Mitt Romney Talks with Sean and Alan
This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," May 7, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Last Thursday, 10 Republican candidates squared off in the first presidential debate in the post debate roundup. Many are saying that the first-time contender, Mitt Romney, emerged as the clear winner.
Joining us now, former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.
Thank you so much for being with us tonight.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Alan. Good to with you.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: You spoke with Pat Robertson at Regents University just a couple of days before. He on his Web site, the Christian Broadcasting Network, another entity that Robertson has, says how do I recognize a cult? He says when it comes to spiritual matters "Mormons are far from the truth." Do you have a problem with Pat Robertson saying that about your faith?
M. ROMNEY: No. I think there are differences between different faiths in this country. And there will be battles between different religions.
But what I'm pleased about is that Pat Robertson invited me to speak at Regent University, not because he accepts the teachings of my church but because he believes that the values that I have are values that he shares and that his student body can learn from.
That's a great thing about this country. We don't — we don't decide who's going to be in office based on what church they go to.
COLMES: He seems negative towards your faith. I don't think anybody should be judged on their faith in terms of running for office.
M. ROMNEY: I agree with that, and I think he would agree with you as well. I think he'd say I don't agree with the Mormon church's doctrine, but he'd say, I certainly agree with the values of people like Mitt Romney and others members of his faith. They're doing the best to follow it.
COLMES: The abortion issue keeps coming up. And you were pro-Roe vs. Wade upholding it as governor of Massachusetts. You said just a couple of years ago you had a change of heart about abortion. What happened. Because you later said that a botched abortion in your family had you wanting to uphold Roe vs. Wade.
You then said a couple of years ago you had a change of heart. Can you help us understand what specifically IT was that made you change your view on that?
M. ROMNEY: First, what I found interesting is, had I been pro-life and then changed to pro-choice, no one would ask the question.
HANNITY: That's a great point.
M. ROMNEY: But it's — if you go in the other direction, as I have and as Ronald Reagan did and Henry Hyde and George Herbert Walker Bush, it's like the media can't get enough of how — why did you change?
COLMES: People think it's an election year conversion.
M. ROMNEY: But nobody ever asks that if they go the other way. It's always, like you've come to the side of life.
The truth is, being governor and before I was governor, this is something I thought about, we discussed as a family, I discussed with my staff. We talked about the concerns.
And the point where it sort of went over the edge for me and, of course, it's not just — didn't just come up for the first time but went over the edge we were having this debate on cloning. And I could say where the Roe vs. Wade devaluation of human rights had led. It had led to a point where people were beginning to say now we're going to start cloning embryos. It's like wait a second, this really is going too far.
COLMES: Can you understand why people are saying, "You know what? Mitt Romney had these views as governor of Massachusetts. Now all of a sudden he wants Republican nomination, and now look at the way he's changed his position on gay rights, when you once said, 'I'm as in favor of gay rights as Ted Kennedy'."
M. ROMNEY: I got the same position. You may find some small differences, but I had the same position. I'm not for discrimination against gays. I've never supported gay marriage. I've always been somebody who said look, we need to have marriage as a relationship between and a man and a woman.
But let's — with regards to the issue on abortion, I've been governor four years. You don't have to take my word for it. You can look at what I did as a governor. And as a governor I came down on the side of life. On every piece of legislation that came my way, I was on the side of life.
So it's not just taking my word for it; it's what I have done.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey Governor, good to see you. Welcome back.
M. ROMNEY: Thanks. Good to be with you, Sean.
HANNITY: You got some good news today. A WBZ poll among Life Survey USA. You are in the lead in the important primary state of New Hampshire. That's got to make you feel good today?
M. ROMNEY: It does feel good. You know, I spend most of my time in the early primary states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan, Florida. And those are not randomly chosen. For someone like me, who's a governor, not terribly well known nationwide. You start off in the early primary states. You get known there.
HANNITY: In my last interview with you, that was some time ago, that was one of the questions I asked you. I said 50 percent of people at that time responded they didn't know who you were yet. And you said not to worry, let not your heart be troubled. You feel confident. Now people are beginning to know you.
M. ROMNEY: Well, they're beginning to know me but not very well. Even the 50 percent who know me say, "Yes, I've heard of him but don't know him well." But you know, by the time January comes around, I will be very well known.
HANNITY: I was in Salt Lake City on Friday. You're a rock star out there after you worked on the Olympics, I can tell you that. You know, the defining issue, governor, of our time is this war.
