Final New Hampshire GOP debates discussion thread

Six Republican candidates are debating twice in 15 hours this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire. Mitt Romney, who’s way ahead of the field, will be playing not to lose. Everyone else will be under pressure to trip him up.

Any comments about the ABC debate on Saturday night or Sunday morning’s encounter on “Meet the Press” are welcome in this thread. I’ll liveblog the ABC debate after the jump.

Moderate Republican Fred Karger was excluded from these and all previous televised debates, but he has been campaigning in New Hampshire and has a tv ad on the air. Transcript: “Fed up with the Republican Party? Well, there’s one candidate you just might like. Fred Karger is the only moderate Republican running for president. He’s pro-choice, supports gay marriage, and wants us out of Afghanistan now. Send the Republican Party a message: vote for Fred Karger for president.”

UPDATE: Added excerpts from the Meet the Press debate transcript at the end of this post.

The moderators for Saturday night’s debate are Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos for ABC and Josh McElveen of WMUR-TV in Manchester.

Ground rules: one-minute responses to questions, 30-second rebuttals.

First question to Romney about latest job report; 200K jobs added to US economy in December. Is this a sign economy is turning around?

Romney says report is good news, hopes we continue to see good news. But it’s not thanks to President Obama. His policies have made recession deeper and recovery more tepid; Obamacare, regulations, etc. President will try to take responsibility for things getting better like rooster taking credit for sunrise.

Question to Santorum: what did you mean when you said we don’t need CEO as president?

Santorum: we need a leader. I’ve managed major legislation in House and Senate, including national security issues. I have more experience dealing with Iran than others. We need to let our allies know they can trust us, enemies should know they have to respect us and fear us.

Sawyer: were you talking about Romney?

Santorum: of course I was. He says he has business experience. But biz experience doesn’t necessarily match up with being a CEO. You can’t direct members of Congress like CEO–you have to lead and inspire, paint positive vision.

Romney rebuttal: people who spend their lives in Washington don’t understand how things work in the economy. Running a business is like being a leader. I have experience in leadership, ran Massachusetts. People who run successful businesses are not managers, they are leaders.

Next question to Gingrich: one of your longtime advisers attacked Romney as CEO of Bain, “story of greed,” said Romney made profits by killing jobs, stripping businesses. Do you agree with that characterization?

Gingrich: haven’t seen film, but sounds like story that was in the NYT a couple of weeks ago. I support free enterprise, but not enamored with Wall Street model of flipping companies, taking assets, leaving workers behind. Are people better off or worse off by this kind of investment?

NYT story from two days ago was about one specific company where Bain took money out of it and 1,700 workers left unemployed.

Romney responds: not surprised that NYT attacks private enterprise, not surprised President Obama would do that, but I’m surprised to hear that from others on this stage. Not every business enterprise is successful. We invested in over 100 businesses, and there have been net gains of over 100,000 jobs if you look at all the companies we invested in.

Stephanoupoulos challenges that number, but Romney stands by it–net gain of 100K jobs. Bain helped Staples get started, and now employs 90,000. We tried to turn businesses around, sometimes weren’t successful, but that’s free enterprise.

Huntsman asked the same question: says he also has private-sector experience, combines the experience Santorum talks about as well as Romneys. It’s important for people to look at records for all the candidates, but it goes beyond private sector. Look at what we did as governor–that’s more telling in terms of what we would do as president. I put a flat tax in place in my state, made state most business-friendly in America, led in job creation.

Romney: I congratulate Huntsman on his record in Utah, but I think it’s helpful to have a president with experience in the private sector. Given what the US economy is facing now, we need to have someone who understands how that economy works. Obama doesn’t understand job creation.

Next question is about SC tv ad by Ron Paul attacking Santorum. Paul talks about Santorum taking money from lobbyists. What counts is his record. He’s a big government, big spending individual; he voted to raise the debt limit five times. He voted against right to work, he voted for No Child Left Behind, which doubled the size of Education Department. He also voted for the prescription drug program [for Medicare]. Also, after the Senate he became high-powered lobbyist in Washington. We need to find out how much money he made as a lobbyist.

