Mitt Romney Makes Closing Argument in Iowa

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 15, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MITT ROMNEY: This is a president who fundamentally believes that this next century is a post-American century. Perhaps it's going to be the Chinese century. He's wrong. It has to be the American century.

America has to lead the free world.


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    ROMNEY: And the free world has to lead the entire world. The right course under President -- Obama's plans is to shrink our military, thinking somehow if we appease or accommodate the tyrants of the world, that the world will be safer. He's wrong.


    SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome back to this post-debate spin room edition of "Hannity." We're live in Sioux City, Iowa.

    Now, starting early in tonight's debate, former speaker -- former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney began making his case into why he believes he's the best candidate to take on President Barack Obama in 2012.

    And joining me now is, the man himself, Governor Romney. How are you? Good to see you.

    ROMNEY: Hi, Sean, good to see you.

    HANNITY: All right. So, Newt Gingrich was just on. And he actually said that you too have become -- he's come to really -- you guys have gotten closer. You know, I don't know necessarily --we didn't see all this on stage -- and he has come to respect you a lot. And he said when he responded to you yesterday with the Bain Capital, and which I asked him about, he said that he shouldn't have responded, he gave that round to you. So --

    ROMNEY: That is very nice of him. Look. I can handle almost anything that's going to get thrown by my colleagues on the stage because I know what going to come from President Obama is going to be a lot tougher. And, you know, I've got broad shoulders and I can handle it. And you know it's appropriate for us to talk about the various differences that we have with candidates on stage. Let people take a chance to get an opportunity to see what we believe. But this is now the time for closing arguments here in Iowa, because people are going to be voting in just a couple of weeks and I want them to hear why I ought to be the nominee.

    HANNITY: What I really took note of tonight was, you went after the president and said he was weak talking about foreign policy. You really went at him in a strong way tonight. Do you think he has adopted an appeasement mentality? Is he making the country more dangerous? Is he weak as a president?

    ROMNEY: Well, the greatest threat that America faces in the near term is a nuclear Iran. And if you ask the question, have we somehow dissuaded Iran from their nuclear ambition, the answer is no. The president had an engagement policy he spoke about. Ever since it's been an engagement policy. It's been in placed over the last three years. Things have gotten worse with Iran. They're moving towards a nuclear capability. They supplied Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban. They were not in a better position there.

    And then, with regards to peace in Israel, are we closer there? He was very critical of President Bush for not establishing a Middle East peace agreement between the Palestinians and in Israel, we're no closer than we were under President Bush. And look at the relationship we have Russia. They continue to be resurgent and aggressive. China is becoming assertive. This president has failed us in some of the most important arenas in the world.

    HANNITY: Right after the debate, we had Frank Luntz on. And I said to -- I asked him to assess the strength and weaknesses of every candidate in the debates tonight. And he said no weaknesses for you. He thought tonight was your best performance.

    Is it -- did you feel this was a strong night for you? As you're up there, do you feel you gain confidence as going on? Did you feel that yourself?

    ROMNEY: Well, you know, we've had -- I don't know, 10, 12, 13 debates by now? And I've been pretty pleased with the debates before this. You really can't shape exactly which questions you get. And so, some probably are better than others, but this is a good chance for me, and I think for the others to describe why they ought to become the nominee of our party. I think that questioner asks questions that are elicited our distinctive capabilities, that was -- that was a good thing.

    HANNITY: There is a lot, obviously, that you, you all agree on together here. You know what was interesting, one thing I didn't know that I learned about you tonight and I like to think I knew at this point, I've known everything about you. And I've -- I will not ask you about Romneycare. I didn't know that it was 85 percent democratic legislature in Massachusetts?

    ROMNEY: Yes.

    HANNITY: And I didn't know the process of selecting judges either. When the question came up about three quarters of the judges being Democrats, I didn't know that process also included a lot of Democrats having approved.

    ROMNEY: Yes. I mean, there are things that people in my legislature -- I'll tell you, when I recognized, you know, you've got 85 percent Democrats in the legislature and my veto can be overturned at will. I vetoed some 800 times in Massachusetts.

    HANNITY: That's a lot.

