Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says the ad he made in 2008 with Rep. Nancy Pelosi on the need to battle global warming was “one of the dumbest things I’ve done in recent years.” The presidential contender also reiterated to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly Monday that illegal immigrants should be given a chance to register to remain in the United States legally — but if they don’t become legal: “Let’s kick them out.”
“Well, I’ve said it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve done in recent years — it was an effort on my part to say that conservatives are concerned about the environment — we have better solutions,” Gingrich said of the television ad. “I actively opposed cap and trade — I testified against it the same day Al Gore testified for it — but the commercial is just a mistake.
Gingrich said evidence of man-made climate change “is not complete and I think that we’re a long way from being able to translate a computer program into actual science,” adding, “it would be fair to say that I’m open-minded and certainly not prepared to spend trillions of dollars on the theory.”
O’Reilly noted that Pelosi — herself a former House speaker — “is obviously the poster woman for the far left,” and asked whether Gingrich was concerned at the time that association with her would be damaging.
“No — I thought at the time — look I was a private citizen, I wasn’t contemplating public life and I thought how I just written a book called ‘Contract with Earth’ with Terry Maple on a conservative approach to the environment, on how to use incentives, and business, and common sense to have a better environment without the EPA,” Gingrich said. “And so I wanted to be in the middle of an argument about the environment to make a case the conservatives can actually have a better ideas about the environment than liberals do.”
Switching gears, O’Reilly then turned to the subject of immigration and asked the former speaker whether he would use the National Guard to protect the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Sure, I would use whatever — look I would use whatever resources we needed to — I’ve said, you know, 23,000 Department of Homeland Security employees in the Washington D.C. area. I’d move half of them to Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona if we need the manpower,” Gingrich said. “I would be willing to use — I would be willing to reinforce, there’s a profound reason to not get the military too close the drug dealing because of its enormous potential for corruption.
“But I think as reinforcement for local sheriffs, as reinforcement for local law enforcement, and for the border patrol you certainly would use whatever level of military you use to make sure we had overwhelming power,” he added.
Gingrich recently has taken some heat for comments he made in the last GOP debate calling for “humane” treatment for otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for decades, establishing deep family and community ties.
Gingrich suggested they should be provided a pathway to legal residency but not citizenship; he reiterated his stance to O’Reilly.
“Yes, I would support a universal registration of those who are here illegally — and I think the immediate — you’d have immediate deportation if you did not sign up within a certain time,” Gingrich said. “It [is] just the way you frame it Bill: I wouldn’t support putting them in jail because I don’t want our taxpayers subsidizing them in jail if they are here and not obeying law. Let’s kick them out.”
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