tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN November 26, 2011 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
he has been in custody since august. he denies any involvement in gardiner's disappearance. i'm ted rollins at the cnn center in atlanta. "the situation room" begins right now. newt gingrich takes a huge gamble on the presidential debate. all the candidates came out swinging at the tsa. so how do they propose securing u.s. airports? plus, one of the few gaffes at the debate involving herman cain and me. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> it's the face-off between the
candidates. but this weekend's presidential debate focusing on national security. i moderated the debate here in washington, d.c. and among the many note worthy exchanges was this one in which newt gingrich, a front-runner right now, advocated what many conservatives clearly don't like, amnesty. >> i think that we ought to have a visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science, and everything nearing so that people stay here. five blocks down the street you'll see a statue of einstein. einstein came here as an immigrant. so let's be clear how much the united states has drawn upon the world to be richer, better, and more inclusive. i think you have to deal with this as a comprehensive approach. it starts with controlling the border. i believe ultimately you have to find some system of -- once you put every piece in place, which
includes guest worker program, you need a world war ii selective service board that reviews the people who are here. if you're here -- if you've come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home, period. if you've been here 25 years and you have three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, i don't think we're going to separate you from your family or bring you force fally and kick you outment. >> i don't agree that we should make 11 million workers who are here illegally legal. >> amnesty is a magnet. when we have had in the past programs that have said that people that come here legally are going to get to stay legally for the rest of their life, that's going tone courage more to come here illegally. we say we welcome people who want to come here legally. we're going to have a system that makes that easier and more transparent. but to make sure we're able to bring in the best and brightest. by the way, i agree with the speaker in terms of -- i'd staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who has a degree of math, science, masters
degree, phd, we want those brains in our country. but in order to bring people in legally, we've got to stop illegal immigration. >> the real issue is securing that border. and this conversation is not ever going to end until we get the border secure. >> the republican candidates revealing their divisions over illegal immigration. let's take a closer look now. joining us our cnn chief political analysts. i thought it took newt gingrich in front of a republican group only weeks away to take a stand like that and favor of allowing at least some of those millions of illegal immigrants to stay legally. >> he used the word humane and said serious people do not want to deport 12 million people who have been in this country for some time. you know, immigration, the question of immigration has been the quick sand for republican
political candidates. you saw it with governor perry who called his colleagues heartless if they didn't agree with him on his version of the dream act. >> hurt him. >> and it hurt him. i think newt gingrich, i don't know if you agree, was a little bit more artful. he didn't call his colleagues heartless. he said, you know, it's only humane to allow these people to stay here. how that affects him in a state like iowa really remains to be seen. >> big gamble. a big gamble for mitt romney and the way he responded, further digging in if he gets to the general election. gingrich reminded me of george w. bush as a candidateme. i remembered when he talked about moms and dads that come across the boarder. very different language than you hear from republican candidates. so there is a question that the richest rise is primarily fueled by tea party activists. he gained the most in the polls. and these are voters who are not unhappy with the pace of racial change in the country and also in many cases a very concerned
about illegal immigration. so there is a risk there. but romney took a risk, too, in terms of if he gets the nomination, his ability to harvest economic discontent among hispanics which is very real. >> and michelle bachmann went after newt gingrich immediately saying that it was amnesty. clearly trying to get his voters back. but when i asked newt gingrich after the debate about whether this has hurt the republican party with hispanic voters, he said absolutely. but with all immigrants. not just hispanics. this is a problem the republican party has. >> it is clear to me that in a general election what newt gingrich is taking as you point out that could help them. in a republican contest, it probably won't necessarily help them. i guess is it too far fetch to think that given the polls where he stands right now, newt gingrich, he's already looking ahead beyond these republican contests? >> maybe. but probably not. i don't think so. >> i don't think so. >> this is classic newt.
one thing that is really interesting about the debate, wolf, is that i think americans today saw the newt gingrich that we both covered in the '80s and '90s who was almost imperial and radiated the sense that he was the one that had the long term vision. i see myself as a transformtive figure back then. and that is the moment. what he is most in that expansive mode that i think he is the most likely to say something that is not preprogrammed, it can be rhetorically flamboyant. i do think he did a much better job as you suggested of explaining his position than rick perry d the national review editorial had a favor of him after the debate. even if you polled republicans, most would say it sun realistic to deport 12 million people. you have to make some decisions. >> i was surprised, how hard mitt romney came down on him saying this is a magnet. you are just going to further encourage illegal immigration. you have to get rid of the so-called -- >> mitt romney, first of all, thooz try to run to the right of newt gingrich.
