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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum

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Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum both appeared on today’s program. The transcripts will be posted here later.

No surprise: Both are opponents of the so-called “Buffett Tax.”

Mitt Romney:

HH: Joined now by former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney. Governor Romney, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to have you as always.

MR: It is great to be with you again. Thank you.

HH: We just had Sheriff Paul Babeu, Governor, in studio with us from Arizona’s Pinal County. He’s a big fan of yours. He was able to talk border with you last week, he told me. What is your position on whether or not a fence will work to control illegal immigration and drug smuggling?

MR: Well, it’s part of the solution. You have to have a fence to delineate the boundary. And it also slows people down from being able to get into the country, and it allows them to be interdicted by border patrol agents. You have to have a fence, you have to have border patrol agents, and then you have to make sure that we don’t make it so attractive for people to come here illegally that they decide to risk it to get here. [# More #]

HH: The in-state tuition argument that you began with Governor Perry at the last debate, do you think that’s going to be a mark of the debates that are upcoming in Florida and elsewhere?

MR: You know, it depends of course on the moderators, because they’re the ones that get to choose the topics that we discuss. I mean, Governor Perry and I have very differing views on in-state tuition and giving breaks to people who are here illegally. As you know, Governor Perry initiated an in-state tuition break for illegals, and signed that into law in Texas. When it reached my desk in Massachusetts, I vetoed it. And the legislature upheld my veto, which didn’t always happen in Massachusetts. But we have a very differing view. My thought is you cannot create the incentives for people to come to this country illegally. And I mean, you need a fence, you need to make sure that we crack down on employers that hire people here illegally, and you make sure that we don’t have sanctuary cities and in-state tuition breaks and so forth for those who come here illegally.

HH: Now Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts as well, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, you announced that the Massachusetts State Police would not support a visit. He’s coming back. It looks like he’s going to Columbia again. What ought the attitude of local and state authorities be? I mean, you can’t stop him from coming to the U.N., but what do you think our attitude ought to be towards a man who’s holding America as hostage right now?

MR: Well, I think the things that you do are symbolic in nature. And you make it very clear that this is a person who expresses viewpoints which are antithetical to the concept of freedom. When he says that he, that Israel is a one bomb state, and when he makes suggestions that he would use a weapon against, a nuclear weapon against Israel, this is a person who cannot be welcomed in as a legitimate spokesperson. And I would refuse him the security detail that he insists upon, the long lines of automobiles that he wants to have accompany him, he should recognize that he comes here as a pariah, and he should be treated as such.

HH: Now let’s turn to economics. The President announced today, Governor Romney, the Buffett Tax. He wants to soak the rich. What’s your reaction to the Buffett Tax specifically, and to the President’s general economic approach?

MR: Well, you know, it’s very popular, of course, to presume that there must be someone we can scapegoat and blame for our problems, someone who’s not paying their fair share. As you know, the top 1% of taxpayers in America pay almost 30% of the taxes in America. And he thinks that’s not enough. I’d be interested to know what he thinks the right number ought to be. But it’s not the truth that there are people who are getting away with a huge deal. Of course, we have 47% of Americans who pay no tax at all. So fairness is in the eye of the beholder. My view is that we should not make it harder for those who create jobs, to invest in America, and to build more jobs here. If your priority is punishing people who have been successful, then you can vote for President Obama. If your priority is creating jobs, to put people to work, college kids and others who want work, then you vote for me or you vote Republican.

HH: He also mentioned today that we need to make “modest adjustments” in Medicare and Medicaid. I have no idea what that means. Do you, Governor Romney?

MR: I don’t know what his modest adjustments would be. That’s about as bold as he gets. He’s been in there now for three years, and keeps talking about reforming entitlements, but never comes forward with any particular recommendations. And the right course for Medicaid is to send the dollars back to the states, end it as a federal program, let the states manage their own programs for the poor in the way they think best. And that’s not a modest adjustment. That’s a bold adjustment, and I hope that we’re able to get that done. If I become president, we will.

