Romney: Gingrich's attacks 'sad' and 'desperate'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 30, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Ahead of tomorrow's primary in Florida, the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is sharpening his attacks on his top rival, that being former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Listen to this.


NEWT GINGRICH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the long run, the Republican Party is not going to nominate the founder of Romneycare, a liberal Republican who is pro- abortion, pro-gun control and pro tax increase -- it ain't going to happen.


HANNITY: Now here to respond from the great state of Florida, I guess from The Villages tonight, presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

By the way, that place is America's friendliest hometown. Governor, good to see you again.

MITT ROMNEY, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks so much, Sean. It's great to be here in The Villages and listening to the speaker, you know, as I listen to that. It's really sad.

In some respects, I think it's painfully revealing that he is really having a hard time. Obviously, he knows I'm pro-life, that I respect the second amendment. I don't want to see any new gun laws in this county. He also knows that I've signed a no new taxes pledge and I cut taxes 19 times when I was governor. But I guess desperate times bring out desperate things.

Look, I think this has been an aggressive campaign here in Florida. I got beaten up pretty heavily in South Carolina by very strong attacks. We came back and responded to make sure that my message cut through. I'm pleased with the fact at this stage I'm getting a great response to from the people of Florida and hope to win tomorrow.

HANNITY: You know, Governor Palin wrote this piece. We spoke with her earlier and she made I think a valid point. You've gotten your fair share of attacks and Newt has gotten his fair share and it's gotten back and forth.

She actually thinks that we're going to look back on this primary last week leading up to this and she says something has changed, that this is a disturbing week. And very specifically she is talking about Reagan's eleventh commandment. Is the way to get back on the issues a little bit more and the attacks stop? I mean, you have said he's a D.C. insider, an influence peddler, that he resigned in disgrace. You've had harsh words for the speaker as well?

ROMNEY: Well, I think we have describe our respective views about what qualifies us for the position of leadership. This is after all a grueling test where people get to see the ins and outs and views of the different candidates and their backgrounds.

I'm proud that I spent my life outside Washington and he spent his life inside Washington. And if people think that we need a Washington insider who has lived there since 1978 to change Washington then he is the guy to vote for. If you think we need someone from outside Washington, I am.

But you know, we'll come together, Sean. I can tell you Barack Obama knows how to unify our party like no one else. We want him out of the White House.

HANNITY: All right, fair enough. Let me ask you this, speaking of Barack Obama. Because this campaign in many ways has been aggressive and I think an argument can even be made as much as maybe it's making some people uncomfortable, this may end up being a good process because in the end, it's going to be a billion dollars that is going to be waged if you're the nominee against you. It's going to be a billion dollars against the Republicans. It's going to be you want dirty air and dirty water. You want kids with autism and Down syndrome and the elderly to fend for themselves. That is what they said already.

So I guess, the question is how far if you get this nomination are you willing to go against President Obama? In other words, is Bill Ayers fair game? Is it just the economy or foreign policy. Is some of his background that I think was ignored in 2008, is that legitimate?

ROMNEY: Look, I think anything that is truthful about a candidate is legitimate to discuss in a campaign. I don't think you hide those things. There is no question. President Obama has a lot of explaining to do.

He has failed the American people. He didn't turn the economy around. He didn't get us more safe from Iran and from their nuclear program. He has failed. I will point that out day in and day out. If truth is our standard, we'll win. I'm afraid President Obama will do what he's been doing, which is you know, dissenting from the truth day in and day out. And I think the American people reject that. I think they see through it. I think they've seen through it here. I mean, you just listen to Speaker Gingrich level all these attacks on me. No one believes that. It's been so incredible that people just don't listen anymore.

HANNITY: Do you -- you are not concerned about, for example the picture of Paul Ryan throwing granny over the cliff. Maybe it will be a Mitt Romney lookalike if you get the nomination. That is pretty harsh, and in the past these Mediscare tactics have been somewhat effective. You are not at all concerned about that, that propaganda campaign that is almost a certainty?

ROMNEY: Sean, I think you are absolutely right. I mean, they'll spend a billion dollars doing everything in their power to hang on to power. We're going to have to be able to stand up and fight back hard.

We'll point out for instance with regards to throwing grandma off the cliff ad, that there's only one president in history who cut Medicare by $500 billion, and that's Barack Obama, and he cut it to pay for Obamacare.

Look, he is vulnerable as long as the truth is the standard and his record is what's being examined. So he'll try and divert from that. You're absolutely right. This primary is probably not a bad process to get some of that out there. But we have to go back day in and day out and look at his record and all that he has done that has failed the American people.

HANNITY: Look, as a conservative, I think that to get America back on track, we're going to need some bold change. Let's assume you win the nomination. Let's assume you beat Barack Obama. Let's assume you just got sworn in as president.

Walk us through the first 30, 60, 100 days as president. What do you think realistically you can get accomplished? How much can you do by executive order? How much you think you get accomplished legislatively?

ROMNEY: Well, day one, let's just go through them. I put a halt to Obamacare by granting a waiver to all 50 states. I also would give licenses to those companies that have been approved for drilling for gas and oil on federal lands that are already authorized. Let's get that gas and oil into this country.

I would say with executive order you don't have to necessarily use unions to do work on government projects. I label China as a currency manipulator and if necessary apply tariffs where they are killing American jobs by stealing intellectual property or by hacking into our computers.

Look, we're going to have a program from the very beginning that goes very aggressively to get this economy going. By the way, we'll also lower our tax rates particularly for people in the middle income category. I want folks that are making under $200,000 to be able to save their money tax free.

At the same time, we got to have to keep our attention focused on what is happening internationally, and Iran is a great threat. Iran becoming nuclear is unacceptable to the world and to the United States. We're going to have to develop plans, military plans as options, but also a crippling sanctions program and an effort within the country to disrupt the course of that leadership there. We're going to have to take actions on those two fronts, international and domestic really on day one and in the days that follow.

HANNITY: All right, Governor. It's good to see you again as always. Thank you so much for being with us. We'll be watching the Florida results. We'll be on tomorrow night. We appreciate you being here. We're going to see you in Vegas later this week. We look forward to that.

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

HANNITY: All right, thanks so much.

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