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Do Republicans Really Have a Big Tent?

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Sept. 1, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, HOST: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger (search), are all regarded, unlike the president and vice president, as moderates. That lineup of speakers has led some to charge that this convention is a masquerade party with the rightest ticket dressed up in centrist clothing. The vice president will speak tonight, of course.

But before he does, another Republican star with moderate credentials, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (search) will be heard from. Governor Romney joins me now.

Welcome to you, sir.

MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: Thank you. Good to be here.

HUME: What do you say to this allegation that you and the rest of these governors and former mayors who are speaking here are really are putting a face on this party that is not real?

ROMNEY: Well, I think Governor Schwarzenegger made it pretty clear last night. This is a party where if you have fundamental principles that align with the Republican Party, you're a Republican. And you don't have to believe...

HUME: Even if you don't know yet.

ROMNEY: Yes, exactly. And you don't have to believe every single chapter and verse of the platform; each of us comes with our own perspectives and viewpoints. After all, we are a party that represents half the people in America. You're not going to get half of the people in America to agree on everything all the time. But there is enough of a common thread, a belief in opportunity, in a future for America that's great and safer and more secure.

Those kinds of values and principles bring us together. And even though we disagree now and then on different issues, we come together as a strong party that includes an Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney (search).

HUME: What about yourself?

ROMNEY: I support the president on the war. I'm very much in favor of a stronger economy through keeping our tax rate down. I believe, just like the president does, give people more money to spend and that builds our economy in the right kind of ways. I believe that marriage should be preserved as a relationship between a man and a woman.

So you know, I'm in a line up with the president on some issues. There are others that we're a little further apart.

HUME: Such as?

ROMNEY: For instance, on stem cell research. I'm in favor of stem cell research both from existing lines, as well as new lines and would support that with federal support. So there are going to be places that we agree and disagree. But there's no loyalty oath with 52 different positions one has to take to be a Republican and to be a member of the Republican Party.

HUME: Now, you come from kind of the epicenter of this latest earthquake on gay rights. That is to say it is the constitution of your state has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as gay marriage being a fundamental right. I know you stand against that. But where do you see that issue now in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

ROMNEY: Well, in our state, the first step has already been taken to overturn the decision of the Supreme Court, by putting in place the constitutional amendment in our state. The legislature passed a definition of marriage limiting marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman. They have to do that again next year or the year after. And there is a vote by the citizenry after that. So we'll have our constitution back in line with the viewpoint of the citizens of our commonwealth within about two and a half years.

At the national level, of course, the question is will courts, like that in Massachusetts, be able to impose their view on their own state as well as other states, by exporting same-sex marriage across the nation? My view is, that we should limit marriage to that of a relationship between a man and a woman and that we should have a federal constitutional amendment that does that.

HUME: Your support for marriage being between a man and woman seems to be the majority position. It does not seem to be the majority position now that there ought to be a constitutional amendment to bring that about. How do you bridge that gap with public opinion?

ROMNEY: Well, I think people have to see what the implications will be of same-sex marriage from a place like Massachusetts going into other states. If it's very modest and there are very few marriages that actually are exported to other states, then I don't think there will be much energy around it. But if instead you see other courts, activist courts making law across the nation and exporting same-sex marriage in places where it's not wanted, I think you'll see a stronger cry for a national standard. So it depends in part about what the courts do.

HUME: And of course, you also have the question of whether the Supreme Court of the United States might decide the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids the export of a marriage from state into another, a gay marriage, will rule that the Full Faith and Credit of the Constitution overrides that law. And then it will be Massachusetts' marriages can go anywhere, correct?

ROMNEY: That's exactly right. I don't think any one of us can predict what the United States Supreme Court would do, or what supreme judicial courts in other states are going to do with the issue of same-sex marriage. But it's an open issue. I think it's an important enough issue that I would take the action to make sure that we have an amendment in place, to make it clear what the intent of the American people is.

HUME: Now, what will be your principal purpose tonight? Are you going to be Mr. Uplift? Are you going to be Mr. Witness to John Kerry, who knows him well because you come from the same state?

ROMNEY: Well, I do know him well. And I'm not going to be able to restrain myself from being able to say a few humorous things. But most has already been said about John Kerry. I think people know pretty well that he's a guy who has a hard time finding which side of a position to come down on.

But I'm going to focus on the fact that our nation needs strong leadership. We're under attack, militarily, economically. Our very way of life is under attack. And we need to have the kind of steady, strong leadership, which is represented by Dick Cheney, and by of course, President George W. Bush.

HUME: Governor Romney, pleasure to have you.

ROMNEY: Brit, good to be here.

HUME: Thank you.

ROMNEY: Thank you.

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