Call the Show 800-520-1234
LIVE: Mon-Fri, 6-9AM, ET
Hugh Hewitt Book Club
Call 800-520-1234 email Email Hugh
Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Romney on the Occupiers and Talk Radio; Santorum on Cain and 9/9/9

Email Email Print
Advertisement

Transcripts from Friday’s interviews on my program.

Mitt Romney:

HH: Beginning today’s show with former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney. Governor Romney, welcome back, always a pleasure to have you.

MR: Thank you, good to be with you, Hugh.

HH: The President was a little testy with Fox News’ Ed Henry yesterday, Governor Romney, when your name came up. Do you think he’s hearing footsteps?

MR: Well, I think it’s pretty clear who they think the toughest nominee would be from the Republican Party, but I’m getting ready for the guy. I sure hope to become the nominee. And if I am, I’m planning on getting America strong again.

HH: If you become the nominee, Governor Romney, would you be willing to begin debating the President earlier and more often than usual?

MR: You know, we haven’t planned a strategy for how we would run a campaign against the President. I’m open to more debates. He’d probably want fewer debates. But that’s something that’s probably a little presumptuous of me at this stage to think about, but at this stage, I’ve got to see if I can get past the other folks in the Republican primary. And if I get that job done, why, we’ll take on the President.

[# More #]
HH: Every debate thus far, including Tuesday night’s, the moderators, the dozen or so of them, have asked you questions about the economy. And every time, you’ve said you spent most of your life in the private sector, but the moderators never ask you what you did and why it’s relevant. So I want to ask that. What have you done in the private sector? And why is that relevant now?

MR: Well, a lot of parts of it that are relevant. One is I’ve competed with businesses around the world, and traveled to many different countries, and understand how the economy works in those countries, and why jobs go to those countries from America. I also understand what it takes to make a business successful in America, and how employers decide to make decisions to hire people, and why they decide to hold off. I know, for instance, right now, why it is that almost everything Barack Obama has done has made it less likely for businesses to expand, for entrepreneurs to hire, and for the economy to grow. So knowing what it takes to get an economy to grow, and get businesses to hire, and use their capital to bring people into their businesses, I know what it’ll take to get America hiring again and growing again.

HH: So when you were at Bain Consulting and Bain Capital, the Occupy Wall Street people are going to say that’s exactly the wrong kind of experience for America. What’s your response going to be, Governor Romney?

MR: Well, what those folks have to understand is that most people in America work for businesses. They work for companies of one kind or another. And if we want America to have lots of good jobs with rising incomes, we want to see business doing well in America. And I’m a businessman. I’ve worked with a number of different businesses. I’ve had my signature on the front of a payroll check. I know what it takes for businesses to become more successful, and why we have had such a hard time. And the answer is everything the President has done has created more uncertainty. And what we have to do is, it’s a whole series of things, and you know them, hold down our corporate taxes, fix our regulations to encourage business rather than dampen business, open up new markets for American goods, get America energy secure and independent, stop this move on the part of the National Labor Relations Board to try and force unions where people don’t want them. The list goes on, but my list gets America working again.

HH: Herman Cain has a 9-9-9 plan that’s generating a lot of attention. I’ll talk with Rick Santorum about it next hour. What’s your assessment of 9-9-9, Governor Romney?

MR: Well, we can talk about what’s the best tax code down the road for America. Before I would endorse any tax code, I’d want to see one, will it raise the revenue that we’re currently raising? Number two, how does it treat different people? I don’t like raising taxes on people, particularly those in the middle class. Three, is it going to open the door for Congress to take more and more money from people than they even do today? Four, what would it do to the economy, and specifically, what will it do to housing? What will it do to investments? What will it do to the willingness of businesses to grow in this country? Those are the kinds of things you have to take a look at. If I’m president, I will give a great deal of consideration to a wide range of options for our tax system, including a fair tax, a flat tax, and heck, even ideas like Herman’s will be given a lot of weight, or a lot of consideration. But you know, you’ve got to study them thoroughly before you decide to adopt them as a nation as big as ours.

