This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 21, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to Nashua, New Hampshire. We are less than two months away from the GOP presidential primary and one of the candidates that is working the state very hard is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. And I sit down with him for a special one-on-one edition.
Governor, great to see you in New Hampshire.
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Sean.
HANNITY: How are you?
ROMNEY: Good to be with you.
HANNITY: Are you keeping up on the campaign trail? Are you enjoying it? Are you glad you're almost at the end of the line here?
ROMNEY: We're getting there. It's been fun. I've been across the country, met a lot of great folks, a lot of folks here in New Hampshire you got the chance to meet today. It's a great experience. Who would have guessed I would have gotten the chance to run for president, but it's an honor.
HANNITY: Let's start with -- the president is going to be in New Hampshire Tuesday. All right? We're airing this Monday night. So he's going to be here Tuesday, and you have your first ad up and running in New Hampshire. Tell us about the ad and why is it important to bring up President Obama in this?
ROMNEY: Well, I want people to remember that when he was candidate Obama, that he said he was going to get this economy going, he was going to bring people together, be a real leader for change in America. And so, I'm going to run an ad that shows him and the things he said here in New Hampshire in a speech here, and the contrast between what he said and what he did is so stark, people will recognize they really do need to have someone new to lead this country. And then I, of course, describe why I'm the right person for that responsibility. So, we will put the ad up on Tuesday, the very day he comes to New Hampshire.
HANNITY: We are going to run it here first and we'll take a look at that ad right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAPHIC: On October 16, 2008 Barack Obama Visited New Hampshire.
GRAPHIC: He Promised He Would Fix The Economy.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: I am confident that we can stir ourselves out of this crisis.
GRAPHIC: He Failed.
GRAPHIC: Greatest Jobs Crisis Since Great Depression.
OBAMA: We need a plan for the middle class.
GRAPHIC: Record Home Foreclosures.
GRAPHIC: Record National Debt.
OBAMA: It's going to take a new direction. If we keep talking about the economy, we are going to lose.
ROMNEY: I am going to do something to government. I call it the smaller, simpler, smarter approach to government. Getting rid of programs, turning programs back to states and finally making government itself more efficient. I am going to get rid of Obamacare. It's killing jobs and it's keeping your kids from having the bright prospects they deserve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Alright. So, as you get closer to the end, you are less than two months, Governor, away from the Iowa caucuses and then you're going to come right here to the state of New Hampshire. The polls have been fascinating to me. Because you had a challenge from Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty at one point. When Governor Perry came in his numbers were surging. Herman Cain, now Newt Gingrich is surging. Two people in the race have stayed relatively consistent, you and Ron Paul. But you are at the top of the heap. How do you explain that? What do you think that is?
ROMNEY: Yes. I can't begin to explain what happens in polls and how people's sentiments change over time. I think people have had a chance to look at different candidates. The microscope gets applied and people decide is this someone I want to support in the final analysis or not? In my case, I think people know me pretty well because I ran four years ago and they want to make sure that whoever we nominate can actually beat Barack Obama, and also has the capacity to lead the country. These are troubling and dangerous times globally, and domestically we got a lot of people out of work. We got a lot of economic problems and we could ultimately face a Greece. If we re-elect Barack Obama, I think five or six or seven years from now, we could be in the same position Greece is in. And so, people want to make sure we nominate the person who will actually win and fix the country. And I think that's why they are giving it such a careful look.
HANNITY: Yes. It's interesting though. If you go back to 2008, it was -- the establishment candidate was viewed as Senator McCain. And when it came down to the end, you and Senator McCain, and you were viewed as the more conservative candidate. This time around, it seems that you are viewed a little bit more establishment and people are running to the right of you. What do you make of that? In other words, it seems that it's coming down to, the way political analysts are saying, it's Romney versus -- the pro-Romney versus anti-Romney. Do you see it that way? Do you see that it's been a shift?
ROMNEY: You know, I actually spend my days thinking about, how do I take my message to the people of the country and describe what I would do to make America stronger with better jobs and a brighter future. I look at America in a very positive light. I know right now it's become somewhat conventional to be very, very critical, to be very concerned about the future. I know we face real challenges but I'm convinced of what America has, is what the world would love to have. The most powerful dynamic people in the world. And I, so I talked about day in and day out. And don't spend a lot of time worrying about what the other candidates are doing or what they are saying. I focus on my message and what it takes to get this economy going again to make sure that we can pass along an America that has a brighter future than even the days we've enjoyed in the past.
HANNITY: It may surprise you Governor but I'm a pretty competitive person and I was trying to see this through the prism if I was competitive in a presidential race. And we know that Governor Perry had a tough 54 seconds in one of the debates and Herman Cain had a tough time answering the Libya question. Are you sitting there quietly saying, yes, or are you saying, uh oh, that could be me one day, feeling a little sorry for them?
ROMNEY: Well, you know, in the case of Governor Perry, I was the guy that shut it up, the EPA. I thought that might been what he was looking for.
HANNITY: You did.
ROMNEY: Yes. I said, hey, how about the EPA? And he picked that up. And then, that turned out not be the one he was looking for. Look, this is a grueling process. In those debates you are probably operating with about 70 percent of your brain capacity because you know, you have all the lights on, you never know what is going to come, there's a bit of pressure, as you might imagine. And so, we are all prone to make a mistake or two. But we have to be able to take our message to the people of the country and that's what we ought to focus on. If you spent your time worrying about the other seven people on the stage, it's going to be a long night. If instead you talk about your vision for the country, it can be a pretty good night.
HANNITY: You know, ultimately though, there's been some that have been critical of the process. I think it's good for the process. Because at the end of the day, whoever gets this nomination is going to face a billion dollar ad campaign. It's obvious that it's not going to be positive. And in many ways, we may look back at this primary as tee ball compared to the hardball that's coming.
So by analyzing the candidates and discerning them and looking into their backgrounds and dealing with controversy, do you think in that sense it's a good thing that we sort of vet all of them prior to them getting the nomination?
ROMNEY: Oh, yes, I think debates have been very helpful. I think it's been a good chance for people to get to know the candidates, to hear them speak on issues of significance, and to get to know us personally to a certain degree. I mean, that's always hard in, you know, a bunch of 60-second answers but you do get some sense of the people who are running. And in the presidential general election debates, I hope we have more than just two or three. I would like have more of a chance for people to get to know both candidates. And they think they know President Obama pretty well but I would like to see a more complete opportunity to have him talk about a wide array of issues and to describe why it is he's been such a failure on international matters, on the domestic economy. The president, by his own standards, by the speech you saw on that ad, by his own speech he has failed on almost every dimension.
HANNITY: What do you think of the tone and the rhetoric that the president is taking on? The Republican plan is for dirtier air, dirtier water, fewer people on healthcare. The attacks against conservatives. They have now been very well-chronicled. Maxine Waters says, the conservatives, they can go straight to hell. You have one congressman actually saying, Republicans want blacks in America hanging from trees. If this is before the general election race gets started, what do you expect if you were to get the nomination, is going to happen in the general election?
ROMNEY: Well, one of his advisers said, their strategy would be to kill Romney. That's not a very a very exciting phrase to be used.