it's the conservatives that are the most skeptical about mitt romney. any time he has an opportunity to run to the right of newt, he will do it. and to the right of rick perry. the interesting thing is that perry couldn't really take on newt gingrich. but newt gingrich is neutral gun rich. he's always going to surprise you. you never know which newt gingrich is going to show up. will it be the intellectual newt gingrich unafraid or the sour, nastier newt gingrich that is not likeable? i think the first newt gingrich was at your debate last night. >> certainly he surprised all of us, given where he was over the summer. everyone thought his campaign as it was beginning was already over. all of a sudden, the new polls show he's right in the thick of things. >> what a testament to the power of the debates and the way it changes the way they run for president. >> we'll see if this last debate winds up helping or hurting him. don't go too far away. we have a lot to discuss. the candidates were united in slamming the tsa.
some calling for profiling of muslims. also, a sharp clash over the u.s. military mission in afghanistan. act my age? -why? -why? -why? [ female announcer ] we all age differently. roc® multi-correxion 4 zone moisturizer with roc®retinol and antioxidants. lines, wrinkles, and sun damage will fade. roc multi-correxion. correct what ages you. the sleep number bed. with the sleep number bed, it's not about soft or firm. it's about support where you find it most comfortable. the magic of this bed is that you're sleeping on
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the candidates reunited in their criticism of the tsa at this week's cnn republican presidential debate. they had different proposals about what should be done to enhance airline security zblment we can do a lot better than the tsa system. tsz going to get better over time. we can use better technology. we can also identify people would are lower risk. and allow them to go through the process more quickly than the current process. >> i would privatise as soon as i could and get rid of the unions. >> it's working in denver they have a program where they're privatizing it. and the airlines and other private sector groups work together to do the security in our airports. and it makes abundant good sense. >> i think tsa is a good example of that. we should be trying to find the bomber, not the bomb. other countries have done it. israel is the best example of that. but to put this enormous expense on the federal government, put the enormous expense on traveling public for pat downs and other intrusions, i think is
too much money. i agree with governor perry. i voted when i -- when this bill came up. i voted to allow for privatization. i was not for this being a government functionment i thought it could be a private function. >> who would be profiled? >> well, the folks would are most likely to be committing the crimes. if you look at it, i mean it was muslims would be someone you look at. absolutely. those are the folks who the radical muslims are the people committing the crimes. by and large as well as younger males. these are things that not exclusively but these are things that you profile to find your most likely candidate. >> congressman paul? >> that's digging a hole for ourselves. what if they look like timothy mcveigh. he was a tough criminal. there is too much carelessly with use of words who are at war. i don't remember voting on a declared version of war. >> i believe we can do better with tsa. and i call it targeted
identification. >> what does that mean? >> targeted identification. if you take a look at the people who have tried to kill us, it would be easy to figure out exactly what identification profile looks like. i want to make sure i get to the patriot act. so i believe question do a whole lot better. the answer i believe may be privatization. >> herman cain, rick santorum, basically they're both saying there should be religious profiling. muslims should be -- should get enhanced security patdownors whatever at airports as opposed to christians on jews other other religions. >> the whole discussion was fascinating. the divisions in the republican party were suppressed. you have seen them re-emerging with the libertarian strain versus the national security strain verse the we don't really want the government expanding in any sphere strain. on the one hand, the advocates will say it you look at where the threats are come from in terms of domestic terrorism, the
predominant risks are muslim-americans or radical muslims. the vast majority of muslim americans are not security threats. so any attempt of profiling will involve a lot of people getting caught in a net that don't belong there. and john huntsman paid a pertinent point. we have a brand around the world. and if you start making distinction along the lines, you will be i think putting shadows over that brand, especially in the muslim world which we're trying to reach out to. >> the debate we're used to hearing about national security versus civil liberties is in the democratic party. and we heard that immediately in the aftermath of the patriot act during the debate on patriot act, post 9/11. and now ron paul, again, said we have to protect the rule of law. and he kept making that point over and over and over again. he said i didn't vote for war. i don't see that this is a war.
