Reince Priebus on compacted RNC schedule; Mitt and Ann Romney sit down with Chris Wallace

Written by Chris Wallace / Published August 26, 2012 / Fox News Sunday

Special Guests: Reince Priebus, Mitt Romney, Ann Romney

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," August 26, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace, reporting from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where a big storm and Mitt Romney are the two top stories.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

In a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive, we'll sit down with the governor on the campaign trail, to discuss the issues and what he needs to do at the convention.

If voters take away one thing from your big acceptance speech on Thursday night, what do you want that to be?

Then, we get a rare look behind the scenes with the Romneys at their summer home in New Hampshire. You'll hear about the Romney Olympics, what goes on at the kitchen table, and the role Mrs. Romney plays in the campaign.

Do you give advice your husband advice?

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: Not on policy.

WALLACE: Do you give advice on strategy?

ANN ROMNEY: Poor Mitt, he gets advice from everybody, even me.

(LAUGHTER)

MITT ROMNEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was going to say, I didn't know she didn't give advice on policy.

WALLACE It's all only on "Fox News Sunday."

Plus, the latest of a state of a presidential race.

We'll ask our Sunday panel about the GOP's big week in Tampa and how the Obama campaign plans to respond -- all right now on "Fox News Sunday."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Tampa, site of the Republican National Convention. We are coming to you today from our skybox in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention was supposed to start Monday. But a dangerous storm named Isaac headed this way has changed those plans.

The Republicans have canceled the first day of the convention and squeezed this into a three-day event starting Tuesday and there maybe more changes. Joining us now, the head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus.

Chairman, what's the latest on Isaac and how hard is it going to hit Tampa?

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, we don't think it will be that bad in Tampa. But some of the residual effects of the driving winds and rain, we had to make a decision that puts safety first out of the abundance of caution. Here are the couple of things that caused the decision. We couldn't be assured a really safe travel path with these huge buses over the bridges between Clearwater and Tampa. That was the first thing.

The second thing is the Secret Service took down the tents out in front of the forum. People would be standing in line in driving rain. Once those two things started to come to fruition, we had to make a decision.

WALLACE: Even if Tampa is out of the dangerous zone on Tuesday, this could be a hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, on Louisiana and Alabama and Mississippi.

Now, four years ago, your party canceled the convention -- you were a thousand miles away in Minnesota -- because you didn't think it looked appropriate to be partying and politicking while fellow Americans were in trouble.

Could you conceivably have to cancel Tuesday as well?

PRIEBUS: No, I doubt that, Chris. I think the show is going to go on. We're going to get to business done at the RNC. We're going to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. We're going to have a great time here in Tampa. This was done out of the abundance of caution for our delegates and guests here in Tampa.

WALLACE: But just to press this. I mean, if this storm Isaac is bearing down on the Gulf Coast or hitting the Gulf Coast, you would go ahead with the convention on Tuesday?

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, obviously, we have to take it as it comes. I mean, we're going to be nimble. We're going to make sure that we do the right thing. Safety first.

And, obviously, we want to make sure that everyone, no matter where you are, is safe in the storm.

WALLACE: But the disposition is go ahead.

PRIEBUS: Yes. We're moving forward. But we are going to be nimble. We're going to make sure that we're smart and we're making the decisions that I think are wise for our party and our nominee.

WALLACE: What does this do to the Romney campaign if this convention is shrunk, as it certainly will be, to three days and possibly to two days?

PRIEBUS: I don't think so. I mean, I think we're going to be able to have a great convention, tell the Mitt Romney story, prosecute Obama and his promises made and promises delivered. We're not where we need to be. We need to -- we have to fire Obama and save this country. We're going to make that case, but we're going to make Mitt Romney case this week as well.

WALLACE: Yes. But Monday was going to be the contrast day when you really went after Barack Obama, you can be able to squeeze that in?

PRIEBUS: We're going to be able to squeeze in. We are meeting with the production staff today. I think most of the messaging that we were going to put out on Monday will be able to be fit in on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

WALLACE: It wasn't your idea to hold this convention.

PRIEBUS: Right.

WALLACE: Your predecessor Michael Steele. Any second thoughts about holding a convention in Florida during the middle of hurricane season.

PRIEBUS: You know, I don't think. I mean, I don't think so. To his defense, I would say we've had conventions in Miami, New Orleans, Houston, I mean, Charlotte is in the path, New York could be in a hurricane path. I don't think so.

I think that this is a great place to be. We're excited about being here in Tampa and we're about winning Florida in November.

WALLACE: Well, thank you for coming in.

PRIEBUS: Thank you, Chris.

WALLACE: Thank you for the update.

PRIEBUS: You bet.

WALLACE: We'll all be standing by to see what Isaac has in store for us this week. Thank you, Chairman.

PRIEBUS: You bet.

WALLACE: Now our big interviews. We spent much of the week with the Romneys. In a few minutes, we'll give you rare look at life inside of the family and our surprisingly candid talk with Mitt Romney and Ann Romney.

But, first, we caught with the governor late this week on the campaign trail in Michigan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: Governor, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

ROMNEY: Thank you, Chris.

WALLACE: What do you hope to achieve over this next week in Tampa?

ROMNEY: Well, I'd like people to stand back and say, what are the big issues that America faces and what are the answers that I have and that Paul Ryan has for the issues that we face. And I believe that if people stand back and consider all that America has to deal with going forward, they'll recognize that we're the only team that has answers for these challenges.

And they're big and bold answers. America needs that kind of help at a time when so many people are out of work or underemployed or having a hard time making ends meet.

WALLACE: If voters take away one thing from your big acceptance speech on Thursday night, what do you want that to be?

