Governor Mitt Romney on Paul Ryan, the convention, and abortion
HH: Joined now by the next president of the United States, Governor Mitt Romney. Governor, great rally in Michigan today. At least the broadcast looked pretty good.
MR: It was a great rally, and I’ve got to tell you, it was emotional for me seeing so many people there, so many friends welcoming Ann and me back to the place we were born and raised. It’s really very touching and very encouraging.
HH: I think a lot of people would love to see your wife give her speech on Monday night. But the networks have decided to show some reruns, Governor. It’s an abdication of their essential responsibility. What do you make of that?
MR: You know, I’m really disappointed that we can’t have four hours of total broadcast of the Republican Convention. They’re going to give us, you know, one hour a night for three nights, so a total of three hours. But you know, we are talking about the direction of the country, and a little disappointing. But I should tell you that we’ve found a good way to make sure that Ann makes it on TV. We’re going to have her speak on Tuesday night. And now Marco Rubio, by the way, was generous in offering to give up his slot just before I speak. But I want to have him speak. I want to hear him speak, so Ann’s going to be on Tuesday, Marco Rubio is going to stay on Thursday, just before me.
HH: Oh, that’s good rescheduling. But I must remind everyone, whenever PBS is up for funding, we’re told by everyone that not everyone has cable. So when I hear all the network execs saying you can watch Monday night on cable, it’s simply not, it’s not honest. It’s very cynical. And I think part of it is driven by ideology as opposed to money. What do you think, Governor?
MR: Well, you know, I’m disappointed, I must admit. And I know that a number of the networks are looking to put money to the bottom line, and they may not think that three hours or four hours of broadcasting a convention makes economic sense for them. But let me tell you, this is an important time for our nation. We’ve got a lot of people out of work, we face some real challenges, particularly from an Iran which is bent on becoming nuclear, and I think it makes sense to have a chance for people to listen to both people talk about getting the country back on track.
HH: I’m glad to hear that Mrs. Romney will be speaking on Tuesday night. Now I’m curious, I know you’re working on your speech. Are you two collaborating? Does she work on hers? Is she reading you her notes and vice versa?
MR: Well, you know, she has worked on hers a good deal. I helped out a little bit, not much, but hers is all ready. Mine is still a work in progress, kind of early stage, so I’m still working hard. Your input, Hugh, would be greatly appreciated.
HH: Oh, perhaps something. Now I want to ask you, though, about how I opened the show. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is lying about your abortion rights position. Anderson Cooper called her out on it, but every Democrat is out there lying about your abortion rights position.
MR: Well, that’s disappointing. I guess we’re finding that the truth is a very early victim of an Obama campaign. But look, we know where the world is with regards to abortion, that the Supreme Court has treated as settled abortion law ever since Roe V. Wade. But I believe that the Court made the wrong decision, and I would like to see it overturned. And as president, I will appoint strict constructionist judges, and if they do reverse Roe V. Wade, then the issue should be left to the people and their elected representatives. And as you know, my own view is that I oppose abortion except for cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened. And I just, I also should note as well, I just don’t believe people who oppose abortion should have to be subsidizing a practice that violates their conscience and their principles. So I don’t think we should be funding Planned Parenthood. But that’s my view on abortion, and people who are distorting for their political purposes, I think, are making a very unfortunate turn on, for an issue that’s very sensitive, and where people of good faith can come out in different places.
HH: Now Governor, I want to switch to what I think is going to be the central issue of the fall, and the President summed it up by saying this.
BO: You didn’t build that.
HH: Now last week, I was out with a very successful entrepreneur, Bob Waldorf. He sold his idea factory company, and he was telling me about the years he poured into it and that he built it. And I read your Wall Street Journal piece today about entrepreneurial success. And I know a lot of small businessmen, the guy who owns Strickland Ice Cream, the guy who owns Jerry’s Dogs, the boys who started the Pirate Coast Paddle Company. They work hundreds of hours. I think this is the central issue. And are you getting the same response I do from people who are entrepreneurs that they were deeply offended by the President’s comment?
MR: Absolutely, Hugh. Everywhere I go, people are saying look, I did build this. And the people who work in this enterprise built it. It was not built by government. It was built by free people. And you know, the President says we’re taking him out of context, but go look at the rest of the speech. The context is worse than the quote, because he somehow casts aspersions on people who are working hard to get smarter, and people who are just working hard. The reality is America is a nation which has been built by individuals pursuing their dreams. And whether that’s to get the honor roll or get a promotion, or open a business.
HH: Now you also said in that Wall Street Journal piece, “When you see a problem, run towards it.” That is the antithesis of the President’s famous leading from behind policy. And I wonder if that will be the hallmark of your first one hundred, and a hundred twenty days, and whether the Congress will actually, you’ll hold them to getting the stuff done that needs to, because we’re falling backwards fast.
MR: Hugh, it has to be what I do in the first hundred days. I will devote myself to getting this country back on track, to getting our economy growing, getting good jobs for people again, and getting America to a position where we can make sure we don’t keep on adding debts that are going to crush the coming generation, or make us like Europe, or even like California. I mean, this is unacceptable to continue on the path we’re on, and you’re absolutely right. I will devote my energy to getting America right again.
HH: Last question, Governor, about Paul Ryan. He was my guest two nights ago. It’s a two-parter. When did you first begin to say this guy could be my running mate? And a lot of people have said they have noticed an impact on you when you two campaign together. It’s sort of an energy synergy. Is the latter true? And when did that thought first take form in your thinking?
MR: Well, the latter is true. I enjoy being on the stage with Paul. We do well together, and it’s fun having someone else there to share thoughts with and to answer questions. And we have similar perspectives on issues, but our experiences mean that now and then, we’re able to come up with some ideas that I think are more convincing. So yeah, it’s great being with him. And by the way, the first time I thought that he might be a VP was probably, I don’t know, three or four months ago when we began this process. I started off with about 15 or 20 names, and narrowed it down to a much smaller group. He was one of them, and I recognized that he, like the other people I had in that group, could possibly be a VP. And I’m delighted with the guy I picked.
HH: Yeah, he’s a sub-three hour marathoner, Governor. I would be careful if he challenged you to any road races.
MR: There’s no way I’m getting into some kind of a physical contest with Paul Ryan, that’s for sure.
HH: Mitt Romney, congratulations on a great walk-up to Tampa Bay, and I look forward to seeing you down there. And thanks for joining us today.
MR: Thanks, Hugh, for all that you do.
End of interview.