HH: Now Governor Romney, you were at the Boeing plant last week, the one that the Obama administration is suing, the President is trying to keep shuttered. To what extent does that represent his entire policy and his captivity, really, to organized labor’s interests?

MR: Well you know, it really is a very unseemly thing, at least in my view, Hugh, to take massive amounts of money from organized unions, organized labor, and then to do their bidding as is being done at the Boeing plant, as is being done by stacking the National Labor Relations Board with union stooges, as is done with his effort to try and get Card Check put in place, as was done with an effort by the NLRB to fast-track elections so that employers don’t have any chance to campaign for keeping their shops from becoming union. It’s basically payback, and it’s payback for money and support. And I find it unbecoming a president, and it simply has just got to end.

HH: There’s an effort by Orrin Hatch and others to pass a new law, the Employee Rights Act. All the details are at Unionfacts.com, Governor Romney. Do we need to rebalance the labor law in America to stop a number of the abuses of big labor?

MR: Well, I do think we need to give better guidance from Congress to the National Labor Relations Board. I would begin by immediately saying that the NRLB is prohibited from keeping Boeing from opening and growing its facility in South Carolina, and that actions of that nature are prohibited. And so the Congress would finally have some sway. I think the second thing you have to do is this. You have to say that the unions cannot collect dues from their members, and then have the chief executive of the union decide which person he wants to give their money to. That is simply wrong. The individual members should be able to give their contributions as they see fit. They should not have dues taken from them and given to a political party or person of their CEO’s choice. That is wrong, and ought to be made part of a finance reform plan that keeps unions from having that kind of power over their members.

HH: Let’s finish, Governor Romney, on the big question. It’s not a process question at all. It’s about hope. A lot of people wonder if we can turn this economy around. It’s actually the mega-issue in my view. They just don’t believe it can, the problems are too vast. What do you say? Can this be a springboard to 1981 again as it was so dark in 1980? Can it be that kind of turnaround?

MR: There’s no question but that this economy can turn around. There is nothing so dramatic that’s occurred that we can’t continue to be the most productive nation in the world, the richest nation in the world, growing jobs with a job engine that the world rivals, or admires. And the way to do that is one, to have a president people have confidence in, confidence that he or she understands how to run the economy, and number two, to get our taxes competitive, our regulation encouraging business rather than hurting it, trade policies that open up markets for us, energy policies that get us energy independent, union policies that keep unions from calling the shots, and of course, a government that doesn’t spent more money that it takes in. I mean, that’s a long list, but let me tell you, if I’m president, I will go to work to get America’s economy on the kind of stable footing it has to be on to create jobs and continue to lead the world.

HH: Governor Mitt Romney, always a pleasure, look forward to checking back with you in a few weeks. www.mittromney.com, America, to check in on that campaign.

End of interview.

Rick Santorum:

HH: Joined now by former United States Senator Rick Santorum from the great state of Pennsylvania. He’s had a string of great debate performances. And Rick Santorum, how do you feel the momentum is switching around in this race?

RS: Well, I think, I feel great, Hugh. Thank you for the compliment. But the thing I keep hearing as I travel around the states is we want to hear more from you. Why is the media only talking about two candidates? There are other candidates up there, and we like your answers, we like what you’ve accomplished in your career politically, and I feel like we’re very, very well positioned right now as the next, this trial balloon that Rick Perry has floated out there, that starts settling back down to Earth, folks are going to be starting to look at other candidates, and we think we’re well positioned to take him on.

HH: Senator, I’ve often said that right now, it looks like a two man race. But Iowa is where that narrative always gets upended. How do you feel about Iowa, particularly with the fade that Michele Bachmann, I mean, her own campaign manager, Ed Rollins, basically wrote her off today.

