Morning Joe | November 13, 2012
>> all right. joining us now, former speaker of the house , newt gingrich , the co-author of the new book "victory at yorktown ," a novel and now what we have on the set is a battle of the historians.
>> battle of the historians, t.j. versus yorktown . and your guy was, what?
>> thomas jefferson was a struggling -- struggling with his reputation as being not a very effective wartime governor of virginia , which was a searing experience and one which stuck with him the rest of his life.
>> we're going to get to this. two quick questions to ask you, obviously, about what is going on.
>> what is your reaction to the latest with general petraeus ? everything that has happened?
>> well, i think it gets more and more bizarre.
>> it is extremely bizarre.
>> i learned this morning they had apparently months of looking at this?
>> and they hadn't notified the congress, hadn't notified the secretary of defense, hadn't notified the president. had they notified petraeus?
>> and dianne feinstein says she's finding out last week on news accounts?
>> yeah, i think the fbi's going to be on the griddle about this. and of course, it makes the bengha benghazi investigation a little bit more complicated. petraeus will testify, hillary will testify, they won't be able to dance around that.
>> do you think he should've stepped down?
>> i think in a national security slot that's that important, it's really hard to maintain authority, and i think that he probably was correct to just drop out, focus on his family for a little while, try to sort this out. i think he does have a future. he's a tremendously talented, very patri patriotic person. i think it would have eaten away at him to stay at the cia given the nature of washington today.
>> let's talk about the republican party , our republican party . 1994 , we've enjoyed lows, 2006 and then 2012 . and, you know, i was thinking about -- i remember joe gaylord telling me that one of the points for him, 1974 . can we compare 2012 in terms of shock?
>> no, i think in terms of shock, yes.
>> how about 198 --
>> how about, i wrote a piece for politico that every republican leader should stop and learn and think for a while. i mean, to watch -- i was wrong. i was totally wrong a week ago. karl rove was wrong, michael barron , one of the people i most respect in this business was wrong. we need to stop and say -- and i just talked to someone in the romney campaign yesterday who said privately he honestly went into tuesday night, this particular person, absolutely thinking they were going to win.
>> david axelrod has friends in the romney campaign that told them they were sure they were going to win on election night .
>> if your model is that wrong, maybe you better take a deep breath, take some time -- i'm going to do a personal report on this. i think it'll take four to six months. i think -- it's not just the demographics, not just the vote, but it's the campaign strategy. i think the republican consultant model is profoundly wrong.
>> the consultants, the republican consultants in washington have been driving this party into the ground since you left.
>> and he had a very provocative piece in the " washington post " in response to this. and i think he really has a pretty good grip on when you have a 7% more democratic electorate, which was what we had on election day , clever campaigns are not going to win.
>> and you've got to ask yourself, how do you get party consultants rather than campaign consultants and how do you get guys who are paid for winning not paid for processing? you look at the losing senate races, the guys placing the tv ads did just fine.
>> i wonder how much the guys in linda mcmahon 's race up in connecticut made losing two seats we could've won. chris would've won that race. saying -- i mean same thing with rob simmons a couple of years ago. it's disturbing. i want to go back, though, and there's not one defining moment, but i remember you getting hammered on illegal immigration , rick perry getting hammered on illegal immigration . how devastating was it that mitt romney decided he had to lurch as far right as possible?
>> it was a disaster.
>> how disastrous for us?
>> it was a disaster in part. if you say to yourself. and i remember standing there during the debate when romney went after me on this, and you say to yourself, do you have any idea what that's going to look like as a 30-second ad? and of course, romney did worse with asian-americans than he did with latinos. and the reason was pretty simple. the obama message was after they get done deporting them, they're coming for you. so he literally did -- nobody's picked this up yet, but we used to carry the asian-american vote. we've managed in 12 years to totally throw it away. it's almost inconceivable we would do as badly as we did with latinos. the obama campaign began advertising on univision, i think in early may. and i said one-third of the republican effort should have been in the latino community. if you have a zone that's going to make or break you, you better figure out how to carry it or it'll break you. that was a significant part of where we are. and the republicans are going to have to come to grips with immigration. and how do you deal in a humane way with grandmothers? i deliberately use that imagery because it personifies -- you can't say to somebody i really would like to get your vote over jobs, by the way, we're kicking your grandmother out. it doesn't work.
>> a bit of a mixed message, isn't it?
>> my goodness.
>> i'm going to ask you to weigh in on one aspect of the president's record now and going forward is obama care. there's some disagreement in the party. should governors, republican governors, republican members of congress accept it and help implement it, tell them how to take advantage of the new programs? or should the party continue to fight it?
>> a, it's going to survive, he won the election. he's not going to preside over the repeal of obama care. b, it's not going to work. you're already seeing, for example, major chains in restaurants saying we're hiring everybody for 29 hours.
>> would you tell rick scott and rick perry to work to implement this?
