This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 29, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) endorsed the former Massachusetts governor today. Now, this is a very significant development in the all- important state of New Hampshire. So with the new endorsement and a World Series victory for the Boston Red Sox and a storybook season for the Patriots, there was lots for the Romneys of New England to celebrate today. And I caught up with them in Manchester, New Hampshire, this morning on the campaign trail. Take a look:
HANNITY: So this is a big day for you.
MITT ROMNEY (R), GOP PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: It is a big day. Clearly, it was fun last night to hear the Red Sox clinched, but it's really something to have Judd Gregg's support. He's a remarkable senator, and his leadership in New Hampshire as a fiscal conservative underscores the fact that I'm a guy that wants to hold down spending and hold down taxes.
And this race is shaping up as one where on one side you have Democrats saying, "We're going to give you everything for free," without reminding people that, ultimately, they have to pay for it. And on this side, it's going to be people like myself that hold down spending and hold down taxes. So it's a pretty stark contrast.
HANNITY: We're going to get into politics a little bit later. You guys first met at 10 years old, right?
ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Well, yes. Not really officially meet, but we've known each other for a long time. We met in high school — was when we started to date. And I pretty much know everything about this guy and his family. And, you know, there are no secrets between the two of us at all.
HANNITY: OK. But now by 15, you knew that you wanted to get married? You knew that?
A. ROMNEY: Well...
HANNITY: I read that in one article.
A. ROMNEY: Well, it was — we did fall in love. And if — no one knew how much we were in love. I mean, it was sort of a big secret that we kept between the two of us. But we, even at — we were 16 and 18 by the time we kind of thought we wanted to get married. But we didn't want to tell anybody that, because who would believe us?
HANNITY: Yes. Now, and then it was right after that you went off to college, and then you did two years of your mission.
M. ROMNEY: Yes.
HANNITY: In France, I understand.
M. ROMNEY: That's right.
HANNITY: OK. So how did you all communicate during that time?
A. ROMNEY: Lots of letter writing. We wrote all the time. We have boxes and boxes and boxes of letters.
HANNITY: You saved them?
A. ROMNEY: We — oh, yes, we had everything. We started writing, even when you're 16 years old.
HANNITY: It's obviously worked out pretty well. When you got back from your mission, you got married three months later.
A. ROMNEY: Yes, that was pretty quick. We knew right away. As soon as we — we hadn't seen each other for, at that point, two-and-a-half years.
A. ROMNEY: And it was driving home from the airport in the back seat of a station wagon, where it was as though time had dissolved and everything was back where it was when he left. And we knew right away.
HANNITY: You've been introduced at campaign events as his "starter wife" and "trophy wife", all in one.
M. ROMNEY: That's for sure. That's for sure. I remember seeing her at that first party that we happened to be at together, when she was 15, just turning 16, actually, and noticing her in a very dramatic way. She'd come with someone else, and I suggested that, given the fact that I lived closer to her home than the guy who brought her, that I could give her a ride home. And it would be very convenient. And we've been going steady ever since.
HANNITY: There you go. I first met you both in Salt Lake City during the Olympics.
A. ROMNEY: I remember that.
HANNITY: It was the first time I interviewed you both. And at that time, you were suffering. You have M.S. And you're in remission.
A. ROMNEY: Yes.
HANNITY: How is that going?
A. ROMNEY: It's terrific. I feel so blessed. I really am strong right now and doing well. And I am counting on staying that way.
HANNITY: Yes. You tell the story that, when you first knew something was wrong, you felt a numbness in your right leg.
A. ROMNEY: That's how it started.
HANNITY: What was that like? You wake up one morning and...
A. ROMNEY: Yes, you just kind of — it hits you from nowhere. I had numbness in the right side of my leg and then weakness and then the fatigue. It was not so much the numbness and the weakness that was so devastating. It's the fatigue. And those of us that suffer from M.S., that's really the hardest part of it, I think, about it, is the fatigue. It's so overwhelming that you aren't able to do — really, function very well at all.