ROMNEY: That I believe in America and in the American people, that I believe that this nation is unique and exceptional and that we have everything we need to continue to lead the world in prosperity and in peace.

WALLACE: In the wake of Congressman Todd Akin's comments last Sunday, the Obama campaign is once again attacking Republicans for what they call the so-called war on women. Now, I know that you have an economic argument about jobs and opportunity, but I'd like you to deal with the social issues aspect of this specifically.

How do you answer the Obama charge that they offer more support, more choice to women when it comes to abortion or rape or birth control or women's health care?

ROMNEY: Well, first of all, with regards to women's health care, look, I'm the guy that was able to get health care for all of the women and men in my state. They're just talking about it at the federal level. We actually did something and we did it without cutting Medicare and without raising taxes, number one.

Number two --

WALLACE: So you're saying --

ROMNEY: -- with regard --

WALLACE: -- look at RomneyCare?

ROMNEY: Well -- I'm very proud of what we did and -- and the fact that we helped women and men and children in our state.

Number two -- and we did it without cutting Medicare, which obviously affects a lot of women.

The -- the way the president cut Medicare, $716 billion for current retirees, that's a real problem.

And then with regards to contraceptives, of course, Republicans, and myself in particular, recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives. There's absolutely no validity whatsoever to the Obama effort to try and bring that up.

And with regards to the issue of abortion, that is something where men and women have alternative views on that or different views. We look at an issue like that with great seriousness and sobriety and recognize that different people have reached different conclusions.

But it's not just men who think one way. Women also, in many cases, are pro-life. There are two lives at stake, the child, the unborn child, and the mom. And I care for both of them.

WALLACE: But according to the polls, there is a gender gap. You lead the president among men, he leads you among women.

Specifically, how much do you think Congressman Akin's remark about, quote, "legitimate rape," hurts you?

ROMNEY: Oh, I think it was a terrible statement on his part. I think it was uniformed. I think it was outrageous and offensive. I've asked him to get out of the race. I think I have distanced myself as -- from the kind of thing he said as far as I possibly can.

He was wrong. And it's a -- it obviously is being used by Democrats to try and cast a shadow on our entire party and it's not. It's -- the leaders of our party have pretty much unanimously said, you know, Mr. Akin, get out of the race, you're -- you've -- you said something which is highly offensive.

WALLACE: The Democrats are running some ads right now. It looks like your campaign logo, except it's Romney, Ryan, Akin.

ROMNEY: Well, it really is sad, isn't it?

With all the issues that America faces, for the Obama campaign to continue to stoop to such a low level, they understand and -- and they're -- they're wise enough to understand that people in -- like myself, who have asked Todd Akin to get out of the race, are doing so because we vehemently disagree with what he said and believe it hurts our party and, I think, is damaging to women.

WALLACE: Let's run through a few issues.

You say the president is raiding Medicare and that you would restore the $716 billion that he takes out of Medicare to pay for ObamaCare.

But the Medicare trustees say if you do that, that -- that part of Medicare, the hospital trust fund, starts to run out of money in 2016 instead of 2024.

Now, your big reform, the -- the premium support, doesn't kick in for another decade, so how would you keep Medicare solvent when it starts to run out of money in just four years?

ROMNEY: Well, I mean replacing Obama. And so the things I will replace ObamaCare with will also help hold down the cost of health care, keep it from growing at the massive rate it's been growing.

So I'm not just getting rid of ObamaCare, I'm replacing it.

And one thing is for sure, cutting Medicare for current seniors by $716 billion is not being done to save Medicare, it's being done to pay for ObamaCare. And restoring that money to Medicare does not make it less solvent, it makes it more solvent.

WALLACE: But can you give a -- a couple of examples of the specific things you would do between 2013 and '16 to help keep the hospital trust fund --

ROMNEY: You mean those --

WALLACE: -- solvent?

ROMNEY: -- you mean those three years?

WALLACE: Four years.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: OK, for the four years.

WALLACE: Yes.

ROMNEY: Specifically, what's going to happen in those four years?

WALLACE: Yes.

ROMNEY: Well, you -- you're asking for my plan for health care and it -- it indicates a whole series of things. One is to have individuals be able to purchase their own insurance and do so on a tax-advantage basis.

Two is to make sure that we protect people --

WALLACE: But I'm talking about Medicare.

ROMNEY: Well, but if you -- if you take action that helps bring down the cost of health care, slow down health inflation, that also helps Medicare.

But one thing is for sure, putting money back into Medicare helps it, it doesn't hurt it.

WALLACE: You accused the president of running an angry and desperate campaign. You've u -- even used the phrase, a campaign of hate.

The president, this week, said, look, we -- I've pointed out the differences between us on policy.

Where do you see a campaign of hate?

ROMNEY: Well, when the president accuses me of -- of being a felon or when his staff does and he doesn't distance from that. When they have a -- a PAC which -- which says that I'm responsible for someone's death and he won't distance himself from that.

I would suggest that that's a campaign of anger and divisiveness. I think his whole campaign he's been about dividing the American people. It's between the haves and the have-nots, the people of one location versus another.

This is one street versus another street. That's the kind of divisiveness that I think Americans recognize and I think it's one of the reasons why his campaign, despite spending massively more than our campaign, that his campaign hasn't gained the traction that -- that he would have expected.

I think people have seen this kind of a character assassination and divisiveness as being very different than the campaign of hope and change which he ran on originally.

WALLACE: You talk about spending, the Romney and Obama campaigns together so far have spent over a half billion dollars. And that doesn't even include any of the outside groups, any of the super PACs.