>> no, i'd tell them to look out what's best for their state. if they think it's best for their state to implement it, implement it, if they'd rather not be involved, they should have a hard-nose look at what's best for their state. i do want to say -- there are two mandates out of this election. i mean, no house republican should be bamboozled into this idea that the only person who has a mandate is barack obama . the house republicans have a mandate, it's fundamentally different than obama 's mandate and they ought to learn a lesson from tip o'neill. o'neill scheduled a vote, he said we're going to have a democratic alternative , and if you can get the vote, mr. president, you can pass the alternative. but it's your problem to get the votes. and boehner would be well put not to try to cut a deal with obama but instead to say paul ryan 's going to bring a solution to the fix, we're going to gather votes for it. i guarantee you, you'll get the right to have a democratic substitute. and if you can get enough republicans to vote for it, terrific. but they do not have an obligation to concede that the only mandate in washington is the president's.
>> you're talking about chains hiring people for 29 hours. i'm hearing that from small business owners across pensacola.
>> my own district. on election night i got three different e-mails from small business owners going it's sad -- and i said this on the air a couple days ago. they said i'm going to have to put these people on for less than 30 hours and i'm going to lose my best people. i can choose to do that or fire six, seven people because my margins are so small i'm fighting to keep my business open.
>> you track the number of layoffs and closures in the first week since the election, it's sobering. and part of the reason we wrote "victory of yorktown " is say to people, this is a tough country. he goes home to mt. vernon for one week out of eight years. okay. we lost an election. we also won the house. we have 30 governorships, we have several thousand state legislators . now let's pick ourselves up, spend six months learning what went wrong, get back in the game, and attempt to give the american people an alternative.
>> all right. let's talk about the book then. and your co-author , and tell us about the basis of the book and how it competes with meacham's book.
>> it does not compete with meacham's book. but this is our third volume about washington . and it's based on the premise that this is the man on whom the whole country stands. in a variety of ways, from winning the war to being the person around whom we built the presidency to presiding over the constitutional convention . it's impossible to imagine america emerging as it did without washington . and in this case, at yorktown , people forget, we were exhausted. we had survived, the british hadn't won, but we hadn't won either. washington is sitting right outside new york. he doesn't have the forces to get into new york city , the british with the royal navy are sitting on the city. washington takes two great gambles. one is he takes about a third of his army, sends it south and they fight a series of battles in south carolina , north carolina , virginia. gradually weaken his army. two more victories like this and my army will be gone. ultimately he retreats to yorktown on a peninsula expecting the royal navy to save him. in the meantime the french knanavy send a signal, they're prepared. the french navy says we're prepared to follow your leadership. washington then basically confuses the british, has them thinking he's still sitting here, takes his army plus the french army , marches through philadelphia. remember, pre-helicopter, pre-airplane, this is a huge gamble. you're going to march and carry cannon and it's a big mission and his gamble is that the french navy will arrive in time, they will seal it off, that he will have to surrender. i've always loved the fact that when he surrenders the band plays "the world turned upsidedown." and it's the beginning of the end of the british domination. they concede that having lost the army they're not going to be able to win the war.
>> what could've changed the outcome? you think about these things. what is the --
>> look, each of our books has a frightening moment. in 1776 , on christmas day , washington 's army has deserted down to 2,500 men, getting beaten since september. a third of his 2,500 men have no boots, marching with burlap bags wrapped around their feet, leave a trail of blood. if he doesn't decide to cross the ice-filled delaware at night, march nine miles in the dark and surprise a professional german unit at trenton and win that battle, it's conceivable the whole thing would've collapsed in two more weeks. he said to his generals, none of whom wanted to do it. said it's too big of a risk. he said, guys, we're losing ground at such a rate if we don't win a victory, the army will be gone in three more weeks. then the revolution will be over, and when the revolution's over, they're going to hang us. so we have nothing to risk. this is all upside. the second one is at valley by the way as a study of congressional incompetency, read the continental congress , it's unbelievable. supposed to have all sorts of supplies, they have one ax. so in the middle of this tough winter, barely surviving, van stueben arrives, and without that intervention, we never would've beaten the british. we never get beaten after. and what if the french hadn't shown up? what if yorktown had been a disaster? we might well have collapsed our morale -- we were really exhausted after seven years of war.
>> you've written a lot of books, some novels and some history, why do this as a novel rather than history?
>> we want to get inside washington 's head. we have a passion, all three are ph.d.s in history. we really are worried about the degree to which teaching history has collapsed. and as you know, two new children books out the elephant teaches 4 to 8-year-olds history. a land of the pilgrim's pride is the newest one about the colonial america and " sweet land of liberty." how do we get people interested in history? and we think sometimes in novels you can get people inside people's minds, inside the emotions and bring it to life in a way that leads them to go on to read books that are nonfiction.
>> speaker gingrich, thank you very much for being on the show this morning. good to see you again.
>> thanks a lot. and great to see calista, as well.
>> maybe we can take another picture. we keep putting it on the air. you can read an excerpt on our blog --
>> she's very proud of her t-shirt.
>> i'm proud of her. i think she's my favorite student.
>> more than me.
>> another landslide.
>> easy vote.
>> i'm proud of my "b" plus. best grade i've ever gotten. up next, the rapidly shrinking inner circle . what would it mean for the president to be without some of his most trusted advisers in the second term? also the editor of "newsweek" tina brown is here. watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. [ male