This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 8, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes". Getting right to our "Top Story" tonight.
Both campaigns are continuing to emphasize the economy as gas prices hit remain at record highs. But there's one name that keeps coming up as a potential running mate for Senator McCain who might be able to lend him a hand in that department.
Joining us tonight from Massachusetts, former governor and presidential candidate himself, Mitt Romney.
Governor, welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes".
MITT ROMNEY, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Alan. Good to be with you.
COLMES: Good. How's the vetting process going?
ROMNEY: Don't ask me. It's not something I'm involved with at all.
COLMES: Oh, really? There's — so there's no.
ROMNEY: Absolutely not.
COLMES: There's no vetting of you going on as a potential running mate?
ROMNEY: Well, I'm not the one that does the vetting. If the McCain people are looking at folks to vet, why, that's their decision, but they've got a lot of Republicans to choose from, and in all likelihood, you're not looking at the guy they'll choose but, you know, time will tell.
COLMES: But have you had talks with them about, you know, the possibility?
ROMNEY: No, that's not something we talk about.
COLMES: Really? You don't really want to go down this road. But you know, not with me, you've got Hannity to deal with.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: No, I don't know. I have publicly said I think you would be the best choice. I have said that.
COLMES: No, but he's not answering whether he's going to.
HANNITY: Well, I haven't — when I get to ask him.
COLMES: I see, OK.
You'd like the job, though, right? You wouldn't say no?
ROMNEY: You know, I'm just not going to speculate at all about the VP process. I think it's one of the least interesting parts of the campaign at this point.
I think the most interesting thing that's going on relates to Barack Obama and his aggressive shift on policy positions in breathtaking speed, but with regard to — regards to the VP sweepstake, I think it's speculation that I'm going to avoid.
COLMES: It's very interesting because during the campaign — now you have said, and you and John McCain said a lot of things about each other which were not always particularly complimentary, including what you just said about Barack Obama that he changed his position on ethanol and go down the list.
How do you square that with your now support of John McCain?
ROMNEY: Well, one of the things I'd said frequently during the debates and in my comments about Senator McCain was that he's a person of great capability who's been tested and proven and someone who I respect enormously.
There are places we disagreed on certain issues. I wouldn't have been running if we agreed on every issue, but the American people spoke, and they chose John McCain to be our nominee, and on the major issues of the day, he is consistent, he's right, I agree with him.
He has charted the right course for America, and right now with the number one issue on people's minds as the economy, he's got the right prescription to make our economy stronger.
COLMES: You once referred to him as outside the mainstream of Republican thought. Do you still think that?
ROMNEY: Well, on some issues he and I disagreed. I liked my positions better than his. But, you know, what's characterized John McCain over the years is that he is not somebody who is, you know, marched in lockstep with the Republican Party.
I mean some would even say he was kind of tough on the president. I remember him saying that Don Rumsfeld was the worst secretary of defense in the history of the United States of America.
That's pretty tough, you know, on your own administration — your party's administration. And it's that very, if you will, maverick, outspoken nature that's making it so hard for Barack Obama to try and characterize John McCain as being a continuation of George Bush.
Everybody who's watched the last eight years recognize that as far from the truth.
COLMES: Let's talk about specific issue, because energy is very much in the news along with the economy. You once referred to his — program to limit carbon emissions as something that would raise gasoline prices by 50 cents a gallon.
So do you — is that one of the areas where you and he disagree on the trade and cap issue?
ROMNEY: What I would do on a trade and cap program or anything of that nature is make sure that what's done is done on a global basis, not on a U.S. only basis. The last thing, I think, you want to do is just have the U.S. be thee nation which is participating in a cap and trade program which will raise the cost of gasoline or other energy, and have places like China escape those kinds of costs or escape those kind of measures.
And yet that's one part of the overall energy issue. The real heart of energy is what we're going to do about our natural resources here. Are we going to drill for more oil? John McCain says yes, Barack Obama says no. Are we going to have more nuclear plants? John McCain says absolutely, 45 fast track. Barack Obama does not want to see more nuclear power plants.
