Exclusive: Mitt Romney Interview Transcript - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Exclusive: Mitt Romney Interview Transcript

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Exclusive: Governor Mitt Romney Interview

Muscatine, Iowa

12/28/2011

Joe St. George Interviewer

Q: Why haven't you spent more time here in Iowa?

Oh, I've had so much fun going across Iowa. I did four years ago and this time we've been in Iowa a number of times.

Q: Only eight times though?

Romney: 8 different trips and each time seeing a lot of friends here and I want to make sure we get the delegates we need to get the nomination I want a real strong showing here in Iowa, give me a good push that we can go across the nation and get the 1,150 or so delegates it takes to become the nominee.

Q: Lets talk about the issue of transparency. You said your not going to release some donor information, your tax returns. How can Iowan voters trust someone who is not going to be that transparent?

Well we have a series of laws that describe the kind of disclosure that's appropriate and required for candidates running for office, we follow all of those disclosure requirements and in regards to income taxes that's not something that's required by law, I'm not planning on releasing my income taxes anytime soon you know, we will wait and see what happens, never say never.

Q: So your open to the possibility of opening them up?

It's always a possibility but I'm not planning on it at this point but we'll see what happens down the road.

Q: You had some interesting words in there about Ron Paul, would you vote for Ron Paul if he was the nominee?

Oh, I've made it very clear that I believe all the people that are running for president on the republican side that have been on that stage would be better than President Obama.

 Q: So would you vote for Ron Paul?

 Oh yes, absolutely.

 Q: Why should our viewers be voting for you and not Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich ?

This is an election that's not just about replacing a president but about choosing a course for America and I understand that America is an opportunity nation. Where hard work, education, risk taking, build the kind of nation that will allow our kids to have prosperity. President Obama wants to turn this into an entitlement nation where government takes from some people and gives to others. My background and experience in the opportunity nation which is America, my understanding of the private sector, my life as a business man, gives me the ability to keep America strong and an opportunity nation not an entitlement nation.

Q: Did you support Citizens United when that decision was rendered by the Supreme Court?

 Yes I did.

 Q: I want to ask you about the spending here in Iowa.  You and super PACs that are supporting you outspent Newt Gingrich 34 to 1. Many of those were negative anti-Gingrich ads, anti-Paul ads. Is that fair?  

You'll have to rephrase the question, is politics and campaigning fair? To point out distinctions between candidates of course that's the nature of campaigns and by the way president Obama is going to raise what, a billion dollars and if people can't stand the heat of this kitchen just wait until Obama's hell kitchen shows up because he's going to be much tougher than any republicans have been in this race so far.

 Q: What's the biggest misconception Iowan voters have of you?

I don't know but I can tell you I'm committed to making America stronger I'm committed to getting our economy strong, I believe I'm the best guy to post up against Barack Obama because I know how the economy works. I understand America's private sector because I've lived in America's private sector and I want to get that economy strong, make sure our military is strong and assures the values that made us the hope of the earth can continue to guide the course of this country.

Q How hard is it to defend what you did in Massachusetts, involving the individual mandate, but you stand by that?

My record in Massachusetts is very strong, we balanced the budget every year for four years, put in place a $2 billion rainy day fund by the time I left. We insisted on English immersion in our schools, empowered our state police to carry out immigration laws and put in place a healthcare plan that insists on personal responsibility. The idea for our plan actually came from the conservative heritage foundation and Newt Gingrich who suggested long ago that individual responsibility was the way to go and our plan works for our state. I certainly wouldn't impose it on other states and one of the first things I'll do if I'm president is repeal Obamacare.

 Q What's the biggest difference between this year and four years ago?

Well, we now have a president who has taken America in a very dangerous direction, he's weakened America, internationally militarily, economically and I believe the American people recognize that we need an individual with strength and leadership to guide our country.

Q: Immigration: I know you've said secure the border but once you secure that border do you honestly believe that you'll be able to prevent anyone from entering this country? That's a  question a lot of people have once you secure that border, what is next in terms of immigration policy?

We need to provide everybody who comes here legally an identification card and then say to employers before you hire someone, if they're not a US citizen with a valid Social Security number, you've got to look at that card, run in by your computer, make sure its not counterfeit and only then can you hire someone and employers who hire people who have not passed that kind of a check are going to get tough sanctions against them. You do that and people will not want to come here illegally because they can't get work here.