HH: Now Governor, I want to switch to foreign affairs. Last week, you gave a speech on foreign affairs, including the Navy. Today, on Page A-4 of the Wall Street Journal, Nathan Hodge has a piece called Shipbuilders Batten Hatches As Navy Weighs Cuts. In it, it quotes the unlikely alliance of Barney Frank and Ron Paul, who want to cut the carrier fleet. Last week, you said you’ve got to up shipbuilding from nine per year to fifteen per year for the Navy to get to 313 or thereabouts. Why that number?

MR: Well, you know, we’re known for always thinking about fighting the last war. And right now, we’re fighting wars in the Middle East, and we think about our strength there, appropriately, and we should have resources to be able to fight battles of that nature, wars of that nature. But we also have to recognize that we have responsibilities to protect our interests around the world, and to prevent anyone from ever thinking they could test our military. China is building, for instance, a very substantial deep water navy, with aircraft carriers, submarines, and the like. And if we allow our Navy to become smaller and smaller, to a point where we can’t have a carrier battle group in the Gulf, or the Mediterranean, or in the South China Sea or other places in the world, why then we have people around the world saying gosh, we can’t count on America, we’d better link up with someone else like China. And that’s simply unacceptable. America must have the strongest military in the world, such that no one ever wants to test our military capabilities.

HH: Now Governor Romney, last time you were here, we talked about Iran. And since that time, of course, they’ve attempted to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C. It’s possible the President sent carriers, and he’s just doing a head fake. But what do you think of his response, his public response, thus far to Iran’s plot?

MR: Well, it hasn’t been terribly powerful at the current moment, as you know. He’s begun a series of diplomatic moves. We’ll see where those lead, and whether he intends to take more bold action or not. But recognize that his history in dealing with Iran has been a history of timidity and weakness. And I’m afraid that may well have contributed to Iran’s decision to be adventurous. I mean, we began with the President suggesting that he would have a summit with Ahmadinejad. Then when the dissidents took to the streets after stolen elections, the President was silent. The President’s failed at putting in place crippling sanctions on Iran. And of course, he threw Iran’s greatest military threat, Israel, under the bus. So he has not shown the kind of strength relative to Iran that would dissuade them from their nuclear folly. Their nuclear folly, the fact that they are complicit in killing American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. I mean, these are, these horribles have to be added to the fact that they were intent on a plot to assassinate someone in the United States. But look, these guys are the world’s most significant sponsor of terrorism around the world. And it seems to me that we should have wakened up to this a lot before this time, and that we should have been a lot stronger than we have been.

HH: What ought the President to say when asked, like when Ed Henry asked him yesterday, about Iran? Should he be short and to the point? Should he be expansive and go on and say nothing? How do you think a president ought to respond to that? How would you respond to it if you’re president?

MR: Well, of course it depends on the circumstance that you’re dealing with, and the facts that are on the table. But I think the President has begun with a strategy of engagement with Iran, this nave view that somehow George Bush was so mean that people around the world weren’t as nice to us as they could have been, but that by virtue of his charm, that if he just sat down with people, they would all come together and sing the same tune. That obviously has turned out not to be the case, and he has not fashioned a foreign policy yet in dealing with Iran. And his failures there, I think, are apparent to the world. It’s very possible that Iran will become a nuclear nation on his watch, or because of his lack of leadership during his watch. And he should have, in my view, taken action to impose much tougher sanctions, to on a covert basis, move with the dissidents in Iran to try and see if they can’t push regime change there, and finally, to have military options that are credible, and the Iranians are aware of.

HH: Governor, now let’s turn to some politics. My friends, Guy Benson at Townhall.com, my colleague there, wrote a piece today that noted some radio talk show hosts have flip-flopped, actually, in their assessment of you, including my pal, Mark Levin, and of course, Rush, going from saying very good things about you in 2008, to being very critical this year, while some of your critics from 2008, like Michael Medved, another colleague and friend of mine, have flip-flopped over to becoming supporters. What do you think is going on in the punditocracy when it comes to Mitt Romney?