Santorum says he’s been attacked by CREW, and if you haven’t been attacked by CREW you’re not a real conservative. This is a liberal organization that attacks all conservatives before elections. I’m a conservative, not a libertarian. I believe in some government. I tried to represent interests of Pennsylvania, to make sure we got our fair share of money back. I was known in DC as a “cause” guy; I care deeply about the causes, and when I left Senate I got involved in causes that I believe in. Got involved with things related to Iran, health care. I worked for a coal company; I grew up in a coal region, and I wanted to stay involved in the fray because one of the big issues was cap and trade/global warming. I engaged in that battle and am proud.

Paul responds: I agree that Congress should designate how government spends money, but I voted against the appropriations bills, unlike Santorum. You’re a big spender, you’re a big government conservative, you didn’t vote for right to work.

Santorum: I voted for line-item veto and balanced budget amendment. I was rated at or near the top by the “spending” groups. I am not a libertarian–I didn’t vote against everything like you, Ron.

Next question to Rick Perry: You’ve just seen a great example of why I got in this race. I am the only outsider with the poss exception of Huntsman who hasn’t been part of the Washington DC culture. We need someone who can take on Obama, go to DC and stop the corrupt spending that has gone on. Whether you’re an insider from Washington or an insider from Wall Street, that’s the problem. Americans want executive, governing experience, like I have in Texas. I have been commander in chief, I have governed a state that created net 1 million jobs.

Q: You’re saying Congressman Paul is an insider?

Perry: It bothers me that you get the earmarks and then vote against the bill. I call that hypocrisy.

Paul: I think we should earmark and designate every penny. Congress has more responsibility to earmark. Let’s get back to Santorum–he voted 5 times to increase the debt ceiling. That’s trillions of dollars, you kept this thing going.

Santorum: I was the author of welfare reform, the only bill that repealed a government entitlement. I was talking about need to reform Social Security and Medicare when we were running up surpluses. We tried to tie debt ceiling hikes to cutting spending.

Sawyer pivots to national security: Huntsman asked why he would be better as commander in chief.

Huntsman: being commander in chief is not about the insider gobbledy-gook discussions we just heard. It’s about being a leader. (He again talks about his record in Utah.) This nation is looking for leadership that can be trusted; we have a serious trust deficit. No longer trust institutions of power. We must find not just a commander in chief, president, visionary, but someone who can reform Congress. Everyone knows Congress needs term limits, we need to close the revolving door. Wall Street has also lost Americans’ trust. I’m the only person to have lived overseas four times, I ran the largest US embassy in the world. I understand the complex national security situation.

Romney given chance to respond: He agrees that Huntsman can do better than Barack Obama, who had no experience in leadership. He learned on the job as POTUS and has made one foreign policy error after another. Most serious mistake was with respect to Iran. President was silent when protesters took to the streets in Iran; has failed to show Iran that we will militarily remove their capacity to create nuclear weapons. Who has demonstrated leadership capacity? I don’t want to criticize people on this stage–any one of them would do better than Obama. I will endorse our nominee. We’re facing a dangerous world, and our president now has unbelievably said we should shrink our military.

Next question: only 2 of you have served in military (Paul and Perry). Do you believe having worn the uniform better prepares you to be commander in chief?

Perry says it brings better knowledge, but also he was commander in chief of more than 20,000 troops as governor of Texas. Wants to go back to Iran conversation. What this president is doing with our military budget is going to threaten America’s freedoms. Claims Obama wants to cut a trillion dollars from DoD budget. (That’s false, btw.)

Question to Gingrich: Paul has called you a chickenhawk because you didn’t serve.

Gingrich: Paul makes a lot of comments, that’s his style. I grew up in military family moving around the world. I was a senior teacher in the military, I served on the defense policy board. I feel for veterans, and I made a commitment in New Hampshire that we would reopen hospital in Manchester and clinic in north country. A veteran in north country in winter should not have to go to Boston. As a military brat, I have a good sense of what veterans need.

Paul is asked whether he would use that phrase again. He says someone who got four or five deferments shouldn’t be trying to send our kids to war. I’m trying to stop the wars, but at least I went when they called me. These veterans are coming back from wars that were unnecessary, are unwinnable, we have an epidemic of suicides, severe injuries; these are undeclared wars. The constitution has rules, and I don’t like it when we send our kids off to war, but these people didn’t serve when they were called. When I see these young men coming back, I weep for them.

Gingrich: I never asked for a deferment. I was married with a child, it wasn’t a question. My father served in Vietnam, so I know what it’s like to worry about your father getting killed.

