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CNN Live Event/Special

Gingrich Suspends Campaign

Aired May 02, 2012 - 15:15   ET



FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- 179,000 donors who helped us at and who helped make the campaign possible.

I should, by the way, just for a second, single out my brother Randy McPherson and his wife Jill who are here, and -- and Randy has been all over the country campaigning for me and I'm very grateful.

And I want to mention that Bob Walker and his wife Barbara are here. Bob was our chairman. We go back all the way to the days in the House. We co-invented the Conservative Opportunity Society. I think we helped co-invent C-SPAN. We did an amazing number of things for a long period in the effort to create a House Republican majority.

I also want to thank members of the team who are here, some around the thing, who stuck with us through the whole process, which was a truly wild ride, and absolutely, despite all these friends that I have had over the years, I could never have predicted either the low points or the high points. I mean, it was all just sort of amazing and astonishing.

There are some key elected officials I want to thank. I talked this morning to Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer in Iowa, who was courageous and who stayed with us through the whole process from the period when we were supposedly dead, to when we rebounded to the massive weight of advertising. And Linda was just spectacular in solidly campaigning all across the state of Iowa.

I also want to thank Speaker Paulsen of Iowa, who was a tremendous help, and Speaker Bill O'Brien in New Hampshire, who worked very hard and who, by the way, is a model of balancing the budget the right way. In New Hampshire, they first get the revenue number and they then appropriate up to the revenue number. And so they don't start with a spending number and then try to figure out how to find the taxes. They start with what's coming in and figure out what not to spend. And it is a remarkably successful program.

I particularly want to thank Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia House members who were for me both in Washington and in the state legislature in the House and Senate. I think for Callista and me, one of the high moments of the campaign was carrying Georgia by 156 counties to three. And it really gave us a good feeling that back home, we had a very solid base. And it was pointed out to me by my daughters today, for example, in Carroll County where I had taught in west Georgia, where they both went to high school, we got 60 percent of the vote. So it was nice to feel that we had a very strong base of support from the people who knew us best. I couldn't be here and not thank Governor Rick Perry who, he and Anita were tremendously helpful and he stood with us all the way through. And when -- towards the end when things got difficult, I called him and said -- and I said, "I'm with you 'til the cows come home." And he said, "I'm pretty comfortable as a farmer in Texas understanding that." So he stuck with us.

And I also want to thank Herman Caine, who was tremendous in campaigning for us, particularly on Super Tuesday; and Michael Reagan who campaigned for us, and I think communicated pretty clearly the relationship we had with his dad; and then Todd Palin, who also worked very, very hard.

And of course, while they weren't directly associated with the campaign, it would be impossible for me to be here and thank everybody without mentioning Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who single-handedly came pretty close to matching Romney's super PAC, and I am very, grateful to them. And we share a combined concern about the Middle East and a combined concern about both American security and the survival of Israel, and they're very, good friends.

Finally, on the thank-yous, I have to thank the voters of South Carolina, and I have to apologize to them. We will have broken their tradition of always picking the nominee. This will make me feel slightly guilty every time we go through South Carolina. But they were tremendous. They were welcoming. They were enthusiastic. The size of the victory was historic. And Callista and I will both always remember South -- as a matter of fact, I suspect our whole family will always remember South Carolina because it was a tremendous, tremendous experience.

Today, I'm suspending the campaign, but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship. Callista and I are committed to be active citizens. We owe it to America. We owe it to Maggie and Robert. In my case, I have been an active citizen since August of 1958, between my freshman and sophomore years in high school when my dad was serving in the Army in Europe.

This August, it will be 54 years that I have worked essentially on three things. One, what does America need to do to be free, safe and prosperous? Two, how would you explain that to the American people so they gave you permission to do what is needed? And three, how would you implement the change if the American people gave you permission?

Starting in 1960 in Columbus when my dad was assigned to Fort Benning and I was a volunteer in the Nixon-Lodge campaign to the 1964 when I dropped out of college for a year to run a congressional race, to 1974 and '76, as my daughters remember -- because we lost twice for Congress; once in the middle of Watergate and once with Jimmy Carter at the head of the ticket in Georgia. And then from 1978 to 1994, a 16-year period of working to build a majority, starting with the Capitol steps event with Ronald Reagan in September of 1980; helping Reagan in the eight years he was president with Bob Walker and others founding the Conservative Opportunity Society; to developing a generation of solutions and training through GOPAC; building the Contract With America, which led to the largest one party increase in American history in an off-year election -- 9 million additional votes because the positive campaign actually attracted people and matter to them.

And in that process we won control of the House for the first time in 40 years, and we passed welfare reform working in a bipartisan manner with a Democrat in the White House.

