Callista Gingrich’s Sweet Land of Liberty
Fox and Friends
September 27, 2011
STEVE DOOCY, HOST: There’s a massive push to highlight the importance of math and science in our schools but in doing so are we ignoring history? According to last year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 13 percent of America’s high school seniors were proficient in American history. Well, Callista Gingrich is trying to change all that with her brand new children’s book. It’s called Sweet Land of Liberty and she joins us live along with Ellis the Elephant.
BRIAN KILMEADE, HOST: Right.
CALLISTA GINGRICH, AUTHOR, SWEET LAND OF LIBERTY: Thanks for having us.
DOOCY: Good morning. Nice to have you.
GRETCHEN CARLSON, HOST: Hopefully you’re going to do all the talking. [Laughter] And not Ellis. So I love this concept because you want to bring kids back into the idea of learning about our land and our liberty. How are you doing it in this book?
GINGRICH: Well, we’ve created a character, Ellis the Elephant, who takes children through the pivotal moments of our history to say what a great nation this is. And in doing so enabling them to appreciate the courage, the service, and sacrifice that have really made this an exceptional nation.
DOOCY: I think we need to send your book down to that San Antonio high school where the government teacher called the Tea Party member a Nazi.
GINGRICH: This is really a patriotic book, you know. It’s not a Republican book; it’s not a conservative book. It’s a Pro-American book. And it’s one that I hope many families will embrace as a celebration of our patriotic values.
KILMEADE: Do you think elephants are the type of animal that kids like? Because I’m certainly, I feel as though I want to read the book because I’m sitting next to the Elephant.
GINGRICH: Well, elephants are adorable. And we did consider many animals as we were writing this book – giraffes, bunnies, hippos.
DOOCY: You’ve got a bunch of eagles. An eagle on every page.
GINGRICH: We do. We have a lot of American symbolism in this book that children can recognize and in each illustration—and the illustrations were beautifully done by Susan Arciero—in each illustration we have an eagle as an important American symbol that children can recognize.
CARLSON: So you say that you’re trying to target what, ages four to eight?
GINGRICH: Four to eight, yes. And the entire text is in rhyme.
DOOCY: Very handy.
GINGRICH: So I have a new appreciation for Dr. Seuss.
KILMEADE: That’s tough.
CARLSON: Did you think of all the rhymes?
GINGRICH: I did, yes.
KILMEADE: So do you find, because the stats read that seventh and eighth graders especially, ninth graders, they don’t understand history. They don’t have an understanding of the Civil War. Even the Revolutionary War, they don’t have the fundamentals down.
GINGRICH: That’s right. We have a lot of work to do. A recent survey indicated that a majority of fourth graders didn’t know why the pilgrims left England. Most fourth graders couldn’t explain why Abraham Lincoln was an important historical figure. And fewer than a third of all eighth graders knew why the colonies fought England during the Revolutionary War. So we have a lot of catching up to do and with our help, our children can learn a lot more about American history.
DOOCY: There are a lot of kids around the world, you know, in other countries where they know more about the United States and our struggle than kids who live here.
GINGRICH: That’s right. You know, for the past two generations, we really have had a dumbing down of American history and we need to…
DOOCY: Why is that?
GINGRICH: Well, it’s happening in our schools. So we need to change this situation and projects like this try to do that.
CARLSON: Speaking of catching up, I just wanted to say that you’re husband appears to be catching up in polls.
GINGRICH: Thank you.
CARLSON: He’s done very well, according to pundits and the analysts in the debates so far. And even President Clinton recently said that ‘you better watch Newt Gingrich… You better keep a close eye on him.’ What was your reaction to that?
GINGRICH: Well, we appreciated that comment very much and I think September has been a good month for Newt. We have seen some good momentum and big debates have been very good for him. We’re encouraged.
KILMEADE: Now, do you have Ellis firmly in the Newt Gingrich for President Camp? Or is Ellis non-partisan in this?
GINGRICH: Well, you know as I said Ellis is pro-American but he’s very fond of Newt and…[laughter]
KILMEADE: I can imagine.
DOOCY: This interview kind of reminds me of when we had Jada Pinkett Smith on a couple of months ago talking about her show Hawthorne and just off camera was Will Smith, much like you’re here talking about your book while your husband, who is the former Speaker of the House, is content just to stand over there in the shadows and watch his wife talk about Ellis the Elephant and the new book.
GINGRICH: That’s right. He really likes the little guy. He’s very supportive of this project and he loves Ellis.
CARLSON: At least you didn’t put him in the Ellis suit.
GINGRICH: No. He is not in the Ellis suit.
KILMEADE: And by the way, was Newt in the Ali movie or Men in Black because there’s so many parallels between the two couples.
DOOCY: I don’t think so.
CARLSON: Newt, Newt, do you want to come on over?
DOOCY: Or just stand right there.
Newt: I hesitate to get too close to you guys at this stage.
CARLSON: Oh, come on.
Newt: I have to say Brian, your ability to sit next to Ellis and not notice it and focus is the height of professional…
KILMEADE: It’s like Governor Perry next to Romney. He doesn’t acknowledge him.
Newt: This is the height of professionalism. You could do presidential debate training.
DOOCY: Newt, Mr. Speaker, what’s the most important reason why parents should buy this book for their children?
NEWT GINGRICH: Well if you’re a parent or a grandparent and you care about America and you want your grandchildren or your children to grow up loving America, I think having it four to eight years of age, having Ellis as their friend take them through the book…I watched Callista write this. And you and I were talking, children’s books are hard, and it’s a great creative thing. And I think parents will find it, and grandparents will find it a really good Christmas gift.
CARLSON: Well you haven’t liked much of the media’s questions in the debates but I hope you enjoyed our questions for your wife.
NEWT GINGRICH: I think this interview is hysterical and I will treasure it forever. I’m glad I could be here.
KILMEADE: A very well-behaved elephant.
DOOCY: Once again the book is called Sweet Land of Liberty. Callista Gingrich, we thank you very much for joining us live.
GINGRICH: Thank you.
KILMEADE: Ellis, congratulations on getting the cover.