Transcript: Mitt Romney on 'FOX News Sunday'

Written by Chris Wallace / Published January 06, 2008 / Fox News Sunday

The following is a partial transcript of the Jan. 6, 2007, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":

"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Joining us now here in New Hampshire is former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Well, we've all got colds, don't we, today?

ROMNEY: We sure do.

WALLACE: And, Governor, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday." Your main message here in New Hampshire is that people want to see Washington change and that John McCain is not an agent of change.

But back in 2002, when McCain was campaigning for you when you were running for governor of Massachusetts, you said this, and let's put it up on the screen. "He," McCain, "has always stood for reform and change, and he's always fought the good battle, no matter what the odds."

Governor, why have you changed your opinion of John McCain?

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY: Oh, I still think he's a battler for change. He's just been there 27 years and hasn't been able to get the job done.

He's somebody who wants to change Washington. He talks about changing Washington. But he's been there so long, he's got so many lobbyists at each elbow, he's worked so long — in many cases, he's a maverick against his own party.

He has brought some bills in place like McCain-Feingold, which hurt our party and I think hurt the First Amendment.

He fought for immigration law, which I think was a terrible course, which said that all the illegal aliens that had come here illegally would be able to stay in this country forever. That was a mistake.

So he's out there fighting. He's a good fighter. And I'll introduce him as a fighter and a friend, but I just disagree with him, and I think he's been ineffective in being able to make the changes that America wants to see.

Washington is broken. America is saying it loud and clear. You had in Iowa a number of experienced senators going up against folks that were new faces, governors, and the experienced senators lost.

On the Democratic side, Barack came forward. On our side, Governor Huckabee and I outperformed the senators. And I think people want change from the outside.

WALLACE: All right. Talking about you and change, McCain says, and let's put this up on the screen, "I have not changed my position on every major issue every couple of years."

And the conservative Manchester Union Leader newspaper here in New Hampshire hit the same note. "Granite Staters want a candidate who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth. Mitt Romney has not. He has spoken his lines well, but the people can sense that the words are memorized and not heartfelt."

And there was this piling on that Carl Cameron showed on you by the others in the debate. The impression seems to be, the line seems to be — forgive me — you're a phony.

ROMNEY: You know, it's fine for people to try and push that as a political campaign and as a theme, and the McCain folks have done that from the beginning.

It's not going to stand up to the test of time very simply because I was governor for four years. I served as governor. And you can see what things I did as governor. And my postures and positions as president are identical to those as governor. They all flow from them.

I get a lot of grief from the fact that I was effectively pro- choice and that I became pro-life when I became a sitting governor. There's no question about that. I'm not going to apologize for it. It's true.

But I have fought for traditional values throughout my term as governor. My posture on keeping taxes down and getting spending down in government is something I fought for throughout my term. I protected marriage in every way I knew how as a governor.

And you know, I'd also note that I did something that I don't think anyone thought was possible. I found a way to work with Democrats in my legislature to get health care, health care insurance, for all our citizens.

So I'm proud of my record, and I'm running on my record, and my views are consistent with that record.

And frankly, people can make all the jokes they want to, but when it comes time to have a face to face, we can talk with Senator McCain about the fact that he was against ethanol till he was serious about being in Iowa. Then he was for ethanol. And now he's against ethanol again.

He voted against the Bush tax cuts, but now he says he'd be in favor of making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

He was against the confederate flag being at the state house in South Carolina, but then he was for it. But now he's against it again.

Everybody over time is going to make an experienced judgment based on what they see at the time or what they think is right, and no candidate has been the same throughout the entire process. And if they have, I'll show you a candidate that ought to be pushed aside, because you know what? You should learn from experience.

And if you want somebody who's never learned from experience, who's never made a mistake, I'm not your guy.

WALLACE: Let me just say, as the moderator of the Fox presidential forum at 8:00 p.m. tonight on the FOX News Channel, I can't wait. We're going to have a rumble here tonight, aren't we?

ROMNEY: It depends on how you do.

WALLACE: Well, I'm just asking questions. Let you guys go. You sound like you're loaded.

I have been watching your T.V. ads in Iowa and also here in New Hampshire, and I have to say — and I know you're going to disagree with me — I think a lot of them have been negative ads. Here's one targeting John McCain. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently. He even voted to allow illegals to collect Social Security.

And Mitt Romney? Mitt Romney cut taxes and spending as governor. He opposes amnesty for illegals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Governor, let's talk about the accuracy of that ad. McCain never voted to let illegals collect Social Security. They would only get the money if they became legal, which is, in fact, what the current law is.

ROMNEY: No, what happens under the bill that — and by the way, 44 Republicans voted no on that, and they said it was because it gave illegals Social Security.

Here's how it works. He has illegals that are here, which he then gives amnesty to, a form of amnesty to, to make them legal, and then they get credit in Social Security payments for the years they were here illegally.

WALLACE: Did you know that the law currently is that if someone is an illegal and has been working for years and putting money into Social Security, when they become legal that they get the Social Security that they've put into the system?

ROMNEY: And the difference with his bill is it says everybody in this country, everybody in this country, who's here illegally is going to be given permanent residency in this country and will be able to collect Social Security benefits for the years...

WALLACE: But you would agree with...

ROMNEY: ... in which they were here illegally, and that's...

WALLACE: But you would agree that — you would agree it's misleading to the extent that they don't get Social Security while they're illegal.

