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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Newt Gingrich with advice on what to do about Iran, immigration, gay marriage, guns, global warming, and life issues.

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HH: Pleased to welcome now to the Hugh Hewitt Show Speaker Newt Gingrich. Mr. Gingrich, welcome back, good to have you on the program.

NG: Oh, it’s great to be with you. How are you doing?

HH: I’m great. You know, I found myself at 1:00 in the morning West Coast time a couple of weeks back watching your Cooper Union appearance, and loving it, especially the stuff about how presidential campaigns should be conducted Lincoln-Douglas style without sound bytes and serious conversation. So preliminary to my talking to you about your Human Events column of 3/12, a request. If I can get one of the other big names, Romney or Giuliani or McCain to come back same time next week for an hour of conversation with Newt Gingrich about the issues, in that style, would you be game?

NG: Well, I’m not a candidate at the present time, but obviously, I’m always willing to talk with people about the issues. And as long as I’m coming, as long as I’m doing it as a non-candidate, I’d be glad to chat with virtually anybody. But I think you ought to see if you couldn’t get Senator Clinton or Senator Obama or Senator Edwards. I think it would be more fun to have a bipartisan conversation.

HH: It would, it would, and I’ll try for that, too, but I just think, you know, Giuliani and Romney both come here a lot, you’ll come here. They’ll trust me not to throw spokes at anybody, but just to sort of set the table and model this kind of a conversation, because I understood you at that speech to be saying we really need to get past the way we’ve been carrying on political debate in this country.

NG: That’s not…I think that part of it is that what we’ve done is we’ve allowed consultants to carry us down so that we’ve followed the popular culture. And so, if American Idol’s the new model, then why don’t we pretend we’re all going to run for American Idol. But if you go back historically, Abraham Lincoln was very aware that there was Vaudeville, he just didn’t think that’s what being president was like. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt fully understood that there were Busby Berkeley musicals, he just didn’t think that’s what being president was all about. I think we need a generation of leaders who are prepared to have a serious conversation with the American people, because we’re in a very serious period. And the conversation is not the same as entertainment, and it’s not the same as Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump. It’s about life and death for the country, it’s about prosperity, it’s about the future of our children, it’s about the things that truly matter.

HH: Well, I’ll put that invitation to the Mayor and to Governor Romney. And if one of them accepts, can we count you in?

NG: Sure, sure. Listen, as long as you understand I’m coming on as a citizen, so I don’t want them to feel that they’re at a disadvantage, I’d be glad to spend an hour with you anytime and have that kind of conversation.

HH: Super. It wouldn’t be a debate, just a conversation. Now let’s get to the first major issue of the day, which is Iran. Mr. Speaker, if the United Kingdom feels obliged to use force, if diplomacy fails to get their people back, will you applaud?

NG: I think there are two very simple steps that should be taken. The first is to use a covert operation, or a special forces operation to knock out the only gasoline producing refinery in Iran. There’s only one. And the second is to simply intercede by Naval force, and block any tankers from bringing gasoline to Iran…

HH: Would you do, would you urge them…

NG: And say to the Iranians, you know, you can keep the sailors as long as you want, but in about 30 days, everybody in your country will be walking.

HH: So how long would you give them, to give them that ultimatum, the Iranians?

NG: I would literally do that. I would say to them, I would right now say to them privately, within the next week, your refinery will no longer work. And within the following week, there will be no tankers arriving. Now if you would like to avoid being humiliated publicly, we recommend you calmly and quietly give them back now. But frankly, if you’d prefer to show the planet that you’re tiny and we’re not, we’re prepared to simply cut off your economy, and allow you to go back to walking and using oxen to pull carts, because you will have no gasoline left.

HH: I agree with that 100%. Would your recommendation to the United States President be the same if Iran seized our forces?

