Interviews

Ann Romney on how Mitt would have handled ISIS

Has he ruled out another run?

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 23, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Maybe, maybe, maybe. If things had gone differently for Mitt Romney back then, would things be different for America, maybe the world right now? The threat of ISIS is growing.

And if what Ann Romney just told me is right, her husband would have hit the ground running.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAVUTO: When you see what`s happening in the globe and then you`re talking about the beheading of these Americans and others and ISIS, the Democrats are quick to point out, well, you know, ISIS would have been a problem whether Mitt Romney got elected or it was the president. It doesn`t matter. ISIS is out there. ISIS is real. A President Romney would have had to face the same reality.

What do you say?

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Well, that is all true.

However, I think he would have had a status of forces agreement on -- in Iraq. I don`t believe ISIS would have had the invasion that they have -- they`ve had. They wouldn`t have had the ability to -- I think he would have tried to arm the moderates in Syria. I think there`s other things that would have happened that would have made the equation a little bit tilted in our favor.

Those people are not going to go away. This is a generational problem. And the sooner we realize, I think, as Americans, that it`s not an easy solution and it`s not going to go away, but to be really aware of how dangerous the situation is -- I think Mitt was very aware how -- how precarious it was.

CAVUTO: Does he ever say would have, should have, could have?

ROMNEY: No, he doesn`t.

CAVUTO: Really?

ROMNEY: No.

CAVUTO: So when he`s looking at 2016 -- he says he`s not interested. I`m thinking of Anthony Scaramucci, of course who is now a contributor on Fox Business, which, Ann Romney, if you don`t get, you should demand.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But, anyway, he was saying, as a former Romney finance co-chair, I think he`s going to do it, talking about your husband.

ROMNEY: Ah.

CAVUTO: He`d be the number one draft pick -- pick. He would certainly be mine.

ROMNEY: We like Anthony. We like Anthony`s enthusiasm.

We -- we are so grateful for so many of our supporters that continue to, you know, cheer us on and -- and give us -- make us feel good that, you know, they -- they supported the right guy.

But Mitt and I, at this point, are not making plans.

CAVUTO: When you say not making plans, things have a way of making the plans for you.

One scenario out there, Mrs. Romney, is that Jeb Bush doesn`t run after all, and your husband has sized up the landscape and that a lot of his supporters, past and present, said, you have the name recognition, you have the Reagan example of the third time was the charm for him, and that it`s been done before.

ROMNEY: Mm-hmm.

CAVUTO: And -- and that would be appealing.

ROMNEY: Well, we will see, won`t we, Neil?

I think Jeb probably will end up running, myself. I think, you know, he -- people probably are looking at it, that he`s probably looking at it very carefully right now.

CAVUTO: But why would his entrance in the race matter to -- to your supporters or not?

ROMNEY: Well, I think, you know, he would draw on a very similar base that we would draw on.

And I think -- I`m sure he`s considering it very seriously right now.

CAVUTO: Do you have, if your husband chooses not to run, just like you said he doesn`t want to run, do you have any candidates who intrigue you, impress you?

ROMNEY: You know what? I wish I could see some women out there. I love Nikki Haley.

CAVUTO: Yeah.

ROMNEY: You know, there are some others out there, Susana Martinez, that I think are intriguing.

CAVUTO: They`re all men right now.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: I know. I know. It`s a -- I`d love to see more women participate.

CAVUTO: What...

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Kelly Ayotte, by the way, and people...

CAVUTO: Sure, a rising star.

ROMNEY: She`s a -- she`s a wonderful, wonderful friend, and I...

CAVUTO: What about you? Are you not interested in politics in that sense...

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Not in that sense, no.

CAVUTO: Are you bitter about the experience?

ROMNEY: No. No. A wonderful experience. A wonderful country. It was a worthy cause. I believed in my husband. I believe, still, in my husband. I think he would have made a terrific president. I think he would have been extraordinary as a president.

But, you know, politics and baseball, you don`t get do-overs.

CAVUTO: No, you don`t. Well, actually, you do. Some have had those chances.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: I don`t mean to belabor the point, Mrs. Romney, but I would want to touch on -- on the prospective camp that`s out there, the field of candidates that are out there.

They don`t jazz people. And when polls have been done in key early states, for example, Iowa, your husband right now, on a list of all those big names, including Chris Christie, and Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, on and on, wins by a country mile. He garners almost half the poll`s vote.

ROMNEY: That was actually pretty shocking.

