Former Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Breaks Down the Final Debate

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 15, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to a special edition of "Hannity & Colmes". And we coming to you live tonight from the spin room at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island, New York, my alma mater, by the way, and also home to the third and final presidential debate which you just saw right here on the FOX News Channel.

And remember, we want to know who you think won the debate. You can text your vote to 36288, A for John McCain, B for Barack Obama, and C for undecided. We'll reveal the results in just about 10 minutes right here on "Hannity & Colmes".

Joining us is former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Governor, thank you so much for being here tonight.


Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Mitt Romney

COLMES: As a McCain supporter, I'm going to guess you're going to tell me McCain won the debate today.

ROMNEY: Well, I don't think there's no question about that. I actually saw a focus group on one of the major networks where they asked a group of undecided voters what did they think. 3 to 1, they came out saying they were going to vote for McCain following this — relative to Barack Obama. I think it was John McCain's strongest night since the Saddleback forum that was held early on.

It was a great night for John McCain.

COLMES: One has to wonder, though, and of course, the big phrase that keeps going to use is game-changer, and McCain needs a lot of game-changers to reverse the trends in the polls. And was there anything tonight that will convince enough people to change what they were going to make a difference in this campaign?

ROMNEY: Yes, if you take that focus group and you take my reaction and that of a number of people I've been listening to, what happens tonight is that the momentum shifts. It goes from being all Obama to being all McCain.

And you're going to see over the coming days a slow but sure increase in John McCain's standing and narrowing in the polls. They're going to be writing about John McCain comeback kid.

Look, I know, I've been there. I was ahead of him in the primary for a while, and he was able to turn things around. And tonight, look, he went after John McCain on taxes and pointed out that when you raise taxes on American employers you hurt people. You kill jobs. That was key.

COLMES: Yes, but they can't.

ROMNEY: And Joe the Plumber thing was hilarious.

COLMES: Joe the Plumber was actually the winner of tonight's debate.

ROMNEY: Yes, he was the winner. Yes. Exactly right.

COLMES: But you know, they kept saying and they keep repeating that Barack Obama is going to raise your taxes, yet he continue to say, which is the truth, I will raise taxes — or I will lower taxes on 95 percent of American families. That includes small businesses. Tax breaks for small businesses.

John McCain is going to tax people's healthcare plans in their work environment. That's going to get 20 million people off the rolls. These are the things that keep coming up in these debates. And, you know, Barack Obama is not going to raise taxes for 95 percent of Americans.

ROMNEY: Yes, and what John McCain did tonight by bringing out that Joe the Plumber thing was pointing out that when Barack Obama wants to spread money around and he wants to take money away from Joe the Plumber and his small business and send a check to people, that — that's going to hurt the employers of this country.

That's going to make it harder for small business people to start businesses and to hire people. And you know what? The American people would far rather have a job from Joe the Plumber, anybody else in this country, than they would be getting a check from Barack Obama, a one-time check having spread money around.

And that — that's what I thought was so effective about John McCain tonight is that he said when you raise taxes on anyone here in America you're going to be killing jobs and jobs — that's number one for America.

COLMES: One of the things that John McCain said that was not true, though, he said that there would be a fine that Joe the Plumber would have to pay if there was no healthcare for his employees.

That's not true. If you're a starting business, you're not going to have to pay that fine. That's not going to be true. And in fact, you get all kinds of tax breaks and tax incentives as a new and starting business. That's the point that Barack Obama was making about or what happened to Joe — the star of tonight's debate, Joe the Plumber.

ROMNEY: Well, the taxes and Joe the Plumber or income taxes, then they got into healthcare, and we got all — you know I like my own healthcare plan the best but no one has picked that one up yet.

But Barack Obama's plan of finding employers, I think, is a wrong way to go. I think we have a much better way of getting people insured without fining people that are not providing insurance.

COLMES: But isn't John McCain going to lose people off the healthcare when he starts taxing people's healthcare plan? He's going to lose them.

ROMNEY: No, no. No. He's saying — you got 47 million people that don't have health insurance. John McCain is going to give to each family a $5,000 tax credit. That's like a check to buy health insurance. That means those people will buy plans they can afford from anywhere in the country. It gets more people insured.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Senator — Governor Romney, good to see you.

ROMNEY: Thank you.

HANNITY: How are you? Appreciate it.

ROMNEY: Thank you.