HANNITY: You talked about that: fatigue, depression, self-pity. That all followed.
A. ROMNEY: It did. And this guy pulled me through and pulled me out of it. And I — you know, I look back on that time when I was really in the darkest — the darkest hole.
And he looked at me and said, "You know what? I don't care how bad it gets for you, and I don't care if you're in a wheelchair. I don't care if you ever make another dinner. I'll eat toast the rest of my life. I love you. And together, we can do anything."
And so that really turned — helped me turn the corner. And then I started fighting back a little bit, and saying, "You know what? Got to pick up the pieces and go."
HANNITY: I know both of you have been asked extensively, and I know I've gone over this issue of your faith over and over again here, but I wanted to ask it from a different point of view. There was some polls out that recently said that some people would be concerned about somebody with the Mormon faith. And I was surprised in an interview, Ann, that you had given, that you said you were not surprised, because you were Episcopalian.
A. ROMNEY: Right.
HANNITY: And you converted to Mormonism.
A. ROMNEY: Right.
HANNITY: And so you understood that some people have questions. And I found that answer pretty intriguing to me. Why would you understand it?
A. ROMNEY: Well, you know, I have been in the perspective where a lot of people are, where they're not familiar with the faith. And I can understand how people would have questions or reservations, because I've been there. I know what — I know where people are coming from.
HANNITY: People have a lot of misconceptions about the religion. And those were your words. What do you think the misconceptions are?
A. ROMNEY: Well, I think that they don't understand that there is — it's a faith based on Christ, and it's a faith based on very Judeo-Christian principles. And...
HANNITY: It is called the Church of Jesus Christ...
A. ROMNEY: Church of Jesus Christ.
HANNITY: ... of Latter-day Saints.
A. ROMNEY: ... of Latter-day Saints. And so, you know, there's just not a lot that they know.
HANNITY: Yes. There's a lot of debate within the campaign about whether or not the governor should give a defining speech on your faith, on religion, it sort of maybe put this question to rest. You've weighed in on it, and apparently this debate is ongoing, and you're seriously thinking about a major address to deal with this.
M. ROMNEY: You know, I don't know that there's a huge debate about this, but the time may come. But, you know, John F. Kennedy really gave the quintessential speech on religion in this country. There's not a lot to add to what he said.
I make it clear that, like him, I would consider my oath of office and the promises you make to the country as you put your hand on the bible and become an elected official, those are the highest promises you've made to God. And I'm not sure there's a lot I can add to what JFK said, but the time may come.
One thing I think is very important to say at the same time, and that is that I don't want to distance myself at all from my faith. I believe in my church. I try and practice the tenets of my church. At the same time, I strongly believe in people being able to follow their own conscience and follow their own faith.
HANNITY: You had a conference with all the candidates' wives last week.
A. ROMNEY: I had a ball.
HANNITY: You had a good time. Well, apparently, there was a great solidarity there, because there's a picture of all of you holding hands together, so — the big question is, also that's come in play, is what are the roles of wives in the campaigns? And there's been some cheap shots taken at some of the candidates' wives.
A. ROMNEY: Very unnecessary. I think it's terrible. You know, and they've been portrayed poorly, I think, by the media, and it's not fair. I don't like it. I don't like to see that.
And you know, all of them are really good women, and they're all standing by and helping as much as they can in their campaigns, and it's — it's much better to let people be seen for who they really are. It's — it's tough. It's tough.
HANNITY: It appears Hillary is the inevitable nominee for the Democrats. I want to ask both of you this question. What you think of Hillary Clinton?
M. ROMNEY: You know, I'm sure she's a lovely person. I just think she would take America in a course towards Europe, which would lead us to be a weaker nation. We'd get a weaker military. I think we'd have a weaker economy. I think our family structure would be weaker. And on all those bases, I think America would not remain the great nation it has always been if she were the leader.
And that's because this is such a critical time. We face such unusual challenges. And despite being a very lovely person, I think she's just fundamentally wrong in the course that she would set for America.