Paul: When I was drafted, I was married with two kids, and I went. (applause)

Gingrich: I wasn’t eligible to serve.

Next question is about Paul’s racist newsletters. How could comments go out under your name without you knowing about them?

Paul: It’s been explained many times; talking about something I didn’t write 20 years ago is a diversion from the real issues. You should ask me what I think about racial issues. MLK is one of my heroes because he practiced civil disobedience, just like Rosa Parks did. Paul cites drug laws as example of institutional racism; blacks and whites use drugs at same rate, but blacks are arrested, jailed, executed disproportionately. There’s also an injustice in war; minorities suffer more as military casualties. Look at the drug laws that are so unfairly enforced.

First commercial break. That was a pretty skillful sidestep from Paul. Romney has to be relieved that he got that Bain Capital conversation over with–no one said anything particularly memorable about that.

Question for Romney: Santorum says Supreme Court was wrong about right to privacy, says states have right to ban contraception. (Santorum interrupts). Romney: do you believe in right to privacy, can states ban contraception?

Romney: I can’t imagine state wanting to ban contraception, and I would totally oppose that if I were governor of a state. Could it be done? Let’s ask our constitutionalist here (gestures toward Paul).

I don’t know if a state can ban contraception–no state wants to. Kind of a silly question if you ask me.

I support Supreme Court rulings as law of the land. If we disagree with a court ruling, we have a constitutional amendment process.

I think Roe v Wade was improperly decided, and if we had more justices like Roberts and Alito, they might return this issue to the states.

Regarding gay marriage, he would amend the constitution. Regarding contraception, it’s working fine–leave it alone.

Follow-up: should the Supreme Court overturn it or not? Romney says yes, should overturn Roe v Wade.

Paul answers: 4th amendment is explicit about privacy. This is why PATRIOT Act is wrong. As far as selling contraceptives, interstate commerce clause protects this; was written to facilitate trade between states.

Santorum: jokingly asks what the question is. Paul’s talking about privacy rights under 4th amendment, but that’s not what Griswold or Roe v Wade were about. They created a new right to privacy that’s not in the constitution. I agree with Romney, I’m for overturning Roe v Wade–we don’t have a right to take a human life. Our founders did not envision that. [nicely sidesteps the issue of whether states can ban contraception]

Next question: given that you oppose gay marriage, what do you want gay people to do if they want long-term relationships?

Gingrich: we want it to be possible for intimate human relationships between friends to happen. Hospital visits, naming people in your will. There’s a big difference between saying we want to be caring and saying we want to change the sacrament of marriage. We don’t want to make life miserable for others, but we don’t want to change sacrament with enormous historical significance in this country.

Huntsman asked about civil unions. Says he supports them, they are fair. Supports equality under the law. I’m married with seven kids. I don’t feel that my relationship is threatened at all by civil unions. On marriage I’m a traditionalist.

Question to Santorum about same-sex adoptions: This isn’t a federal issue, this is a state issue. I believe marriage is a federal issue, we can’t have different laws on marriage. It’s a foundational issue. We can’t have someone married in one state and not another. I’m not going to have a federal law that bans adoption by gay couples.

Follow-up: what happens to the 1,800 families who have same-sex married if we pass a federal constitutional amendment? Santorum says those people would not be married.

Romney asked what he would say to gay couple who just wants to have loving, committed, long-term relationship. Romney says that’s a wonderful thing to do, there’s every right for people to form long-term committed relationships with one another. They don’t have to call it marriage or receive something from the state. Mentions benefits like hospital visits, which he supports. But he doesn’t want to say marriage is something other than a relationship between a man and a woman. Not because we want to discriminate against people, or say gay couples can’t raise children well, but as a whole, children are better off with mother and father. Society wants to encourage partnerships between men and women as ideal setting for children to be raised.

Gingrich points to news media bias: should Catholic Church be forced to shut down adoption services because he doesn’t want to deal with same-sex couples? Catholic Church is discriminated against by Obama administration–there’s a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today, and none of it gets talked about by the media. (applause)

Romney praises what Gingrich just said. He was governor of a state when court ruled for same-sex marriage, laments that Catholic charities had to step out of adoption/child placement services. 3,000 years of human history shouldn’t be discarded quickly.