and everybody deserves their civil liberties and you better be careful here. he could have been talking to a liberal democratic constituency there. and not the republican party. >> it raises in my mind, ron paul. you know, he's got a strong following out there. he has 10%, 15% of these republican conservative voters out there. most people don't think he's going to get the republican nomination. is it possible, he says he's not interested right now, that he would -- he's not running for re-election in congress. he's given that up. that he would run as a third party candidate. >> that is a fascinating possibility. i think ron paul is not going to be the nominee. the debates are fascinating. he is a very effective communicator. it was very much suppressed after 9/11 in the bush administration. but this forum, i'm guessing he is enlarging that constituency in the republican coalition. hearing the arguments presented
as effectively as he has done so is probably i think widening the circle of people who are responsive to them. so there, is i think, if he wanted to go in that direction, there would be some people would would march along with him. >> democrats would be happy to go along with him on defense cuts, for example. >> sure. and when you have -- when you heard about him on the budget deficit and he said actually they'll tell you they're cutting but they're not really cutting, that speaks directly to people in both parties who don't trust government. this is somebody his brand has been much more popular this time around with some republicans because he's isolationist and republicans like that, they don't want to spend money on defense. but also in terms of his civil libertarian stand, you know, sort of hands off with democrats. he has a lot more appeal. he doesn't trust government. he doesn't trust the federal reserve. there's a lot of constituency for that right now.
it would be a very interesting third party candidate. >> it will be a wild card. he still has a son, ran paul who is a senator. it would be an intriguing moment in this campaign. >> i would draw from both parties, actually. >> you got record low aproflz for both parties. you have congress at 9%. congress in the low 40s. there is an opening there for someone right, left, or center. or maybe more than one someone. >> stand by. more to discuss. the candidates clashed over afghanistan. how quickly should u.s. forces withdraw? how many should be coming home? and michelle bachmann weighs in on pakistanment more highlights from this week's krn republican presidential debate. [customer:] we need to protect the environment. [worker:] we could do both. is that possible? [announcer:] at conocophillips, we're helping power america's economy with cleaner, affordable natural gas. more jobs. less emissions. a good answer for everyone. well, if it's cleaner and affordable. as long as we keep these safe. there you go.
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there were sharp exchanges at this week's cnn presidential debate. >> we spent about $450 billion so far, 1,700 or so servicemen and women lost their lives there and many tens of thousands have been wounded. our effort is to keep afghanistan from becoming a launching point for terror. >> you want to keep american troops in afghanistan? you accept hot pursuit. you sni sank wareies. you change the rules of engagement. you put the military in charge of the miment side. overhaul the state department and get the job done. and you do it for real and you do it intensely and you tell the pakistanis help us or get out of the way. but don't complain people if we kill people you're not willing to go after people on your territory and won't protect them. >> we're not fighting a war on terrorism. terrorism is a tactic. we're fighting a war against radical islam. and what radical islam is saying just wait america out.
america is weak. they will not stand for the fight. they cannot maintain this. they'll set time limits. politics will interfere. and we will tell the people in afghanistan, we'll tell the nem iraq and other place that's we will be the strong horse in the region. >> i think we need to square with the american people about what we have achieved. we need an honest conversation in this country about the sacrifices that have been made over nearly ten years. we have dismantled the taliban the we have run them out of kabul. we had free elections in 2004. we killed bin laden. we upended, dismantled al qaeda. we have achieved very important goals for the united states of america. the fact that we have 1 hundr00 troops in afghanistan, weed into a strong special forces prese e presence. we need a drone presence and on going training of the afghan
national army we haven't done a very good job defining and articulating what the end point is in afghanistan. i think the american people are getting very tired about where we find ourselves today. >> are you suggesting governor that we just take all our troops out next week? bhaz yo . >> we should draw down from 100,000. we don't need 100,000 troops. many of them even cross the wirement we need a presence on the ground that is more akin to 10,000 or 15,000. that will serve our interest in term of intelligence gathering and special forces response capability. and we need to prepare for a world not just in south asia but in every corner of the world in which counter-terrorism is going to be in front of us for as far as the eye can see. >> on this issue, gloria and ron, on this issue of afghanistan, huntsman, john huntsman, former u.s. ambassador to china, former governor of utah, someone who was appointed by president obama, he takes a pretty strong stance. 100,000 troops. way too many. the u.s. has to get out and stop
