TODAY   |  January 25, 2012

Gingrich: Obama gave campaign speech

TODAY’s Ann Curry speaks with GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich about his candidacy and President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> get reaction from the republican side . presidential hopeful newt gingrich is with us now from coral gables , florida, where he's campaigning for next week's primary. mr. speaker, good morning.

>> good morning. good to be with you.

>> good to have you here as well, especially after a late night .

>> first a chance to react to the vice president who appears to give you a thumbs-up on your temperament.

>> we worked together on issues and there is a mutual respect there. i thought he was a little bit guarded which was nice for me. he's obviously waiting to see who's nominated. i'm sure the minute we have a nominee he'll be sharper with his comments.

>> on the president's state of the union address what proposal did you agree with the president on that you would act on if you were still house speaker today?

>> it's hard to know. on the one hand he has a lot of good rhetoric. i like a lot of his rhetoric. we are in a state with a lot of unemployment, where houses are worth less than mortgages, in a state where foreclosures are a problem. the rhetoric was terrific. his actions haven't been. i find the gap between president obama 's words and his deeds to be astounding. he ran on bringing us together. he ran on "yes, we can." yet last night he seemed to set up a year of divisiveness, of getting nothing done. i thought it was a sad decline from the hope and optimism he ran on in 2008 . i think it reflects the last couple of years.

>> let me ask, he did talk about proposals to create jobs like tax cuts for businesses to keep jobs in america, trade agreements to help create jobs and upgrading buildings, repairing the infrastructure to create more construction jobs. you disagree with the proposals having the power to create jobs in america?

>> no. i'm very much in favor of creating more jobs but at the same time he talked about, if he meant it, what would be a large tax increase on people who create jobs. his proposal of a minimum tax of 30% would double the capital gains tax if that's what he meant. with president obama you never know what the gap is between the speech and what comes up later on as policy. he did nothing last night, for example, to explain why he vetoed the keystone pipeline which killed at least 50,000 jobs and may have driven canada into a partnership with china which would make no sense at all. he didn't explain the price of gasoline which is the highest in american history . he has no proposal to lower that price. after the failure of solyndra and other government investments he went back to the same model. he said really smart bureaucrats will make the right decisions about new technologies. we don't have evidence that it works. i think what you saw the president do is lay down a campaign speech which is how he's going to run this year. he's going to run as a left wing populist on class warfare and try to say big government is a better solution than free markets . i think that will be a dividing line over which the american people will make a gigantic decision in november.

>> i want to ask about the relief of your freddie mac contract. it did state uh lobbying, you're there was a man described as freddie mac 's chief lobbyist. what's the distinction?

>> he's described as the head of public policy . we talked about what their positions ought to be and we talked about where they found themselves. let me point out. i think it's fascinating to watch everybody go by and dismiss it. the contract says "no lobbying," period. that was the question raised and the contract is clear. no lobbying, period. i offered strategic advice. i think that's the important thing to remember. i stand by that. also in the one written document at freddie mac said they needed more regular fwlagss. the one time i spoke to the house republicans about freddie mac the new york times reported in july of 2008 , i told them not to give freddie mac or fannie mae money. i said i was opposed to giving them taxpayer money. it's hard to explain why my offering strategic advice wasn't in the public interest when i said, don't give them the money.

>> in the meantime you have defended lobbying. why not just own this, mr. speaker? why not say out loud --

>> there is a hunl difference.

>> mm-hmm. go ahead, sir.

>> first of all, lobbying is a legitimate business if that's the business you are in. lobbyists find clients whose interests he represents. i gave people strategic advice and said what i believed, period, regard to anybody who happened to be involved in our companies. that's a huge difference. being a public citizen isn't the same as being a lobbyist.

>> one last question here. house minority leader nancy pelosi said you could never be president because she said, quote, there is something i know. is there anything nancy pelosi knows that would stop you from being president of the united states , newt gingrich ?

>> who knows? she lives in a san francisco environment of strange fantasies and strange understandings of reality. i have no idea what's in nancy pelosi 's head. if she knows something, spit it out. tell us what it is. i have no idea what she's talking about.

>> on that note we leave it, mr. speaker. thank you