In 1996, in what was, I think, an even more difficult election, we were the first reelected Republican majority since 1928. And we did it not by flinching, not by compromising, but by standing firm for a balanced budget, standing firm for lower taxes, standing firm for smaller government and standing firm for reform.

In that period we were then able to work with President Clinton on four consecutive balanced budgets for the only time in your lifetime. And we did it in a bipartisan manner because we represented the will of the American people, not the will of Washington, D. C.

From 2001 to 2006, I worked as a volunteer on national security and health issues for the Bush administration. In 2008, we developed the American Solutions "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less," and began to raise with the American people the central importance of an American independence energy plan so that no future president would ever again bow to a Saudi king and so that we would not be dependent on the Strait of Hormuz and dealing with the Iranians.

Over my lifetime, I have tried to move the national debate, including 24 books starting with "Window of Opportunity" in 1984.

Callista and I have done seven documentaries. She's entered the author phase of trying to lead and educate with "Sweet Land of Liberty," in which Ellis the Elephant introduces 4-to-8-year-olds to American history in an effort to fill the vacuum left by all too many modern educators.

We're now going to put down the role of candidate and candidate spouse and take back up the roles of active citizens.

I actually thought today -- I happened to get an e-mail. I thought Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who I would worked with for many years and who had once been the head of the congressional campaign committee, actually captured this moment when he said the following, quoted, I think, in Chris Cillizza's column today.

He said -- quote -- "Newt is liberated to do what he does best: adapt conservative views and values to the challenges of the 21st century. In some ways, his best days may be ahead of him," closed quote. Callista and I are going to focus on a series of key issues and try to find ways to help educate and move the country and to try to educate and move policy in Washington, D. C.

Probably central to all this is our deep commitment on American exceptionalism and American history and our sense that we can't truly be Americans if we have amnesia about who we are, where we came from, and what principles have made us great.

In addition, we'll spend a great deal of time on religious liberty. In fact, my newsletter today at Gingrich Productions is specifically on the whole issue of religious liberty. And I appreciate very much the working relationship we have with HumanEvents in developing issues like this.

I'm going to continue to work on American energy independence. This is central to job creation, it is central to our balance of payments, it is central to the strength of the American dollar, it is central to our ability to deal with radical Islam.

And if we do it right we actually will not only create energy independence -- with millions of new jobs -- but we will create trillions of dollars of royalties, which if we impose discipline in Washington could be put into a fund to repay the national debt and could lead Maggie and Robert's generation debt free by the end of their lifetime by having a disciplined, serious approach to, first, balancing the budget and then using American energy to pay off the national debt.

So in a very real sense we could be free of both radical Islam, Saudi kings and Chinese bondholders all with the same strategy.

In addition, we're going to go to college campuses and talk about personal Social Security savings accounts for Maggie and Robert's generation and the historic reality of how brilliantly Chile, and Galveston -- and two other Texas counties -- have used that model so that people in their generation can have two to three times as large a retirement account while growing the national economy independent of political influence and interference in a system that's much fairer than the current system.

We're going to also reemphasize the work ethic, something which I know was controversial in at least one of our debates. And one of the proposals for reemphasizing the work ethic is going to be to modernize unemployment compensation to attach to it a training component so that if you sign up to get the money, you have to sign up to learn, because by definition if you're currently unemployed, you need better job skills.

And if you look at North Dakota, where 3. 5 percent of the population is unemployed and there are 16,000 jobs they can't fill in the oil field, because the people unemployed don't have the skills for the people in the oil fields.

Well, there's no reason should give people 99 weeks for doing nothing. And this is an important national debate about a country which was founded in 1607 by Captain John Smith saying to aristocrats, not the poor, to aristocrats, citing St. Paul, if you don't work, you won't eat, a conversation which apparently led all the aristocrats to adopt work as a behavior. And you'll see us come back and talk about that.

But beyond that, I want to come back on one of the projects I feel saddest about not communicating very well and talk about brain research and talk about regenerative medicine.

If we reorganize the National Institute of Health and if we reorganize the Food and Drug Administration, we can have in a remarkably short time absolute revolutions of better health, more independent living, longer living, and dramatically lower cost.

Part of the great challenge of Washington is how do you take an idea like that and move it from the scientific world, where everybody I meet with says it's right, into the political/governmental world where nobody has a clue what it means. And this an enormous challenge to us as a society.

I'm also going to focus on what a post-Obamacare personal health and health care system should be like and take back up something I worked on for my entire career, going back to 1958, and I was before I ran for president the longest serving teacher for one- and two-star generals in the military. Spent 23 years at the National Defense University and at the Air University.

I will focus again on national security in three zones: radical Islamists, where we still do not have a grand strategy. I was nice that the president broadcast from Afghanistan. The center of al Qaeda today is Yemen. I'm not sure the White House has gotten that briefing yet, but they will eventually.