MR: You know, I can’t begin to imagine what goes on in your world, Hugh (laughing). I don’t know what these guys are doing. I’m sure they’re following their own perspectives on who ought to lead our party. My own view is that I stand the best chance of actually replacing President Obama, and getting the country on track to greatness again. And that’s the reason I’m in this race. And I think in the final analysis, folks will come around to see my way on that.

HH: Are you surprised? I’ve spent, when I wrote the book about you and since, a lot of time with you. I’ve read your new book. It’s very conservative. You’re very conservative. Are you surprised when people say Mitt Romney’s not conservative?

MR: I must admit, that does surprise me. I would have normally imagined a guy that signs a tax pledge, who’s not going to raise taxes, that believes in building our military and holding military spending at least 4% of the GDP, which is an increase, that is pro-life, and against gay marriage, and pro-business, that would be seen as a quintessential conservative. But you know, I know that this is a political race, and everybody is jockeying around, and with enough time, I think the American people will make the right decision.

HH: Last question, Governor. I am in Arizona campaigning with America’s sheriff, Paul Babeu, who endorsed you this week, and you also got Chris Christie to come aboard this week. Are you expecting other endorsements? And what are the significance of people with profiles like Babeu and Christie to your race?

MR: You know, I think there are a few endorsements like Christie and Babeu that have substantial impact on a lot of people, just because people have confidence in them. There are other endorsements that are not as well-recognized publicly, and yet the people who endorse are out there working, raising money, getting friends to be part of my ground team in their respective states. So whether it’s a high profiled endorsement, or one that’s not very high profile, they really do make a difference.

HH: Mitt Romney, thank you for joining us, Governor. I look forward to talking to you again soon.

MR: Thanks, Hugh.

End of interview.

Rick Santorum:

HH: I want to talk with one of the men who would be president next year, Rick Santorum, former Senator from the great state of Pennsylvania. You saw him in the debate on Tuesday night. Senator Santorum, welcome back, great to have you as always.

RS: Thank you, Hugh, always a pleasure.

HH: www.ricksantorum.com is where people can go and help you continue to motor along here and gaining some momentum. Obviously, your path, you’ve got it clear in front of you. You’ve got to go past, or around, or over Herman Cain. How are you going to do that, Rick Santorum?

RS: Well, I mean, that’s you know, part of the process here is just to keep plugging away. And if you’d asked me that question a month ago, you’d have said that somehow or other, I have to get around Rick Perry. And if you’d asked me a month before that, you’d have said I have to get around Michele Bachmann. And a month before that, it might have been Tim Pawlenty. So my feeling is that you go out there, and you deliver a clear message, talk about experience, which is something that I think separates me from a lot of the pack, national security experience in particular. And given the times we’re in right now, that is a very important thing, as well as the ability to get things done in Washington, and win elections in tough states. No one can match up against the electoral victories I have, and in Democratic states running as a conservative, and in swing states that we can win, like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, et cetera.

HH: I think a lot of people who saw that debate wonder why you don’t get more time, because you make a lot of sense. In fact, you had the best moment of the debate when you asked people to raise their hands if they supported a sales tax. What is that? You keep a smile on your face, but how are you going to battle that?

RS: Well, you know, hopefully the next debate, which is in Las Vegas, will be an opportunity. To be honest with you, Hugh, CNN’s actually been the fairest when it comes to spreading the questions around, and so I’m looking forward to an opportunity to have a little bit more interplay. It’s tough. I mean, you’re out there on the end, and they focus all the questions on the guys in the middle. But I leaned over to Karen Tumulty, who was one of the questioners, and said you know, if you want to stop this from being a snoozefest, you might want to include somebody who’s actually going to mix it up and talk about real policy differences between the candidates. And I’ve not been afraid to do that.

HH: Well, let’s talk about, then, 9-9-9, because it is the flavor the day. And you asked does anyone support a national sales tax. What is the biggest problem with Herman Cain’s 9-9-9, Rick Santorum?

