This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 26, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: "The Anointed One "delivered the second State of the Union Address of his presidency last night. Having a captive audience gave him an opportunity to drive home nearly every left-wing talking point that he's ever proposed. Now, he also proposed dozens of new government initiatives. He praised his federal health care bill and he even offered kind words for communist China.
But he presented few solutions to curb the deficit that he continues to inflate which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said earlier today will reach a whooping $1.5 trillion this year alone.
Joining me now with reaction to last night's speech is the former governor of the great state of Massachusetts and presidential candidate and perhaps even in 2012, Mitt Romney is back.
Governor, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Thanks, Sean. Good to be with you.
HANNITY: You just got back from Afghanistan and met with Karzai and General Petraeus, how was the trip?
ROMNEY: Good trip, our troops are inspiring. And the people I met in Afghanistan gave you confidence that people there very badly want to see us succeed, and they're hoping that their local government and their local military capacity would allow them to protect their country when America's job is done.
HANNITY: Yes. All right. Look, general impressions to the president's speech last night and general impressions about his first two years in office?
ROMNEY: Well, you know, he is trying awfully hard. The problem is he just doesn't know what to do. He is misguided, almost everything he's done has been the opposite of what he hoped to accomplish. And last night, really what he needed to do is to speak to two very big concerns that are on the minds of a lot of Americans. One is, is he going to get more jobs in this country? Is he going to find a way to have paychecks in people's hands at the end of the week? And the second is, can he cut back on the extraordinary over-spending and deficits associated with government?
And frankly, he didn't address those issues in a way that convinced people. There's probably the biggest reality gap we've seen in a long time with the president. Because his words were all over the place, inspiring in some cases. But the reality of what he's done was so different than what he said, that people just had, well, be as stunned as the people in the audience there, right there in the Congress. You didn't hear a lot of applause. I think they were surprised.
HANNITY: I was surprised.
ROMNEY: The unemployment, with people out of work, with paychecks not in people's hands, and with deficits at record levels, that the president seemed too cavalier in dealing with those issues.
HANNITY: Yes, I thought there was a disconnect here. An interesting thing, he said a lot of the right words. "Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation." He talked about Edison, Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers, Google and Facebook. Then he goes on to describe a story how through a government loan this company was able to reinvent itself building new technology, et cetera, et cetera. And then he said, we need to get behind this innovation, we need to help pay for it. I didn't know The Wright Brothers, Google, Facebook and Thomas Edison had, you know, the government assistance as they went out to create and build a better America.
ROMNEY: Sean, his economic education was very small in the first place. And he's not being complete. He starts off by saying the right things as you indicated. His vision for an America which is the most attractive place for business in the world, where innovation powers our economy, those things are absolutely right. But then when he talks about what he would do to try to accomplish that vision, he's completely wrong. He doesn't understand that the entrepreneurial spirit of free men and women, unfettered from an excessive government regulatory and taxation environment is the right way to create jobs and to build the new enterprises that frankly had powered us in the past and can power us in the future.
So, you know, it is sad to watch in some respects. Because obviously, we care very deeply what is happening with the country, we want people to get back to work. But he just doesn't know what the right things are that he's got to do to make that happen. He has put in place over the last two years about the most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs regimen we've seen probably the last couple of decades.
HANNITY: Yes. I just mentioned CBO numbers come out and for the 2011, we're going to have $1.5 trillion deficit, that's on top of the $3.4 trillion he's assumes or created since he's been president. The housing collapse we have has now set a new record of -- 487 year record in the country right now. There was an AP article, The Hill came out with this, his spending binge has American debt in a free fall. We've accumulated $1 trillion in new debt just in the last seven months. How to you stop this? And is repealing Obamacare, has that got to be at the top of the list?
ROMNEY: Oh, sure. A huge new spending entitlement for the federal government is absolutely the wrong idea. And his idea of running spending up to the highest level in American history and then saying, why don't we freeze it there, it's almost laughable. Given the scale of the challenges we face. But you have to cry instead when you think of all the people that are suffering because of it.
Look, when I came in as governor, and obviously a state is a much smaller entity. But when I came in, I recognized that we couldn't keep our spending up and meet our obligations. And so, we said very simply, we're not just going to slow down the growth of spending or freeze it at the current level, we are going to cut spending. We're going to reduce state expenditures in a series of programs. And we didn't do it across the board, there are some things like safety, public safety that have to be protected.
But gosh, this is a time when we've got to be cutting back on the excesses of government and encouraging the private sector, small businesses, entrepreneurs to know that their confidence in the future should be real and solid given incentives for hiring, for investing, for growing, that's what America needs. And two years with the wrong direction has really cost a lot of people a lot of pain and suffering.
HANNITY: Governor, I'm looking at all the recent polls for 2012. One very interesting poll came out, it had Mike Huckabee winning Iowa, you running away with New Hampshire. Newt Gingrich is going to join us later, he comes in first in South Carolina, Sarah Palin is in the mix. You four seem to be the top leaders. It is wildly assumed you are going to make another run. Can you update us where you might be with that decision?
ROMNEY: You know, no, no decision at this point, Sean. No announcement to make. We'll give that some thought, obviously. And we are doing the things we need to, to keep in the public eye and make sure that we are hearing from people about the concerns that they have. But we haven't made a decision at this point and my guess is, the other folks you mention haven't either. And yet, we are all doing the things we need to do to keep the option open.
HANNITY: Governor, do you have a timeframe for your decision and what are your top considerations?
ROMNEY: You know, I don't have a specific timeframe at this point. We're looking at different dates for making that decision. But obviously, from my standpoint, the concern is getting the economy going again. You know, I don't know who else going to get in the race but I do believe that it would be helpful if at least one of the people who's running in the Republican field had extensive experience in the private sector, in small business, in big business, working with the economy. Because frankly, not just solving the near term problems of unemployment, people not getting checks, is going to require someone with that experience, but also long term. We've got to have a strong economic foundation to make sure that we can stay ahead of the challenges we face, like a growing China and a militarily aggressive China. We're going to have to stay so far ahead that no one ever questions the capacity of America to stand by the forces of freedom in the world.
HANNITY: All right. Governor, good to see you again. Thank you so much for being with us, we really appreciate it.
ROMNEY: Thanks, Sean. Good to be with you.
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