Romney: General Election Will Get 'Real Ugly' for 'Flailing' Obama

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The team of left-wingers plotting the president's re-election campaign are turning their attention to GOP frontrunner, that's former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. And they are getting ready to wage an unprecedented smear campaign against the president's rival.

Now according to, the president's aides and advisers are plotting a quote, "ferocious personal assault" on the former governor, who by the way will join me in just a moment.

Now one Obama insider told Politico quote, that, "Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney."

Now that must be the civil rhetoric that the president called for just a few months ago.

Now the Romney campaign for its part is saying that quote, "Neither despicable threats nor President Obama's billion dollar negative campaign will put Americans back to work, will save their homes or restore their hopes."

Governor Romney's campaign is about to face a challenge of its own right but that is Texas Governor Rick Perry prepares to announce his candidacy this weekend. And national polls, Perry is running just behind Romney.

And joining me now to respond to all of this is the former Massachusetts governor, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Governor, how are you?

MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm terrific, Sean. Hope you are doing well.

HANNITY: I'm doing well. All right. Well, "kill Romney." What happened to that hope, change and civil discourse thing?

ROMNEY: I guess those things have gone out the window. And you have to understand why of course. Because if the president were required to run on his record, he wouldn't stand much of a chance. His record of course is awful, you've got 25 million people that are out of work or stopped looking for work or in jobs well beneath their skills. You got a home values going down. S&P just reduce our credit worthiness. First time in American history that's ever happened. The American people know that the president's policies domestically have failed. And as a result of those failures, the people of America simply could not consider re-electing Barack Obama as president. And so, he is resorting to destroying the candidate who is going to run against him. I hope I'm that candidate. And it's unfortunate, but it's the reality of a president that's flailing and trying to find some way to hold on to his job.

HANNITY: You know, I can't imagine a headline, you know, with the Republican strategist in the headline, "kill" whoever, name the Democratic person, I just can't imagine there not being frankly, a lot of outrage, I don't think there's been enough of it.

You know, if you were to win the nomination, are you ready for this fight? Are you ready, in other words, it sounds like this will be one of the most brutal presidential campaigns in history, what is your strategy? Do you fight fire with fire? Do you fight back? Or, how do you respond to stuff like this?

ROMNEY: Well, of course you fight back. The president is going to go after every dimension of warfare he can think of, then of course you respond aggressively and dynamically and you point out not personal failings, those are not relevant right now. The American people want to know who can get this economy going again. And you fight back by pointing out the president's remarkable failures. You know, I don't happen to think he's a bad person. I just think he's in way over his head. And with people suffering in this country, they recognize that we need new leadership and a new direction.

And I think you bring home to people day in and day out. This was the president who said, if we allowed him to borrow $787 billion for a stimulus that he would hold unemployment below eight percent. It hasn't been below eight percent since. The record of failure is so stark, you hammer him with that day in and day out. I think the American people are going to look beyond the personal attacks that are coming from his campaign, and by the way, Sean, I'm expecting it's going to get real ugly. My guess is, you're going to see all sorts of things, drudged up and made up and puffed up. And the American people are going to look beyond it and say, you know, what? We want to know who can get jobs again in this country and keep America strong.

HANNITY: Is it just that he's in over his head or it's a little more complicated than that? In other words, is it that he holds to that rigid ideology, black liberation theology, which is rooted in social justice and entitlement society. What do you think of this? I mean, you have two- and-a-half years to look at him as president.

ROMNEY: Well, I think it's both things, I think he's in over his head. I also think that the direction he would take us is simply wrong for America. Almost every action he has taken has made it harder for entrepreneurs and businesses to expand employment or to grow. And you think of it piece by piece. His stimulus created 130 some odd thousand government jobs while he lost a million private sector jobs.