NG: Absolutely. I mean, the reason I say that, it is the least violent, least direct thing you can do. It uses our greatest strength…you know, the mismatch in Naval power is absolute. And so you don’t have to send troops into Iran. Everybody on the left is waiting for conservatives to say things that allow them to run amok and parade in San Francisco, and claim that we’re warmongers. I want to avoid war by intelligently using our power to eliminate the option of sustaining an economy, so that the Iranian dictatorship will be shown to be the hollow dictatorship it is, so the people of Iran decide they’d like to have a decent government with real electricity and real gasoline, so they overthrow it. And I want to do that without risking a single American life, or being engaged in a single direct confrontation. And Naval power lets you do that.

HH: That makes compelling, compelling sense. Now Mr. Speaker, in Human Events on March 12th, you wrote a very interesting, provocative column saying there are three parties in America, the left wing machine, the stand pat Republicans, and Americans who support American solutions. And I want to flesh that out, because I agree with your analysis, and I want to apply it to some of the more controversial issues. Let’s talk about marriage, for example. The left wing machine wants same sex marriage imposed by the court. The stand pat Republicans say the Defense Of Marriage Act is enough, and the solutions folks, I think, want a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man…

NG: Yeah, I don’t see how you avoid a Constitutional amendment when you’re trapped in a situation where one state at a time, left wing judges are going to dissolve a 2,000 year, 3,000 year tradition.

HH: And do you support…

NG: So…

HH: …some of those state amendments that have gone in have also barred civil unions. Do you support that?

NG: No…it depends on how you define civil unions. I certainly do not believe anything which resembles marriage should apply to anyone except a man and a woman. But I do think that a number of contractual things, if you want to designate somebody for your pension, or you want to allow somebody to come visit you in the hospital, I think there are specific kind of patterns of affection that we should not be inhumane about.

HH: Second issue, end of life decisions. The left wing machine, right in California today, in fact, passed out of the Assembly a new euthanasia bill and a suicide bill. Stand patters, they regret the Congressional intervention in the Shiavo case. Others want protections at the end of life strengthened like the Schiavo legislation. Do you, Speaker Gingrich, think Congress did the right thing on Schiavo?

NG: Look, I think Congress mishandled that about as thoroughly as you could. If Congress had simply taken the position that a family ought to have the same right of appeal as a convicted murderer, to ensure that the local court is not acting inhumanely, it would have been fairly hard for the left to explain that families ought to have fewer rights than a convicted murderer. And I think there were ways to do that, and I think that should be the basic line. That particular judge in that particular jurisdiction was widely seen as biased, and as doing something totally inappropriate.

HH: Would you have voted for that legislation if you’d been in the House then?

NG: Probably, but with great reluctance. I thought it was so totally mishandled, you couldn’t explain it back home, because what the country doesn’t want, is the country doesn’t want 535 elected politicians running around rendering life and death decisions.

HH: Agreed.

NG: The country has too much contempt for politicians to want them to be that deeply involved in one case at a time kind of decision making.

HH: So the optics were bad, but the law would have gotten your vote?

NG: Yeah, and I think in the long run, creating an absolute right of appeal, so that people, particularly in the situation where a person may well be, and you know, again, I share your concern about euthanasia, because I think there’s this whole secular mindset that life is a function of convenience. And so if you want to commit suicide, who are we to tell you not to? If you want to use drugs, who are we to tell you not to? If you want to have abortions in the ninth month, who are we to tell you it’s inappropriate? After all, everything is about your convenience.

HH: Third issue, the left wing machine, when it comes to guns, want more and more control. The stand patters like the assault weapon ban, and the 2nd Amendment, the American solutions people want the right to own those weapons banned by the assault weapons ban. Do you support allowing individuals to own those weapons labeled assault weapons under that law?

NG: Well, if you remember, there are a number of weapons under that law that are not assault weapons, and the law the way it was written in the Clinton administration is an absurdity. And I think people proved that at the time. And I voted against the law, and in fact, I helped stop it at one point.

HH: And so how would you…what weapons ought Americans not be allowed to own under the 2nd Amendment.

NG: Look, I think we ought to draw a clear distinction about a whole range of weapons that are explicitly military, and I have no interest in arguing or defending the right of people to randomly hold weapons that are that extraordinary, except under very, very unique circumstances.

HH: All right, so basically, return the right for some of these higher caliber weapons, but keep the military weapons away from…

NG: Right. I just think, you know, if you said to me would I feel comfortable if my next door neighbor had a 50 caliber machine gun, I would say no.

