Mitt Romney was my guest today, and I began that interview with a question about President Obama’s astonishing open-mic exchange with Russian President Medvedev today. The audio and transcript of my interview with Romney will be posted here later this evening. This is almost Bullwinkle-talking-to-Boris level of cartoonish buffoonery, but the president did say it and what he meant is anyone’s guess, but also everyone’s gamble if he is re-elected.
HH: Right now, I’m pleased to welcome back to the program former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney. Governor Romney, welcome back, good to talk to you.
MR: Thanks so much, good to be with you, Hugh.
HH: I want to begin by playing for you President Obama’s aside to President Medvedev today. At first, the President leans in and says, “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved. But it’s important for him, Putin, to give me space.” Medvedev says, Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space, space for you.” And then President Obama says this.
BHO: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
HH: So the President says, Governor Romney, this is my last election, after my election I have more flexibility. And President Medvedev says I understand, I will transmit this information to Vladimir. Your reaction, Governor Romney? [# More #]
MR: Well, it is revealing, it is alarming, it’s troubling, it suggests that the President has a very different agenda with the Russians than he’s willing to tell the American people. And for that reason alone, we ought to vote him out of office. This is a very disconcerting development.
HH: What do you think he has in mind, Governor, when he says I will be flexible? Is it missile defense? It is the number of our warheads? Is it Iran? What is he talking about?
MR: Well, he says missile defense, but we’re talking about one of those two issues, either missile defense or warheads. What he’s done on warheads, of course, with the new START Treaty, he took warheads down to 1,500 on strategic nuclear weapons. Of course, the Russians were already at 1,500. They didn’t have to have any reductions. We were at 2,200. So the only reduction in his missile defense treaty was a reduction at the U.S. level. And of course, he ignored the tactical nuclear weapons, which are of course the same nukes. They’re just on smaller rockets. He ignored that, where Russia has an advantage of five or ten to one over us. So this is a president who continues to try and appease and accommodate, and believes that the best interests of America are to bow to the interests of Russia. And it’s very, very troubling, and I mean, I’m very disturbed by this. I hope the American people understand that what we heard from the President is revealing about his character in terms of what he tells the American people, and revealing about his direction and sentiment with regards to Russian, which is after all our number one geopolitical foe. They don’t represent a military threat to us at the present, but they oppose us at every turn in the United Nations, and oppose us in every one of our efforts, whether in Iraq or Iran, North Korea. They’re on the other side. And for him to be cozying up with them with regards to missile defense is simply unacceptable.
HH: How do you expect this aside from the President will be understood in Poland and the Czech Republic, and Ukraine, and Georgia, and other front line states facing a newly-expansive Russia?
MR: Well, I think our friends around the world have been reevaluating their relationship with the United States, in part because of this president’s treatment of friends relative to the treatment of enemies. I’ve heard from more than one foreign leader that it seems to be preferable to be an American foe than an American friend to this president.
HH: Now Governor Romney, the press will of course attempt to dismiss this as not a big issue. Will this remain a front line issue? And do you think that the President has got to spell out with great detail what he has in mind here?
MR: You know, I don’t think he can recover from it, to tell you the truth. I mean, I think he will try and spin something. But I don’t know how you spin from an open mic, where you’re talking about having more flexibility after the election, which means quite clearly that you don’t want the American people to hear what you’re really planning on doing, and that you’re going to be able to do more when you no longer are accountable to the American people. You know, the mainstream media may try and put this to bed, but we’re going to keep it alive and awake. And we’re going to keep hammering him with it all the way through November.
HH: Now Governor Romney, I want to turn to another political issue, and we’ll come back to this, but it’s the EPA Vs. Sackett case last week in the Supreme Court. It was a 9-0 decision, but it’s got a much larger implication because it’s about landowners versus the government. First of all, are you familiar with it? And if so, or if not, what about the EPA generally?
MR: I am familiar with the case, and was delighted by the Supreme Court’s ruling on this. This is another example of overreach by the Obama administration’s EPA department, which basically runs around the country like a rogue agency telling people what they can and cannot do, mostly cannot do. And this is a couple who had a piece of land, and was not on a wetland-designated area. The EPA administrator said to them oh, yes it is wetland, and you can’t build. This is intolerable action by government, and it is threatening the enterprise of free economic rights of the American people, time and time again.
HH: It will take a big broom, Governor, if you’re elected, to change the culture, not just in the EPA, but the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, many agencies. Are you prepared to bring in the kind of people who will make top to bottom changes to put the property owner back on top?
MR: There’s no question but that we have to have a complete reorientation of the federal government. It now sees itself as the arbiter of all things economic. It is warring on the economic freedoms of the American people. It believes that the people and their free enterprises are somehow bad, and must be constrained by an all-good, all-knowing series of bureaucrats. And we’re going to have to shift this, to having the government see itself as a support, in a support role, encouraging free people and free enterprises to pursue their own course. First of all, we need a lot fewer regulators. We’ve just got too many of them. They’re all trying to figure out how to insinuate themselves into our lives. And two, they have to see themselves as being the allies and the support player, as opposed to the opponent, of free enterprise.
HH: Now yesterday, the President’s campaign manager said that you are the godfather of Obamacare. I know that’s not the case. I know you didn’t cut Medicare or raise taxes, and you didn’t change every American’s health care plan. But just for the moment, if that’s who you are, can you make the Democrats an office they can’t refuse to repeal it?
MS: (laughing) That’s a great idea. We counted, by the way, that Mr. Plouffe is the Rumpelstiltskin of trying to turn straw into gold. He will not be successful. I can tell you one thing. If I’m the godfather of this thing, then it gives me the right to kill it. And if I’m the president, I will get rid of Obamacare. I will stop it in its tracks on Day One, and get it repealed.
HH: Now last political question, small donors. I know you’re raising funds in California today. 86%, according to your campaign, of your donors are under $250 bucks. You’ve got almost a quarter million of them. That’s of course the secret to November. Is that accelerating?
MR: We are getting better and better support from small donors. There’s no question. I’m really pleased that something like $9.5 million dollars has been raised from people who’ve contributed less than $250 dollars. And I think as this race consolidates, and we have a clear nominee, you’re going to find people all over the country saying you know what? I want to write a check to make it very clear that I support an entirely different direction for America. I am not willing to have America become Europe. We need to return to our basic values and premises.
HH: I’m not willing to have a president be that flexible with Russia, either. Governor Romney, always a pleasure, thank you, Governor. I look forward to talking to you again soon.
End of interview.