managing the pipeline, we'd make money on refining the oil, and we'd make money in the ports of Houston and Galveston shipping the oil.  Oh no we don't want to do that because Barack Obama is taking care of his extremist left-wing friends in San Francisco.  They think that will really stop the oil from getting out. 

No.  What Prime Minister Harper, who by the way is a conservative and pro-American, what he has said is he's going to cut a deal with the Chinese and they'll build a pipeline straight across the Rockies to Vancouver.  We will get none of the jobs, none of the energy, none of the opportunity.  Now an American president who can create a Chinese-Canadian partnership is truly a danger to this country.  But it gets worse.  Last Sunday the Saudis announced they were signing a deal with the Chinese to build nuclear energy facilities in Saudi Arabia.  So the Saudis are now saying we so distrust the Obama Administration, we'd rather rely on the Chinese.  The Iranians for two weeks taunt us with exercises aimed at closing the Straits of Hormuz, and the Obama Administration answer is to cancel military exercises with Israel because we don't want to "provoke" the Iranians. [boos]  President Obama is a president so weak that he makes Jimmy Carter look strong.

Let me just say that I believe the debate we're going to have with President Obama over the next eight or nine months, the outlining of the two Americas—the America of the Declaration of Independence, the America of Saul Alinsky; the America of paychecks, the America of food stamps; the America of independence, the America of dependence; the America of strength in foreign policy, the America of weakness in foreign policy—those two choices I believe will give the American people a chance to decide permanently whether we want to remain the historic America that has provided opportunity for more people of more backgrounds than any country in history or whether in fact we prefer to become a brand new secular European-style bureaucratic socialist system.  [audience: "No"] 

I agree with you.  I'm running because Callista and I looked at the future for Maggie and Robert and we decided no, we're not going to go the route of Obama and this kind of radical ideas.  So in order to carry out this great debate, to rally the American people to reasserting their belief in America, to winning the election decisively this Fall, to profoundly changing Washington starting on day one—when by the way we abolish all the White House czars—to do that we need to build on this victory by going to Florida.  I need your help in reaching out to people in Florida, I need your help in finding anybody who believes in what we're doing and telling them to go to Newt.org, just my first name, to sign up, donate, to get involved.  We don't have the kind of money that at least one of the candidates has, but we do have ideas and we do have people, and we proved here in South Carolina that people power with the right ideas beats big money, and with your help we're going to prove it again in Florida.  Thank you and good luck and God bless you.

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Transcript Copyright © 2012 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.  All rights reserved.