nation building. >> it reminded me of joe biden. he sounded exactly like joe bide tone me when they were having the internal discussions about afghanistan over at the white house and whether to have a surge or not. i mean what's interesting generally about this republican debate is nobody is sending -- saying we should send more troops into afghanistan. mitt romney disagrees with the president on the timetable for withdrawal as do all of the candidates. >> only the surge troops. the others are all staying through the end of 2014. >> december 2014. so we're talking about when is the right -- how is the right way to draw down the troops? but not whether or not to draw down the troops. it's a completely different discussion than we had ten years ago or even four years ago. >> again, a fascinating discussion. in many ways die nam toik what we talked about in domestic securities. you have obviously the dominant view in the party remains, i
think, closer to the neoconservative view that he embodied. you see in huntsman the re-emergence of a realist view as what he said about afghanistan. he also talked about the economics, the primary focus of our foreign policy. then you have the libertarians which ron paul is again ably carrying the banner. you see an array of opinion re-emerging after a forced consensus, i think, in the aftermath of 9/11. >> and there is a reality, of course, that we can't afford to be in afghanistan forever. and these are fiscal conservatives who don't want to raise taxes to pay for anything. so they're constraineconstraine. >> huntsman is putting all his eggs in new hampshire in, that basket. he has to do well. i don't know if he can beat newt gingrich or mitt romney. but that is his goal right now. is it doable? >> very difficult. look, that is the electorate that is most favorable to him. independents can vote. it's more upscale. fewer evangelical christians o
resistant to mormonism. so it is the best audience for him. but he has had trouble establishing traction. you know, funny, listening to him last night, so manyst things he said, talk about third party candidates, he sounded like he was talking to unaligned voters than he was to republicans. >> i got a lot of reaction, a lot of people throughout they liked huntsman. they thought he would do really well in a democratic primary. >> he would do well in a democratic primary. and -- well, but in new hampshire, as you point out, independents can vote. i still believe if you look at his polling in new hampshire, he's nowhere. and you have mitt romney in some polls up at 40%. be very, very difficult for him to catch mitt romney. if he came in a very close second -- >> go on to florida. >> right. he could go on to florida. other than that, i think he'd have to reassess after new hampshire. he wouldn't be able to raise money. >> gingrich is not only a tea party candidate, gingrich is
drawing strength from the more moderate elements of the party as well where huntsman would have to grow. >> we have more to discuss, including more highlights from cnn's republican presidential debate including what the candidates think about the deadly violence exploding in syria and pakistan. one candidate calls it, i'm quoting now, a concern that ought to keep everyone up at night. congratulations. congratulations. today, the city of charlotte can use verizon technology to inspire businesses to conserve energy and monitor costs. making communities greener... congratulations. ... and buildings as valuable to the bottom line... whoa ! ... as the people inside them. congratulations. because when you add verizon to your company, you don't just add, you multiply. ♪ discover something new... verizon.
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at huge, huge issue that came in at the cnn republican presidential debate, pakistan. it's a security issue. the candidates didn't necessarily agree on what the united states needs to do. listen to this. >> pakistan is a concern. that's the country that ought to keep everybody up at night. you have presidents in charge and general over the military which also is responsible for isi. you've got the youngest
demographic of 160 million people in pakistan. you've got a movement. you have over 100 nuclear weapons. you've got trouble on the border. you've got a nation state that is a candidate for failure. and i say it's a haven for bad behavior. it's a haven for training. the people who seek to do is harm and expand the drone program is something that would serve our national interests. i think it must be done. i think it must be consistent with recognizing the reality on the ground. >> pakistan is the epicenter of dealing with terrorism. they are as governor huntsman said, there are al qaeda training grounds there and they also are one of the most violent, unstable nations that there is. we have to recognize that 15 of the sites, nuclear sites, are available or potentially penetratable by jihadists. six attempts have already been made on nuclear sites.
this is more than an severe threat. we have to take this very seriously. a nation that lies, that does everything possibly that can you imagine wrong, at the same time they do share intelligence data with us regarding al qaeda. we need to demand more. the money that we are sending right now is primarily intelligence money to pakistan. it is helping the united states. whatever our action is, it must ultimately be about helping the united states and our sovereignty, our safety and our security. >> they showed us time after time that they can't be trusted. and until pakistan clearly shows that they have america's best interests in mind, i would not send them one penny. period. >> also we didn't play clip. but you heard michelle bachmann call perry's views naive.