Are we going to tax coal and natural gas in this country? John McCain says no. Barack Obama wants to add a tax to those sources of energy. John McCain will get us energy independent, bring down the cost of energy long- term in this country. It's essential, America's crying for it. Barack Obama, I think, is just wrong on this one.
HANNITY: Well, I think you outlined that very, very well.
Governor, welcome back to the program. It's always good to see you. I do think.
ROMNEY: Thanks, Sean. Good to see you back after vacation, too. Welcome back.
HANNITY: Thank you. You can tell I got a little tan while I was away, but not — it's never long enough. But anyway, we had a great time.
I want to ask you this. I have said publicly that I think you'd be a great choice for Senator McCain for vice president. I think you offer a lot for the ticket. Can you — I'm only going to ask you one question. Have you been asked to provide any information about yourself to the campaign?
ROMNEY: No, not at this stage, and who knows whether that will ever happen.
HANNITY: All right. I think — I mean it's maybe a little — you're smiling. It may be a little early. We don't really know.
I want to tell you about an emerging controversy. We've got a tape. This is Barack Obama basically saying that it's embarrassing that Americans can't speak French when we travel overseas.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's embarrassing — it's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German, and then we go over to Europe, and all we can say is Merci beaucoup.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Your thoughts?
ROMNEY: Well, I'm proud to say I can say a little bit more than Merci beaucoup, and I think a lot of other Americans can, too. I know our kids in many schools across the country go to class and learn foreign languages.
I'll tell you, my concern about our education system is less about whether we can speak French and more about whether we can keep up with the world in math and computer science and other sciences, and that's a place where we're falling behind.
HANNITY: Let me ask you — maybe put it in a broader context because this is the same Barack Obama who talked about bitter Americans clinging to their guns and religion, his wife said it's a down right mean country, and now he's basically attacking Americans — oh, they don't have the sophistication to be able to speak French when they go overseas.
Don't you think a lot of Americans are going to find that somewhat arrogant?
ROMNEY: Well, that's possible. I found the other instances you cited to be more troublesome, frankly, and I think those are going to be more challenging for Barack Obama than this discussion of ability to speak foreign languages.
But I do think that, frankly, Barack Obama looks towards Europe for a lot of his inspiration. As he thinks about his tax plan, raising taxes in this country, is exactly the sort of thing that happened in Europe, putting in place a governmental health care system. That's what Europe has done.
The European course is not the right course for America. I think John McCain is going to make sure that America stays America.
HANNITY: All right. Coming up more with Governor Romney coming up right after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT: Every living soul on the planet has some often highly justified anger. If you know anybody who's ever a POW for any length of time, you will see that you go along for months or maybe even years, and then something will happen, and it will trigger all those bad dreams. And they'll come back and may not last 30 seconds. It's not like all that stuff just went away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: That was former president Bill Clinton, obviously, taking a shot at Senator McCain.
We continue now with former presidential candidate, former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney.
Now there's been a series of attacks on Senator McCain's military record. Tom Harkin has one and more recently Wesley Clark, that attack by Bill Clinton. I think it's pretty outrageous.
What do you think of those remarks, in particular, considering Senator McCain served five and a half years as a prisoner of war and was beat regularly?
ROMNEY: Well, those remarks were below the belt. That was just completely offbase and part of President Clinton — he's been known to do that from time to time, but I think he stepped in it again.
I think every veteran in this country and, frankly, people who love those who have served the country are going to be offended by anyone who's casting aspersions at John McCain's military career and his service of this country, and to suggest that he's anything other than a highly tested and proven individual after 25 years in the U.S. Senate is completely offbase.
HANNITY: I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.
Well, you know, the big resume-building quality, I guess, of Barack Obama, his big experience, is that he's a community organizer, Governor. A community — we keep hearing — I don't even know what a community — what is a community organizer?