    ROMNEY: But the legislature had the power just to brush those aside if they wished. And I found ways to use my power. I had some power of course. And I also found some persuasiveness and built a relationship with respect with leaders and so, we were able to work together.

    But you know, it's very different governing in a state where your legislature is the most one-sided Democratic legislature, I believe in the country versus one where you have all Republicans.

    HANNITY: Some people like me sitting at a table with five Bob Beckels, that's how I look at that.


    HANNITY: I watched the last debate on Saturday night. And I thought that was a good debate. And then, I am watching the spin immediately thereafter. And the big news to come out of this debate tonight is Mitt Romney made a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry. And I'm thinking, how many times I've done that on TV which is quite often. I thought it was a bit superfluous, a little petty, what did you think of the reaction to that? Were you surprised that became an issue of there the --

    ROMNEY: You know that's a nature of this process. You can't gauge what is going to get focused upon. And what, if you will, what main stream media is going to try and pump up, what the Democratic National Committee was trying to push. You know, you sort of laugh at that and brush it aside. You know Ann said to me afterwards, gave me a big hug and kiss, she said I did a great job. She said Mitt there are a lot of things you do real well. Betting isn't one of them.


    HANNITY: Your wife said that?

    ROMNEY: Yes. Ann said that.

    HANNITY: My wife said that when I played blackjack once or twice.

    ROMNEY: So, I'm not going in for anymore bets in these debates.

    HANNITY: You talked about something that really got my attention tonight too when you talked about an American century and then, comparing it to Barack Obama, not America in decline. Do you think the world is viewing America in decline?

    ROMNEY: No question.

    HANNITY: And do you think that we -- how do you turn it into an American century, because you are really talking about a 180 degree turn around?

    ROMNEY: Yes.

    HANNITY: Most Americans think their kids would not be better off. This will be the first generation where we don't hand off a stronger country.

    ROMNEY: The two inputs to making this an American century are one, our values and our commitment to principals, that freedom of opportunity, a merit-based society, a family-oriented society. That's one input.

    The other input is an economy that leads the world. And for that to happen we have to make America the best place in the world for innovation, for entrepreneurs, for business small and business large. This president has made America less and less attractive for investment and innovation. And as a result, it's going elsewhere. So that is what we have to do to make this an American century.

    HANNITY: The president has been moving class warfare as you know. Says Republicans want dirty air, dirty water. He says Republicans want old people, kids with autism and Down syndrome to fend for themselves. Pretty outrageous charges.

    ROMNEY: It's really shameful.

    HANNITY: Explain. And how do you counter that if you get this nomination?

    ROMNEY: You know, I think the president has gone from being a failed presidency, a guy over his head, to someone who is now so desperate to get re-election, that he's doing things that are very much counter to the interest of the country, and he knows it.

    In the past I think he was just misguided. Now, I think he really knows that his decision on Afghanistan to pull the troops out couple of months earlier than commanders suggested, was not a wise thing for the country. The Kestone pipeline. He knows we need that oil. He knows the consequences. But in order to hold on to his power, he's willing to tip his hat to the extreme environmental lobby in his party. It's really an unveiling of the president that is not a flattering picture that we see.

    HANNITY: How important is Iowa? New Hampshire is viewed as a strong state. You're leading in the polls in New Hampshire. It's very tight here in Iowa. And one poll that came out today, it was one point very close.

    How important is it? What position do you need to come in here to stay strong going into New Hampshire?

    ROMNEY: You know what? I know it's going to fly in the face of what everybody in the media wants to see, which is each state, you know, this state is be all and end all.

    Look, everybody wants to win Iowa. You know, we all hope to do that. But the truth is, this process is going to go on for a while. We've got to get 1,150 delegates -- the way the Democrats did. It's the way we allocate our delegates now. This can go on quite awhile.

    I hope to do well early. I hope to get support of Iowa. But I'm counting on getting every state. I won't get all the early states. I want to get as much support as I can and I want to make sure as big states come along, I've got the resources to carry a campaign forward and get the delegates I need to become the nominee.

    HANNITY: Governor, great to see you again. Thank you so much for being with us.

    ROMNEY: Thanks, Sean, great to see you.

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