Here’s Gingrich responding to a question from Fox News’ Neal Cavuto at last night’s debate (transcript below):
NEIL CAVUTO: All right, candidates. I want to move on, if we can, to energy issues.
And Speaker Gingrich, I’d like to begin with you.
As you know, the president, sir, has rejected any efforts to tie a payroll tax cut extension with the Keystone pipeline and to reopen it — and to explore reopening it as well. He says that any other way to connect the two would be akin to adding an extraneous issue.
Given his opposition, and the likelihood that the Keystone issue could be up in the air for a year or more, how do you recommend Republicans deal with this to force the issue?
GINGRICH: You know, Neil, I sometimes get accused of using language that’s too strong. So I’ve been standing here editing. And I’m very concerned about not appearing to be zany. But I want to paint a picture for all of us. The Iranians are practicing closing the Straits of Hormuz. The Canadian prime minister has already said to the American president: ‘If you don’t want to build this pipeline to bring, create 20,000 American jobs and bring oil through the United States to the largest refinery complex in the world, Houston, I want to put it straight west in Canada, to Vancouver, and ship the oil direct to China, so you’ll lose the jobs, you’ll lose the throughput, you’ll lose 30 or 40 years of work in Houston.’
And the president of the United States cannot figure out that it is – I’m using mild words here – utterly irrational to say I’m now going to veto a middle-class tax cut to protect left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco, so that we’re going to kill American jobs, weaken American energy, make us more vulnerable to the Iranians and do so in a way that makes no sense to any normal, rational American.
CAVUTO: No offense, sir, but you didn’t answer my question. What would — (laughter) — what would you do to try to move on this within a year?
GINGRICH: What should the congressional Republicans do? They should attach it to the middle-class tax cuts, send it to the president, force him to veto it, send it a second time.
We had to send welfare reform to Bill Clinton three times. He vetoed it twice. By the third time the popular outrage was so angry, 92 percent of the country wanted to have welfare reform, he decided to sign it. It happened to be an election year.
I’d say to the president, you want to look like you are totally out of touch with the American people, be my guest, but I’m not backing down when we’re right and you are totally wrong.