'Absurd' to Give 30-Second Response to Health Care Question, Gingrich Says

By Susan Jones | November 10, 2011 | 8:31 AM EST

Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a Republican Presidential Debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(CNSNews.com) - Asked at the Michigan debate to describe their health-care plans in 30 seconds, some of the Republicans tried to do it -- but one balked at answering what he called an "absurb" question.

"Well, I just want to point out, my colleagues have done a terrific job of answering an absurd question," Newt Gingrich said -- prompting laughter. "To say, in 30 seconds --" he began, when moderator Maria Bartiromo sterned interrupted him:

"You have said you want to repeal 'Obamacare," correct?" Bartiromo asked.

Gingrich responded: "I'd like to -- let me just finish, if I may...to say in 30 seconds what you would do with 18 percent of the economy, life and death for the American people, a topic I've worked on since 1974, about which I wrote a book called 'Saving Lives and Saving Money' in 2002, and for which I founded the Center for Health Transformation, is the perfect case of why I'm going to challenge the president to seven Lincoln-Douglas style three-hour debates with a timekeeper and no moderator, at least two of which ought to be on health care, so you could have a serious discussion over a several-hour period that affects the lives of every person in this country.

The audience cheered and applauded.

Bartiromo persisted: "Would you like to try to explain -- would you like to -- (cheers, applause) -- would you like to try to explain, in simple speak, to the American people, what you would do after you repeal the president's health care legislation?"

Gingrich repeated, "In 30 seconds?" (Laughter.)

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Bartiromo told him to "take the time you need, sir. Take the time you need."

"I can't take what I need," Gingrich said, joking that the other candidates will "all gang up on me."

"You want to answer the question tonight on health care, or no, Speaker?" Bartiromo asked him -- twice.

Gingrich responded, "No, let me -- let me just say it very straight. One, you go back to a doctor-patient relationship and you involve the family in those periods where the patient by themselves can't make key decisions. But you relocalize it.

"Two, as several people said, including Governor Perry, you put Medicaid back at the state level and allow the states to really experiment, because it's clear we don't know what we're doing nationally.

"Three, you focus very intensely on a brand-new program on brain science, because the fact is, the largest single (out-year?) set of costs we're faced with are Alzheimer's, autism, Parkinson's, mental health and things which come directly from the brain. And I am for fixing our health rather than fixing our health bureaucracy, because the iron lung is the perfect model of saving people so you don't need to pay for a federal program of iron lung centers because the polio vaccine eliminated the problem.

That's a very short précis," Gingrich concluded.