Newt Gingrich on Oklahoma, politics

OKLAHOMA CITY — Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich stopped in Oklahoma during his campaign tour. He spoke to more than 500 people in Oklahoma City and another 3,500 in Tulsa.

He also took time to sit down one on one with News Channel 4′s Chellie Mills to talk about some of the issues important to Oklahomans.

Our time with Newt Gingrich was short, but we managed to talk about a lot of things.

Gingrich says, “My plan is basically what Reagan’s was, lower taxes, less regulation more American energy and be positive about people who create jobs.”

Gingrich spent nearly 24 hours in Oklahoma.

He traveled from Tulsa to Oklahoma City and even our State Capitol.

During his time with us he talked about not only national issues but those that matter to Oklahomans, issues like agriculture.

He says, “We are so productive as a country that we have to have a very aggressive export program for agriculture. We can feed a large part of the world.”

He also addressed the Personhood Act that recently passed our state senate.

Gingrich says, “It’s going to be controversial, but I think it’s the right question to ask and it’s moving in the right direction.”

He says he is a solid conservative Oklahomans can trust.

Gingrich says, “My overall record for 20 years has been very solid conservative reformed welfare and I’m the only Speaker of the House in your lifetime to help balance the budget for four straight years.”

Our talk ended on a much lighter note about his wife and that hair that some seem to be obsessed with.

He says, “I told her the other day when there was some article about ‘The Calista,’ I said if your hairstyle gets its own name there’s something going on here that’s really funny. And she broke up laughing.”

Full interview with Newt Gingrich:

Chellie:  Sounds like you had a large crowd last night.

Gingrich: We were very excited. We had a terrific crowd here and a huge crowd at Oral Roberts University. People were very interested in my plan to drill here, drill now pay less and use American energy both for national security, so no American president will ever again bow to a Saudi king, and also because people really like the idea of getting back to $2.50 gasoline. They understand it’s practical, it’s real, it makes their life better.

Chellie: What is your plan? How can you do that?

Gingrich: First, as president, on opening day, I would open up federal lands and I’d open up off shore, maximize American drilling and American development. Second, we are so productive as a country that we have to have a very aggressive export program for agriculture. We can feed a large part of the world. And that’s the only way American farmers can truly be successful, is to have a president who is committed to opening up markets worldwide so that American agricultural products can be sold around the planet.

Chellie: Let’s talk about the economy and jobs.

Gingrich: Well, I think the economy in general, my plan is basically what Reagan’s was, lower taxes less regulation more American energy and be positive about people who create jobs. I worked with President Reagan in the 1980s. We created 16-million new jobs. And as Speaker of the House I worked with President Clinton and we created 11 million new jobs. When I left the speakership unemployment was down to 4.2-percent. So, I think it can be done but it takes a totally different approach than the Obama, big government, big spending, big bureaucracy  model which is inherently going to kill jobs.

Chellie: I asked some of our viewers what they wanted me to ask you about. One thing mentioned was agriculture.

Gingrich: Agriculture is hit more by high energy prices than any other sector. It gets hit because you have long distances to travel. It gets hit because a lot of the cost of petroleum is absorbed into production for agriculture. Whether you are out plowing or using fertilizer or out doing a variety of things there’s an impact of energy cost. Getting energy less expensive really helps American agriculture. Second, we are so productive as a country that we have to have a very agressive export program for agriculture. We can feed a large part of the world. And that’s the only way American farmers can truly be successful, is to have a president who is committed to opening up markets world wide so that American agricultural products can be sold around the planet.

Chellie: This is an issue here in Oklahoma recently. Our Senate passed the Personhood Act last week and it’s been very controversial.

Gingrich: I think the question of personhood is going to be controversial for a while. It raises a core question about life. I think every person has to decide for themselves, when does life begin? I believe it begins at conception. If that’s true, what’s our obligation to life? We say in the Declaration of Independence we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Well when does that endowment occur? What the Personhood Bill tries to wrestle with is how do we define the beginning of life and when you become a citizen. It’s going to be controversial, but I think it’s the right question to ask and it’s moving in the right direction.

Chellie: Rick Santorum has a lot of momentum here in Oklahoma. What would you say to sway Oklahomans your direction? Why should they choose you?

Gingrich: We’re both conservative. He tends to be more a big labor, Pennsylvania conservative. And I’m more a Georgia, small business conservative. The bigger difference is I have very large, very bold proposals, whether its American energy to get  down to $2.50 a gallon gasoline or it is allowing young people to have a personal social security savings account so they control it, no politician can touch it. Or, it is having zero capital gains so hundreds of billions of dollars come to the U.S. If you look at our two sets of proposals, for instance replacing the Environmental Protection Agency with an Environmental Solutions Agency, I simply represent more of a Ronald Reagan bold change kind of approach and Rick represents more of a more normal politician.

