Romney Back in No Spin Zone

GOP presidential candidate reveals his biggest mistake and thoughts on Newt Gingrich and President Obama


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 19, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: All right, Governor, I want to get people to know you a little bit here in a personal sense rather than a policy interview tonight. And the first thing I want to do is run a sound clip from the debate last week on Fox News. Go.


MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have learned over time like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and others my experience in life over about 19 -- 17, 18, 19 years has told me that sometimes I was wrong. Where I was wrong I tried to correct myself.


O'REILLY: What was the biggest thing you were wrong about?

ROMNEY: Well, it was probably about the issue of abortion and life. I have always opposed abortion. But when I ran for office, I thought well, I can say and can understand the idea of leaving the law the way it is. The Supreme Court has made its decision, I'm just going to say I will support the law and preserve the law as it exists.

That was somewhat naive it turns out because when I became governor I found that you can't just support it the way it is. But that... that the law changes overtime. I had a piece of legislation that came to my desk that would redefine when life began in my state would also authorize the creation of embryos for the purpose of experimentation and ultimately destroying them.

And so I said look I am pro-life, I will defend the sanctity at this of human life. I was -- I was wrong.

O'REILLY: So you veto -- you vetoed that bill.

ROMNEY: I vetoed that.

O'REILLY: Right but in the beginning when you were campaigning in Massachusetts, a very liberal state you said look, my personal belief I'm against it but I'm not going to legislate against it because of Roe v. Wade. You think that was a mistake.

ROMNEY: Yes. I think that was a mistake.

O'REILLY: Ok, now people might say well, listen this is the same old Romney because if you do in your heart believe that abortion is killing a human being then you can't really support it no matter what the law says.

ROMNEY: I was simply wrong.

O'REILLY: Did you understand the seriousness of aborting a baby in your heart? What was with your mind set then?

ROMNEY: It's hard to go back in... into that time frame. But my view was that the Supreme Court had made their decision that Roe v. Wade had been settled for 25 years. That I was not going to re-litigate that. Instead that I would just say I would support the law as it existed and preserve the rights that existed under the decision of the court. And what I found was that I could not do that.

O'REILLY: You couldn't live with it yourself.

ROMNEY: So I could not live with it, when it went to -- when I was faced with signing a piece of legislation that would authorize the creation and killing of human life, I could not possibly go along with that.

O'REILLY: Do you consider yourself a conservative thinker?

ROMNEY: I am conservative. I have become more conservative over time.

O'REILLY: You weren't conservative when you were running Massachusetts. You were a moderate in my opinion. What changed you into a more conservative guy?

ROMNEY: Actually, I think my record as governor was a conservative record.

O'REILLY: Yes but I mean, Romney care is not -- not a conservative thing and with all due respect. The thought behind it is the government should get involved with people's health care. That's not a conservative position.

ROMNEY: Actually, the idea as you know came from conservatives at the Heritage Foundation, Newt Gingrich and the idea was this we have today in this country an insistence... insistence that government does treat people. That people that don't have insurance are given free care by government. That was what was going on in my state.

And I said gosh, this is a problem. We're... we're giving to people based upon the premise that government owes these people health care for free. That doesn't make sense. Personal responsibility makes more sense where people should take responsibility for getting their own insurance rather than showing up at the emergency room and expecting government to pay for them.

O'REILLY: Yes but correct me if I am wrong. Personal responsibility doesn't have much though do with Romney care because you forced everybody to buy the insurance. And if they didn't buy it they where sanctioned by the state.

ROMNEY: They -- what they got was a -- a responsibility to pick up a portion of the cost of their health insurance and which -- which in the past they were getting for free.

O'REILLY: I'm trying to figure out why a guy like you with a lot of business experience, a lot of policy experience is going to the right. Why -- why are you going there? Because as you know there are lot of conservatives don't trust you, they think you are a phony, You are not a conservative, you're just doing this because you want to win the primary and then you go back to being a Massachusetts guy again.

ROMNEY: Well, the good news is, I had the same posture and the same views in my last presidential campaign four years ago. And you can go back and look at my record as governor. I didn't raise taxes. I cut taxes 19 times in my state; balanced the budget every year. Put in place a $2 billion rainy day fund.


ROMNEY: Insisted on English immersion in our schools.

The postures on issue after issue I took were entirely consistent with a -- with a -- a conservative view that America is best when we invest in individuals, the responsibility for their own lives.

O'REILLY: Ok. Now the race is coming down between you and Gingrich. And Gingrich is positioning himself to the right of you. And then you say about Gingrich that he's zany.

ROMNEY: Well, his comments about the -- the justices and the Congress sending the capital police to bring in judges that's not exactly a -- a practical idea or a constitutional idea.

O'REILLY: Well --

ROMNEY: And -- and frankly the challenge I have with regards to Newt Gingrich's conservatism is that on the two big conservative movements in the last decade. One the effort to stop cap and trade, he sat on the sofa with Nancy Pelosi. And the second to reform Medicare to make it financially solvent, he called that a right-wing social engineering plan.

O'REILLY: Now Gingrich would say I believe that look, these judges are out of control. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal are saying you can't even have a -- you know "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and they have to be held accountable. A lot of conservatives are going to respond to that.

ROMNEY: Let me tell you there are a lot of decisions by judges I vehemently disagree with. But I also agree with the Constitution. The solution to judges out of control is not to tear up the Constitution and say that the Congress of the United States becomes the now ultimate power in this country that the -- that the Congress --

O'REILLY: Well, what would you do about out of control judges.

ROMNEY: Well the -- the wonderful thing we can do about it is to follow the Constitution. In the Constitution there is a method for removing a justice. There is also a method for reversing their decisions.

O'REILLY: On the gay marriage thing.

ROMNEY: That's -- that's the nature of a democracy.

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