When I was talking with Mrs. Romney the other day, she said that if you're elected, you would like to begin to get some of this -- this huge amount of money, some would say obscene amounts of money, back out of politics and would consider accepting federal matching funds in four years.

Is that true?

ROMNEY: Oh, absolutely. I -- the -- this president, when he was candidate Obama last time, was the first post-Watergate candidate for president who said he was going to push aside the federal spending limits and spend an unlimited amount based on what he could raise.

And to be competitive, we obviously are following suit.

But I would far rather have a setting where we had both agreed to the federal spending limits.

Look, what -- what he's done has meant that both of us have to spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising. We can't spend as much time on the campaign trail. And, frankly, it increases the potential of money having influence in politics.

It's really, I think, an outrageous decision on his part and it, remarkably, to me, the more liberal voices that have been fighting for campaign finance reform for decades had almost nothing to say when their candidate was the one who blew up the campaign finance achievements that have been made over the coming -- over the past -- a decade or so.

WALLACE: You have taken a lot of heat about tax returns. And I want to ask you one specific question about that.

You've been running for president for almost eight years. And the question is, why didn't you, years ago, somewhere over the last eight years, go to the people running your blind trust and say to them, let's get out of the Swiss bank accounts, let's get out of the investments in the Cayman Islands, even if it means we have to maybe pay more taxes, so we can clear the decks politically?

ROMNEY: Well, first of all, there was no reduction, not one dollar of reduction in taxes, by virtue of having an account in Switzerland or a Cayman Islands investment. Those -- the dollars of taxes remained exactly the same. There was no tax savings at all.

And the conduct of the -- of the -- of the trustee in making investments was entirely consist with U.S. law and all the taxes paid were those legally owed and there was no tax savings by virtue of those entities.

WALLACE: But why not just go to him a long --

ROMNEY: And say --

WALLACE: -- time ago and get out of these things, because you knew -

ROMNEY: Don't -- don't invest in anything outside the United States? I don't know whether a trustee -- I mean I could have said don't make any investments in any foreign companies, in any foreign bonds, in any foreign currency, only U.S. entities. And, by the way, don't buy any foreign products, don't have any Japanese TVs or foreign cars.

I mean -- yes, I could have done that. But, you know, I did live my life and I expect that by virtue of disclosing all these things, people can take a look at it and see whether that's something the -- something they're comfortable with or not. I'm -- I'm not going to try and hide who I am and try and manipulate my life to try and avoid the truth.

WALLACE: So what do you make of this talk? I can't say it's all this talk, but -- but there is certainly some about the Cayman Islands and the Swiss bank account?

ROMNEY: Well, I understand that's what the Democrats and the Obama people will do. Again, their campaign is not the big -- about the big issues that America faces. Their campaign is not about the fact that you have 23 million people out of work and half the kids coming out of college can't find work.

Their campaign is trying to find something to say, gee, he had a Swiss bank account, which apparently was done by the blind trustee. I mean, I had no involvement in this, but the blind trust said we're going to have some currencies and U.S. currency and some in foreign currency. That tends to be something which investors do.

But they're trying to make that seem like it's some a -- unsavory action. And, frankly, all the taxes were paid exactly as owed and there was no tax savings by virtue of having that vehicle.

WALLACE: Finally, you are about to become the Republican nominee for president, one step away from the Oval Office. Your beloved father, George Romney, tried for this, didn't make it. You have tried for eight years.

I want to ask you, on a personal basis -- not political, but personal -- how do you feel? What are your thoughts as you take a very, very big step?

ROMNEY: Chris, you may find this hard to believe, but this, for me, is not at all about me or about what that means for me or what it means for our family. I mean, I -- this is -- this is not an ego ride for me. I'm really concerned about America.

And I think this president is weakening America in very fundamental ways. And a lot of people are suffering for it now. And the -- over the coming decade, the decisions he's making will cause a lot more people to suffer.

And I look at this as a responsibility and a privilege. It's an honor to be the nominee of my party.

But this is about an opportunity to get America on track again. And that's what I'm thinking about. Can I win this thing? Can I be successful in replacing President Obama?

If I can, I want to make sure that we get the country back on track.

So for me, I'm focused on not letting down the millions of people -- it's literally millions now -- who have endorsed my effort, who've sent checks in to help me campaign.

I feel an enormous responsibility. I don't feel ebullient with, oh, you know, aren't I great for having got this?

I feel like, wow, a lot of people are counting on me. They're hoping I'll be able to win and I'll be able to get America on track again.

WALLACE: All right, and I'm going to take one last swing at the personal side of this, though. And I take your point.

Have you been thinking a lot about your dad recently? And what would he say?

ROMNEY: I always think about my dad -- and my mom, for that matter. I think a lot about them. And, you know, I'm drafting a convention speech and thinking about the kinds of things my dad would say if he had the chance to offer that speech.

And I mean, I think, like most guys who have lost their mom and dad, we think about them a lot. I think about them when I pray. I think about them in the daytime and --

WALLACE: And what do you think he would say about you having taken the step that he was unable to in being the Republican nominee?

ROMNEY: He gave some advice to the new governor of Michigan, John Engler, years ago. And I've heard him give it to many people, which is: be bold. Don't worry about what people think, just be bold. Get the job done. That's the advice he'd give me.

WALLACE: Governor, thank you and have a good week in Tampa.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Chris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: Up next: the side of Mitt and Ann Romney you'd never seen with their family at their summer home in New Hampshire, as we continue from Tampa, Florida, site of the Republican National Convention.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: And we're back in the Fox News skybox at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

One of Mitt Romney's biggest problems is the perception pushed by the Obama campaign that he is out of touch and doesn't understand what many American families are going through. Earlier this week, the Romneys invited us to their New Hampshire vacation spot, opening their home to cameras for the first time in this campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE (voice-over): The Romney's summer home is a beautiful place, right on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. But the first thing we noticed a sign next to the front door the boys gave their parents some year. Bed and breakfast, Ann and Mitt Romney, hosts.