Next question to Paul: You haven’t promised to endorse the GOP nominee; why haven’t you ruled out running as a third-party candidate?

Paul: essentially I have, but I don’t like to say “never.” I have no plans to do it, I have no intention, but I don’t know why someone can’t reserve a judgment and see how things turn out. The other candidates are honorable people, but sometimes I disagree with their approach to government. We haven’t heard one minute of talk about cutting spending. I have proposed cutting a trillion dollars in the first year. Anyway, I’m doing pretty well–third [in Iowa] wasn’t too bad, I’m catching up to Romney every day.

Perry asked if everyone on this stage should rule out running as third party: He says everyone would do better job than Obama. But wants to get back to gay marriage question. He’s for constitutional amendment, and he is troubled by this administration’s “war on religion.” Won’t defend DOMA, won’t give money to Catholic charities because they disagree with Catholic stand on abortion.

Next question is on foreign policy: 90,000 troops are in Afghanistan. What is the earliest date they should be brought home?

Huntsman: We’ve been in Afghanistan for 10 years. We have a lot to show for it–Taliban not in power, Al Qaeda has been run out, we have strengthened civil society and police. Within the first year of my administration (end of 2013), I would want to draw down our troops. I do not want to be nation-building in SW Asia, but we should leave behind maybe 10K troops for counter-terrorism efforts, training.

Romney: maybe 2014 is better than 2013, but of course we want to bring troops home as fast as we can. I want to make sure that we hand off responsibility to force that can maintain security from Taliban. I don’t want to put in jeopardy our hard-earned successes there. I would listen to commanders on the ground.

Huntsman: The president is the commander in chief. Of course you get input from corners in Washington, but we deferred to commanders on the ground in 1967 in Vietnam and didn’t get good advice. I don’t want to invest a penny or send Americans into harm’s way in order to get involved in a civil war.

Gingrich: We’re asking the wrong questions. Afghanistan is a tiny piece of a gigantic mess. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, Iran trying to get nuclear weapons. If they close straits of Hormuz, we will have a global recession. We don’t know who’s in charge in libya. We have a regional crisis, and we can’t solve it all militarily. We need a new strategy for the region–not primarily a military problem.

Santorum asked if he would send troops back into Iraq. Says he wouldn’t, but we need someone with a strong vision for the region, and Obama has made mistakes everywhere: Egypt, Libya, Israel. Makes us look weak. Withdrawing from Iraq shows what will happen if we leave Afghanistan. Huntsman asks Santorum how long he wants to wait–Santorum says you wait until the threat of radical Islam has gone. This president has sanitized security documents so that we don’t talk about radical Islam.

Perry asked who has the better argument between Huntsman and Santorum, says he would send troops back into Iraq. He doesn’t want Iranians to take over Iraq, criticizes Obama for kowtowing to his liberal, leftist base. Obama should have renegotiated time frame for leaving Iraq. Iran is going to move back in, and all the work we’ve done, all lives lost will have been for nothing.

Gingrich asked about that, doesn’t agree with sending troops back to Iraq. Key thing to remember is that if you’re worried about iranians in iraq, develop a strategy for replacing Iranian dictatorship. No American president should ever again bow to a Saudi king.

Romney asked what it would take for him to send troops back in: He can’t talk specifics, but it would have to involve significant, dramatic American interests. We would have to define a mission of what we’re trying to do and when we would leave. This president didn’t do that–we have troops in Libya, Obama didn’t go on tv to talk about that. Hurdle to put US troops in harm’s way is very high.

Paul is asked about foreign policy, nuclear Iran, not authorizing raid on bin Laden. Says he’s been mischaracterized–he doesn’t want Iran to get nuclear weapon. Bottom line is that president is not a king. Congress should make a declaration of war before we get militarily involved. Some now want to get us involved in Syria, bomb Iran. We have to change this whole metric. Praises US Navy for picking up Iranian fisherman in distress. Criticizes sanctions as act of war; pushes iran into arms of Chinese, has unintended economic consequences.

Santorum says that if we had Ron Paul’s foreign policy there wouldn’t have been a navy to pick up those fishermen. Criticizes Obama for standing by when thousands of protesting Iranians were killed in the streets. Obama said election was legitimate–obviously a Chicago politician. He shouldn’t condone this behavior and turn his back on folks in the street. In Senate I tried to help the people in the streets. Iranian people love Americans because we stand up for the truth, call evil what it is. We need a president to help them do what’s necessary.

