Interviews

Romney: Lockerbie Bomber Needs to Face Justice

2012 candidate on his push to bring al-Megrahi to U.S., Obama's handling of Libya

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 22, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF, "YOUR WORLD": Muammar Qaddafi gave him a hero's welcome, but now Muammar is on his way out and Mitt Romney wants Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi (ph) back. The Republican frontrunner calling on the new Libyan government to arrest and extradite the alleged mastermind behind the Pan Am 103 bombing so, as Governor Romney put it, "justice can finally be done."

With me now, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney.

Governor, good to have you.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Neil. Good to be with you.

CAVUTO: We don't know the state of -- of Muammar Qaddafi, let alone the alleged mastermind of the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster, but if, indeed, Qaddafi goes down, you think the new government should hand over Megrahi to whom?

ROMNEY: Well, to the United States of America would be my first choice. We would try him here and see that justice is done. This is a person responsible for the lives of hundreds of people. This is an individual who was convicted in Scotland, but then set free on humanitarian basis. And now, two years later, he’s still alive. He received a hero’s welcome in Tripoli. It’s unacceptable, in my view, that this person does not face justice.

So I'd like to see him face justice as one of the first acts of a new government, hopefully a more democratic, representative form of government, a modern government. Let's -- let’s get al-Megrahi back to a court and -- and -- and seeking the real justice he deserves.

CAVUTO: Do you think this whole backing the rebel thing in Libya, Governor, was and is a wise idea?

ROMNEY: Well, we're going to see the results of -- of what's occurred. We -- I think the world celebrates the idea of getting rid of Qaddafi. This guy was one of the worst actors on the world stage, responsible for terror around the world. I think we're -- we’re very pleased that -- that he's apparently about to -- to lose his position of authority. And we hope that the -- that the new government is a more representative form of government, that -- that honors human rights and is not as abusive and associated with terror as the prior -- as the prior regime.

CAVUTO: Were you surprised -- moving on to the economy now, sir -- that oil prices moved up?

They didn't go down. You would think just the opposite.

ROMNEY: I think it's very difficult to predict what’s going to happen...

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

ROMNEY: -- to prices from time to time. Dynamics around the world, about what's happening with the world economy, tends to bring prices down, because people are concerned about an economic slowdown.

At the same time, if they think that oil fields might be affected, that supply might -- might be affected, well, then prices go up.

But I -- I have long since given up trying to predict the ups and downs of -- of oil prices, stock prices and the like. I think you invest, as a nation and as an individual, in the long-term and you bet on America, in my view.

CAVUTO: Would you buy stocks right now -- if you were a new investor just going into the market right now?

ROMNEY: Well, I -- I don’t give out stock advice, to be honest. And -- and my investments are held in a blind trust. And so I don’t direct people as to what to do with -- with my investments.

But, yeah, look, I believe in America. I fundamentally believe that the American people are about to say that the Obama experiment has failed and they recognize that. The president’s going to come out with a new economic plan. But look, we’ve seen the results of his last economic plan. It’s been an abject failure.

They’re going to reject President Obama and we’re going to get back on track and restore the greatness that is America. And, yeah, I’d be investing in America. I think that’s a -- a wise decision. And, of course, prices are relatively low right now, so it may well represent a buying opportunity. I -- I -- don’t -- don’t bring an action against me for -- for financial advice, but I’m a believer in America.

CAVUTO: Another believer in America, Warren Buffet, with whom we’re told the president had a phone conversation with from Martha’s Vineyard today, Governor, has advocated that he sees some buys in this market, but he gained more publicity for his comments that the rich, people like him -- I guess by extension, people like you -- should pay more in taxes. And he almost felt guilty not paying more in taxes.

How do you feel about that?

ROMNEY: Well, I -- you know, I can’t speak to Warren Buffet’s sense of guilt. I can speak to this that right now, we need job creators to use their capital to start new businesses, to put people to work. And the last thing I want to do is to take money away from entrepreneurs and innovators, small businesspeople.

When I go across the country and I sit down with various small business folks, they tell me this has been about the most anti-business, anti-investment, anti-growth administration they have ever seen. They have pulled back. Small businesses reticent to invest and to grow.

We need jobs right now. And the president and -- and Warren and -- and other people are -- are saying oh, just give us some money from rich people. Look, people don’t want a check, they want a job. And what I want to do is get Americans back to work.

CAVUTO: So when you made that comment last week, sir, in Iowa, that corporations are people, too, your critics, particularly on the left, seized on that to say you were an out of touch elitist.

What did you really mean by that?

ROMNEY: Well, I -- I said it there, which is, look, if you talk about raising taxes on corporations, recognize that you’re raising taxes on people. The concrete and the steel in the corporate headquarters, they don’t pay taxes. It’s people who pay taxes, either the employees or the shareholders -- and, by the way, look at your 401(k). A lot of people are shareholders. And -- and, of course, you can also have customers pay.

So -- so people pay taxes. Corporations are like people. They’re filled with people. And I want jobs. Look the -- I spent my life in the private sector. I’m a conservative businessman. I understand how business works to create jobs, to put people to work.

And America and America’s business sector has been crushed by policies out of this White House that are so wrong-headed; most people in the business world just shake their head. And many of them take their money and go elsewhere.

I want them to come back to America to create jobs here, because I want kids coming out of college to have jobs, I want people who are in their ‘50s that can’t find a job to once again find that people are competing to hire them.