RS: Well, first off, I give Herman credit. I mean, he’s a good man, and he’s putting forward some ideas, and it’s always great to have folks who are putting forth ideas. The ideas, you know, just because it’s a bold plan, it doesn’t mean it’s a good plan. And the fact is that you are giving the federal government a new tool by which to beat people up with. Even the folks who are for a national sales tax, or a fair tax, is what’s been percolating out there, have been insistent that you have to repeal not only the income tax, but you have to repeal the Constitutional amendment that allows for the income tax, because the last thing that folks who are serious about limiting government want to do is to give the government both an income tax and a sales tax. And that’s what Herman does. In addition, the corporate tax he calls is really a value added tax, which is a European style tax that is sort of more like a sales tax than it is an income tax. So you know, Herman really does explode the opportunities for government to collect money. And I understand it’s well meaning. I understand it’s bold. It’s just misguided, and it’s giving folks like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid the opportunity to take more of your resources.

HH: Rick Santorum, are there any conditions under which you’d support a national sales tax or a VAT tax, which is a cousin of the former?

RS: Well, I’ve talked with the fair tax people, and I think their objective is to try to repeal the income tax and replace it with this. And if we went from a completely income tax oriented system to a consumption tax, I’d certainly be open to it. I have some concerns about it, but I think taxing consumption is better than taxing income and savings, as long as there is…look, I don’t believe that people who are poor should pay the same percentage of income as people who are wealthy. And I know that’s not necessarily a mainstream position within the conservative movement these days. But I don’t. I think people who are poor should pay something, but they shouldn’t pay the same percentage. And so as a result of that, I have some concerns about some of these sales taxes, because they do tend to be more regressive than the current income tax. They can be structured not to be, but then you end up with higher and higher rates. So it’s a very difficult way to move forward, but again, in concept, I’m not in disagreement with it.

HH: Sales taxes punish seniors, Rick Santorum. I wrote a book about this…

RS: Yeah, they do.

HH: …called The Fair Tax Fantasy, because you’d wipe out wealth for people who have accumulated it their whole life, played by the rules, worked hard. Is that going to be an issue going forward, that we’ve got to look at the fact that there’s equity here, when people have grown up under one system, you can’t change the rules on them that suddenly?

RS: Well, that’s, yeah, a sales tax, I mean, you know, the 9-9-9 tax is brutal on retirees, because retirees aren’t paying the payroll tax.

HH: Yup.

RS: And that’s where Herman says oh, you know, the people who aren’t paying the payroll tax anymore, and we replace it with that, well, if you’re a senior who is living off retirement savings, and you’re not paying the payroll tax, and every dollar you have now is going to be taxed at 18%, that’s a pretty heavy price for folks to pay when now, you’re just paying local taxes. So it is a huge shift in who is going to pay taxes from folks who are really the wealthier to those who are retirees. And people, the other folks who get hurt really hard with this, Hugh, are families with children, particularly families like mine with lots of kids, because now you have the dependent deduction for children, you have things that we say in our tax structure, we want to help support families. We want, you know, families with children should not be paying the same amount of taxes as families with no children, because we don’t want to make families raising children so expensive that people feel that they can’t have children. And so that’s an important thing for our society. Herman makes no provision for that, and in fact, will really hammer with families pretty hard.

HH: Before we run out of time, Rick Santorum, I want to talk to you about Iran, about pro-life issues, and I want to play for you a Nancy Pelosi quote from yesterday. But a practical issue, the filing reports are coming in, and Herman’s got no money. He’s got a plan, but no money. Perry’s got a lot of money and no plan. Where’s Rick Santorum on the money/plan part?