Chellie: Oklahoma has a lot of conservative Christians. Do you feel they can in good conscience vote for you given your past with the ethics issues in the news?

Gingrich: The things Governor Romney said about me are simply not true. The Wall Street Journal looked in to it and said it’s not true. National Review looked at it and said it’s not true. These were all democratic attacks based on that we had won control of the House and they were really mad. They had not been out of control in 40 years and they really hated the idea that we took control. And so, they decided smearing me was easier than changing what they are doing. If you look at my total record, I think clearly, I think I am a conservative. I think most social conservatives; I have had a 98.5-percent voting record with national right to life. I actually have a more conservative record with the American Conservative Union than Rick Santorum. I got an 80 and he got an 81, I mean I got a 90 and he got an 81. My overall record for 20 years has been very solid conservative, reformed welfare and I’m the only Speaker of the House in your lifetime to help balance the budget for four straight years.

Chellie: We talked some about Rick Santorum, but what about the other candidates? Why do you feel you are the best candidate?

Gingrich: The difference between me and Governor Romney is partly philosophical. I’m pro-life, he was pro-choice in Massachusetts. I’m for lower taxes he was for tax increases in Massachusetts. I’m for second amendment and the right to bear arms he was for gun control in Massachusetts. So, there’s a really big gap in how Governor Romney governed as a moderate in Massachusetts and how I approach things as a Georgia conservative.

Chellie: Let’s talk about Social Security and your plans for its future.

Gingrich: First of all, I would take Social Security off budget so no president would ever again threaten not to send their checks. What President Obama did in July was just wrong when he said I may not be able to send your check. There’s a trust fund of over $2-trillion sitting there. The system is safe. Seniors ought to be able to relax and not think politicians are going to play with it. In the long run, for your generation and younger Americans, I would allow folks to have the right to voluntarily choose a personal social security savings account. So that they would control it, it would build up interest over their entire lifetime. Chile does this today and has for 30 years the city of Galveston does it and you build up over a lifetime two or three times as much money that you personally have so that you can control your retirement and your much better off. I think that would save Social Security in the long run with people having a better retirement not a smaller retirement.

Chellie: Last night you said President Obama is the “most dangerous president on national security in our lifetime.” What do you mean by that?

Gingrich: A good example is over the weekend they picked up a Moroccan man and the Obama Administration refuses to even talk about what motivates him. They can’t discuss radical Islamism at all. It’s as though we tried to contain the Soviet Union and we weren’t allowed to talk about Communism. I think this is an administration that is willfully blind to the realities around us. He wants to cut the defense budget which will have a huge impact at Fort Sill and have a huge impact at Tinker. He has no idea how much damage he is doing to the American military with the kind of budget cuts he’s proposing.

Chellie: You mentioned he waged war on religion. Let’s talk more about that.

Gingrich: This administration is saying that a Catholic institution has to offer an abortion pill, that they have to offer sterilization as part of their insurance. We have never had a president who has said they can dictate to a religion what they can and can’t do. It’s the principle if you can dictate this what can you dictate next. In our Declaration of Independence we say our rights are unalienable they come from our creator. Well, if they are unalienable that means no president no bureaucrat no judge can get between you and God. The Obama Administration is breaking that down and I think it’s a fundamental violation of the First Amendment.

Chellie: Let’s talk about health care. When Santorum was here he mentioned “Obama care” is a lot like “Romney care.” Do you have a plan going forward?

Gingrich: First of all, I agree with Senator Santorum that “Romney care” is the precursor to “Obama care.” They are remarkably similar. It’s hard for me to see how Romney would debate Obama on healthcare. I helped develop the Center for Health Transformation. My approach would be to make healthcare local. Healthcare should be between you, your doctor and your hospital. It should not be run by some Washington bureaucrat who has no idea who you are and has never been to Oklahoma. I would try to get back to a local control where you personally know about your options and you personally get to make the choice not some Washington Bureaucrat.

Chellie: OK, so let’s get to my hardest question. This is from a viewer. What hair product does your wife use?

Gingrich: Oh, I should know and I don’t. I’m going to tell Calista though. (laughing) If your viewer will go online they will find Calista’s hair products listed somewhere because I saw it in some article. It’s a particular product. I told her the other day when there was some article about “The Calista,” I said if your hairstyle gets it’s own name there’s something going on here that’s really funny. And she broke up laughing.

Chellie: Is there anything else you want Oklahomans to know about you?

Gingrich: All I’d say is, I’m really honored to have Congressman JC Watts support. I think it makes a big difference. It really means a lot. I think he’s going to be out here next week campaigning for me and I’m really grateful.

Chellie: Thank You for making time for us.

Gingrich: Alright. Thank you. Glad to be here with you.