MITT ROMNEY: It's not hot enough.

WALLACE: Inside, they were making Mrs. Romney's trademark buttermilk pancake. She prepares the batter. He cooks them.

M. ROMNEY: I know it's a little early. It's a little early. Ann is taking a look. I'm just going to do it anyway, see?

WALLACE: Honestly, this is the first time you ever done this in your life?

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE (voice-over): Everything in the house is a family affair. They designed the island in the kitchen with a hole in it, so the grand children can join in.

ANN ROMNEY: There are sometimes as many six of them in there at one time, and they can work as well and make sandwiches or do whatever they can. And I stand here and kind of the orchestra leader.

WALLACE: You're kind of a short order cook, aren't you?

M. ROMNEY: Look at this -- she had to make two different types of batter.

WALLACE: Now, what do your grand kids call you?

M. ROMNEY: They call me papa. They call me papa.

WALLACE: And Mrs. Romney?

M. ROMNEY: It's Mamie.

For a while, for a blessed while, we were Ike and Mamie.

A. ROMNEY: It's a joke.

M. ROMNEY: You know, Ike an Mamie.

WALLACE: The governor served up the pan cakes and that started the first controversy of the day.

A. ROMNEY: Chris, a real maple syrup guy? This we tell you is New Hampshire maple syrup.

WALLACE: Well, is there any other kind?

A. ROMNEY: Yes, there is Vermont.

WALLACE: Vermont is a swing state.

A. ROMNEY: Right.

WALLACE (voice-over): Maple syrup from any state wasn't what the governor wanted.

A.ROMNEY: Are you putting peanut butter on my pancake?

M. ROMNEY: I'm not going to put in on Chris, don't worry, honey.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: I decided to get off that sticky subject by quickly eating my pancakes.

(on camera): That's good.

A.ROMNEY: Yummy, isn't it?

WALLACE: That is delicious.

TAGG ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: What else are you going to say?

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE (voice-over): That's their oldest son Tagg who was there with his wife Jen and their kids.

(on camera): So, Tagg, what are family meals like?

T. ROMNEY: A little bit of craziness. Dad always goes in line first because he doesn't want to wait for all the grand children because it takes forever. Parents are cutting their meat and he's usually finished by the time the rest of us sit down.

A. ROMNEY: He starts on the dishes, which is --

T. ROMNEY: He's early start on the dishes.

WALLACE (voice-over): Talk around the table is usually about family and sports and not politics, and they save the serious stuff for night time after the kids go to bed.

ROMNEY: Here in the family room and also we begin by taking one couple and let's talk about your life and the decisions you have and everybody offers advice.

WALLACE (on camera): Tagg and Jen, you like having your parents and your brothers and sisters in law, like having all weighing in on your lives?

T. ROMNEY: We are careful about the issues. But yes.

WALLACE (voice-over): The Romneys hold a family reunion one week each summer. The parents, their five sons and their wives, plus 18 grandchildren -- which brings us to the chore wheel. The kids have to make their beds, brush their teeth and read Scripture. Sons and their wives get to clean up.

M. ROMNEY: There are three areas that get messy. So, it's cleaning the three areas and sweeping the floors, and finally, kitchen duty cleaning up. So this changes every day by one motion and everybody gets a different job.

WALLACE (on camera): I notice, what's conspicuously missing here is Mitt and Ann.

(LAUGHTER)

M. ROMNEY: We are involved in all of the above.

WALLACE (voice-over): It was time to sit down with governor and Mrs. Romney. For someone who's been running for president, the better part of eight years, the polls show a lot of people still don't have a good fix on him.

(on camera): Mrs. Romney, your son Tagg says that you are the great Mitt stabilizer and you have said that sometimes you feel you have to talk them off of the rails. When do you bring out the stabilizer and what is it that you do?

A. ROMNEY: Well, you know, Mitt, can get intense sometimes and maybe people don't recognize that and also times he's just my stabilizer, too. So, it works both ways.

M. ROMNEY: We talk it out.

A. ROMNEY: You know, it's not anything specific I do. Being around each other, I think just being around each other gives us a sense of security and serenity and peace and all of those good things that just happen by being together.

M. ROMNEY: I think she has an intuitive sense in looking at people and considering individuals as to which people are telling us the straight story, which people are a bit phony. She has a sense of how other people might feel about something.

WALLACE: Let's talk about your role in the campaign and what your role would be in the White House. Do you give your husband advice?

A. ROMNEY: Not on policy.

WALLACE: Do you give advice on strategy? Do you give advice on staff?

A. ROMNEY: Poor Mitt, he gets advice from everybody and me.

(LAUGHTER)

M. ROMNEY: I was going to say, I didn't know she didn't give advice on policy.

(LAUGHTER)

A. ROMNEY: Yes, I might weigh in on that too sometimes?

M. ROMNEY: Ann is really good. She is good at seeing things in ways that others don't see them and being able to provide that openly to me. I value it highly. She is -- she has been my best friend and my counselor throughout my life.

WALLACE: You do disagree on issues.

A. ROMNEY: Oh, you are not going to ask me which ones? I can tell you.

WALLACE: Can you give me one?

A. ROMNEY: No.

WALLACE: Why not?

A. ROMNEY: Because I think we have to have a united front on that area.

WALLACE: Let's talk about Planned Parenthood. You have serious health problems. Back in the 90s, you gave some money to Planned Parenthood.