CAVUTO: That was very shocking.

ROMNEY: That was actually pretty shocking.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: We could make the argument that you have a home there and all.

ROMNEY: Yes.

CAVUTO: But those are pretty impressive numbers.

Did you guys talk about it and say, gee?

ROMNEY: Well, we -- we do just see them and we`re like, wow, that`s -- that`s -- it feels good.

I mean, honestly -- I have to be honest. It does feel good, because I do think people recognize that Mitt was right and that he would have been a good president.

And so, you know, that does make you feel good. But it still doesn`t change our mind as to -- as to where we`re going.

CAVUTO: And which is not going for a presidential run?

ROMNEY: At this point, Neil, we have no plans.

CAVUTO: OK.

I`m parsing words again, because I mentioned some of the things that have happened since the election. For me, the Netflix documentary humanized your husband. I mean, a lot of people who`ve covered him over the years kind of knew that part of him, knew that part of you. It was a surprise to many in the nation, A, that you could mess up his hair -- I didn`t know that was possible.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: And then, then, with the ice bucket challenge, it was one thing you doing it, then seeing your husband doing it in a suit.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: I thought it was funny. I...

CAVUTO: But, again...

ROMNEY: He`s a funny guy.

CAVUTO: ... these are all things that -- that showed another side of him.

ROMNEY: Right.

CAVUTO: Do you ever say, gee, darn it, if we had not...

ROMNEY: Well, it...

CAVUTO: ... been so stiff?

ROMNEY: Well, I don`t know if that`s -- I never -- you know, I certainly know him. I know who -- what he`s like and I know he`s not. So, for me, it was a frustration always...

CAVUTO: Yes.

ROMNEY: ... that was -- he was -- people were not seeing him in the light that I wished he could have been seen, which, you know, obviously was seen through the Netflix documentary and other things. That is a frustration.

And, you know, it`s a -- it`s very hard when you have a billion dollars being spent against you to try to portray you in a certain way, and sometimes not always the friendliest media environment. You know, it`s -- it`s hard to re -- to define yourself in a way that is accurate.

And, you know, I think -- you know, we -- we`ve got to be more careful about getting it right and I...

CAVUTO: It is a grueling process, isn`t it?

ROMNEY: It`s pretty tough.

CAVUTO: I mean, your husband what, more than two dozen debates -- overkill, too much?

ROMNEY: Too many debates, for sure.

CAVUTO: Yes.

ROMNEY: Too many debates.

CAVUTO: Would you recommend...

ROMNEY: I -- I think...

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: ... the recommendation has already happened, that Reince Priebus has organized it in such a way that there will be fewer debates, which is a good thing, I think.

And so, you know, I`d like to make this process easier on those that are going to be running in the future. And raising the money is -- took 80 percent of our time.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: That`s a huge part, right?

ROMNEY: I -- and people don`t appreciate that -- you know, because they`re not seeing you do that all the time. But that`s where you spend a majority of your time. And that`s not right either.

CAVUTO: Does it bug you when the -- someone like a Rand Paul comes along and says, we need to get away from moderate nominees?

That`s a not-so-veiled reference to your husband and John McCain before him. What do you think of that?

ROMNEY: It`s just politics. And, you know, I don`t -- Rand is a nice guy and, you know, people have to do what they have to do. And I -- it doesn`t -- it doesn`t bother me at all.

CAVUTO: You don`t take any personal...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: ... from that?

ROMNEY: I really -- I really don`t.

And, you know, it`s a -- it`s -- even in this business, you know, with the media, you try not to take offense with some of the things that are written and said, too, because you know this is something you just have to keep always going out and trying to fight your own battle and -- and just be positive and optimistic.

And, you know, we again have an extraordinary government and country. And we need to preserve it. And so, for me, I hope the best people get out there and make a go of it.

CAVUTO: I`m going to mention the -- another example, the Richard Nixon example. In his wilderness years, in 1966, he campaigned actively for a lot of Republicans. It was a comeback year for Republicans. They gained 47 House seats, a few Senate seats. And a lot of people looked to Richard Nixon as a guy, hey, you made that possible.

Now, your husband has been busy campaigning for a lot of Republicans.

ROMNEY: Right.

CAVUTO: He`s in big demand. No doubt we`re going to see Republican pickups in the House. You could even see a Republican Senate. You could make a convincing argument that your husband contributed to that if it comes to pass.

That would be more ammunition for a run, right?

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Well, we`ll see.