>> the out party always promises to be tougher. you're seeing. that michelle bachmann who is often at the vanguard of whatever issue, positioned herself as the voice of reason. saying, look, there are limits. this is a very frustrating relationship. but completely severing it and cutting off aid would not be in the u.s. national interest. so it was fascinating to watch that kind of dynamic play out in a debate where the entire incentive is just simply to say i'm going to be tougher. i'm going to crack the party. >> she's a member of the intelligence committee in the house. and she knows the subject. >> it shows. and she also had the line that pakistan was too nuclear to fail. that says it all. we cannot allow them to fail. we have to not write blank checks as perry said. and she said later on when we interviewed, she said we're not writing blank checks. we're getting something for our money. but it's very easy to say okay,
pakistan, forget it. but we can't do that and -- >> pakistan has a nuclear arsenal. she says 15 nuclear weapons sites and six of them, she says, i don't know if this is true. >> is that classified? >> i have no idea. >> six of them have attempted to be penetrated. >> that was striking. it was overshadowed by immigration. if he didn't say that, newt gingrich's comments about pakistan may have been a big headline. when he was talking about essentially unlimited hot pursuit regardless of the view of the pakistani government, i think if he, you know, if he did become the nominee and certainly became the president, i mean that would be a position that would be one of extraordinary tension. bringing into a relationship that has a lot of tension to begin w but the incentive is always to be tougher as the outparty. the problem is once buck president, there are other considerations. >> and the irony is, i think one of the questioners raised the point that as a result of getting osama bin laden, a good thing, our relationship with pakistan has gotten worse which
is not so much a good thing. and gingrich said, yeah, i'd be really mad. gingrich said well, it should be bad. you know what? if i were president, i'd be angry at the pakistanies because the implication being that they knew where osama bin laden was. >> and the thought that she is saying when pakistan is too nuclear to fail, what she was basically saying is that this could be what you fear in iran if iran wore to get a nuclear bomb. you would have a disaster. but pakistan already has dozens of nuclear bombs. and if the islamists or the al qaeda elements, taliban elements were to take over, you would have a nuclear threat. >> and you would have the same conversation about iran which is are you doing enough? are the sanctions strong enough? should we sanction the central bank? you spoke about that. or should we get involved in any military action if israel decides to -- >> and there is a nuance policy towards pakistan. you can't get let it get foot hands of the bad guys.
>> there was a piece a few weeks ago on the agree grooe to which the hold of the nuclear weapons is already frag. and, you know, this is a problem that -- there are many problems in the world for which there is not any solution. there are problems that you manage instead of solve. pakistan may be one of those. china may be one of those. arab-israeli conflict may be one of those. and presidential debates are usually about i have a solution. in fact, you know, the best can you often do is mag manage the problem and avoid the worst instead of achieve the best. >> stand by. more to discuss from the cnn republican presidential debate including what the candidates think should be done about the brutal government crackdown unfolding in syria right now. also, gloria's interview newt gingrich just moments after the debate. what does he by this the recent surge to the -- his recent surge to the front of the pack? to supply affordable, cleaner energy, while protecting our environment. across america, these technologies protect air - by monitoring air quality and reducing emissions...
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the deadly violence is exploding in syria. more than 3500 people, mostly peaceful protesters have been killed in recent months. but what do the candidates think should be be done about the situation? >> i would work with our allies in the region to put pressure, to be able to try and get our allies and other nations to stop buying oil from syria. that would be one thing that i would do. but i would not support a no fly
zone. >> that's one of many actions that i think work very well in being able to pressure that regime overt, covert, economic sanctions. i mean i think there are a number of ways. but when you put the no fly zone above syria, it obviously gives those dissidents and gives the military the opportunity to maybe disband and want to get out of the situation that they're in in syria as well. so i think if we're serious about iran, and that's what we're really talking about here, we're talking about syria is a partner with iran in exporting terrorism all across that part of the world and around the globe. so if we're serious about iran, then we have to be serious about syria as well. so i think a no-fly zone is an option of one of a multitude of
options that we should be using. and we should put them in place if we're surous about iran not getting the nuclear weapons. >> if you have a no fly zone over syria, that's an act of war. what if we had china put a no fly zone over our territory? i don't think he would like that. i think we should practice a policy of good will to other people. what about saying that we don't do anything to any other country that we don't have them do to us? when we have a no fly zone over iraq, it was meant to be a regime change. and evidently someone to have regime change. but what is our business? why should we spend more money and more lives to get involved in another war? >> once again the two texans strongly disagreeing. rick perry and ron paul. rick perry never lost an election in his life. he has millions and millions of dollars in campaign money. he is doing a lot of ads.