HH: Yeah.

NG: And I realize that for a purist, that probably means I’m a squishy on the 2nd Amendment. But I do think there’s a line of practicality here. I’m also not very much in favor of them buying M-1 tanks just because it amuses them.

HH: Okay, again, back to your template, lefties, the left wing machine wants citizenship for the 14 million who are here in porous borders, the middle ground want a fence and a path to citizenship, and the changers want a fence plus regularization, but I think no citizenship for people who entered illegally. What’s Newt Gingrich think about the 14 million who are here illegally today?

NG: Well, let me say first of all, don’t…you underestimate the left wing machine. The left wing machine last year on the McCain-Kennedy bill would have made something like 30 million people legal for citizenship.

HH: Right.

NG: I mean, because they would have also allowed every relative that anybody currently here legally could bring in to also be legal for citizenship. So I mean it’s much more, you know, it would essentially drown the current generation of Americans in new people, which is a strategy that frankly, the left has had for a long time. My view is one, you have to have absolute control of the borders as a matter of national security, and we should undertake whatever investments are needed to do that. Two, that we should enforce employment laws, and the government has an obligation to be able to verify within seconds whether or not you legally are entitled to have a job in the United States, and you can do that with the same technology we use for automatic teller machines worldwide, which allow you to get cash in eleven seconds anywhere in the world. Three, that we ought to have a temporary worker program within that kind of framework, but it should require passing a screening to make sure you’re not a convicted felon, giving us biometric information, probably a retinal scan and a thumbprint, having a card run by somebody like American Express, Visa or Master Card, because I don’t think the federal government can run that kind of program, and signing a contract that says you’ll obey the law and pay taxes, or be removed within 48 hours without lengthy judicial processes. And in that context, I would also change citizenship to require that citizenship includes passing a test on American history in English, and giving up the right to vote in any other country to prove you’re really committed to being an American. In that context, rather than have people who are here illegally pay $2,000 to the federal government, which was the McCain-Kennedy proposal, I’d rather them take the same $2,000 dollars, fly home, which would cost less than that, and then apply for the guest worker permit.

HH: Would you ever allow…

NG: I think these people should begin their career in America by obeying the law.

HH: I agree with that. Do you think we should force deportation of those who won’t do that? Or should we ever allow…

NG: I think we should dry up the jobs for people who do not have the legal right to have jobs. And if you focus on the employers, the employees take care of themselves.

HH: So not a lot of deportation?

NG: I think they would…what are they going to do? They would have to go home in order to file to get the certificate to work in the United States. And if you had an enforceable procedure, if the employer thought they were a good employee, they’d make sure they had the money to get home and apply. But this nonsense baloney that somehow these folks…and listen, I am not anti-worker. If you’re from Guatemala, or if you’re from Mexico, and if you’ve been living in a village, and somebody walked in and said to you, you can earn ten times as much money in the U.S., the employer doesn’t mind breaking the law, and the U.S. government won’t enforce it, I sure don’t blame that person for wanting to improve their life because our system has been corrupt. I blame us.

HH: But two more questions. We’re running low on time, Mr. Speaker, and I want to get to these. Would you ever allow someone who entered the country illegally, and has not left the country to come back in, to become a citizen?

NG: No. Period.

HH: All right. Last question, global warming, do you believe it is happening? And if so, is it caused by humans? And if so, what should we do about it?

NG: I think there are prudent grounds for believing that there’s a pattern of warming underway, although we don’t know precisely what it means. And I think there are prudent grounds for believing as a conservative that if you can find an economically rational way to reduce the amount of carbon loading, it’s a good thing to do. But it should not be used as an excuse to create gigantic government bureaucracies on behalf of the left through fundamentally dishonest scare tactics, such as Gore’s movie.

HH: Speaker Gingrich, it’s always a pleasure. We’ll be back in touch with you ASAP and get that set up for next week if we can get one of the other bigs. That would be fascinating.

NG: All right.

HH: Thank you.

NG: Thanks, Hugh. Take care.

End of interview.


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