ROMNEY: Every news article I saw about that bill, and every senator who voted against it, said what it does is it gives illegals Social Security.

WALLACE: Not until they become legal.

ROMNEY: Not until they've given them amnesty to make them legal, which is giving somebody who's here today illegally Social Security.

WALLACE: All right. Let's talk about this question of amnesty.

ROMNEY: And by the way, both those positions of John McCain's are so far out of touch with the people of this country that there was an outcry from the public saying, "You know what? He is simply wrong. Giving those people who come here illegally a right to permanently reside in the U.S. — that's wrong."

And then voting saying that when they become legal here, under his form of amnesty, they're going to get Social Security — the American people rose up so loudly that Congress had to reverse itself and say, "What we put in place was simply wrong."

WALLACE: Let's talk a little bit about this plan, the McCain plan that you say is so out of touch.

Back in 2005, why did you tell the Boston Globe that McCain's plan was, quote, "reasonable?" And let's put the rest of it up on the screen. "Romney described immigration proposals by McCain and others as quite different from amnesty because they required illegal immigrants to register with the government, work for years, pay taxes, not take public benefits, and pay a fine before applying for citizenship."

Some people would say that's a flip-flop on your part, sir.

ROMNEY: Well, it would sure sound like it if you didn't have the rest of the story, and that was all of these bills or all of the provisions including Cornyn's, I believe, were reasonable. And I think they were reasonable.

But the final bill that John McCain came out with was not the one he had there. McCain-Kennedy had amnesty for 10 percent, 20 percent of the illegal aliens. But the final Senate bill that he brought forward, the final bill that he championed along with Ted Kennedy and others...

WALLACE: But his final bill did register — you did have to register with the government. You did have to work for years. You did have to pay taxes. You couldn't get public benefits. And you paid a fine. True?

ROMNEY: The final bill he brought forward said that every illegal alien, every single illegal alien, other than those that had committed crimes, was able to stay in this country permanently.

That was what was wrong with it. It was a blanket amnesty in form. Now...

WALLACE: So you have flip-flopped on this issue of...

ROMNEY: I have opposed this bill from the outset. I have opposed it from the outset.

WALLACE: Even though you said in 2005 McCain's plan was reasonable.

ROMNEY: Again, McCain's original plan is quite different than the final plan, and I said all the bills were reasonable.

I also, in that same quote, said none of them had I studied in depth, none of them had I endorsed. I would review them and decide which I would endorse.

The final bill that came out was a bill that said every illegal that comes to this country gets to stay here permanently. That is a form of amnesty — technically, it is not, of course, because there's a fine. Technically, it is not amnesty.

But in reality, in the colloquial expression that Americans would use, saying that everybody who's here illegally gets to stay here legally is a form of amnesty.

And, Chris, we can spend all of our time trying to define words or we can say, "Do you agree with the McCain position that all those people who've come here illegally should be able to stay?" I do not. I've always said I think that's wrong. It's the wrong course for America.

WALLACE: Do you have to win in New Hampshire? How can a former governor of the neighboring state of Massachusetts, who has a vacation home here in New Hampshire — how can you lose in this state and still be a credible candidate?

ROMNEY: Easy, because there have been a lot of people who have not won either Iowa or New Hampshire to go on to win the nomination of their party.

And as for being for the neighboring state, I'm not sure people in New Hampshire are wild about the neighboring state of Massachusetts. But I'm planning on winning here. I hope I win here.

But if I don't win here, it's going to probably be a close contest, and I, frankly, don't think that the Republican Party is going to nominate John McCain.

I don't think they're going to nominate a person who voted against the Bush tax cuts and who consistently says he would do that same vote the same way again. He'd continue to vote against the Bush tax cuts. We're a tax-cutting party. He's not a tax-cutting leader.

Secondly, I don't think they're going to vote for somebody who is in favor of having all aliens stay in this country indefinitely, making them legal, if you will. I don't think that's going to happen.

And so I — whether it happens here in New Hampshire or whether it goes on to Michigan, I don't think the American people are going to line up behind John McCain.

WALLACE: Governor Huckabee's campaign chairman, Ed Rollins, suggests that they may enter — the Huckabee camp — a temporary alliance with McCain against you.

He said, and let's put it up on the screen, "We're going to see if we can take Romney out. We like John. Nobody likes Romney." Your reaction, sir?

ROMNEY: Well, he also said he wants to knock my teeth out and shoot me, so he's kind of a colorful character. My comment was, "Look, if you're going to knock my teeth out, just make sure not to touch the hair."

WALLACE: Finally, how much of your personal fortune have you spent on this campaign so far?

ROMNEY: More than I'd like to, but less than I'm willing to, and I'm not going to...

WALLACE: Well, you have to disclose everything else. Can you tell us how much you spent?

ROMNEY: Yeah, on January 15th, but not before then.

WALLACE: Why not?

ROMNEY: Well, there are certain competitive advantages I have by not letting my competition know exactly what I'm doing, and I intend to hold those competitive advantages as long as I can.

WALLACE: Have you set a cap, a limit, an upper limit, on how much you are willing to spend to get yourself elected president?

ROMNEY: No, but Ann has.

WALLACE: So there's an upper...

ROMNEY: There's a cap, absolutely.

WALLACE: Governor Romney, we want to thank you so much for sharing part of your campaign day with us. And especially after seeing how fired you are this morning, we look forward to seeing you tonight at the presidential forum.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Chris. Good to see you.

WALLACE: It should be interesting.

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