HANNITY: This was, by far, Senator McCain's best appearance here. I think one of the best lines was inadvertent. Senator government — oops, you know? But he made the point over and over again, that he's going to raise your taxes. He really shattered this illusion that Barack Obama, that he's going to cut taxes for 95 percent of people for the very point you're making out here.

And also, you know, the record versus the rhetoric. Obama when given an opportunity to cut taxes, he raised them 94 times. When given an opportunity last year twice he raised them for people — or voted to raise it for people making $42,000 a year.

This was an effective night. I thought Obama was flustered on numerous occasions tonight.

ROMNEY: Well, I like John McCain smoked Obama out. I think Barack Obama - he's tried to position himself as being in the mainstream of the Democratic Party and of the American people, and tonight what John McCain did was force Barack Obama to admit, well, even though the people in Washington, D.C. want vouchers and the head of the school district wants vouchers, that Barack Obama is not going to give it to him because the teachers' union doesn't want it.


ROMNEY: And in Colombia, even though we're spending $1 billion paying terrorist there and they spend nothing, bringing things here, Barack Obama is not going to have free trade with Colombia because his special interest groups, the unions, don't want that to happen.

And on campaign finance, even though Barack Obama promised that he would use.

HANNITY: That was very effective, yes.

ROMNEY: That he would stay — using public financing, well, he decided not to because that wasn't convenient. John McCain pointed out time and time again — look, like abortion, late-term abortion, partial birth abortion, Barack Obama was on his heels the whole night.

HANNITY: I agree with you.

ROMNEY: . explaining, explaining, and in politics, as they say, if you're explaining you're losing, and Barack Obama was trying to explain some very extreme positions.

HANNITY: He was on flustered, on his heels, on defense the entire time, and it was very amazing to me, he just resorts back to the same old talking points. We've had three debates now. He regurgitates the same lines. He never advanced the ball at all.

It seems like he was on prevent defense mode, and I'm not sure that that helps him right now, especially, as John Zogby points out, he cannot close the deal with the American people, and I do not think he was able to advance that, as you pointed out, in that focus group.

I saw the same one tonight.

ROMNEY: Yes. Well, you know, I thought the real stopper on Barack Obama's, you know, panned rhetoric is — was about George Bush.

HANNITY: That was — yes.

ROMNEY: When Barack Obama was saying, you know, Bush/McCain, Bush/McCain, he said, hey, look, you're not running against George Bush. It's like that old line, you know, he's a friend of mine.


ROMNEY: And you're not running against Bush. You should have done that four years ago if you wanted to run against George Bush.

HANNITY: That was a good line.

ROMNEY: And Barack Obama, at that point, stopped talking about, you know, Bush/McCain.

John McCain is his own man. Like him or hate him, he's his own man. You know where he stands. He looked at the American people tonight, said he's not going to raise your taxes. He's going to fight to create more jobs. He's going to get people healthcare. He's going to have free trade, open more jobs for Americans.

Barack Obama was having to retreat on issue after issue even the personal associations. John McCain did bring that up.

HANNITY: He set the table, though. Joe Plumber was all about what Senator McCain brought to the table when he kept talking about, you know, spread the wealth. He had said that, and Biden said it's your patriotic duty to pay more taxes. But I think more importantly he shattered this illusion that 95 percent of you aren't going to — you know see your taxes go up and meanwhile, he's going to raise taxes on corporations, the tax rates, capital gains tax, windfall profits tax.

You're a businessman first. Corporations don't pay taxes, do they? They pass them onto the consumers.

ROMNEY: They certainly don't. I think the American people heard tonight what would happen if the gang of three run — or to run America. If the gang of three.

HANNITY: Pelosi, Reed.

ROMNEY: Pelosi, Reid, Barack Obama run American, you're going to see a very different America.


COLMES: I hope we see a different America.

ROMNEY: You're going to see America like Europe, where they're going to say, you know what, you're making too much money. We need to take it away from you. You're an employer, we're taking money away from you. We're going to give it to other more deserving people.

HANNITY: Spread the wealth.

ROMNEY: And we're not going to decide who those deserving people are. We're not going to give your kids vouchers because our special interest group, the teachers union, doesn't want that.

We're not going to have free trade with Colombia even though it's our key ally in South America. I think the gang of three is in real trouble.

HANNITY: All right. Good to see, Governor Romney. We appreciate it.

ROMNEY: Thank you.

COLMES: Thanks.

ROMNEY: Thank you, Alan.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

Content and Programming Copyright 2008 FOX News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2008 ASC LLC (, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, Inc.'s and Voxant Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.