What do you think of your husband's policy to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood?

A.ROMNEY: Well, it's important that distinction is made that it's federal funding. It doesn't mean that there's not going to be a Planned Parenthood. He and Paul are going to get to Washington and they are going to balance this budget. And they're going to have to be making -- there is going to be cuts. There's going to be cuts made to a lot of programs people are not going to like. And it's just what the reality of the situation is right now. We are going to have to face some tough places.

M. ROMNEY: I think Planned Parenthood, given the fact that it's a major provider of abortions, shouldn't be receiving federal funding. I think it should be receiving funding for people who want to contribute and support the efforts of breast exams and so forth. But I don't think it's a responsibility of the federal government to be providing money to Planned Parenthood.

WALLACE: Mrs. Romney, there is a perception among many voters that this fellow is out of touch. How do you help people feel his compassion, that -- for lack of a better phrase -- he feels their pain?

A. ROMNEY: I wish everyone could see him how I see him, because as a mother, I've seen him, how compassion he's been with me as a wife and raising small children and how he always valued my work as being more important than his.

WALLACE: How about the pain and compassion for the larger American family, for -- you know, all the folks out there who are struggling?

A.ROMNEY: Well, I think that's why we are running. Whenever I introduce or talk, especially fundraising groups, I look out and I see everyone is looking like they are doing well. I'm like, guess what, guys? We're not running for you. We're running for those folks that are really worried about how they're going to have a paycheck, or they're really worried about how they're going to be able to afford and educate their children. That's what we are running for. We're not running to make your lives easier.

WALLACE: Governor, does it bother you that according to the polls, people don't like you more or is that not important?

M. ROMNEY: You know, all I can do is it be what I am. Remember that Popeye line, I am what I am and that's all what I am.

And I'm doing my very best to try and get this country back on track, to help the people who need to be sure they can find a good job, that they can have a secure retirement, that their child will get the kind of education their child needs. These are things people worry about, and I know how to make those things happen. And that's why I'm in the race governor.

Let me ask you a lightning round of in or out of touch questions.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: Do you go to the grocery store?

M. ROMNEY: Yes.

WALLACE: You act like I'm an idiot asking that question.

A. ROMNEY: I will tell you something, when I was really, really sick -- and this is where I think people need to understand where Mitt comes -- I was unable to do anything that -- in a normal life. I couldn't go to the grocery store. I couldn't cook dinner or anything. This was during the time Mitt was running the Olympics and he was, you know, putting in long hours. He would come home -- on this way home, he would stop at the grocery store. He was making dinner. He was doing all of those things and saying, "Ann, it's OK. You just -- you're fine. Don't worry about these things, and that's not why I love you, because you go to the store and you make dinner. I love you because I love you, not what you do."

WALLACE: Mrs. Romney, I notice that there's no staff here, no cooks, no maids.

A. ROMNEY: No.

WALLACE: Why not?

A. ROMNEY: You know, Mitt and I are pretty independent. That's how we like it. We like to do our own things. And I think Mitt ironed his own shirt this morning. I noticed he was doing the laundry last night.

WALLACE: I also hear from my sources that you have an unhealthy attraction to Costco.

A. ROMNEY: Oh, we both like Costco.

(LAUGHTER)

A. ROMNEY: I love Costco.

WALLACE: Why?

A. ROMNEY: It's great. Are you kidding? Have you ever been to it?

WALLACE: Yeah, I've been to a Costco.

A. ROMNEY: I love Costco.

WALLACE: I'm in touch. What are you talking about?

(LAUGHTER)

M. ROMNEY: It's got great produce.

A. ROMNEY: I know how to shop Costco. You go in the door. Don't -- don't -- I don't want everyone to learn this trick.

(LAUGHTER) You go in the door, you take a sharp right, and you go way down to the back of the store and just go -- just shop the outside of aisles, boom, boom, boom.

M. ROMNEY: She also got me one of these three-packs of shirts the other day from Costco. And they're...

A. ROMNEY: Yeah.

M. ROMNEY: They're very nice shirts.

A. ROMNEY: The Kirkland shirts. He's -- he's wearing them all the time now. I'm like, hey, that's -- that looks -- that shirt looks pretty good. I got them -- I got them at Costco.

WALLACE: What are the Romney Olympics?

(LAUGHTER)

M. ROMNEY: In the summertime, the boys and daughters-in-law and I get together. There's a swimming component and then a running component and a biking component.

A. ROMNEY: Now, that's deteriorated over time.

A. ROMNEY: I know it's deteriorated. That was for a while. We didn't do that this year. This year we went...

(CROSSTALK)

A. ROMNEY: It was when Mitt started getting beaten by the daughters-in-law...

(LAUGHTER)

... is when that piece...

WALLACE: Well, I was going to ask about that because I heard an ugly rumor that, when you started losing the physical competition, you started adding old-guy events like nail-hammering.

(LAUGHTER)

M. ROMNEY: That's right. That's exactly right. We had to find some way for me to get back into competition.

A. ROMNEY: He still comes in last. It doesn't matter.

(LAUGHTER)

M. ROMNEY: No, that's not true.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE (voice over): The Romneys took us outside. Mrs. Romney helped two-year-old Johnny with his shoes. The governor showed off a new trick Tag's dog Reggie just learned.

(on camera): Is this where the Romney Olympics take place?

M. ROMNEY: Right here. This -- right here is the site of the lumberjack events, the sawing and the hammering. And over there, under the little awning there is the pull-up contest. We throw the footballs at the trees. You have to hit each one of the trees to get full points

WALLACE (voice over): It looks like a summer camp with a beach volleyball court and a trampoline and a dock filled with boats. But then you see the patrol boat anchored just offshore and it reminds you this man may soon be president.