Obamacare, you name any employer in this country who thinks that Obamacare has made them decide to add more people? No way. Than stacking the national labor relations board with labor stooges. That doesn't make it more likely for people to hire individuals into their businesses. Dodd-Frank, the financial regulatory reform, 2,000 pages of new legislation related to financial services. Banks pulled back their lending in part because of Dodd-Frank.

Virtually everything he's done is exactly the opposite of what was needed to get this economy going. And so, you go back to that wonderful statement by Ronald Reagan, that it is not the liberals are ignorant, it is just what they know is wrong.

HANNITY: OK. That's one of my favorites, by the way. Let me ask you this, why not -- I'll be in Iowa tomorrow night. We'll be doing the program from the debate, post debate. We'll be doing the show from the Iowa fair on Friday, and we will be there for the straw poll on Saturday. Why did you forego the straw poll?

ROMNEY: Well, as you know I participated in a major way in a straw poll four years ago. And by virtue of doing so, made a lot of friends across the state, established a political structure which will help me in the caucuses coming up. So, some of the benefit I already was able to accrue based upon what happened last time around. And I want to use my financial resources and my time this time to actually get delegates. Not just straw polls that are nice but don't get you delegates. And so, I'm not going to participate in the straw polls anywhere in the country whether it is Iowa, or Florida or Michigan. These are states I'm going to compete in very aggressively to get the delegates when the real contest comes along. But straw polls, I've been there, had that experience, learned from it. And we are going to try to get the nomination this time.

HANNITY: After this latest round of negotiations, compromise, the deal that came on the debt ceiling, you were very public and very critical. Originally, I know you did support "Cut, Cap and Balance." Governor Palin was on this program, she was critical of you for maybe not injecting yourself. She said she has a lot of respect for you. She wanted you to speak out more, as the debate was going on. And maybe a little more forcefully. Was there -- do you think that maybe publicly, as a candidate, were you purposely holding back a little bit, do you think maybe you wanted to let Washington work this out?

ROMNEY: Well, actually this is a critical issue, of course. I mean, government is on a road of fiscal irresponsibility which is threatening our future. And as a result, having looked at this for some time, I signed a pledge saying that I would not support raising the debt ceiling, unless we cut federal spending, cap federal spending as a percentage of the total economy and put in place a balanced budget amendment, that's my position. I was asked about that throughout the process. I continue to say, look, I'm not going to sign up for the Boehner deal or for the McConnell deal or, you know, for the Harry Reid deal. I'm not going to comment on those deals. My position is, "Cut, Cap and Balance." And that's my position throughout the entire process. I did my --

HANNITY: Is that -- I'm sorry, Governor, I thought you were finish. Is that your prescription now? Because look, every single year, this is all about baseline budgeting, we are go to increase spending eight percent a year, throughout this entire decade, I mean, a minimum, we're going to accumulate another $8 trillion in debt on top of the 16.7 we now have on the books for. So, the question is, at some point, for example, Connie Mack has a plan, the Penny plan, free spending at 2011 levels, cut one percent every year for six years, then two years of 18 percent sending of GDP historical average. And we balance the budget in eight years. Would you support something that radical? Or what would you support, "Cut, Cap and Balance"? Where do you go if you get the presidency?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, Connie Mack's idea sounds very interesting. I haven't seen the specifics of the plan. But it sounds like the right steps, certainly.

Look, we have gone from government at all levels, the federal, state and local level from being roughly 27 percent of our economy, that was during the Kennedy years, to today, 37 percent of our economy. And the Democrats say, just let us tax you some more, let us take some more of your economy. Look, we are inches away from no longer having a free economy. And I say, look, I'm just not willing to keep government growing.

And so, I'm insistent that we cap the amount of government spending as a percentage of the total economy and we balance our budget. Those are principles that for me are critical. And I'm going to fight for those things. And if I'm president of the United States and particularly, if we have Republicans in both Houses and a majority in both Houses, you are going to see us finally draw a line on the growth of government. We cannot go on with government borrowing more and more and eating more and more into the future of America's economic vitality. I simply, I'm not going to allow that.

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