HANNITY: What you think of Hillary Clinton?
A. ROMNEY: I definitely would not like to see her as the next president of the United States, and I feel as though she would take the country in a direction that would not be beneficial.
M. ROMNEY: I fundamentally think that people will not vote based upon someone's gender or their race or their religion, for that matter. I think they're going to look at what their vision is for the future of the country, where they would take it, and whether they have the experience and skills to actually lead a nation of our scale in such a critical time.
And I think the greatest drawback, beyond the direction she'd take us, is that she's never run anything. She's never had the occasion of being in the private sector running a business or, for that matter, running a state or a city. She hasn't run anything.
And the government of the United States is not a place for a president to be an intern. You need to have experience actually leading and running things.
HANNITY: She says her experience makes her "uniquely qualified" to be president at this time.
M. ROMNEY: I suggest it makes her "uniquely unqualified." She is one of the few that really has not had experience in leading, in a significant way, an enterprise of some kind, to know how you bring teams together, how you work on key challenges, how you're able to bring together public support to pull the organization in a direction that allows it to be successful.
HANNITY: Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, in an interview that I recently had with him, said that he might not be able to support Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, or Senator McCain, and he was still waiting to make a decision about you, specifically, here. And that he might either support a lesser candidate or just not vote at all.
That would be one big part of the conservative coalition or the Republican coalition. Do you agree with that decision of him? Do you think that would be a mistake?
M. ROMNEY: I think he'll support me. I think — you saw Bob Jones at Bob Jones University. He says he's endorsed me. There have been other evangelical Christian leaders across the country who have been very, very positive of my candidacy. And I think I'd be able to get their support.
And — I think it's important to have a Republican who's able to call on the coalition that allowed Ronald Reagan to get elected, George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush. And that coalition is social conservatives, economic conservatives, and foreign-policy conservatives.
And that — if you break that coalition apart, I don't think a Republican's going to win the White House. And I so it's important to me that we have somebody like myself who can bring in all three, if you will, branches of Republican and conservative thought.
HANNITY: What do we do — this country is divided to such a large extent right now. There was a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll that came out that showed that one in five Democrats think the better — the United States would be better off if we lost in Iraq.
A. ROMNEY: I can't believe that's even true.
HANNITY: It's an accurate poll.
M. ROMNEY: I think there needs to be a greater effort on the part of the White House and leaders in both parties to educate people to the challenges we face.
And I think people need to understand that there is a global jihadist movement. It comes in different stripes and flavors from different parts of the world and in different groups, but it is their intent to cause the collapse of all moderate nations, including ours.
HANNITY: Let me ask a little bit of some of the social issues, because they're coming up in droves here. All the Democratic candidates want to nationalize health care. Hillary has talked about a 401(k) government match, $5,000 "baby bonds."
You have John Edwards out here today, just talking about we've got to have an increase sacrifice. People have got to have — expect an increase in taxes. He wants a $9.50 minimum wage and college for everyone, he's talking about.
M. ROMNEY: Well, there are always some in politics who try and bribe the electorate and they don't tell them they're bribing them with their own money/ And there's no such thing as just free stuff being handed out by government. The government gets all of its revenue from people.
And so when we tell people we're going to give you all these things and Hillary Clinton's bond, everybody gets $5,000. Guess what? Who's going to pay for the $5,000? The very kid she was going to give it to.
You have to be honest with people about the challenges we face, about the opportunities. This is the greatest nation on earth, but to pretend to the American people that they can get something for free is just not — it's just not fair. It's just not the right thing to do.
And I don't think it will be successful. I think they're competing with each other, the Democrats are. Who can promise the most? Who can give you the most? And the truth of the matter is we, as the American people, build our own future.
It is the heart of the American people: our passion, our love for opportunity, our love for our country, for our families. That's what makes us the great land that we are. And as the Democrats try and pay people off with promises of free stuff, it's going to ring hollow in people's ears.
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