M. ROMNEY: I sure hope so. I'm planning on it. It's a critical time for the country. And the things I have learned over my life and the people that I've learned to work with, I think, are the kind of people we need to get the country on track.

WALLACE: Earlier, I asked the governor about that from a more personal perspective.

(on camera): As you sit here on the verge of becoming the Republican nominee for president, what does this woman mean to you? And what role has she played in your journey, where you are now, and where you may be soon?

M. ROMNEY: At the beginning, I just loved her. Now she's much more than just the person I love. She is also the person that I -- I really live for, and as my counselor, my friend, my inspiration, but also the person I love. And if I -- if there's anything -- if I have any time available and people say what would you like to do, the thing I'd like to do is to be with Ann and do something together.

WALLACE: Not a bad guy, is he?

A. ROMNEY: That's pretty good.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: The Romneys have been taking their grandchildren on the campaign trail with them. A couple of months ago, four-year-old Nate asked, "Papa, have you beaten Barack Obama yet?"

The governor had to tell his grandson, "Not yet."

Up next, our Sunday group joins us here in the Fox News skybox to talk about the weather and what Mitt Romney needs to do in Tampa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: This is a president who says one thing and can't deliver. It's finally time to get a president who can do what he actually says he'll do.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Mitt Romney in Ohio Saturday, making the case we'll hear often here in Tampa, that he, not President Obama, is the right man to lead the country the next four years.

And it's time now to welcome our Sunday group to the Fox News skybox, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard; Kirsten Powers of The Daily Beast website; former Governor Mike Huckabee, host of "Huckabee" on Fox News Channel, as well as a syndicated radio program; and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams.

Well, Bill, we've got to start with the weather, with this big storm, Isaac, which has forced the cancellation of at least the first day of the convention and, I think, conceivably, although Reince Preibus says no, but I think, conceivably, a second day if it's bad enough on the Gulf Coast.

What does that do to what Mitt Romney needs to accomplish here in Tampa?

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: I think it's fine. Because the first day was going to be the Obama-bashing day. And, honestly, I think that's, kind of, pointless at this point. The voters -- everyone has seen President Obama for almost four years. They've made up their mind on his successes and his failures. The Romney campaign has to use this convention to make the case for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Since Monday was going to be mostly about Obama, I'm just as happy that it's gone.

WALLACE: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

We'll talk to one of the speakers on Monday...

(LAUGHTER)

FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, R-ARK.: Yeah, I was going to say, seriously?

KRISTOL: And, of course, and that's a special -- a special reason.

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE: Yeah, right.

WALLACE: There you go. We'll get to the governor in a second.

Kirsten, it seems to me, whether it's three days or whatever, that -- that Mitt Romney and the Romney campaign have a lot they need to do this week in Tampa. They've got to appeal to women; they've got to reach out to Hispanics. Most importantly, they've got to convince the middle-class voters that they understand them and that they care about them.

Can they do that in a week in Tampa?

KIRSTEN POWERS, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, yeah -- yes, because I think the most important speech is actually Ann Romney's speech, in terms of dealing with the likability issue, in terms of dealing with do you care about people like me, which are both areas where Mitt Romney is polling behind Obama, though he is polling ahead of Obama on can he handle the economy.

POWERS: So what they need to do is really show that side of him like we just saw in an interview. We got to see a little piece of that. But to have Ann Romney really be able to describe the man that she knows and to, kind of, humanize him, I think, is going to be one of the most important things.

WALLACE: Governor, as was pointed out so rudely by Mr. Kristol...

HUCKABEE: Incredibly rudely.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: Yes, I thought quite rudely...

(LAUGHTER)

... you were supposed to address the convention Monday night.

HUCKABEE: Yeah.

WALLACE: Do you know if you're going to speak? And if so, what night, and what is it the Romney campaign wants you to do?

HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, I don't know if I'll be speaking. And I've offered that, if they need the time for other people, I'm totally OK with that. And I really mean that sincerely.

WALLACE: You've got three hours a day on your syndicated radio show.

HUCKABEE: That's exactly right.

(LAUGHTER)

That's exactly right. And there are other people who don't have that, so I understand.

I don't know if we'll be incorporated into the other nights. I think the night was going to be a very positive one. It was going to be we can do better.

(LAUGHTER)

Now, yeah, it was a contrast. But we need to contrast. We need to show that there is a fundamental difference in the way that these two men approach this country, its problems and its solutions. And I don't think that that's being negative. I think that's being honest. And the whole idea that we can do better is an optimistic, positive, hopeful message. I hope the message gets incorporated even if my speech doesn't.

WALLACE: I'm going to bring in Juan in a second, but, Governor, I've got to follow up. You are one of the very few Republican notables in this country at this point who is defending Todd Akin, the congressman who made that remark about "legitimate rape." Now, I understand loyalty...

HUCKABEE: Yeah.

WALLACE: ... but isn't Todd Akin toxic to Mitt Romney and his campaign?

HUCKABEE: First of all, let me be very clear. I'm not defending what Todd Akin said. It was indefensible.

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: Todd Akin repudiated his statement, as he should have, because it was wrong. It was factually wrong, medically wrong, and he has admitted that. He's apologized.

My point was not to say, oh, that was fine; that was no a big deal. It was a big deal that he said it. My issue was that you had so many Republicans who publicly distanced themselves from him over a comment he made, when I think of all the Republicans who have done foolish and ridiculous things and you didn't see that kind of backlash.

WALLACE: But is what he said -- and I understand what you're saying, and he's apologized -- isn't it still toxic for Romney, particularly when he's facing a gender gap?