RS: Yeah, well, here’s the way I look at it. Four years ago, the top two people in the polls, and if you read the articles from four years ago, they said this race was between Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, because they were by far the top two in the polls. And neither of them ended up with a delegate. And two guys who were in single digits ended up to be the two guys left standing at the end. So I don’t get discouraged at all. I just go out and try to be the best candidate. And Iowa, as you know, Hugh, the Ames Straw Poll, Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul all spent in excess of a million dollars, and I think one campaign spent almost two million dollars. We spent less than $100,000 dollars, but I went out and did 50 town hall meetings, talked to the people of Iowa, started to build a grassroots organization there, and we came within a few hundred votes of Tim Pawlenty. And that’s one of the reasons he got out of the race. So we know that our message is resonating with people, that the record of being a consistent conservative, from a blue state at a time when it wasn’t popular going out and talking about these issues, and actually getting things done, that’s going to play well. They want authenticity, and they want someone who can win, and I bring both to the table.

HH: www.ricksantorum.com is the website if you want to help out Senator Santorum and his effort. How is your fundraising, Rick Santorum?

RS: You know what? We’re doing enough to survive, and that’s really where we are right now. I feel like I’m on an episode of Survivor. And I just have to survive, and we’re doing that. We’re not going to show big cash on hand numbers, we’re not going to show big fundraising numbers. But we’re paying our staff, I’m paying my travel, and we’re getting to those debates, and we’re building an organization. We’ve got tons of volunteers. I talked with Mike Huckabee a couple of weeks ago, and he said Rick, stay lean. He said don’t buy into these consultants and all this stuff. Just believe in yourself, believe in your message, don’t have all these consultants tell you what to think. And I never have, and I never will. I mean, you’re going to hear what I think, not what somebody prepared me for the debate. People ask me how I do, what I do for debate prep. I said I go do town hall meetings, and that’s what I do. And I think that, again, back to the trust and authenticity, hopefully that’ll show as the debates and the campaign season goes on.

HH: Now last segment, I had on Mitt Romney, and last hour, I have on Paul Babeu, the sheriff from Pinal County in Arizona.

RS: Yeah.

HH: …talking about the fence with both of them. What’s your opinion on the fence, Rick Santorum?

RS: You’ve got to build it. And that’s the difference. I brought that up in the debate last week, and I will certainly bring it up again. Fiscal barriers are important. It’s not the only thing. I would agree with that, that we need surveillance, we need personnel on the ground. But to have a fence through most, if not all, is something that is vitally important, and it’s…fiscal barriers matter. Good fences make good neighbors.

HH: Now if Florida, this is a process question, but if Florida advances its primary, will you compete there? Will you go and fight for every vote in Arizona, Florida, others that break the RNC rules?

RS: You know, no matter what Arizona and Florida does, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are going to be first. And so I’m going to compete in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, because they will, no matter what the other states do, those three states will move ahead of them. And so they will be first, and that’s where I’m going to compete, because I can’t look past Iowa, at least not at this point. And so we’re going to be in Iowa this weekend. I just came from New Hampshire yesterday, I’ll be in South Carolina on Wednesday, just to give you an idea. I mean, that’s where my focus is, and we’re doing well there. We’re building a good grassroots organization. We’ve got a lot of energy and excitement, and they recognize that I’m not the fair-weather conservative. I’m someone who’s been there, and someone who will be there, and has stood up in the crucible, and was well accounted for.

HH: A minute left, Rick Santorum, again, www.ricksantorum.com. What do you make of the so-called Buffett Tax that the President is suggesting be levied on everyone who makes more than a million dollars a year?

RS: I mean, you know, I don’t like having this class warfare argument being played. I mean, Warren Buffett’s not going to pay that tax, as you know, because he makes his money on capital gains and dividends. So this is class warfare. And I just reject that. The bottom line is we need to create economic growth and upward mobility. That’s why I focused my tax plan on manufacturing. That’s where we’re going to grow the great middle of America back, is by getting people into those jobs that make things that can pay those wages that support families, and that’s going to be my focus, not trying to penalize people who create jobs in this country.

HH: Rick Santorum, always a pleasure, thank you, Senator, www.ricksantorum.com, America.

End of interview.

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