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Interview with Newt Gingrich & Rep. Tim Scott

Interview with Newt Gingrich & Rep. Tim Scott

By John King, USA - November 28, 2011

KING: Now, here at the College of Charleston, the former House speaker will make his case at a town hall organized by Congressman Tim Scott, a local Tea Party favorite who has emerged as a leader in the freshman class that returned Republicans to the House majority. That town hall in a few moments.

First, though, Speaker Gingrich, Congressman Scott here to talk politics with us.

Gentlemen, welcome.

I want to get to the specifics of this campaign. But tonight a woman in Atlanta is accusing Herman Cain, one of your rivals, of a 13- year extramarital affair. Relevant issue, not a relevant issue?

GINGRICH: It's something that Mr. Cain will have to settle with the country and talk to the country about. It is sad to see that level of pain brought out, but I think he is going to have to deal with it.

KING: It comes at a time when many people have questioned the viability of his candidacy, someone who skyrocketed in the polls, has tended to go down of late. What is the buzz about Herman Cain in your state right now?

REP. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the challenges are real. We have seen a lot of folks trying to second-guess themselves, trying to find a new candidate. And I think we may have the newest candidate to my right.

KING: The newest candidate is right here. He's to your right.

Is that where you want to be, to his right?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Let's talk about that, because as you have skyrocketed in the polls, you know what comes with that. You get the kick-me sign. And your rivals are picking issues. One of them is what you call the humane position on immigration, that you're not going to round up and kick whatever it's 10 or 11 million people who are in this country illegally, you're not going to round them up and kick them out.

Congresswoman Bachmann, one of your rivals, says you are the most liberal candidate in the Republican field on immigration. One of the things she cites is this letter you wrote back in 2004 trying to help President George W. Bush push his policy through, where you say, "Keeping an open door to those with the will and the heart to get here is vital to our economy, our culture, our role in the world, and our historic tradition has led to freedom and opportunity."

Are you the most liberal Republican candidate for president on the immigration issue?

GINGRICH: I have no idea. I think I'm the most commonsense. My position is that we should control the border.

I'm prepared to guarantee control by January 1 of 2014. We should have English as the official language of government. We should have an easier process of deporting those that should not be here. We should also have easier visa program for those who want to come here legally to be guests, to be visitors, to go to school, to do business.

I do think that with a guest worker program probably outsourced to American Express, Visa or MasterCard, so it would actually work, and there should be much steeper penalties for employees who hire people illegally.

What I did say the other night was when you get done with all that, we need to have something like a World War II selective service board, where local citizens would review and certify people who have been here 25 years, who have been obeying the law, paying taxes, might have two or three kids, a couple grandkids, be a member of your local church.

I can't imagine that America is going to send police in to tear somebody out of a family in a community in that kind of setting. And so I want to get to a commonsense solution. No citizenship. No right to vote, but end the illegality for people who have been here a very long time.

For those who have been here a short time, they should go home. They should start over.

KING: Now, to many, that sounds perfectly reasonable.

But you know, Congressman, if you go some Tea Party rallies, some Tea Party event, anything that allows somebody who broke the law to get here to stay, they call amnesty. Is his position going to be a tough sell?

SCOTT: I think it is going to be more difficult here than it is in other places in the nation, without any question. We are simply a very strong anti-illegal-immigration state. And we will stay that way. You don't have to find the perfect candidate, however. What we need is someone who can beat President Obama and someone who makes sense, and that can bring our base together. We need to be able to attract independent voters at the same time.

So his immigration stand will not be the same as mine. But that's OK. We have to find the common ground that moves this nation forward. With 10.5 percent unemployment in South Carolina, that's the problem that we're focused on.

KING: Another -- there was the "Washington Post" story over the weekend. Your finances. When you left the speakership and you left Congress, you set up a number -- a publishing house, a consulting firm and the like.

And "The Washington Post" did a story, says it took in something like $100 million. I will call it Newt, Inc. And we can show our viewers at home -- you can't see it here -- Gingrich Productions, Gingrich Communications, the American Solutions PAC, the Americano targeting Latinos, the Gingrich Group, the Center for Health Transformation, Renewing American Leadership, American Solutions, all businesses, all things that you...

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: Sure.