RS: I don’t know. I haven’t seen the other reports up here. I’m in a little vacuum. We raised pretty much the same, a little bit more, actually, than we raised the last quarter. We’re in a cash flow positive position. And we’re just trucking along, Hugh. I’m running the kind of campaign that I think people would like to see the government run, which is we’re only spending what we take in. We’re keeping a very low budget, we’re running a very efficient shop, we’re putting all the lead on the target, we’re running a great grassroots campaign, using a lot of volunteers. We’re in great shape. I mean, we haven’t raised anywhere near what some of these other campaigns have raised, but we’re in a cash flow very positive situation. We don’t drive around in big buses, we don’t fly private charters. I fly middle seats on United Airways. And that’s sort of what we’re doing, and it seems to be working well. We’re definitely picking up ground in some of these early primary states. We picked up a whole slew of endorsements when I was up in New Hampshire, including the state senators and state house members, county attorneys. So we’re making some progress with the people who are paying attention. And I always remind people there was a Pew poll out just a few days ago, that when they asked people if they could name one single person running for the Republican nomination, and half the people couldn’t name anybody. So all of these national polls are really meaningless. What matters, and what we’re focused in on is Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. And we feel good about what’s going on there.

HH: www.ricksantorum.com, if you want to participate in helping Rick stay on the road here. Now I want to play for you Nancy Pelosi yesterday, responding to a question about a pro-life measure moving through the House. Here is the former Speaker, current minority leader of the House.

NP: The point I want to get back to, what was asked about the issue on the floor today that Mr. Hoyer addressed. He made a point, and I want to emphasize it. Under this bill, when the Republicans vote for this bill today, they will be voting to say that women can die on the floor, and health care providers do not have to intervene, if this bill is passed.

HH: Rick Santorum, the new civility, huh, Rick?

RS: Yeah, it really is, it’s discouraging. I mean, one of the things that I’m out there on the stump, and people say how are you going to solve these problems, they’re so intractable, they’re so partisan. And I go out, and I give these very long and detailed answers on what to do on all these bills. And they say well Rick, no one’s going to listen, because you’re going to have all these people saying things like Nancy Pelosi says, and trying to cut off debate. I don’t know, I think the President, frankly, has set this tone. He set the tone as being very, very partisan, very divisive, very class warfare. Anybody who’s on the other side is really evil, who doesn’t want to do anything, who isn’t for the average American. And that kind of attitude, I guarantee you as president of the United States, when I’m president, we’re going to set a tone that we’re going to have discussions. We’re going to really talk about these issues, and try to bring people together, not by beating up the other side, but by illuminating these issues as much as we can, so people can come together and try their best to have reasoned decisions, and reasoned compromise that are going to make this country better. That’s my commitment.

HH: And very quickly, we’ve got about a minute left, Rick Santorum. The President’s response on Iran has been underwhelming. Do you suppose it’s because we’ve got carriers that way, and he’s trying to head fake the Mullahs?

RS: Oh, you know, that would be sort of the rosy scenario. Look, the President, when we had the problem two years ago, and the opportunity, I should say, in the Green revolution, he was completely silent. You compare that with throwing Hosni Mubarak, our ally, under the bus in Egypt, and allowing now the Muslim Brotherhood to take a preeminent role in that country. We had the opportunity to get rid of this theocracy that was a great threat to our country and to Israel, and he was silent, and even, you got the impression he was for the other side. This is more of the same. He is afraid to confront Iran, because he’s afraid of what he might have to do to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. A president should not be in a position of being afraid to protect the security of our country.

HH: 30 seconds, what should we do, Rick Santorum?

RS: Well, obviously, all these economic sanctions are great things. I think we have to look at working with the Israelis. We have to have a program to shut down their nuclear program. And I’m not going to say what that program is, but it must be both covert and overt, and we have to stop them from doing this. And relying on the Russians and the Chinese to help us? It’s folly.

HH: Senator Rick Santorum, thank you. www.ricksantorum.com.

End of interview.

.

Hughniverse

Listen Commerical FREE  |  On-Demand
Login Join
Advertise with us Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Book Hugh Hewitt as a speaker for your meeting

Follow Hugh Hewitt

Advertisement

The Hugh Hewitt Show - Mobile App

Download from App Store Get it on Google play
Friends and Allies of Rome