Rep. Scott: We need to focus on issues

South Carolina congressman on Gingrich-Romney battle


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 11, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


NARRATOR: Mitt Romney became CEO of Bain Capital the day the company was formed. His mission? To reap massive rewards for himself and his investors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney and them guys, they don’t care who I am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He’s for small businesses? No, he isn’t. He is not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You going to be on the hit list. You know that.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Talk about creating a Mitt storm.

The attack ad to end probably all attack ads, even though its creators aren’t calling it an attack ad, and the best the Romney folks can call it is long, very long, a 28-minute Mitt hit courtesy friends of Newt, as in Newt Gingrich, the former speaker who once said that he would never speak ill of a fellow Republican. But that was before getting pounded in Iowa and then New Hampshire.

This time, Newt Gingrich, or at least those loyal to him, refusing to simply turn the other cheek, now just lobbing a well-placed right hook to Mitt Romney’s cheek and chin and skull. Wow.

Welcome, everyone. I am Neil Cavuto.

And to hear South Carolina Republican Congressman Tim Scott tell it, he has no horse in this presidential race, but he does think ads like these risk making horses’ asses of every Republican in the race.

Congressman, you are not a fan of negative ads in general, but many of those loyal to Newt Gingrich say they are just responding to the ads that were heaped on him by Romney forces elsewhere. What do you say?

REP. TIM SCOTT, R-S.C.: Yes, I certainly am not a fan of negative advertising, but there’s one thing without any question that is true today.

And that is that the winner of the 28-minute commercial is President Barack Obama. Starting and feeding into the cultural war is absolutely, unequivocally wrong for us as a nation and bad for the conservative movement.

When you think about the jobs created with Staples or Domino’s or Sports Authority, I think you have to weigh it, those jobs, into the overall picture of the success of any corporation. This is not assembly for Mitt Romney. This is simply the American dream, having an equity position in this country.

CAVUTO: But, Congressman, the argument has always been -- I believe Newt Gingrich has said this himself -- that better we address these issues now because sure as heck they will come out in a general election about the governor’s Bain Capital days, when we had a buyout firm engaged in this very activity.

Some people may not like it, but he was engaged in it. And he can argue he did create far more jobs than were lost, but now is the time to deal with it.

SCOTT: I would say that my friend Newt probably has not conceded the nomination to Mitt Romney yet. The whole notion that we should prepare simply for the general election wouldn’t be consistent with what I would be doing if I were in one of the other camps, which would be selling Republican voters on why I’m the choice and for the next 10 days or so, spending time, investing time in South Carolina, so South Carolinians understand your road to the White House and how you defeat Barack Obama and not how we give more ammunition to the left.

There’s no question that airing out issues early on may work to the benefit of our nominee, but we ought not cannibalize ourselves. Ronald Reagan and the 11th commandment, I stand by that.

CAVUTO: Congressman, Ronald Reagan wasn’t afraid to use his opponents’ own positions and how they might have shifted, as he did with George Bush Sr. in 1980, without calling it a negative campaign.

So Newt Gingrich’s forces are saying this is hardly negative. Mitt Romney’s folks were saying the ads they had on Newt Gingrich and moneys he might have gotten from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is not negative, just truthful and they felt negative.

But the end result is it is all in the eye of the beholder. You’re right. Where does this go? Where does this leave Republicans in general?

SCOTT: Well, today in South Carolina, my understanding is that Newt Gingrich came out and said some of the ads are crossing the lines. He suggested himself that our focus shouldn’t be on how to eliminate the competition at every and all expenses, but we should focus on what we are going to do in order to make sure that America returns to the road of prosperity with a trajectory of capitalism, because making profit is not an evil.

I think that narrative works really well. Changing positions attack your opponent or talk about your opponent’s record on the issues, especially those issues that affect the future of this country. Talking about those issues are very important to the constituents of South Carolina.

I think we have a very robust conversation, energized folks coming to the state and working very hard to win the nomination, and they should -- they shouldn’t be afraid to shoot at the target. But the question we should ask ourselves, what is that target?

CAVUTO: Congressman, there had been reports earlier on that maybe the pressure that the speaker, former speaker was getting from Republicans who are outraged by this ad had built to a point where he was backing off of it, but indications tonight from Mr. Gingrich’s spokesman, R.C. Hammond, that that is not the case.

Quoting here: "We are not backing off any criticism of Governor Romney and the actions he took as CEO of Bain Capital. We will continue to push for Governor Romney to hold a press conference to explain what decisions he made at Bain and why he made them and the impact they had."

In other words, they are not letting go. If they keep dragging this on, whether for good or ill -- I know your views pretty clear on this, that you would rather they not -- then what?

SCOTT: Well, there is no question that the tactic will find some traction in South Carolina, but the lowest common denominator is all election cycles seems to be the equation of fear plus defining the enemy makes you the champion.

I don’t know that that equation will work very well this election cycle, because we are looking for a visionary who restores hope and confidence in the future of America. As a candidate, the more we focus on why we are the choice and what delineates that, we are far better off.

CAVUTO: All right.

SCOTT: And if we do that, our presidential nominee will be in a stronger, better position to restore confidence in the American dream and the future.

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, sorry to jump on you there. Thank you very, very much. Good having you on.

SCOTT: Yes, sir. Thank you, Neil.

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright CQ-2012 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.