 Q What's your thoughts on newt Gingrich not being able to make the VA primary?

 My guess is you'll have to ask his campaign.

 Q: Does it show any lack of organization our voters should know about ?

We all make organizational mistakes. I think he got behind, I think the campaign must have gotten behind and not done the work that's necessary to get on that ballot. I suggested it was a bit like Lucy and the chocolate factory things were coming faster than they could handle them.

 Q: What's been the biggest mistake you've made this campaign?

There are some things I wish I wouldn't have said the way I said them.

Q: The bet?

Well I'm not going to characterize any particular comment. I do acknowledge that after that debate my wife said to me, "You know Mitt, you did a great job in the debate, you do a lot of things well, but betting isn't one of them."

 Q: What is the role the federal government has in strengthening the role of the family

 Well there are a number of policies that the government takes the effects families, for instance our welfare policy, our medicaid policies discourage people from getting married because if they become married, if a couple becomes married then there income is now combined for determining there qualifications for these programs and people are dropped out of programs. We have to change these programs so we encourage marriage as opposed to discourage marriage. So in some respect our tax ad welfare policies make it more difficult, particularly at the very low income level, to pursue marriage.

 Q: Lets talk about the economy. That's what people are concerned about. Where are the jobs for college graduate and middle class individuals? What is the Romney plan to not only get college graduates working those white collar jobs, but also middle class individuals?

 What I think is astonishing about this president and there are a lot of things that surprise me but one is he's been in office three years and he doesn't have a jobs plan. I find that extraordinary. My jobs plan has 59 separate points but they fall into 7 major categories; one, get America to be the most attractive place in the world for investment, for job growth and for hiring and we do that by making our tax rates competitive by getting regulations to work for American business. By opening up our energy resources in this country. Opening up new markets for our goods. Improving our education system and finally balancing the federal budget. You do those things and jobs will come back in a hurry.

 Q Would you eliminate any cabinet positions, offices?

 I may well. I'm going to combine cabinet agencies.

 Q: Like what?

 I'm not going to lay out the specific ones right now because I want to take it apart put it back together, make it smaller simpler and smarter. My experience in the private sector is there are opportunities to pull things together and to reorganize in a more efficient way. When I was governor of Massachusetts we combined 15 agencies at the Department of Health and Human Services into three. That kind of consultation is needed in Washington.

 Q: Could this go all the way to the convention with the new proportional rules?

You never know how far its going to go, my expectation is its going to get a good start here in Iowa, I want to get a real boost from the people here and then take that across the nation to get the 1,150 delegates I need.

Q:  Is second going to be a victory for you?

Well I want to win of course. Everybody wants to win, but I'm not going to predict what's going to happen or join in the expectation guessing game. You know I want to do well and I can't tell you exactly what that might mean.

 Q: What are your thoughts on the infrastructure bank as a proposal to rebuilding roads? We have a lot of road issues here in Iowa. What's your thoughts on that aspect of public policy? Does the federal government have a role?

Were going to have to dramatically change our commitment to our infrastructure in this country and anticipate there will be a bond type program with a stream of revenues dedicated to repaying those obligations.

 Q: Where are these revenues coming from though? A gas tax?

Tolls have been used in some places, where people have bonded a major highway or improvement of some kind, but in place tolls to repay that that's one of the vehicles, there may be other vehicles that can do that but if your going to borrow money, you want to make sure that you have a revenue stream that will pay it back as opposed to just pushing borrowing for the next generation.

 Q: Foreign policy: was Iraq a mistake?

The decision to go into Iraq was based upon the information that existed at that time and I supported that decision then and continue to, we now know a lot of things that we didn't know at that time but I don't want to suggest in any way that the decisions that were taken by congress and by the president based upon the information that we had was anything other than correct.

Q: If you're hosting a New Year's party, who would you be invited that perhaps our viewers would like to know?

All my kids and family. For me a New Year's Eve party is about my kids and my grand kids, my daughters in law. We literally roll back the rug and put on the music and dance in our living room

 Q: What are you dancing to?

Rock of various kinds. I'm partial to the rock of the 1960's so Roy Orbison, the Beatles, the Eagles, and even today the Killers, I enjoy today's music as well.

Q: Governor Romney, thanks for sitting with us and safe travels.

Thanks Joe. Good to be with you.

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