Next commercial break. Romney is cruising, criticizing Obama every time he gets a chance to speak.

Question jobs, ideas for job creation. With increasing demand for infrastructure, how much would you invest in infrastructure?

Romney: government can invest in infrastructure to improve economy. We had lots of deficient bridges in Massachusetts. Govt has its role, but by and large it gets in the way of creating jobs. Taxes too much, bad trade policies; we need government to change orientation, encourage private sector. Praises entrepreneurial spirit of American people. Our economy is based on opportunity and merit. Our president has a different view. He wants us to be European-style welfare state, take from some and give to others. I believe in America based on opportunity and freedom, not social welfare state.

Gingrich asked how would his economic plans differ from Romney’s. You can’t compete with China if you have an inferior infrastructure. You need 21st century infrastructure. I would have an energy program to get us free from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela. Wants to invest in infrastructure, needs systematic investment.

Huntsman asked where the money will come from. We’ve got to earn our way forward, expand our economic base. We’re happy that jobs have ticked upward, but think of where this country would be if we’d had a different president during 1st two years of Obama admit. I would have ripped open the tax code, gotten rid of corrupt loopholes in tax code, done what Simpson Bowles wanted to do. We need to stimulate confidence of creative class.

Santorum doesn’t agree with Simpson-Bowles plan, talks about his own tax plan. Would cut corporate taxes, but also wants to do extra to stimulate manufacturing. Our productivity gains are good, but we are not competitive because of government taxation. I want to zero out corporate tax for manufacturers and processors. I want to reduce regulations. This administration is on track to have 150 regulations that cost more than $100 billion.

Romney asked why not go to zero taxes? It would be great not to have taxes, but we need to have military, services, but our taxes our too high. Government consumes 37% of our economy. Our Democrat friends want just a little more, but government is too big. Our employer tax rates have to come down to around 25%. We need to give relief to middle class, which needs it most. I eliminate taxes on savings/capital gains for middle class. I would reduce the number of exemptions, simplify the code.

Paul asked about a great vision for America that’s realistic, given the financial situation. We need to restore America to our freedoms and our principles, sound money. We need to understand the business cycle and where bubbles come from. A financial bubble has been going on for 40 years, and we’re in the middle of a big correction. We need to liquidate debt, but instead we have American taxpayer bail out the people on Wall Street. This is why I call for real cuts in spending. That’s what Republican Party used to stand for. You can’t keep bailing out the debt. That’s what Japan has done for 20 years. We need to understand the business cycle.

Perry: There is a vision out there: get Americans working again. Americans want Washington out of their hair, less taxation, regulation and litigation. Texas is a model for that. We’re sitting on 300 years of energy on our federal lands. We shouldn’t be held hostage by hostile countries. We can put this country back to work again with energy industry. Right to work law would make New Hampshire a powerful magnet for jobs in the northeast.

Huntsman: We all have records, job creation records as governors. I implemented flat tax, we were top state for job creation. Romney was 47th. Talks about conversation he had with someone in NH. We are on the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance if we do it right; we have an opportunity to win back manufacturing from China if we can fix our tax code. The Wall Street Journal endorsed my tax plan.

Romney asked why not close all the loopholes? Romney says the real issue is vision for the country. What’s at stake is jobs, balancing the budget, overhang from entitlements–but this election is about soul of America. We have a president who has put America on a road to decline militarily, internationally, and domestically. Europe isn’t working in Europe and will never work here. We need to get back to words in Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Are we going to remain an exceptional, unique nation? That’s what’s at stake in this election. Our president doesn’t understand that. I hope people in this state share that vision.

Gingrich asked about what Romney just said: I agree with what he said, although it’s a little harsh on Pres Obama, who I’m sure is sincere in his desire to create European-style socialism. My tax plan has been praised by WSJ; WSJ said Romney’s tax program is more like Obama’s. I have a bold, Reagan, conservative model. Romney’s is more cautious.