And here's Senator McCain flying fighter jets for his country, serving his country, he had an opportunity to leave.
Do you think Barack Obama has the experience to be president?
ROMNEY: Absolutely not. And you look at John McCain — this is the guy whether you agree with him or disagree with him, this is a person who has been tested and proven time and time again.
Not only did he serve in Vietnam, he served as the leader of his squadron, he managed a number of other people, he then went into the U.S. Senate and has served there for 25 years.
He has led major pieces of legislation. He's got his name on major pieces of legislation. He is a leader, like it or not. He's a strong.
ROMNEY: . and proven leader.
Barack Obama has not had the experience of leadership yet.
HANNITY: Let me.
ROMNEY: Now can you imagine choosing the president of the United States from among people who have never had the chance to lead? It's really unthinkable.
HANNITY: I think it's unthinkable. I think there's been very little scrutiny of his record or his proposals. The things he put on the table.
What do you make of the fact that Congress now has a 9 percent approval rating according to the Rasmussen poll?
ROMNEY: Well, I think all those Democrats have been rubbing their hands together saying oh it's going to be a terrible year for Republicans. They're going to have to begin rethinking. I think you're going to say, gosh, let's show pictures of Democrats alongside Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and remind people who the Democrats are that are lined up with those guys and what kind of nation we'd have if we elected more of those people.
COLMES: Hey, Governor, you know who said military service, absolutely, does not make someone better equipped to be president?
COLMES: John McCain did. And that was the point Wesley Clark was making, not denigrating his service, but simply saying that in it of itself, as John McCain himself has said, does not make you necessarily, the best choice to be president of the United States.
ROMNEY: Well, certainly no one would say that simply in your life having served in the military is sufficient qualification to be president of the United States. No one's saying that. Of course, John McCain wouldn't say that that that's the only criteria for becoming president.
But it's certainly a source — it's certainly a source of leadership and experience which tests a person's mettle, and in any way for Democrats to try and critique or criticize John McCain's military service, as you heard from Bill Clinton, that's really quite.
COLMES: Well, I'm not sure I got that from what he said.
ROMNEY: And I think it.
COLMES: We may disagree about that.
Let me ask you about Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, has said he would not sign a security agreement unless we came up with a timetable to leave the country.
John McCain and George Bush have both said in the past that if we're asked to leave, we leave, so should we now come up with a timetable, as Maliki suggests, because he's says that's the only way he'll sign a security agreement? He'd like us out.
Should we, as McCain has said he would in the past, listen to him?
ROMNEY: Well, of course, we listen to the leadership of the people of Iraq, and it's, of course, Prime Minister Maliki as well as other members of their government, and I understand that we are negotiating with them as to what the conditions will be for our continued presence in Iraq.
They want to have stability there. We do. Whether or not there's a specific timetable for how long this agreement last and what the nature of that will be, that's something that's going to be discussed over time, but, of course, we listen to what the Iraqis say and what they want.
They are a sovereign nation and we're supporting them and their effort to become strong and independent.
COLMES: But when they say — now this became an issue during the primary campaign where you said there shouldn't be a public timetable. Should there be either a public or private one, and should we do what Maliki says — come up with a timetable and start to withdraw as the prime minister of the country we went into now wants us to do?
ROMNEY: Well, let's make sure that we're actually hearing from Prime Minister Maliki himself and we're not getting reports of supposed discussions and negotiating points. We'll see what's negotiated, what occurs, and, obviously, we listen to what the prime minister says and the people of Iraq have the final say through their elected officials as to what our presence will be there.
But one thing's for sure. I don't think it makes sense to go out and say that there's a specific date that we'll all be gone in the near future until we're sure that this — this government and its military is able to provide for the safety and peace of their citizenry.
COLMES: All right, Governor. We thank you very much for coming on tonight. Nice to see you on our show. Thank you.
ROMNEY: Thanks, Alan.
ROMNEY: Sean, good to be with you.
COLMES: Thank you very much.
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