Look, we need to get America on the road to economic prosperity and attacking business like the Democrats want to do and class warfare like, well, like some members of the administration want to do, is simply the wrong way to go.

CAVUTO: You know, Governor, more attention is being paid this week -- and maybe it’s a sign of our times, not so much to what the president is saying, but what, on Friday, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, will be saying. And -- and one of your opponents in the race for the presidency, Texas Governor Rick Perry, has said that the Fed’s behavior, more specifically, buying back these securities and all of this other stuff, printing money, so to speak, is treasonous behavior. He didn’t take that back.

What do you think of that?

ROMNEY: Well, my -- my own view with regards to the Fed is that Ben Bernanke and others are -- are trying to see if they can’t restore economic growth. And the failure of the president’s policies has been so abject that they’re trying through -- through a monetary stimulation to try and get the economy going again.

I don’t attack their motives. But I do believe that a -- another round of -- of quantitative easing, money printing, if you will, is not the right course for the economy and suggests a -- a -- a growth of inflation down the road that may well be very, very difficult to stop.

So I -- I think QE2 was less than successful, but -- but I -- I want to focus my attention on the place where the failure has been most pronounced. And that’s on the -- Obama administration.

Look, if the president would have adopted the policies that Ronald Reagan adopted when Ronald Reagan saw unemployment above 10 percent, we’d be back having millions of jobs created...

CAVUTO: Well, would you be for...

ROMNEY: -- instead, we’re still seeing...

CAVUTO: -- what he -- I’m sorry, sir...

ROMNEY: -- a huge deficit of jobs.

CAVUTO: -- but would you be for what he’s advocating, at least for now, an extension of the payroll tax cut?

ROMNEY: I’m all in favor of keeping taxes down and keeping burdens down in American businesses and -- and employers. I want employers and -- and entrepreneurs to have every incentive to open businesses and to start creating jobs.

CAVUTO: OK. You mentioned Governor Rick Perry -- or I did, and asked you about it. And he -- maybe because you’re the leader in this race, it’s not surprising that he zeroed in on your comment about your business experience. And I think you had said you and Herman Cain are the only ones of the people running now who has any.

He said: "I think its oranges and apples," referring to you. "Running a state is different from running a business. What I would say is go take a look at his" -- referring to your record, Governor -- "when he was governor and my record when I’m governor. Then you’ve got some apples to apples."

And his, he’s saying, is better.

What say you?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, we have a lot of time over the coming months to talk about distinctions between the various candidates. But, really, the place I think I want to focus my time and attention is on the failure of the president. He’s going to come out on November 6th with his jobs plan.

Why hasn’t he come out with it already?

If it’s a continuation of what we’ve seen in the past, we know it will fail.

I’m also in Nevada on -- on September 6th. And -- and I will be coming out with my jobs plan. And it’s going to be very different than his. And if we follow my jobs plan, we’re going to get America working again.

The -- the focus of my effort right now is to make sure that people understand that President Obama and I could not be more different. He spent his life in politics. I spent my life as a businessperson. I know what it takes to get jobs again in this country.

CAVUTO: No one doubts that you have the smarts, Governor. I -- I think what comes up a lot in these polls, this latest one from Rasmussen, which shows the aforementioned Governor Perry leading you. And these things, I know, are just quick snapshots, but that you don’t appear to have the fire or emotion.

I’m just wondering whether that troubles you, of whether it’s going to be something that’s going to dog you, that people just don’t think you’ve got the pizzazz, the oomph, to be president.

ROMNEY: Well, why don’t you go back and pull out the tape from the Iowa State Fair. That may convince you, Neil.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Where you had it out with that protester?

ROMNEY: More than one protester. We had quite a few protesters.

CAVUTO: Well, that’s true. There were a few there.

ROMNEY: Look, I care -- hey, Neil, let -- let me tell you something. You don’t decide to run for president of the United States unless you’ve got fire in the belly, because, let me tell you, there are a lot of incoming shots that come day in and day out.

I care very deeply about this country for myself, for my family, for my grandkids, for the -- for the betterment of the world.

America is the greatest nation in the history of the earth. It’s an exceptional nation. The president has gone around the world apologizing for America. I happen to believe in the principles that made America the leader in the world. And I’ll tell you, I’m in this race because I care about this country. And I happen to have the background, having lived in the private sector for 25 years, been a businessman, a successful businessman -- by the way, I’m not -- I’m not embarrassed about that. The fact that Bain Capital is one of the leading enterprises of its nature in the world is something I’m proud of.

I understand how the economy works and I want to use that skill to get Americans back to work and to get America once again on a ramp to remain as it’s always been the most powerful economic engine in the world.

CAVUTO: Finally, sir, on this Iowa Straw Poll, you were not an active participant in it, but former senator, John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor, as well, blasted the poll as meaningless.

Do you think it was meaningless?

ROMNEY: You know, I think it was a great show of strength for Michele Bachmann and, actually, for Ron Paul, as well. I think both were able to show a great deal of support on the part of -- of people in Iowa. And I think, in the case of Tim Pawlenty, he made a strong effort there, but I -- I think it pretty well suggested to him that that just wasn’t going to work for him.

And so I think it had significance for the people who -- who participated in that -- in that poll. I -- I -- I would, you know, I’d acknowledge the -- the success of someone like Michele Bachmann and -- and Ron Paul and the -- the efforts that they made there.

CAVUTO: All right, Governor, it’s always a pleasure. My best to you and your family. Be well.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: Mitt Romney.

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