The complete transcript of my wide-ranging interview with Mitt Romney from today’s show is in the post below, but here are his comments on President Obama’s HHS regs and the Prop 8 decision:
HH: Now I want to start with a substantive question, Governor. For the benefit of the audience, President Obama and his Department of Health and Human Resources have issued regulations that would require Catholic institutions like B.C. and Notre Dame and Georgetown, every Catholic elementary and high school, as well as all Catholic hospitals and social service agencies to provide sterilization and the morning after pill through their health insurance plans. If you are elected president, will you suspend those regulations on the first day in office and pledge to revoke them? And prohibit any other similar regulation from going forward?
MR: Absolutely. Yes. Undoubtedly. Hugh, this is an attack on religious conscience, religious practice in America. It is antithetical to the principles of our 1st Amendment, the very founding of our country. It is a continuation of the attack by this administration on religious thought and belief and practice in this country. I find it extraordinary. One of the other decisions, as you know, that they made was to say that the government should be able to determine who qualifies as a minister for a particular faith, and thereby would be able to enjoy the ministerial exemption from certain laws. And that was taken all the way to the Supreme Court, and even with some liberals on the bench, they lost that battle, 9-0. Even the entire Supreme Court thought they’d gone too far. This is one more example of an attack on religion, and it’s got to end. And if I’m president, if you can imagine, it will be over.
HH: Now President Obama called Archbishop and Cardinal-designate Dolan of New York on the morning these issues were, these regulations were issued. And the New York Times today says the Obama administration wants to compromise. Can this decision be understood as anything other than the President’s decision, Governor Romney?
MR: I think you’re absolutely right. This is the President’s decision. This was not something that surprised him. And by the way, if it had surprised him, he could have reversed it immediately upon hearing about it. He knew where this was headed. He knew that this was going to be a big favor among his secular friends who do not like the sense of freedom of religion in this country. And I think he has made an enormous mistake, particularly among Catholic voters. There are a lot of Catholic voters who vote Democrat. You know, I come from a state, Massachusetts. We’ve got a lot of Catholics, and a lot vote Democrat. But this is going to change a lot of people’s minds, and they’re going to realize that this President’s agenda is not just bankrupting the country, it is also changing us from a nation under God.
HH: Now what will your attitude be generally towards the country’s religious institutions if you become the president, because they’re in the tens of thousands. And President Obama clearly considers them some sort of obstacle to be rolled over when they get in his way.
MR: Well, one of the great things about America is that people have confidence in something greater than themselves. And the religious institutions in our country encourage us to be bigger than ourselves, to have purposes that are larger than our selfish interests. And as a result, we are a greater people than we would be if we were an entirely selfish people. And I believe part of the greatness of America flows from the religious convictions of our many citizens. And even those who are not members of any particular faith typically have a vision of something greater than themselves. This is quintessentially an American attribute. And the attack on religion is unseemly, it’s unconstitutional, and I think it’s unwise.
HH: Let me ask you about marriage now, Governor. Today, the most reversed circuit in the country, in an opinion written by the most reversed judge on that circuit in the country, overturned Proposition 8, imperiling the marriage laws of the entire United States. If you are the president, and this is pending before the Supreme Court, will you instruct your new attorney general, and your new solicitor general, and maybe the former is Bob McDonnell, or whoever it is, to issue an amicus brief in defense of Proposition 8?
MR: Absolutely. And my guess is wild horses couldn’t keep them from being able to do so on their own. I strongly believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, and that an attempt to suggest that the Constitution requires otherwise is stretching our Constitution beyond its bounds. I believe in following the Constitution, and if people feel that the Constitution is wrong, or that we should add something to the Constitution, there is a process for doing that. It’s known as the amendment process. And we’ve done that a number of times in American history. But the idea of men and women, unelected, sitting on the bench and changing the Constitution, legislating from the bench is something which we simply cannot endure as a true constitutional democracy.
HH: Does President Obama, in your view, Governor, owe the United States people a comment on this decision, and a clear declaration of where he believes the Constitution directs the courts to act in this regard?
MR: Well, I’d like to hear what he has to say, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t make me happy. He began by saying he was opposed to same sex marriage, but over the years, he’s been changing his position. And I think the things he’s taken to the Supreme Court, his unwillingness, for instance, to defend the Defense Of Marriage Act, suggests that he will try and move towards a new approach to the Constitution, which is similar to the most liberal members of the bench, which is to see the Constitution as a place from which you depart, and then you follow your conscience or your own views. And that, of course, is antithetical to the idea of a true constitutional democracy, where the people are the final arbiter of law.