but he's not doing well in the polls. he has been a one party state throughout his career. democrats have not won a statewide office since 1994. he didn't have to face a lot of major league pitching in his political career. when he came out and announced for president, he immediately to do three presidential debates roughly within the same month. if this is 20 years ago, he would have had months of going to coffee shops and living rooms without anybody watching, get his sea legs under him. the problem he's got is i think the polls suggest that a big chunk of the republican party said, look, we just can't envision this guy carrying the banner into november and chaging that impression after its initially made is very hard. ask dan quayle, for instance. >> he's no major gaffes in this debate. >> yeah. but that is not the standard, right? that is the low bar and the bar was low for him because he had done so badly during these debates. but, you know, the thing about rick perry is that he seemed to me to be somebody that
consultants were available. they wanted him to run for president. they thought in theory he would look terrific up against mitt romney. but here was a candidate that had no set of ideas that was catapulting him to the presiden presidency. he hadn't been thinking about foreign policy for years and years. he didn't have a vision for the country or where he wanted to take the country. and i'm sort of old fashioned. i believe when you run for president, you want to have those things in place before you say, you know what? i want to run. you don't get the ideas after. >> although, he did say in the last few weeks he put together an agenda that probably would have a lot of appeal to the faction of the party that he is most appealing to. >> like what? >> flat tax, the idea of a part time legislature, echoing what lamar alexander said. the hard line of foreign policy. he consistently took the hard line in that debate on pakistan, syria. i mean he is kind of pulling together a kind of approach,
eting epa. >> i think it is consistent lit most conservative, the most tenth amendment. the problem is that, again, the credibility threshold that he has suffered, he fell below that credibility tlech hold in the early debates. it's no the clear that people are listening in the same way they might have if this rolled out in a smoother way. >> whether you don't own your ideas, you have others sent to you. don't internalize. you can't remember which three cabinet posts you would want cut. it wasn't really your idea. >> this is the underlying theme. he is trying to envision himself as the candidate most determine to roll back washington on the most fronts. this is not something he spent years thinking about. the specifics get away from him. that common theme is there. there was a made sense. there was an -- there is an audience for that party that resists mitt romney. but he has struggled after an initially very positive
reaction. he fell below the credibility threshold. it's not clear he can get a second hearing. >> kind of like the other republican candidates, you can't accuse him of being a washington insid insider. he's never been a washington insider. >> that is herman cain's calling card, too? >> he was part of the restaurant association. >> he is a businessman. >> all right. don't go away yet. more to discuss. newt gingrich speaks to our reporter about the debate minutes after the debate. you're going to find out what he thinks about his recent surge to the front of the pack. and why herman cain decided to call me blitz. it's megan. i'm getting new insurance. marjorie, you've had a policy with us for three years. it's been five years. five years. well, progressive gives megan discounts that you guys didn't. paperless, safe driver, and i get great service. meredith, what's shakin', bacon? they'll figure it out.