HUCKABEE: Look, nobody likes it when someone goes out and makes a gaffe. It's not a good thing, and you have to deal with it. And I think everybody can deal with it by distancing themselves from the comment, but you don't wipe out a person's entire life and career.

And, you know, the point is, it's a great opportunity, I think, Chris, not to talk about Todd Akin. The real issue is let's contrast the difference between any Republican, Mitt Romney, anybody, and Barack Obama's record on abortion, which is so far to the left of most Democrats. He, three times as an Illinois senator, voted against a bill that would require medical treatment for a baby that was born alive from a botched abortion. He supports partial birth abortion. He wouldn't take a stand against gender-selection abortion. That's radical. That's worth talking about.

WALLACE: Juan, what are you looking towards this week?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think, you know, we're here in Florida, Chris, and I think it's very important that you understand the importance of the Hispanic vote to Mitt Romney and Republican fortunes.

We're right here, this I-4 corridor that goes between Tampa and Orlando. That's where, I think, this election will be decided in this state with 27, I think it is, electoral votes.

So it's critical that he start to reach out and spread a message and brand the party. At this moment, the party is branded, unfortunately for the party, by people like Akin and extremists in the Tea Party. That's the dynamic driving this party.

The question is what does Mitt Romney stand for? What's his brand? Is he this moderate flip-flopper, as some said in the Republican primaries, or is he now -- and the reason they selected him, I think, is he going to be able to appeal to people who are more toward the middle and say this is a real alternative to Barack Obama?

WALLACE: Governor, you want to answer Juan's question?

HUCKABEE: I think Mitt Romney has a very strong message.

Look, the biggest thing people are concerned about, are they going to have a job?

A lot of people don't have jobs. Their houses are underwater. This state in Florida, you have an unusually high percentage of people who have either lost their homes or are on the verge of losing their homes. They want to know, can somebody step up and manage this crisis?

And I think, when they look at the record of these two gentlemen, it's real obvious which one has the experience, the know-how and the will to manage an economy. And it's not Barack Obama.

WILLIAMS: Let me just tell you something. Can I just say something?

KRISTOL: I withdraw my earlier...

(LAUGHTER)

That was so good...

(LAUGHTER)

That was so good, I think Mike needs a key spot, prime time. That is...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Go ahead, Juan.

WILLIAMS: No, I was going to say that Fox had a poll this week and the poll asked the basic question, would you approve or disapprove of Barack Obama's stewardship of the economy?

I think it was 50-something percent that they disapproved. But when you -- when the question was asked, well, who has a plan going forward; who do you trust going forward to manage the economy, guess what? It was just about a tie.

And the reason is, I think -- and we'll hopefully see this, this week, Romney has not come forward with any convincing plan for how he's going to help the middle class, how he's in touch with issues about the increasing separation between rich and poor in this country. And that's a huge disappointment for a guy who says "I'm running on my experience as a financial steward and I know how to make money and get this economy working."

WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here. But when we come back, we'll discuss how President Obama intends to steal some of the spotlight during the Republican convention and where the race for the White House stands now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: Check out foxnewssunday.com for behind-the-scenes features, "Panel Plus" and our special Monday preview of the week ahead. You can find it at foxnewssunday.com. And be sure to let us know what you think. Stay tuned for more from our panel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I can't speak to Governor Romney's motivations. What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme positions that are very consistent with the positions that a number of House Republicans have taken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: President Obama, in an interview with AP, arguing that Mitt Romney is a captive of conservative congressional Republicans

And we're back now with our panel.

Juan, is that the Obama's camp most effective argument, that a President Romney will march in lock-step with conservative congressional Republicans and push an extreme agenda?

WILLIAMS: It's a very effective argument because, remember, Chris, there's a stunning number of Americans who still say they don't know who Mitt Romney is. He's going to be introduced here this week at the convention. And so when you ask people, well, what does he stand for, if Barack Obama and the Democrats are able to define him as the man who picked Paul Ryan, who had this extreme budget on Medicare, the man who says on abortion, you know, gosh, I don't -- I'm not sure, here, and he's flip-flopped on abortion, the man who, on gay rights, has flip- flopped, the man who, when it comes to the DREAM Act and Hispanics, has turned away and endorsed Governor Brewer in Arizona's plan -- if they see him as that extremist, they're not going to -- especially moderates and women are not going to play ball.

WALLACE: Governor, what do you think of that argument by the president against Romney? How effective is that? And secondly, what do you make of this claim in the same interview with "A.P." that if he's reelected, he's going to be able to forge compromises with House Republicans because they will no longer be so obstructionists?

HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, let's look at the House Republicans. If specificity of solutions, if addressing the serious problems of the incredible choking debt, if dealing with actually presenting a budget as opposed to the Senate who hadn't put one on the floor since April of 2009, if having convictions and being for something, if that's a problem, then that's the problem I think Republicans are more than delighted to have. That is a program that I think I'd rather run on that and than saying, look, I've been president four years and I've got nothing. I've got nothing to show you.

WALLACE: Yes. What about this argument -- if I get a second term, because I'll be able to make compromises because Republicans will be more --

HUCKABEE: Look, I know what he whispered to the Russian president about how he -- you know, wouldn't have all these restrictions. But I worry about a president who's willing to say, give me a second term and I don't have to worry about constitutional restrictions of checks and balance. That's what I'm saying checks and balance --

WILLIAMS: Where did he say that?

WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait --

HUCKABEE: To the Russian president.

WILLIAMS: He said he didn't have to worry about constitutional requirements, Governor?