I -- I think that -- you know, we -- as -- as we speak, we are working, because, obviously, the midterms are coming up and it`s important that we have -- to regain the Senate, I think it would be a very important step. I would like to win it. I`d like to retain it in the `16 cycle as well. I think that will be tougher, but...

CAVUTO: Yes.

ROMNEY: ... you know, we`re -- we`re out there fighting that fight and...

CAVUTO: Are you part of that fight, or is it largely your husband at those...

ROMNEY: It`s largely Mitt right now.

CAVUTO: Was it a draining experience for you? I say this and I disclose this myself. I have M.S. I know you have M.S. And I would always scrutinize you very closely during the campaign how you were holding up. It is a very exhausting process.

So, does that ever enter the equation for you, that...

ROMNEY: Yes.

CAVUTO: I don`t know.

ROMNEY: I don`t know. It doesn`t really -- it`s not part of an equation, you know, my -- my illness, for how I live my life.

So, no, I -- I have -- I know, like you, what I have to do to keep myself healthy. And I can`t overtire myself. And so even on the campaign, I would go for three days and maybe be off for three days, so people wouldn`t really be aware of...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But you hurt me with this posture of yours, because I like to play a victim a lot...

ROMNEY: Oh.

CAVUTO: ... and use it as an excuse. You weren`t helping my cause.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: I -- I`m sorry about that.

CAVUTO: It`s OK. Bygones are bygones.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But how are you feeling now?

ROMNEY: I feel absolutely terrific. And, you know, we`re -- Mitt and I are enjoying our family so much. We had a great trip with the grandkids this summer. Very humbling to have to hike with 10 -- 10- and 12-year- olds. So...

CAVUTO: Were you surprised? I think it was one of our summer trips, I think, at your home in New Hampshire, and it was on Facebook. You had all these likes, 30,000, 40,000 likes, whatever.

I have no idea what that means, but it means that a lot of people are interested in seeing photos of you and the family. Thirty-five grandchildren?

ROMNEY: No, no, that`s a lot more than we have, but that`s OK -- 22.

CAVUTO: Oh.

ROMNEY: There`s like 30...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, 30 with...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: ... all the kids and all that.

ROMNEY: With all the kids.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Holy cow.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Yes.

CAVUTO: Do you all remember them? Can you call them...

ROMNEY: They`re vaguely familiar to me.

CAVUTO: OK. OK.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Because I don`t remember my three.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: I just -- I mix them up.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: No, they`re vaguely familiar.

CAVUTO: OK.

ROMNEY: We...

CAVUTO: All right.

ROMNEY: ... we know them, we love them, we cherish them.

CAVUTO: Were you surprised that it got the reaction it did on social media?

ROMNEY: Oh, you mean for my summer trip?

CAVUTO: Because it occurred -- yes. It occurred right around the time of the president`s.

ROMNEY: Well...

CAVUTO: That did not get nearly...

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: It was -- it was pretty -- it was pretty interesting.

But we -- it was also pretty funny. I mean, there`s one picture of Mitt and I jumping off a waterfall in our bathing suits, with all the grandkids with us, like, leaping over this cliff that, you know, I think, it was like, whoa, is that what they do?

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Yes.

ROMNEY: So, I think it was -- you could see we were having fun. We were having a lot of fun.

CAVUTO: That was very crazy stuff to do.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: We -- we -- we were a lot -- one day, we hiked nine hours. We were rappelling that day. I mean, it was a real wilderness trip.

CAVUTO: Really?

ROMNEY: It was a real...

CAVUTO: You ever hear of a hammock?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: We had to toughen...

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: No, we have to toughen those kids up.

CAVUTO: Really?

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: All right. I could introduce you to a whole different vacation style, but that`s another interview.

I -- I`d like to get your thoughts. Debbie Wasserman Schultz made a comment not too long ago, Democratic Party bigwig, said, "Scott Walker," referring to the Wisconsin governor, "has given women the back of his hand. And I know that it`s stark." She goes on to say, "I know that it`s direct, but that is reality."

In other words, that some Republicans quickly interpreted that, well, the war on women campaign is still on.

ROMNEY: It`s ridiculous, honestly.

I mean, I don`t think they`re getting very far with that, by the way. It`s not going to work. I think women are a lot smarter than that. And that`s kind of offensive me, to tell you the truth. And Scott Walker is a good guy and he`s got a wonderful wife and he, you know, values women. And, you know, that just -- that just doesn`t fly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAVUTO: Ann Romney.

We shall see.

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