ATLANTA -- As Newt Gingrich prepared for Wednesday night's debate in Arizona, 11Alive News' Jeff Hullinger talked for a few minutes with the GOP Presidential hopeful.
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Here are a few of Jeff's questions and Speaker Gingrich's responses.
Hullinger: Is there any scenario where you drop out of the race after Super Tuesday?
Gingrich: Look, who knows at this stage? My goal is to go all the way to Tampa. My goal is to win the nomination. I believe we have a realistic chance of doing that. I have been the front runner twice based on articulating very big ideas. We set the record in South Carolina taking 43 of 46 counties. We did well in northern Florida and my goal in Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and a few other states on Super Tuesday is to do well enough to be a contender in Tampa.
Hullinger: How important is Georgia for you? There is a poll showing you, (Rick) Santorum, and (Mitt) Romney are in a dead heat. If you lose Georgia and Romney loses Michigan, is it a brokered convention? And what does that mean for the party?
Gingrich: I think both of us will be hurt significantly if we lose our home state, just as Santorum would be hurt if he loses Pennsylvania. I think when you have a four-way race, I tell people it's like the NCAA Final Four with no elimination. There is a big pyschological virtue to carry your home state.
Hullinger: Mitt Romney and President Obama are both out-(fund)raising you in the state of Georgia. How do you interpret this?
Gingrich: Look, Gov. Romney has been very good at appealing to people on Wall Street for money. He clearly will raise more money than I will. But we have 170,000 donors. Most of those go to Newt.org and give less than $250. If you look at total donors, I have more than Romney. He has the most maxed out big donors by a big margin. And of course the president has the power of the presidency. He is going to raise a lot of money.
Hullinger: Gas prices are rising quickly. You say they would be $2.50 a gallon under a Gingrich presidency. What is the calculus to this? Explain the math.
Gingrich: In the very first day, I would sign permission for the Keyston Pipeline to be built in the U.S. to bring Canadian oil south and to allow Oklahoma and Arkansas to get to the pipeline reducing the cost by about $6 to $8 dollars a barrel for transportation. Second I would open up offshore. We need to open all of Georgia where there may be some very large gas reserves and take part of that money to modernize the Port of Savannah. I would also open federal land. We own 69 percent of the state of Alaska, that's one and a half times the size of the state of Texas. There are a lot of oil and gas there. I want 100 percent expensing so all equipment is written off. And I would replace EPA with common sense and economic rationality. I believe by the end of the decade, we would be number 1 in the world in oil and gas production -- free of the Middle East.
Hullinger: Along those same lines, there is a Republican in Atlanta who has a YouTube video showing he has put a gun rack in his Chevrolet Volt. Do you lose your GOP "street cred" if you drive a Volt with a gun rack?
Gingrich: (Smiling) I want to see that car. I am going to look forward to it as soon as I get home. I want him to show up. The point that I was trying to make -- somebody told me, you can technically find a way to put one in a trunk if you put nothing else in and then you have a relatively short weapon, you can put it in there. I would think most hunters don't think that's a very clever idea.
Hullinger: There has been talk in Georgia among legislators that welfare recipients should be drug tested. Do you like that idea?
Gingrich: Yes. I think we have to take more seriously becoming a more drug free country. It's not just cocaine and heroin. I was in Oklahoma two days ago. The methanphedimine problem in rural Oklahoma is enormous. It's ruining people's lives. Drug addiction deprives people of their rights as a citizen to be able to participate.
Hullinger: I read in the New York Times you don't do any debate prep like your opponents. Your advisors give you a Diet Coke and send you to think. Is that how it works for you?
Gingrich: I also check in with my two grandchildren. Maggie is my smiling coach. She is 12. She is in the Atlanta Ballet. Robert is my coach of specific ideas. He is a chess player at 10 years of age. The two of them walk me through before every debate. It's not the nature of these debates to get big solutions. I'm always in tension with the moderator who asks small questions and I want to give answers that are kind of big.
Hullinger: Thanks for your time. I'll see you down the road.