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Laura Ingraham reacts to the Mitt Romney speech and analyzes the GOP race in Iowa and New Hampshire

Friday, December 7, 2007
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HH: Joined now by my colleague on many of these great radio stations, and author of the New York Times bestselling Power To The People, Laura Ingraham. Laura, Merry Christmas to you, and welcome.

LI: Hey, Merry Christmas, Hugh, great to be on with you.

HH: Well, thank you for making some time today. I am canvassing the influencers as to their reaction to Mitt Romney’s speech. For those who haven’t been able to listen to you this morning, what was the Laura Ingraham take on The Speech?

LI: Well, I thought it was a really good speech. I mean, I think that obviously, there was an enormous amount of pressure that I think he put on himself, and that the rest of us put on him to deliver a great speech. And I think he really, I think he surprised a lot of people with the deep, historical context, and the historical understanding of how faith and virtue, civic virtue, are all interwoven in American society. And I like the fact that he went back to the founding of this country, and reminded us that we really do have this great faith tradition, that our framers did believe that government should not be run by faith, but that without faith, it would be difficult for us to really survive long under threat and under challenge. And he really did that, and I thought that was very powerful.

HH: Now Laura, in your book, Power To The People, you wrote very movingly about your own Roman Catholic faith, and how it’s given you a lot of strength through your tough times, and grace in your good times. As a Catholic, did you react to it uniquely as a Catholic in any way?

LI: Well, you know, I don’t personally concern myself that much with the religious faith of whoever’s running for president. And I know a lot of people might disagree with me on that. But I really am looking to a couple of things. Number one, does this person share my overall conservative outlook on taxes, on life, on marriage, on a strong defense, on keeping government out of our lives, and stopping government from further encroaching into our decision making as individuals and families. And then I look at how this person actually lives his or her life. And I don’t think you can really look at Mitt Romney’s life and conclude anything other than the fact that he and his family are really, frankly, stellar examples to the rest of us about how to lead a wholesome and positive, and frankly, virtuous life. And since when is that a bad thing? And I think a lot of people look at the Romney’s, and think oh, they’re too perfect, or they’re too this. And he laughs at that, as you know. He’s like, perfect. Talk to my kids and wife about that. I don’t think so. But we’re somehow threatened by that, and I think that’s really silly at this point.

HH: I heard you saying that this morning, and I thought it was very perceptive, that a lot of this is why are people threatened by a family that’s got it together, and held it together for a lot of years, and you’re absolutely right on that.

LI: You know, I think it makes us look at ourselves, maybe, and sometimes when we don’t feel like we’re exactly where we want to be in our lives, that people who seem to have it together kind of make us upset. I mean, I think that’s a normal reaction, Hugh. And look, I have said this consistently, that for those Evangelicals who are just steadfastly opposed to voting for someone who happens to be an LDS Church member, I don’t think this speech is going to turn them around. I really don’t. But I do think it’s going to help Romney with people who are growing a little bit tired of some of the other candidates, or a little bit dispirited about some of the other campaigns, like McCain’s campaign, or Thompson’s, or maybe even Giuliani’s. And I think that’s going to help him. I really do.

HH: You know, voting starts on Monday in New Hampshire.

LI: Yes, it does.

HH: Absentees are available and can be cast. And so he did a very strategic thing, and he pulled it off. My question is, how do you see the race right now after this week that was Romney’s week?

LI: Well, I do believe that you know, for all these candidates that are having to speak about Romney, which irritates the heck out of them, you know, Fred Thompson was on Fox before I was yesterday afternoon, and they were asking him about the Romney speech. He was clearly irritated. So he got the bounce there, but look, I mean, everyone I’m talking to who is in the know in Iowa says that at this point, Huckabee looks like a winner in Iowa. And I don’t know if that can change before January 3rd, but Huckabee has had an amazing three or four weeks, and it started with the Values Voters Summit, where he did an unbelievable job in October. And he’s really struck a chord with that core Evangelical vote, and not just Evangelicals. Other people, too, who really just like his style, and think he’s honest and a good guy, and that he’s smart, and he knows the heartland, and they’re gravitating toward him. That having been said, do I think he can carry that into New Hampshire? You know, I spent four years in New Hampshire in college, and New Hampshire is very different from Iowa. And I think that Romney still has the edge in New Hampshire, but he’s going to be hurt by losing Iowa. There’s no doubt.

HH: Let me ask you about the immigration issue and Mike Huckabee, because it’s of great concern to you, more than it is to me. And I probed him a little bit on in-state tuition for illegal aliens who hit 18, because I just think that’s such a phenomenally bad idea. But does that issue work against Huckabee, or is it a null set, to quote Romney at one point, when it comes to Iowa?

LI: Well, I think he’s come out now with a really tough immigration plan, and it’s on his website, and I think he’s trying to really immunize himself and inoculate himself against any further criticism on that, because his plan is pretty nuts and bolts tough on the border, and border enforcement. You know, I personally, you know, if you say which issue is more important to you, is pro-life more important to me than immigration? Of course it is. But I think right now, we have to understand that our country is being completely transformed, against the will, I think, of the majority of the American people because of this great influx of people who haven’t assimilated into our country, and are having a very difficult time assimilating into our country. And I think we need to have a national conversation about that before that happens any further. And I think if he continues along the kind of George Bush path, I don’t think that’s a very powerful position to be in against a Hillary Clinton, or against, jumping into the general, or against Barack Obama, because as far as I can tell, they’re pretty much the same on immigration. At least they were a few weeks ago.

HH: And so does it in the end hurt Huckabee in Iowa to have had a less than rigorous pass on the issue of illegal immigration?

LI: Well, I don’t think it helps. I mean, I don’t know how it plays versus his overall conversational style and likeability factor. I don’t think it’s a big help. I think if he was really tough on the border, I think he’d be next to impossible to beat right now in Iowa.

HH: And the Dumond story that Huffington Post is pushing, so I’m suspicious of it…

LI: Yeah, well, I think it’s not pleasant, but I think all of these candidates have their warts. And when you’re the governor, lieutenant governor of a state, invariably there’s going to be a case that comes along that you say oh, my goodness, I wish I didn’t act in this. So I’m not sure how that’s going to carry on.

HH: Laura Ingraham, thanks for joining me. Power To The People is the great Christmas present out there, America. Laura, see you next week in Washington.

End of interview.

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