HH: Now I’m joined by former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the GOP nominee-designate. Governor, welcome back, always a pleasure to talk to you.
MR: It’s good to be with you today, Hugh.
HH: Governor, there’s been a snowballing of scandal this past few days, one that accelerated from Solyndra to Fast & Furious, now it’s gone to GSA and the Secret Service. How much of this is the President’s responsibility?
MR: Well, I think the GSA and the Secret Service are a different kettle of fish. Time will tell. The impression in looking at the Secret Service is that these were individuals who were not behaving as they should have, but it was not a matter of the senior leadership of the organization. But in the case of the GSA, here you have a presidential appointment, and you have people at the top of the organization that are flaunting the respective taxpayers, and basically laughing their way to Las Vegas. And it’s very disturbing, and I think as a result, the President’s going to have to take a very close look at some of his other appointments, and see whether there shouldn’t be people who are moved elsewhere.
HH: When you pair them up, though, or list them along with Solyndra and Fast & Furious, is there an ethical collapse underway? Is it more broad? Or are these just a few bad apples in the Executive Branch?
MR: Well, some of the things that have gone on suggest that the people that the President has selected have very little management experience. And like the President himself, who has very little management experience, they have not been able to oversee the operations of government as you would hope they would. Certainly, Fast & Furious falls into that category. In the case of Solyndra, I think what you have there is just a completely misguided approach to the private sector on the part of the President and his team, who think that the government should play venture capitalists. And what they’re doing is that they’re frightening away real entrepreneurs, and they’re picking winners and losers, although in this case, they’re just picking losers. But it’s not just Solyndra. You know, they’ve got electric car companies, and battery companies. They’re spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, sometimes investing in companies that were contributors, or their executives were contributors. This is a terrible mistake not so much of management as the philosophy.
HH: Now Governor, you took over one organization in 200….and actually, 1998, that was plagued by scandal and mismanagement, the Olympics, of course. Any lessons from that experience as to how you would operate the transition and early days of the administration, if in fact you are elected president in November?
MR: Well, it’s probably a little early to think about a transition team, but certainly, one of the things you do any time you come into an organization that needs a turnaround, and Heaven knows our federal government needs a turnaround, is that you focus on what’s most important. And in this case, it is getting the economy going. And you build a team of people who understand how the economy works, so that includes folks from the private sector as well as the public sector, and you’d hope to have individuals who have been tested in leadership capacities before, so that you don’t have to wonder about their capacity to lead, their capacity to manage, and whether or not they’re going to follow the vision which is being set out by the person who’s been elected.
HH: How big of a broom do you think you’re going to need?
MR: (laughing) Well, my guess is I would like a lot bigger broom than the law would give me. My view is we have far too many government employees. We have too many agencies and departments. There’ll be a lot of people who I would want to be able to replace with folks that shared my perspective that I will not be able to replace because of the functioning of federal law. But look, we have got to reshape the federal government and make it responsive, and make the federal government recognize its job is not to direct the American people, but to allow the American people to direct their own lives, and instead of burdening businesses, to encourage businesses and free enterprise. It’s a wholly different mindset that has to be brought to Washington.
HH: Governor, with a couple of minutes left, there is a list of a dozen words I carry around with me, maybe a couple more – Obamacare, stimulus, unemployment, debt, deficit, gas prices, Keystone, Gulf oil spill, EPA, Solyndra, Boeing, Gibson guitar, Fast & Furious, GSA, Israel, flexibility. Are you afraid of any of those words, Governor? Do you want those words to sort of queue the conversations that are going to drive this election?
MR: Well, I think they demonstrate the failure of this presidency. I mean, he laid out what he thought success would be defined by, and on his own measures, he has failed. He has not created jobs, there have been one problem after another. You’ve described a number of them in that long list, and I was listening pretty carefully. I don’t think there are any of those things that are not part of the American consciousness today. And people need to be reminded that this President has been over his head and swimming in the wrong direction. You know, many people feel he’s a nice guy, but you know what? We just can’t afford him any longer. We’ve got to get him out of office if we’re going to create jobs, rise the incomes, and a brighter future for the next generation.
HH: You met with the Republican National Committee leadership in Phoenix today, 45 seconds, Governor, are they optimistic? And are they energized?
MR: I have never seen the group so energized, and I spoke with a number of them there. They’re excited. People keep saying that we Republicans have difficulty with our base, or that I do. Hey, look at the numbers out there. You’re seeing that Republicans support my candidacy. There are fewer Democrats that support the President’s candidacy than there are that support mine among the Republicans. So look, we’ve come together. We want to defeat President Obama. We recognize that he has been a failure, and it’s time for us to get the country growing again.
HH: Mitt Romney, always a pleasure, Governor, thanks for joining us. Look forward to talking to you again down the road.
End of interview.