KING: You have every right in a capitalist society to go out and make money. However, your opponents are going after that. Tea Party supporter of Congresswoman Bachmann in this state today said this: "Unlike Newt Gingrich and some of the other candidates, Congresswoman Bachmann hasn't played the Washington insider games to pad her own pocket." How would you respond to that?

GINGRICH: Well, I would say, as you said. I was a private citizen. I was out of government. I did what I think Republicans and conservatives believe in. I started businesses. I hired people. I created jobs. In the process we served a wide range of people. I had...

KING: An easier time doing that than John Q. Public, because you were Speaker Newt Gingrich.

GINGRICH: Sure. And then I was relevantly famous. But for example, I had 13 "New York Times" best sellers. Now, you would normally think that's a real achievement. Callista and I have done seven documentaries, several of which of have been very successful. They weren't successful because lobbyists bought them. They weren't successful because of insider deals. They're successful because they're good documentaries.

Callista just did a new -- a new book for children call "Sweet Land of Liberty." It became a "New York Times" best seller. Now, that's not insiderdom. That's old-fashioned, American hard work, doing something that I think Republicans and Tea Partiers believe in, which is the work ethic to create businesses, to create jobs. You know, it's the other team, the left, that is opposed to being successful. It's not Republicans.

KING: Can Congresswoman Bachmann make that case, though, that this guy is no outsider?

REP. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Listen, I think anyone can try to make any case they really want to make. The question really is can this guy lead us into the promised land? We are used to, we've enjoyed for a long time, less than 7 percent unemployment. The question is, will he lead us back there?

He was the first speaker of the House for a Republican after 40 years, four decades of a war on poverty that failed miserably. If this guy is the ideas guy that he has always been, I think we may be in the right place.

KING: You have said -- and you're getting tougher of late -- that Governor Romney is inconsistent. My term. Not yours. Inconsistent on some issues. One of the issues where you have had a change of heart is the individual mandate. I want you to listen. This is Newt Gingrich on "Meet the Press" back in early 2011.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: All of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care. And I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. I've said consistently, we ought to have some requirement, either to have health insurance or you post a bond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Would a President Gingrich have an individual mandate or encourage states to have an individual mandate?

GINGRICH: One of the places where I wasn't very clever -- Mitt raised this issue in one of our debates. If I would have been clever, I would turn and say, "I've admitted I was wrong. I've learned, and I've changed my mind. Why haven't you?"

KING: Couldn't he say that on some of the issues where he's had a change of heart where people have criticized him?

GINGRICH: Sure. I think...

KING: Why is it OK for you to say, "I was wrong. I had a change of heart," but that his rivals would say, "Well, that's a flip-flop"?

GINGRICH: I think part of the difference is the scale. And if you run to the left of Teddy Kennedy, it's a little trickier than trying to run to the right of Newt Gingrich.

Part of it is the way he did some of it. But I also think it's legitimate. The question is, how -- first of all, if you've been active as long as I have and you haven't changed in some things, you must be impervious to new information and new knowledge. I mean, there's a certain amount of growth that's inevitable. And people will look at new circumstances and new situations.

But I had over my entire career, a 90 percent voting record in the American conservative union. I don't think anybody thought of me as anything less than a solid conservative. I campaigned with Reagan in 1979, 1980. Helped with that majority in the early '80. I think the Contract with America speaks for itself.

The clear difference. And I want to be clear. Mitt Romney is a terrific person. Callista and I are very fond of him. I think he is a good manager.

KING: Can he beat Barack Obama?

GINGRICH: I think he can probably beat Barack Obama. I think both of us can beat Barack Obama. The question is, who do you want?

KING: He's stronger in South Carolina, Romney or Gingrich?

SCOTT: Today, I'd say Newt is stronger than Romney. The question really is how -- how do we divide the conservative base? Do we divide it so much that it makes it more difficult for Newt?

At the end of the day we'd love to see Romney spend more time in South Carolina. But I believe that today, if you were to hold the election, those are the two guys that would be at the top of the ticket. I think Newt would win, today.

KING: Listen to the speaker's appeal to your voters in just moments in town hall.

SCOTT: There will (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Fifty-four days to the South Carolina primary. Iowa first. Mr. Speaker, Congressman, thanks for your time. Appreciate that. 

John King, USA

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