Next question is for Santorum: I like the vision, but Romney’s plan isn’t bold or focused on what the problems are in this country. Doesn’t like to talk about “classes,” like “middle class.” There may be middle-income people, but Republicans should not buy into Obama’s class warfare. I will use language of bringing people together. I have a consistent record, can contrast with Obama on health care. We need to be able to win this election; I wasn’t ever for health care mandate, wasn’t ever for Wall Street bailout, as Romney was. I wasn’t ever for cap and trade. I have a clear contrast, strong record, vision for this country, appeal for blue-collar workers, then I’m the guy you want.

Romney: My plan is a lot broader than just tax policy. We need to open up markets for American goods. We need to replace old regulations. I understand how economy works, because I’ve lived in it. The people who have spent their lives in Washington have valuable experience, but they haven’t been on the front line. I have. This is bigger than one issue–this is a campaign about the direction of this country. This is a critical time.

Question for Huntsman on relationship with China. It’s nonsense to think you can slap a tariff on China the first day, like Romney wants to do. You need a president who understands how that relationship works. It would serve American interests from economic and security standpoint.

Romney says Huntsman was implementing Obama administration policy in China while everyone else was trying to elect Republicans. China is stealing our intellectual property and manipulating our currency. I won’t talk about how we have to get along with China–I’m going to tell Chinese it’s time to stop, you have to play by the rules, I won’t let you kill American jobs.

Huntsman: It’s important to note that he doesn’t understand the situation. (Huntsman throws in Chinese expression) That would lead to a trade war. If we don’t sit down and have a conversation, we get a tariff in return, which would hurt small businesses and exporters.

Romney: China doesn’t want a trade war. I will hold China to the rules of free and fair trade.

Next commercial break. It’s weird not to be bombarded with political ads during these debates. According to Michael Falcone, Ron Paul ads are running in New Hampshire during every break.

Ben Smith noticed that Santorum’s campaign website has a big headline about rebuilding the middle class.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t running for president?

Perry would be on shooting range.

Gingrich meant to say he’d be watching football, but he initially misspoke, said he’d be watching college basketball championship.

Santorum would do what Gingrich said, but with his family.

Romney would be watching football.

Paul said he’d be home with his family, but after they went to bed he’d probably be reading an economics textbook.

Huntsman would be on the phone with his two boys in the Navy.

Debate ends. Hard for me to see how anyone can derail Romney’s coronation.

David Gregory will moderate the Sunday debate on Meet the Press.

UPDATE: NBC posted the full transcript from the Meet the Press debate here. I didn’t watch that debate, but it seems like Romney got away again without any major stumbles or attacks. Newt Gingrich clearly loathes this guy:

NEWT GINGRICH: Oh yeah. I mean I– I realize the red light doesn’t mean anything to you because you’re the front runner.  (LAUGHTER) But– but can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?  The fact is you ran in ’94 and lost.  That’s why you weren’t serving in the Senate with– Rick Santorum.

The fact is you had a very bad reelection rating.  You dropped out of office.  You had been out of state for something like 200 days preparing to run for president.  You didn’t have this interlude of (UNINTEL) citizenship while you thought about what to do.  You were running for president while you were governor.  You were gone all over the country.  You were– you were out of state consistently.

You then promptly reentered politics.  You happened to lose to McCain as you had lost to Kennedy.  Now you’re back running.  You’ve been running consistently for years and years and years.  So this idea that suddenly citizenship showed up in your mind, just level with the American people.  You’ve been running for– so at least since the 1990s.  (APPLAUSE)

And Gingrich is going for broke on Romney’s work at Bain Capital:

DAVID GREGORY: Speaker Gingrich, how about tone of this campaign?  I was in Iowa.  I heard you on the stump.  You– complained bitterly about the Super PAC, the outside groups that were lodging charges against you, bringing up– some old issues against you.  And now you have a former campaign spokesman, who is preparing attacks against Governor Romney, calling him quote “a predator” for his involvement at the investment company, Bain.  You agreed with somebody who said that Governor Romney was a liar, when he didn’t take account for those attacks against you.  Are you consistent now, as you’re preparing to launch against Governor Romney?



NEWT GINGRICH: I’m consistent, because I think you ought to have fact-based campaigns to talk about the records.

DAVID GREGORY: Calling him a predator is not over the line?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I think you have to look at the film, which I haven’t seen.  But if you look at the New York Times article, and I think it was on Thursday– you would certainly have to say that Bain, at times, engaged in behavior where they looted a company, leaving behind 1,700 unemployed people.

