• With: Mitt Romney, presidential candidate

    ROMNEY: So we try and do a couple a month.

    CAVUTO: The fact of the matter is you are doing a little bit more than you were prior, Governor.

    And I noticed that you are going to be with my friend and colleague Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." He is very excited about that a week from Sunday. And I am wondering whether you are doing that because you are worried, and these polls are not looking as good for you. Newt Gingrich is soaring. You are not. Are you worried?

    ROMNEY: That is what happens towards the end of a campaign.

    As you know, Neil, you are going to see us going up on the air with ads. We just began those. We are doing that because the election is getting close. And so it is time for our closing argument. And I’m making the closing argument to the American people.

    And if they accept my view and they want to see America remain an opportunity society, a merit-based society, where freedom reigns, then they will vote for me. If they want to take a different course, why, that is of course their right.

    But this is a time for me making my case. You are going to see me all over the country, particularly in early primary states. I will be on TV. I will be on Fox a lot, because you guys matter when it comes to Republican primary voters. I want them to hear my message and have an opportunity to make their choice.

    CAVUTO: Governor, many of your closest backers and those who admire you the most are worried that you are not being, I guess, in-your-face enough, that you’re not being proactive, that you are being very deferential, CEO-ish, as one put it, not appreciating the magnitude of the threat you face from Newt Gingrich, that he is not like one of these Whac- A-Mole, up-again/down-again opponents, that he is for real.

    What do you say to your supporters who want to see you more passionate?

    ROMNEY: just wait and see. That is what I tell them.

    We are going to make sure that the differences in our experience and our perspective and our views on issues are well-aired, and people can make a choice. You can be sure I will not be quiet. I’m going to make sure that my message is heard loud and clear.

    Speaker Gingrich is a friend. I respect him, but we have very different life experiences. And if the American people believe that what we need is someone who spent the last 40 years or so in Washington, D.C., working as an insider, why, he is the right guy.

    If they instead want someone from outside Washington to come into that place and fix it, and get America on a track once again to move away from a government-dominated society to a people-dominated society, where people and freedom get to choose their course, then I’m the right person, because I spent my life in the real economy, working in real businesses. I have worked in business. I have worked in government. I have also worked in the -- if you will, the volunteer sector in the Olympics. That kind of experience I think is what it takes. America needs a leader right now, not so much someone who is an insider, but a leader who knows how to get America strong again.

    CAVUTO: To that end and the competition you might be facing if this is a two-man race with you and Newt Gingrich, a number of Newt Gingrich’s former colleagues have gone on record as saying of him -- Pete King of New York comes to mind -- he is dismissive, he has got a superiority complex, Senator Richard Burr, he is a guy of 1,000 ideas and the attention span of a 1-year-old, he’s volatile, highly temperamental.

    Are these fair issues to raise, and will you raise them in the future yourself?

    ROMNEY: Well, I’m not going to predict precisely what our campaign will do, but I can tell you this, which is I think Americans recognize that we need a leader.

    And I know that my role as a leader in the four enterprises I have run will be examined very carefully. And that will be the case also with Speaker Gingrich. His role as a leader as the speaker of the House will be examined very carefully. People will measure our capacity to lead.

    And I don’t know what that is going to show with regards to him. I know what it will show with regards for me. And, hopefully, the American people will be satisfied, will be convinced that despite the fact that I’m far from perfect, that I have had the experiences of leadership that are very much in line with what the nation needs.

    CAVUTO: Governor, while I still have you, the Obama administration announced today an effort to peg U.S. foreign aid to promote the rights of gays and lesbians abroad, and that it would -- there would be a quid pro quo to U.S. aid pegged to how those countries that get the aid treat gays.

    What do you think of that?

    ROMNEY: Well, we ought to really rethink our entire foreign aid program.

    Clearly, there’s a portion of foreign aid that is related to national defense and providing funds to nations to do what our military would otherwise have to do at greater expense. There is also a portion of foreign aid which is to try and, if you will, encourage countries to move toward democracy.

    And, in some cases, however, you see us giving money to people who don’t support us, who vote against us at the U.N., who oppose our interests. We even give $27 million a year to China, for Pete’s sake. There’s a lot of foreign aid...

    CAVUTO: But you wouldn’t hold by that definition -- I’m sorry, sir, but you wouldn’t hold that definition of a litmus test to how they treat, let’s say, gays, in a particular country?

    ROMNEY: I’m not aware of that litmus test. That’s not one I’m familiar with.

    I will be looking at foreign aid based upon whether it meets our national security interests, and, number two, whether these nations are friends of ours and are willing to be friendly with us in ways when it counts most.

    CAVUTO: Governor, finally, you blasted the president for his planned 17-day holiday trip. You said his idea of hands-on is getting a better grip on a golf club.

    If you were to become president, what is the longest vacation you would take?

    (LAUGHTER)

    ROMNEY: Well, a lot shorter than that, I can tell you that.

    My view is, if I become president of the United States, I will work my day and night off to make sure that I do my very best to get America strong again.

    Look, we face real challenges. I hope people understand we are on the course to become Italy, to become Greece. We are on that path right now. We are on the path to have a nation that is dominated by government and debt and despair. That is where we are headed.

    And I will do everything in my power to get America strong again and to make America the best place in the world to be middle-class. That’s why I’m running. Look, politics is not my career. My career was in the private sector. My passion is my family and my kids and my grandkids.

    And I want to get America strong for them and for the people of America. That’s why I’m in this. And if I am lucky enough to be president, I’m not going to be playing, what, 80 or 90 rounds of golf. I’m not going to be going off to Hawaii or any other spot for, what, almost three weeks.

    I’m going to focus on helping the American people get good jobs and rising incomes.

    CAVUTO: Governor Romney, thank you very much. Very good seeing you again.

    ROMNEY: Thanks, Neil. Good to be with you.

    CAVUTO: Mitt Romney, one of the co-front-runners, I guess, running for the president of the United States within the Republican Party.

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