and i think that they hopefully is going to be me. one of us is going to be. it's important to unify the country by having an honest conversation not just a series of slowingians. >> and can you reflect on this? here you are standing, saying i think it's going to be me. but last -- >> i said i hope it's going to be me. >> your campaign was imploding. and your staff was leaving you. and here you are. and can you sort of reflect upon that for a minute? >> it's a little bit like mark twain. the reports of my death were premature. which is what he said when somebody wrote an o obituary before he died. our core staff stayed and we had a team we assembled. they all stayed except for one person. the professional politicians all left. i don't run a traditional campaign. i run a very idea oriented, very positive campaign. >> what happened? >> now? >> yes. >> why are you where you are? >> i think people want substance. they want to exact the conversation you and i had. exactly what this debate was
like. they really know the country is in trouble. and they really want to have a serious person who is willing to talk through at a level of detail that is real and not just political slogans. >> one last question. looking at the folks around you on the podium tonight, who is it going to come down to you and who else do you i >> look, i always think that the governor romney will be one of the two finalist. he has the money. he's run before. he's got a tremendous base in new hampshire. so if it does come down to two people, i hope i'm one of the two. but i absolutely certain the other one will be mitt romney. he has five years of campaigning. and that gives you an enormous base. >> you know, interesting, glo a gloria, i got the impression, i spoke to him off camera a little bit. you spoke to him on camera. is he really beginning to think he could the republican nominee? >> i think he's beginning to. but he's trying not to. because i think when newt gingrich in his political career, we were talking about
this, gets to that sort of point of success sh he often tend to shoot himself in the foot. i think he has hit his stride. don't forget, he also understands, he comes with an awful lot of baggage in his prnl life, in his lobbying life, in his political history. and that those things clearly, once you reach that top of the top tier, those things tend to get relived. >> all that stuff has been widely discussed, though, over the years. unless there are more surprises out there, hasn't it all been discounted already? >> i don't know if everybody in the current political electorate knows all the history of newt gingrich. first of all this is an incredible personal story. he quoted mark twain. f. scott fitzgerald said there are no second acts in american lives. newt gingrich's recovery is not only from last summer when the campaign cratered, between 1998 when he resigned in zras after
losing house seats over the backlash against the impeachment of bill clinton and general frustration over the way he was running the house. this is an extraordinary testament to his tenacity and diligence in returning to be a major voice in the republican party for the fifth different decade. i mean this is a guy who started in the 197 o's with a conservative society. there is thatti istis istis ist that gloria said. there are budget negotiations with bill clinton in 1996 that led to the cry barrie front page cover in the daily news. so there is a lot there. but there is no doubt that he is -- these debates allowed him to show his greatest strength. >> can you imagine a debate against newt gingrich and barack obama? >> i could. i think it will be interesting. newt gingrich called for lincoln douglas style debates where you travel around the country. >> he could do one with bill clinton in 1995 in new hampshire. >> and i don't know whether he
war the nominee i don't know whether president obama would do it. but it's something that he really excells at. he's a professor. he's an academic. he's an interlekt you'll. he loves to have the time to talk about his ideas. the problem is, as even his friends will tell you, for every 100 ideas he has, ten may be good. and the rest may not be so good. >> we have'debated yet any of his ideas. 15% flat tax, eliminate the capital gains tax, convert medicare into a voucher system with conventional medicare as an option. most of those are ideas that mitt romney has opposed in the past. it will be interesting to see if romney feels like he has to engage in the fronts or solely using this opening that gingrich provided on immigration. >> we have a little dessert coming up. stand by for this. up next, one of the evening's few, shall we call them, gaffes. a little gaffe that involved herman cain and me.
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allow our intelligence agencies to do their job, they can come up with an approach. i'm sorry, blitz, i meant wolf, okay? blitz, wolf. since we're on a blitz debate -- i apologize, wolf. >> no need to apologize. i've been called a lot worse. thats with funny. >> it was funny. and you called him cane which i thought was funnier. >> i laughed. we spoke. >> maybe he confused with you dig but kiss, lawrence taylor? you know? it could be. it could be a professional linebacker. you have that kind of speed and power combination. >> i was a blitzing linebacker. i introduced everybody. i pointed out -- i pointed out that my real name, everybody knows this by now, my real name is wolf blitzer. listen to what mitt romney had to say after i pointed out that i'm really wolf blitzer. >> i'm wolf blitzer, and, yes,
that's my real name. >> i'm mitt romney and, yes, wolf, that is also my first name. >> maybe not necessarily. >> willard? >> willard. credibility. >> willard. mit is his middle name. willard is his first name. >> he was nervous. he is facing credibility challenges. he might want to be rock solid on his own name. >> but everybody calls him mitt. >> don't you environment every forget your real name? >> i give him a pass. >> good night for all of them. >> a good night for all of them. good night for cnn. good night for voters out there. think think they gained a little bit of noknowledge going into tt voting booth. thanks very much. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer. join us week days in "the situation room".