That’s the New York Times.  That’s not me.  So I think– I mean, one of the ads I complained about, you had four Pinocchios from the walst– from the Washington Post.  Now to– to get four Pinocchios in a 30-second ad means there’s virtually nothing accurate, in 30 seconds.

DAVID GREGORY: Speaker, you– you– you decry the Washington establishment.  And you’ve just talked about the New York Times and the Washington Post.  You have agreed with the characterization that Governor Romney is a liar.  Look at him now.  Do you stand by that claim?

NEWT GINGRICH: Sure, Governor, I wish you would calmly and directly state it is your former staff running the PAC.  It is your millionaire friends giving to the PAC.  And you know some of the ads are in– are untrue.  Just say that, straightforward.

MITT ROMNEY: Well, of course, they’re– former staff of mine.  And of course they’re people who support me.  They wouldn’t be putting money into a PAC that supports me if they weren’t people who support me.  And with regards to their ads, I haven’t seen ’em.  And as you know, under the law, I can’t direct their ads.  Well– Speaker– hold on a second, I– I can’t direct their ads.  If there’s anything in them that’s wrong, I hope to take it out.  I hope everything that’s wrong is taken out.

But let me tell you this.  The– the ad I saw said that– that you’d been forced out of the speakership.  That was correct.  It said that– that you’d sat down with Nancy Pelosi and– and argued for– for a climate change bill.  That was correct.  It said that you’d called the– the– Ron Paul– wrong Paul.  Paul Ryan’s plan to– to provide– Medicare reform– a right-wing social engineering plan.  It said that– that as part of an investigation, an ethics investigation that you had to reimburse some $300,000.  Those things are all true.

If there was something related to abortion that it said that was wrong, I hope they pull it out.  Anything wrong, I’m opposed to.  But, you know, this ain’t– this ain’t a bean bag.  We’re gonna come into a campaign.  We’re gonna describe the differences–


MITT ROMNEY: –between us.  But I– but I do think.

DAVID GREGORY: Go ahead, Speaker.

MITT ROMNEY: But I do think the rhetoric, Mr. Speaker, I– I think it was a little over the top.

NEWT GINGRICH: You think my rhetoric was over the top, but your ads were totally reasonable.  I just want to understand–

NEWT GINGRICH: I’ve taken the governor’s advice.

MITT ROMNEY: Mr. Speaker, the– the Super PACs that are out there running ads, Ron Paul’s, mine, yours, as you know, that is not my ad.  I don’t write that ad.  I can’t tell them  not to.

DAVID GREGORY: Well, how about this– would you both agree to take these super PAC ads down?

MITT ROMNEY: But Mr. Speaker, I– I wouldn’t call some of the things you– you’ve called me (UNINTEL).  That’s just over the top.

DAVID GREGORY: Would you both agree that– to– to request that these Super PAC ads be taken down?

NEWT GINGRICH: David, wait a second.  Come on, come on.  I– I’m glad, finally, on this stage, that weeks later, he has said, “Gee, if they’re wrong, they should take them down.”  They would, of course– we’ve sent a letter in South Carolina saying– warning the stations to just fact check them before they start running ’em.  But I’m taking his advice.  You know– we started to run his commercial from– from 1994, attacking Teddy Kennedy for running negative ads.  We thought, “No, that would be wrong.”

So instead, I– I agree with him.  It takes broad shoulders to run.  Can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.  When the 27 and a half minute movie comes out, I hope it’s accurate.  I– I– I– I can say, publicly, I hope that the Super PAC runs an accurate movie about Bain.  It’ll be based on establishment newspapers, like the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Barron’s, Bloomberg News, and I hope it is totally accurate.  And then people can watch the 27 and a half minutes of his career at Bain and decide for themselves.

Gingrich won’t stop Romney from becoming the nominee, but I look forward to watching him try.

About the Author(s)


  • Buddy Roemer

    I personally would like to see Buddy Roemer on the stage instead of Rick Perry.  Buddy is probably the only Republican who is serious about increasing manufacturing opportunities in the United States.  The fake populism of Romney and Santorum is scoring applause, but we’ve followed these two for years.  We all know better.  

  • What would you be doing now?

    All those answers are so phony, especially Perry’s answer.  And they all pander to some set of voters except Ron Paul (as usual).  I’d say the number of people who go to bed reading economics books is too small to swing an election.