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Hannity

Romney sticks to story on Super PAC ads in post-SC debate interview

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My care about getting in this race is about my belief in America and my concern that what we're seeing with this president is a change in course for America to become something we wouldn't recognize. I think he's drawing us into becoming more like a European social welfare state. I think he wants us to become an entitlement society, where the people in this country feel they're all entitled to something from government and where government takes from some to give to others.

I'm ready to make sure that we don't transform America into something we don't recognize but instead we restore the principles that made America the hope of the Earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome back to this special edition of "Hannity." We're live, we're in beautiful Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And joining me now is the candidate who made history by winning both in Iowa and in New Hampshire, and the man who you just heard from, and that's former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Governor, how are you? Good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Sean. Good to be with you.

HANNITY: You said something there -- and -- that we're going towards or this president is moving towards European socialism. I've asked you this question, but you don't want to say he's a socialist or he's adopted socialist policies. Is it just --

ROMNEY: Oh, I think -- I think some of the policies that he's adopted are very much like the European socialist policies. There's no question but that he wants to see much bigger government. He wants to see it more intrusive. He wants it more regulatorily-driven. He wants to see higher tax rates. He's comfortable with huge deficits. He wants the health care system to be run by the federal government.

Look, he wants to make us almost like another state of Europe. Even as Europe is trying to become more like America, he wants to make us more like Europe. It's the wrong course for America.

HANNITY: Yes. It came up twice in the debate tonight, the issue of Super PACs. You addressed it late in the debate in an exchange with Newt Gingrich, earlier in the debate in an exchange with Rick Santorum. Having interviewed all the candidates, there is palpable anger specifically at your supporting Super PAC.

You don't have any influence over it, but what I think they're arguing and what they're saying is that if you could say, hey, these ads have got to be factually accurate -- have you seen the ads? Do they have a legitimate case? Can you say to them, you know what? I don't agree with that. That's got three Pinocchios, four Pinocchios or whatever it is, and say maybe it's time to pull that?

ROMNEY: Look, and I've said time and again, anything in the ads that's not accurate, please take it off. Look, the other guys on the stage, they have plenty of warts to point at without having --

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: -- plenty of Pinocchios, as well?

ROMNEY: No, they -- well, of course. And -- and Rick -- Rick Santorum says, look, it's not fair that the Super PAC, I guess -- and I haven't seen it, but says that he wants to give voting rights to felons. Well, he wants to give to it people who were former felons. I think they still call people who were in jail convicted of a felony -- they still call them felons.

HANNITY: Right.

ROMNEY: So it is -- apparently, it is accurate. I mean, I -- I haven't seen the ad, but it sounds like it is accurate. And my own view is, people who've committed violent crimes in their past, even though they've served their time, should not be allowed to vote in our system. His view is they should be allowed to vote. And that's why I guess the Super PAC ran that ad, but -- but again, I haven't seen it. We'll let him describe it.

Look, this whole idea that there are these organizations out there that run ads that we, as candidates, can't even talk to, can't tell them what to do and what not to do -- it's an outrageous setting, and it makes us all uncomfortable.

HANNITY: It was interesting because there were two moments tonight you said you were against McCain-Feingold, and John McCain, obviously, is supporting your campaign. And then it came up earlier on the issue of negotiating with the Taliban, an article that was written by one of your advisers on national defense and you distanced yourself on the issue of negotiating with the Taliban there.

How can we interpret that? Does that mean that you can have friends and allies that you're going to strongly disagree with in the administration?

ROMNEY: Oh --

HANNITY: If you were to win.

ROMNEY: Of course. You can't imagine that everybody that advises me has the same position on every issue or that I would agree with them. There's just a wonderful book out on Dwight Eisenhower. Every one of his advisers said that he ought to be using nuclear weapons as part of our tactical warfare capacity, and he said, I'm not going to. He disagreed with all of them.

So I'm happy to get advice from a lot of different people and listen to some things, and I'll agree with them on some, disagree on others. Senator McCain and I -- we've had this decision on McCain-Feingold before.

HANNITY: He and I have had a few heated discussions on it.

ROMNEY: We disagree on that one. I don't think -- you know, I don't think he likes this idea of Super PACs any more than I do. I think where it's gone is not something people are comfortable with.

HANNITY: What about the whole issue of Bain? Came up a lot in the days and weeks now leading up to this debate. I think the strongest language -- and it came up -- was from Governor Perry, "vulture capitalism," casting ethics aside and issues like that. And also the question of how many jobs net-net-net did you create? Was it 100,000 jobs? You mentioned Staples. You mentioned, the sporting goods store that --

ROMNEY: Sports Authority?