And look, I'm a very opinionated talk show host. And I think Democrats are waving the white flag. I think they are surrendering. I think they're emboldening our enemy, and I think they're undermining the morale of our troops. For example, when Harry Reid says the war is lost.
M. ROMNEY: Huge error. Just outrageous thing for him to have said. I'm sure he wishes he could take the words back. If he doesn't wish it, shame on him.
HANNITY: Are they waving the white flag?
M. ROMNEY: Well, they're setting a date for defeat. And that's a mistake. But they're capitalizing on something that we have to understand. And that is the American people feel like this has not gone like they have had it represented to them.
They thought we were going to be in and out, and then it turns out it hasn't worked at all as they had expected. We were under prepared. We were under planned, understaffed, undermanaged, and there's a lot of anger about how it's not gone like they thought it would.
That being said, pulling out right now has some additional risks for our country that we have to think about.
M. ROMNEY: And those risks are the reason why I support the surge.
HANNITY: It's interesting. Because you talk about — very frankly and openly — some of the differences you have with the president about the war and maybe some of the specificity in terms of what he would do.
But you have kind words for the president, considering the challenging times that we live in. Even though he has low approval ratings. You believe this was still the right thing.
If you had to make the decision, based on what we know now, if you were the president there, do you think you would have done the same thing?
M. ROMNEY: Well, it's a setting that's almost a null set. Which is, if we knew that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, and if he had complied with the United Nations resolutions to allow IAEA inspectors into his country, we wouldn't be having this conversation. We wouldn't have been having the U.N. sanction him. We wouldn't have had the U.S. angry. So it's kind of a null set. It's impossible.
HANNITY: Am I the only one here thinking that in all the build-up to the war that those weapons of mass destruction got moved to Syria?
M. ROMNEY: It's possible. It's entirely possible. But then the question you asked is if we knew what we know now what would we have been done? What did you mean by that? If he was complying with U.N. resolutions we wouldn't be having this conversation.
HANNITY: I keep showing the Democrats — and I debated your old friend, Rocky Anderson in Salt Lake over the weekend. And I show all the Democrats. They all made the same case as the president. All of them. They all voted for the war, voted to fund the war, which is their constitutional authority. They have the power of the purse.
And yet, now they say all the things: "I never would have done this." Isn't there some hypocrisy? Are they playing politics with war? Meaning the people on the left?
M. ROMNEY: Well, that's one of the things that's most frustrating to me, is I go back to something that Senator Vandenberg of Michigan said a long time ago, which is "politics ends at the water's edge."
HANNITY: I love that line. — It's supposed to.
M. ROMNEY: And there — it's supposed to. And I'm afraid that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have gone beyond that water's edge, and it's not — I don't think it's helping them.
COLMES: We're not supposed to have a debate in this country about policy that many feel is not working in this country?
M. ROMNEY: Well, of course we're to have that debate, but having Nancy Pelosi go to Syria, that was a mistake.
HANNITY: By the way — we're going to break it here. The governor's wife is going to join us.
HANNITY: And we now continue with former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. And also joining us now is Mitt's wife, Anne.
Hi. And good to see you again. Welcome back.
ANNE ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Thank you.
HANNITY: So now it's got to be tough. Here's the man you love, you're crazy about him. And you guys have been married how many years now?
A. ROMNEY: Thirty-eight.
HANNITY: All right. You got five wonderful boys.
A. ROMNEY: Five grown boys.
HANNITY: And they're doing well.
A. ROMNEY: Ten grandkids.
HANNITY: And then he makes this crazy idea. He talks to the family and says he's going to be president.
A. ROMNEY: We're totally with him, the whole family. The five boys, the five daughters-in-law, the 10 grandkids.
M. ROMNEY: They're a little young to vote.
A. ROMNEY: Some don't talk yet but they're are still with him. It was a family decision. And I'm convinced he's going to be an awesome president.
HANNITY: I got to know you guys a little bit during the Olympics. I don't know if you remember the first time we met and I interviewed you.
M. ROMNEY: Oh, yes.
HANNITY: And you — so you have a very tight-knit family. I've got to imagine your husband is under fire. Everything he says and does is going to be scrutinized. He has a bunch of crazy guys like us asking him questions, trying to trip him up all the time. Is it hard for you to, as a loving family, to watch that happen?
