Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at a fundraiser for Iowa state Rep. Tom Sands ( R-Wapello) in February. (JOHN LOVRETTA/AP)

Meet the Press (NBC)

Gingrich: Paul Ryan' s plan is "right-wing social engineering," goes too far

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) explained that he felt compelled to run for president because "to not seek to help the country to fix the problems we have would have been a failure of citizenship on my part." Gingrich laughed off the possibility of being anyone's running-mate: "Can you imagine any presidential nominee who picked me to be the vice presidential candidate?" He denied charges of racism and said he thinks "Obama loves America" but has "a different idea of what America is." Gingrich said he has had some difficulty separating his role as a political analyst from his desire to be a "disciplined" political leader. "I think that's a fair criticism." Gingrich also addressed his past marital infidelity and two divorces, saying "I've clearly done things that are wrong. . . .People have every right to ask the tough questions."

Gingrich was asked to defend his past endorsements of an individual mandate for health care, and his having stood by that proposal while denying it put him on the same side as President Obama. "I believe all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care. There are ways to do it that make libertarians relatively happy. You either have health insurance or you post a bond," he suggested. Asked if that counts as an individual mandate, something many Republicans have balked at in the past, Gingrich responded, "it's a variation on it." He said he would offer "a range of choices," but that people who can afford insurance but don't buy it because they expect to be covered are perpetuating a "free rider system." Gingrich also distanced himself from the plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to turn Medicare into a voucher system: "I think that that is too big a jump." He called the plan "right-wing social engineering," which he considers not "any more desirable than left-wing social engineering."

State of the Union (CNN)

Ryan: Expect Senate-run announcement this week

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined host Candy Crowley Sunday to discuss the ongoing debate over the national budget and whether to raise the national debt limit. “We need to do something about the short-term,”McConnell said, “we need a spending ceiling.” The Kentucky Republican went on to say that “to get my vote . . . we need to do something significant short-term, medium-term and long-term,” before raising the debt ceiling. Asked if he would accept tax increases at all, McConnell said, “There aren’t going to be any tax increases.”

McConnell dodged when asked whether he would support former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid, taking an opportunity to criticize the national health-care law, without referring to Romney or the Massachusetts comprehensive health-care reform he enacted.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) also joined to discuss his proposed federal budget and whether he would run for Senate to replace retiring Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.). Ryan said he would announce his intentions this week.

C-SPAN Newsmakers

Bingaman: We are not going to legislate short-term oil prices down

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chairman of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, said he hadn’t decided how to vote on a plan proposed by Democrats that would repeal some oil company tax breaks. “If you’re going to change these tax provisions, you shouldn’t just do it for five companies,” said Bingaman, repeating the argument made by oil company executives during their testimony before Congress last week. Asked if he thought oil companies are paying their fair share, Bingaman said, “Well, I don’t know,” adding that “it was pretty clear reducing some of the tax benefits would not in any way jeopardize the tax benefits of any of these companies.”

“It is not, in my view, realistic to think we are going to legislate a change in the price of oil short-term,” Bingaman said, adding that policies could be put in place to help keep the price of oil down in future years. “We are increasing production of oil in this country — it’s not going down, it’s going up,” he said, countering claims by some that Democrats were pushing to shut down domestic oil production. Bingaman credited that increase not to President Obama’s policies, but instead to technological advancement. Bingaman also pushed back against claims that Democrats were attempting to quash Republican plans to increase nuclear power output in the United States, saying it was “simply not the case.”

Asked if he had a “best moment in the Senate,” Bingaman said, ”there’s been a lot of good moments, but a lot of frustrations too.”

Face the Nation (CBS)

John Boehner on the debt limit: ‘I’m ready to cut the deal today’

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sat down with CBS “Early Show” host Harry Smith in the wake of the network’s exclusive townhall with President Obama. “He’s talking about it, but I’m not seeing real action yet,” Boehner said on the president’s approach to tackling the nation’s debt.

Asked about reports of angry townhall attendees rejecting the Republicans’ proposed budget plan, Boehner was defensive. “Harry, that’s just not a fact,” Boehner said. He said he had talked to all of the Republican House members and that, if asked, any Republican would say 80 percent of attendees on average were supportive of the Republican budget plan.

“I’m ready to cut the deal today,” Boehner said on reaching an agreement to raise the debt ceiling before the situation became as dramatic as the lead-up to the government shutdown. “Mr. President, you and I, let’s lock arms and jump out of this boat together.”

Asked about individuals and families burdened by ballooning mortgage payments and stagnant paychecks in the midst of bank bailouts and subsequent financial sector profits, Boehner said, “There’s no easy answer to this.”

The conversation turned to the Middle East and the killing of Osama bin Laden. “It wasn’t just bin Laden,” Boehner said when asked if it was time to reconsider the U.S. role in Afghanistan. “Our goal in Afghanistan is to make sure that we’re not ceding ground to the Taliban and al-Qaeda and others. ... That effort has to continue, because there are others out there.”

Fox News Sunday

Huckabee not ready to endorse yet

The day after announcing on his own Fox News show that he would not run for president, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee told Chris Wallace that was not ready to endorse any of the other candidates.

"There may be a point when I endorse, but right now, I'll see how the race unfolds and listen carefully," Huckabee said. Other contenders are already vying for the religious conservative's endorsement. Huckabee reiterated that he thinks he "would have made a fine president." He added, "You look at the political possibilities -- frankly I don't know that I'll have a better chance, but I don't rule anything out for the long-term future," he said. "But I just somehow believed deep within me that it wasn't the right time, it wasn't meant to be."

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), meanwhile, is in it to win it. He told Wallace that "nobody's perfect," but he's "pretty well-equipped" to be president. I've been in the military. I was in the military five years, that gives me a little bit of experience. I would say I'm pretty well equipped. But to brag that I can run things, I don't do that because that's not what a president is supposed to do." Paul said he would oppose federal aid for victims of flooding in Mississippi, saying, "The principle of ultimate insurance by government is a moral hazard because people do things they shouldn't do."

This Week (ABC News)

Nikki Haley: 2012 VP speculation "silly"

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) told Christine Amanpour that there's no way she'll be a vice presidential contender in 2012, calling the idea "silly" and that there was "no wiggle room at all."

“The people of South Carolina took a chance on electing me,” she said. “It is my job and my family's job to prove to them that they made a good decision. I plan on committing to the people of this state my full four years in office."

Haley will, however, be watching closely, and she suggested that all of the presidential contenders had something to prove before they could get her endorsement. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich "has had great ideas in the past," but whether he can handle the future "remains to be seen." Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels "was an amazing reformer in his state," but he "needs to give his stance on where he stands with family values." (She defended Daniels over the focus on his marriage, saying, "people are smarter than that.”) On former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, she said he was “one of the only governors that showed courage when it came to dealing with health care,” but a leader should "admit when a mistake was made." On Sarah Palin, Haley said "she is amazing at getting people to know the power of their voice" but if she gets in she will have to "understand that the policy issues of today are relevant and important right now too."

In the show's roundtable, Washington Post columnist George Will said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is "just not a serious candidate," and predicted that the race will come down to Obama, Daniels, and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.