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Former Sen. Bob Smith Discusses Newt Gingrich


And I'm joined now by former Senator Bob Smith, former New Hampshire senator, who is a supporter of Newt Gingrich. Welcome, Senator Smith.

BOB SMITH: Thank you. I'm glad to be with you.

BLOCK: And let me ask you. It looks like your candidate, Newt Gingrich, is coming in at this point, anyway, based on early returns, fourth in New Hampshire. A disappointing finish?

SMITH: I didn't hear you and I didn't hear the result. Could you repeat that again?

BLOCK: Yeah, it looks at this point, with early returns, like Newt Gingrich is trailing. He's, at this point, in fourth or fifth today in New Hampshire. Is that a disappointing result for you?

SMITH: Well, of course, there's no substitute for winning. I agree with (unintelligible). But, you know, look, this is – the race is not over here. It's an endurance run. We're clearly going to go to South Carolina. There will be a huge fight there. You know, I'm hoping – if those numbers are accurate – I have not seen or heard any until you just told me. I'm on the road and I'm just, you know, working my way back to the studios to do another interview. So, you know, if it is fourth, that's the way it is, or fifth, whatever it is, I, you know, obviously we wanted to win, we fought hard. We knew that this state was going to be tougher with Mitt Romney. We understand that.

But we're going to go on to South Carolina, where I think there will be a battle – somebody is going to have to be, quote/unquote, the "conservative alternative" to Mitt Romney. And we just don't know who that's going to be at this point.

BLOCK: And Newt Gingrich said today to reporters that it would be hard to keep his campaign going if he doesn't win in South Carolina. Do you agree with that?

SMITH: Well, I'm going to let him do the talking on that. I know that I'm going to do everything I can to win South Carolina and Florida. Clearly, you know, look, the game is you have to win somewhere. I mean, you can't keep losing. You have to win, so, you know, clearly, South Carolina is high stakes for him. We know that.

BLOCK: We mentioned that Congressman Gingrich has been attacking Mitt Romney for his record with Bain Capital, for that company's performance and taking over some companies, and in some cases, laying off workers. And Mr. Gingrich has come in for some criticism about that, saying he's basically attacking free markets, attacking capitalism. Do you think that issue has gained traction with voters? It doesn't seem to have done him much good in New Hampshire.

SMITH: Well, it's hard to say. I mean, the numbers were pretty much what he polls were, if those numbers were accurate tonight. You know, this issue was – really came up as a result of a third party political expenditure, if you will, a Super PAC. You know, and that's where the term predator, predator capital, you know, predatory practices, all that evolved out of that, you know, out of that ad, which Gingrich had nothing to do with. He can't, by law. And those are the Super PACs.

And it's interesting that there were not many. Where were all the criticisms of the folks in New Hampshire who were calling, you know, for several weeks, calling Newt Gingrich a, you know, unfit, unstable, and all this, a liar and all these things when, you know, Romney wasn't doing it but, you know, it was being said by surrogates. But you move on. I mean, I don't hold any grudges on this kind of stuff. It's politics, it happens. It's unfortunate. I think Newt tried very hard to stay on the issues, you know, throughout the campaign and people started attacking him and he came back.

I don't, as far as Bain, you know, I think the real issue here – no one has said this but I believe this is more about - you know, when you go to South Carolina, the average guy on the street, when you talk about leveraged buyouts and, you know, and all these kinds of terms, you know, and hedge funds and all these things, these people are trying to make a living. They're trying to, you know, feed their families. And I think that this is typical of establishment Republican politics. Yes, it's capitalism, certainly, I agree. But – and it's nothing – I don't think there's necessarily, it's evil. But, I mean, it's capitalism. But it's capitalism at the upper levels, the Wall Street levels rather than Main Street. And I think that we need to be talking to the folks on Main Street.

BLOCK: Okay, Senator Smith, thanks for being with us.

SMITH: You're welcome.

BLOCK: That's former New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith, a supporter of Newt Gingrich. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.