HUCKABEE: No, flexibility. I'm just saying that the whole idea of our government is checks and balances of three branches with equal power. Not somebody who believes he can ignore the law and put in what he wishes to do.

WALLACE: Kirsten, when one party is holding a convention, traditionally, the other one goes off the stage, takes a week off. But the Democrats are not going to be doing this. We know that Obama is going to be on some college campus, trying to reenergize the youth vote. Joe Biden was until the weather hit going to be down here in Florida. And Michelle Obama is going to be making a bunch of high profile appearances.

POWERS: Yes.

WALLACE: Smart politics?

POWERS: Yes, definitely. I think the thing they always do some sort of counterprogramming. I think the only think that was sort of outside probably normal behavior would have been Biden coming down here.

But they're -- as Juan said, they are trying to define Romney in this period where they still feel he's unknown and the way they're trying to define him as this extremist, this radical. They're going to continue to use the Todd Akin thing, calling Ryan his ideological twin.

And so, they are essentially just trying to make sure that by the time this is all over, that they have convinced people that the person they are representing Mitt Romney to be is who he is.

WALLACE: But you know, Bill, I was talking to Karl Rove the other day and he said both of these guys have jobs at their convention, and that Romney has a much easier job, because all Romney has to do is kind of reshape the perception people have about him. Obama has got to reshape the way people deal with his first four years in office.

KRISTOL: Obama can't do that and he's not trying to do that. The Obama campaign is all counter-programming. This week is perfectly emblematic.

What is the Obama campaign? Be scared of Mitt Romney. He's been president for almost four years. You can't change that with one speech or two speeches -- Bill Clinton getting up and reinterpreting. People can see with their own eyes the degree to which President Obama hasn't succeeded measured by his own criteria.

So, I think Mitt Romney has a bigger challenge, and I think actually both conventions are about --

WALLACE: Mitt Romney has a bigger challenge?

KRISTOL: Sure, because he's the one who's got to make the positive case to the American public. He's a very good chance to win, but he's got to make the case and the Obama team will be out there this weekend and next making the case against Mitt Romney. There such a temptation, I know this so well in the Romney camp, they are hitting us, we got to hit them back.

It's going to be very hard, they need to be disciplined and say, the American public does not know Mitt Romney as well as they know Barack Obama. What is the positive agenda going forward? If this convention, if this week is about the next four years, not about the last four years, I think Romney wins. But the temptation is so great to say, hey, look at this thing they did two years ago, that was terrible. They've got to make it about the future and lay out the positive message --

WALLACE: We've got a couple of minutes left. And I want to big picture, and I start with you, Bill, as we go in this two-week stretch of the Republican and then Democratic convention, the president - it's about dead-even in the polls, but in the electoral votes, it looks like the president has a slight lead.

How do you handicap the race at this point?

KRISTOL: I think it's 50-50, winnable race. And I think it's Romneys to win.

WALLACE: Kirsten?

POWERS: I think -- I give Obama a slight edge. But I'm sort of reserving judgment until after the debates.

HUCKABEE: I still think Mitt Romney has the leading hand in this because he goes into it looking at a record that's pretty dismal. He's got a successful record he can lay on the line for America.

WALLACE: Juan?

WILLIAMS: If you look at the swing states, which are the critical states. And it boils down to about seven. You have say Obama has the advantage. But it's not a great advantage. So in terms of the Electoral College, he also had the advantage.

I think in terms of public perception, if you ask people, the Pew polled it this week, they blame Congress -- to get back to other question about -- is Romney in lock step with Congress? If they blame Congress, then they blame Romney. Again, advantage of Obama, even to the point I know it's great aggravation to my pal, the governor here, they still blame George Bush for the economy.

WALLACE: All right. We've got about 30 seconds left. Governor, you were pretty smart politician yourself. If you are advising Mitt Romney about his big speech Thursday night, biggest moment of the campaign for him, what does he need to accomplish?

HUCKABEE: Be positive, lay out the vision, tell us what's going to be different about America when he is president. That's the winning --

WALLACE: What about this idea of humanizing him and getting people to see him in a different light?

HUCKABEE: People don't care if they like him. They care if he can get the job done. If you don't have a job, you don't really care about his bedside manner. You care about his surgical skills. That's what's going to win the presidency for Mitt Romney.

WALLACE: Good advice. We'll see if he takes it. Thank you all panel.

And don't forget to check out Panel Plus where a group picks up right up with the discussion on our Website foxnewssunday.com. We'll post the video before noon Eastern Time. And make sure you follow us on Twitter @FOXNewsSunday.

And we'll be right back with some final thoughts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: Now this program note. Stay tuned to this station and FOX News Channel for complete coverage of that dangerous storm Isaac, as well as the Republican National Convention.

And next week, we'll be reporting from the Democratic convention in Charlotte. Our guests will include convention chairman and Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. Be sure to tune in.

And that's it for the day. Have a great week, and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday" in Charlotte.

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Will campaign against ISIS unite a divided Congress?

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On the Show

Sunday September 14, 2014

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough joins Fox News Sunday this week to discuss the President’s ISIS strategy, the 2014 midterm elections, and all the latest headlines.

In a primetime address to the nation, President Obama announced the U.S. will lead an expanded military campaign against ISIS. Airstrikes in Syria will begin, along with broader airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. The President also authorized sending more troops to the region in an effort to train and arm Syrian rebels. We’ll discuss the President’s strategy exclusively with Gen Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA.

In our continuing coverage of the President’s newly announced strategy to roll back ISIS in Iraq and Syria, we’ll get reaction from two leading members of Congress. Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen Jack Reed (D-RI), who both sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee, offer their take on the President’s plan, only on Fox News Sunday.