HANNITY: Sports Authority, some other --

ROMNEY: Those four alone --

HANNITY: Yes.

ROMNEY: -- Sports Authority, Staples, Bright Horizon Children Centers and Steel Dynamics, have had today about 120,000 jobs. And we were there at the beginning. We helped found them. Of all the companies that I was involved with that actually jobs were lost, they've been reported on by all sorts of people who've investigated this, and it ends up to less than 10,000. So do the math, 120,000 less 10,000, and it's over 100,000.

HANNITY: Can you explain -- maybe -- maybe some people just don't understand what is involved. Some of these companies, were they headed for bankruptcy if they didn't have an infusion of cash? Was the likelihood that they were to go bankrupt high when you invested money in some of the companies? You know --

ROMNEY: Well, some businesses --

HANNITY: In other words, were they going to lose all those jobs?

ROMNEY: Well, some were in real difficulty. I remember one that lost over $50 million the year before we made the investment to try and help turn it around, and it's still in business today, I understand. So in some cases, we were able to make some turnarounds that saved some jobs.

And in my own experience, which is I've run four operations or been the leader of four operations, one a consulting firm, one a venture capital and private equity firm, the other an Olympics and the other a state. All four of those were successful and grew.

And we invested in lots of others, but you know, I'm happy to describe my experience in the private sector. What I think's a little unusual is to have fellow Republicans attacking what is an integral part of our private sector. Michael Moore apparently said today, I think Newt Gingrich is one of the escaped members of my staff. He says, this is what I've been saying for 20 years. It's, like, you know, if you're carrying Michael Moore's water, that's a bit of a problem.

HANNITY: All right. I'll let you bring that up on Newt. You have another debate, I hear, coming up later this week.

Let me ask you one last question before we have to let you go because it's interesting. A lot of people that are writing me are concerned, this is getting pretty personal in these campaigns. Things are getting pretty tough. You've been pretty tough with your ads against Newt, against Santorum, the Super PAC -- actually, not you --

ROMNEY: Actually, not me! Actually --

HANNITY: The Super PAC.

ROMNEY: If you watched the debate tonight --

HANNITY: Yes.

ROMNEY: -- I don't think you heard me criticize anybody on the stage --

HANNITY: No, no, no. I'm talking more about the --

ROMNEY: And likewise, the ads that we have all been positive. And so, you know, I'm going to take exception with the premise.

HANNITY: The premise being the super -- I can tell you from speaking with the other candidates there's palpable anger about these Super PAC ads. And they had wanted you to denounce them and say that --

ROMNEY: Anything that's inaccurate -- and I said this in the last debate -- they should take them off the air.

HANNITY: You haven't looked at them? You haven't seen them?

ROMNEY: No, and -- no, I haven't seen them. I got report of one of them -- I got -- I got the report on one. But the others, I -- and there are a bunch out there. I haven't seen them. The one that Santorum spoke about with regards to felons, it sounds like it's accurate.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Someone who's been in jail is a felon. But anyway --

HANNITY: Any worry that the party will unite behind the eventual nominee? You've won Iowa. You've won New Hampshire.

ROMNEY: None whatsoever.

HANNITY: So this will all --

ROMNEY: Look, look --

HANNITY: -- pass away.

ROMNEY: -- even if it's not me, even if it's someone else, I'm going to unite behind them. We have on that stage five people, any one of which is better than Barack Obama. And we're going to get behind that nominee and make sure that we take this country back.

HANNITY: I don't know if four years ago, people would have predicted that you and John McCain would be getting along as well today, so --

ROMNEY: You know, we're all on the same team. We have some differences. There's no question we have differences, and differences in background. And my -- you know, my life was spent in the private sector, and the other guys spent their time primarily in government. So there are some differences in background. But our views on issues are pretty close.

HANNITY: Pretty nuanced.

ROMNEY: And there's some -- there are some points of significance, but -- but -- where we come different directions, but --

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Ron Paul said zero percentage of the --

ROMNEY: Well, I'm not -- I'm not quite sure how we're going to have a military with zero percent tax.

HANNITY: All right.

ROMNEY: You know?

HANNITY: It was interesting. You notice every number kept going down as they went across.

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: Governor, good to see you again.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Sean.

HANNITY: Thank you so much for being with us.

ROMNEY: Good to see you.

HANNITY: Appreciate it.

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