A. ROMNEY: I think it's probably the hardest on the spouse. I think — and I have sympathy for all candidates that are running. And anyone that puts themselves on the line, Republican or Democrat, there is a family involved. And it's a tough business.
HANNITY: Too personal now, isn't it? Toxic?
A. ROMNEY: It's very — it's very — it gets very ugly. And it shouldn't be that way. I think all of us need to recognize that all of us are doing the best we can.
HANNITY: How — imagine yourself if you were in the White House right now, both of you, and I'll ask you both. And you hear what President Bush is called. He's called a liar.
I debated Rocky Anderson. He called our president a war criminal. The comparisons that are been made. Ads run on these extreme Web sites comparing him to Hitler.
Is that something you ever even think about in this process?
M. ROMNEY: I can't imagine. You know, I just — I think back to it, a statement that was made byAbraham Lincoln long ago. He said, "If — if through this process of being president, I lose all my friends but one, and if that friend is deep inside me, I'll be satisfied."
And I think — I really do think that President Bush has an inner strength and a family support that allows him to continue to guide the affairs of the nation without worrying too much about what other people are saying.
COLMES: By the way, I don't think mainstream Democrats, either compare Bush to Hitler or hate him personally. Most Democrats — most Democrats do not believe that Bush is like Hitler or hate him personally. They disagree with his policies.
HANNITY: They call him a liar.
Nice to meet you. Have you changed Governor Romney's position on anything?
A. ROMNEY: You know, I don't think — I don't think I have. Let's see if he's changed any of my positions. Maybe he's changed more of mine than I've changed his.
COLMES: And you...
A. ROMNEY: We don't agree on everything, I have to say that. And people keep trying to find out what that is...
COLMES: Let me ask you that question.
A. ROMNEY: And Larry King never got it out of me.
HANNITY: Larry who?
M. ROMNEY: Sorry, honey, he's not on another station.
A. ROMNEY: Mike Wallace tried to get it out of me. And you know...
COLMES: Well, it's normal for a husband and wife to disagree and to have different opinion on certain things. But how seriously do you take her counsel and how has that affected your issues, your public policy issues?
M. ROMNEY: Well, Anne and I talk every day, I mean, whether on the phone if I'm traveling or, you know, pillow talk at great length and we talk about things I'm dealing with. And I talk about her day. And she talks about — and I talk about my week. We share those things.
And what's interesting is that Anne has a very unusual ability to judge people's character and to know something about their heart, whether they're — whether they're telling the truth, whether they're a person of integrity...
HANNITY: What does she say about us?
COLMES: Notice she's sitting closer to me, by the way.
M. ROMNEY: I go to her for counsel on people, people that I'm choosing for — to interact with, and get her thoughts.
COLMES: You're his guidance system? You're his reality check?
A. ROMNEY: Well, hopefully, I think in any good marriage that would be the case.
COLMES: What do you see the role as first lady being?
A. ROMNEY: You know, I think to be a loving person that cares deeply about all the citizens.
I think that every — every person in the United States does think highly of Laura Bush. I think she's been a very good role model for all of us. I think we have to recognize that there are human needs, real human needs that we are trying...
COLMES: You would model yourself after Laura Bush in terms of being a first lady?
A. ROMNEY: Well, I think she would be one role model. Eleanor Roosevelt is another wonderful one. I think there have been wonderful first ladies.
COLMES: You know, the name Reagan kept coming up at the debate the other night, 19 times. George W. Bush came up once. Who would you model yourself after as president of the United States? Who do you view as...?
M. ROMNEY: Probably my dad. I love my dad and he is my hero.
A. ROMNEY: Is he asking you to pick a president?
M. ROMNEY: Yes, of course. But if you look over the series of presidents, you'd like to have the strength of character of someone like John Adams.
You'd like to have the passion and the vision for the future of Abraham Lincoln. You'd like to have the energy of Teddy Roosevelt, the enthusiasm for this country. You know, the ability of Harry Truman to make tough decisions and to bring in people of different backgrounds. That was something that I respect...
COLMES: Including Democrats in your administration?
M. ROMNEY: You know, he was able to bring people. I had some of them in my administration as governor.
HANNITY: We've got to run. But you know something? I think you're really shedding light on something when you put yourself in the arena. There's a lot of pressure and it's tough, and it's a big sacrifice. So thank you both for being here. It's good to see you both. Appreciate you being with us.
A. ROMNEY: Thank you.
M. ROMNEY: Thanks, Sean, Alan.
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