The fact that we assume our opponents are as stupid as our bureaucracy is very dangerous, and I think you have to recognize we do not have a grand strategy in this zone.

We have to deal with the rise of China, which is not automatically a threat, but is a reality. And we have to deal with new technologies that do in fact threaten us, whether it's cyber warfare, electromagnetic pulse or nanoscale science and technology.

Finally, on that topic, new technologies, I want to just say I'm cheerfully going to take back up the issue of space. My wife has pointed out to me approximately 219 times, give or take three, that moon colony was probably not my most clever comment in this campaign. I thought, frankly, in my role as providing material for "Saturday Night Live" it was helpful.

But the underlying key point is real. The fact is, if we're going to be the leading country in the world, we have to be the leading country in space. The fact is our bureaucratic, red tape- ridden system doesn't work.

What I called for is beginning to happen. You may have noticed in the last week the founders of Google are now talking about a private sector effort to mine an asteroid, and somebody's pointed out it's actually less red tape to mine an asteroid than there is to get through EPA in the United States.

The space adventure program hopes to actually have a private sector opportunity to circle the moon by 2015. Branson, as many of you know, has a low-Earth orbit project under way in the private sector. And next week, NASA, building on something George W. Bush started and Obama has expanded on, NASA will actually be launching a private sector rocket that Elon Musk has invested a great deal in, in an effort to broaden our capacity.

So this is not a trivial area. This is a fundamental question about whether we're still a country that dreams and that goes out to pursue great adventure and that has the courage to say to young people, yes, you ought to go into math and science, because there's a wonderful future doing really important things.

I happen to think that's a better future than methamphetamine and cocaine, and I'm going to argue for a romantic American future of doing things that matter that get to the human spirit.

We also need to have new models of effective, affordable lifetime learning. And we have to replace the 130-year-old civil service model with modern management systems. This is a big issue that is fundamental to the functioning of the United States.

We have an obsolete bureaucratic system that is impossible to make work effectively, and yet the forces that support it are going to fight every inch of the way against modernity (ph). This may be too big a challenge, even for somebody that used to be Speaker of the House, but we do need to have a national discussion about how to get Congress to be effective.

Congress has decayed dramatically in the last 20 years. The Senate, in particular, has become a stunningly dysfunctional institution. This is a really big problem. Under our Constitution, in the long run, if Congress doesn't understand things, and can't legislate things, you can't fix it.

And it's really important that we have a much bigger national debate about what an effective 21st century Congress would be like, and it's something that we will be involved in. Because we're going to pursue solutions, we want those solutions to be real.

That's going to lead Callista and me to campaigning for a Republican president, a Republican House, a Republican Senate, Republican governors, Republican state legislators. We have to recognize America is a complex mosaic of self-government. The presidency matters. But so do all the other offices of self- government.

If you truly will have a wave of change in America, that wave has to occur in many, many places simultaneously.

As to the presidency, I'm asked sometimes, is Mitt Romney conservative enough. And my answer is simple. Compared to Barack Obama? You know, this is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical leftist president in American history.

If you simply take judges and ask yourself who are the kind of people Governor Romney would be inclined to appoint, and who are the kind of people we know Barack Obama appoints? The gap is as wide as at any point in American history. I would argue it's wider than between Reagan and Carter.

If you look at Romney's pledge to cut spending, something which we are going to cheerfully help him with; to balance the budget, something I'm had some involvement with; to work with Paul Ryan and others on the entitlement crisis; to focus on economic growth by creating private sector jobs, something I would suggest Governor Romney knows about 60,000 times more than does President Obama; just think about appointing common sense regulators as compared to the Obama EPA regulator, who said it's nice to occasionally crucify an industry because it teaches them a lesson.

It would be nice if somebody said it's nice to work with an industry so they can create jobs.

Now, you can't get a much bigger gap than those kind of things. A Republican sweep this fall would revitalize America just as the Reagan sweep of 1980 revitalized America. We have done it before. We can do it again.

I always tell people economic recovery will begin late on election night, when people realize that Obama is gone. And by the next morning, people will make new decisions about investing in hiring. But beyond this election -- and remember, I say this to everybody, having been through this for a long time -- the election is just an interim step, and then you have the next struggle.

We had to work for eight months in 1981 to pass the Reagan tax cuts. I mean, look at what's Scott Walker is going through in Wisconsin. If you want really big change, the election just starts the dance. It doesn't end it. And so every conservative should be prepared to work every single day, long beyond this election, to bring to bear the best ideas and to develop the best future.

Now, I think, in the Reagan tradition, that there is a shining future ahead. I think Maggie and Robert's generation whether live in a freer, safer, more prosperous America with greater opportunities. I'm not totally certain I will get to the moon colony. I'm certain Maggie and Robert will have that opportunity if they want to take it. I think it's almost inevitable -