• With: Mitt Romney, presidential candidate

    This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 15, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    SEAN HANNITY, HOST OF "HANNITY": Now the president has said over and over there is no silver bullet for rising gas prices, but don't worry, he's found an ultimate plan, a task force. Listen to this.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: What we're looking at doing every single possible area that could impact gas prices, from bottlenecks that are out there right now. We've set up a task force to look into speculation to make that folks aren't taking advantage of the situation on the global oil markets.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    HANNITY: Now this gas price task force was reportedly set up 10 months so what have they been doing? Clearly not much. Now when you look at the list of task force initiatives that have been set up by this president like a task force on travel and competitiveness, the president's task force on Puerto Rico.

    The interagency carbon capture and storage task force, it's really quite obvious that President Obama is not taking this matter well, as serious as the rest of us. Here with reaction to this and much more, presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Welcome to New York. How are you?

    MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Sean. I'm great.

    HANNITY: Good to see you. Let me show you one thing. The president seemed to be mocking people, Governor Palin maybe in particular because she used the phrase drill, baby, drill, but mocking it seems those that disagree with him about the issue of drilling. Here's what he said.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    OBAMA: So do not tell me that we’re not drilling. We're drilling all over this country. I guess there are a few spots where we're not drilling. We're not drilling in the National Mall. We're not drilling at your house.

    If you start hearing this drill, baby, drill, drill, drill, drill. If you start hearing that again, just remember you got the facts. We're doing that. Tell me something new.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    HANNITY: Then he said we consume 20 percent of oil, but we only produce 2 percent. We have the ability for 2 percent. What’s your answer to that?

    ROMNEY: Well, he is wrong, of course, and actually you watch that clip. He thinks this is all very funny, but there are a lot of people who have a hard time getting to and from work and being able to make ends meet after they've gone to and from work.

    I mean, you have soccer moms who after they drop their kids off wonder if they can afford to fill their vehicle with gas again. I mean, this is -- there are a lot of people already suffering, having tough times right now because of these gas prices. I can cut through the baloney of the task force and just tell him, Mr. President, open up drilling in the Gulf, open up drilling in ANWR. Open up drilling in the outer continental shelf, drill in North Dakota, drill in Oklahoma and Texas. Let's start getting our oil resources and by the way, let's also start opening up our natural gas resources instead of having it held up by the EPA. So that can ultimately become a transportation fuel. By the way, let's take advantage of our coal resources as well. Mr. President, you seem to like electric cars, but you know, they take electricity. That means coal -- the president is looking for someone to blame and he ought to look in the mirror. I know he likes alternative energy, but I would rather see an alternative president.

    HANNITY: So would I. I would like to see that as well. All right, good line. He's claiming we've never produced more oil, but that is on private land, North Dakota where unemployment is 3 percent, the permitting process as I understand is down by what, two-thirds.

    ROMNEY: Licensing cut in half. Yes, he has held off the licensing and permitting on federal lands, and on private lands he’s through the EPA he has been slowing down the capacity of people to drill and provide energy.

    Of course, how about the Keystone Pipeline? I mean, it's very clear this president does not want to have carbon based energy flowing in this country. Instead he wants to drive prices up and that’s what’s happening so that his windmills and solar companies will be successful. And frankly, they’re not going to be successful given the current economics of their technologies and we're going to have to rely on carbon based energy and the good news is we have a lot of it. And the 2 percent represents a tiny share. His 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. Look, there all sorts of oil that is not part of those official reserves.; Jimmy Carter made the same point years and years ago. He said we have 30 billion barrels of oil. That’s all we have in the reserve. Since then we've drilled 70 billion and we still have 20 billion in the official reserve.

    HANNITY: We have enough oil to be energy independent for 70 years. That doesn't include oil shale. We have more oil shale than Saudi Arabia and we have enough natural gas for a minimum of a hundred years. But the president when he was running did say we should inflate our tires and get tune-ups and he gave money to Brazil so they can explore and will be their best customer.

    ROMNEY: Well, you know, I was in Mississippi, in Pascagoula, they had I think three large oil platforms not being used. They could be used in the Gulf. They’re about to get towed to Brazil because they're ready drill there. And we’re here holding them up because of the EPA and regulations that keep the drilling from occurring in this country.

    The president realizes he's in a world of hurt on this. And there were rumors in the White House are even thinking about tapping the strategic oil reserve to try and bring that gas price -- that's an emergency reserve. And his falling poll numbers do not represent an emergency for the nation.

    HANNITY: Let's look at the president, 41 percent approval rating, no modern president has been elected with those low numbers. You in the latest Rasmussen poll, you beat the president by five points.

    The New York Times poll, 80 percent and I think it was key number for me say, they are not better off than they were four years ago. Is it going to be tough race? You're in the lead for the nomination. Do you think it's going to be difficult to beat him?

    ROMNEY: Well, I think a race is always tough to remove an incumbent president. He has the power of running policy in the intervening months, he will probably take actions to try and shore up his favorable numbers prior to the election. But I think he’s real trouble. I believe we're in recovery mode finally --

    HANNITY: You really think so?

    ROMNEY: It's hard to know. No one can predict precisely what's going to happen in the economy, but I think its likely things will get better. Look, no recession has gone on forever. They get better.

    This has taken much longer to recover from in part because of the policies of this president. Everything he has done has made it less attractive for an entrepreneur to start a business or for a current business to hire more people. Whether it was Dodd-Frank or pushing card check or cap and trade or higher taxes, higher marginal tax rates, all these things, Obamacare, all of them make it less likely for a business to grow. That’s why so many people are suffering today.

    HANNITY: Where does this stand from your perspective in terms of the race.; You’re leading with delegates. Newt Gingrich said it would be a good thing for the country to go through two months in the summer leading up to the convention if you can't get enough delegates to secure this by June. What is your answer to that and committed delegates et cetera, or bound delegates is the term?

    ROMNEY: I hope to be able to get the nomination before the convention. I think that will happen. I think we are far more likely to be able to defeat the president if we have enough time to raise money to go up against his billion war chest that he intends to raise; to build the organization state by state that you have to build to focus our attack on the president and his failed policies.

    I hope that happens sooner rather than later. I hope I'm the guy that gets it. But this is after all not about a person. This is about the country. This is right now a battle for what America's going to be.This president is taking us in a very dangerous direction. We have to nominate someone who can beat him and who can fix America and get people working again with good jobs and can ultimately end this extraordinary deficit spending. He's crushing us.

    HANNITY: Three names that keep coming up for vice president if you get the nomination, Senator Marco Rubio, Florida, Bob McDonald, Governor of Virginia and Senator Portman, Ohio.

    ROMNEY: All superb people and much longer list of remarkable Republicans and that is as you know we've got fabulous.

    HANNITY: If you win, they'd be on your short list, all three.

    ROMNEY: I haven't thought about a short list or even a long list at this point. I have to get the nomination before I'm allowed to think about such things.

    HANNITY: You would tell me first.

    ROMNEY: I'll tell you first.

    HANNITY: All right, Governor, it's always good to see you. I know you have been busy today. Thank you so much for being with us.