Tagg Romeny On Michigan And The State Of The Race
HH: I’m joined now by Tagg Romney, Governor Romney’s oldest son. Hello, Tagg, welcome back.
TR: Hey, Hugh, thanks for having me on again. It’s great to hear your voice.
HH: You know, I had Kristen, your radio wonderful, wonderful assistant said what do you want to Tagg about? And I said I want to talk to him about he’s glad he’s not working for the Dodgers anymore. And that’s probably true, isn’t it?
TR: You know, the Dodgers have a special place in my heart, but I always have been, and always will be a Red Sox fan.
HH: I’m sorry to hear that, and I should throw you off right now. Tagg, you’re going up to Michigan in the next big primary state along with Arizona. How closely connected are you as the grandson of a governor of Michigan to Michigan?
TR: Well, Michigan has a special place in our hearts. My mom and my dad were both born there, they were raised there, they met there, they had their formative years there. My dad is a car guy. You know, a lot of people don’t realize that his dad was the governor of Michigan, had been the president of American Motors there, and so Michigan is a special place to us. It was one of the most important places for us in the last campaign. We felt very lucky to have Michigan support us last time around. We’re hoping that they support the son of Michigan again, and help put someone who was born and raised in Michigan into the White House.
HH: Now Tagg Romney, Rick Santorum has said he can win. He’s going for broke in Michigan. And so obviously, you have to up your game there. Does that mean you’re going to be in Michigan a lot over the next two weeks?
TR: I anticipate whether Rick is there or not, Michigan is a special place to us, and we’re going to spend a lot of time campaigning there. We’re going to be on the TV and radio there. And we’re going to do everything we can do to make sure that the people of Michigan know, listen, we think Michigan is an important state for us to win in the primary. We also think it’s an important state that we can potentially win in the general election. And that’s, we think we’re the only candidate that can win that state in a general election and post up well against Obama there.
HH: Now Pete, Governor Snyder and Pete Hoekstra are like the big ticket names up there. I don’t know if either of them have endorsed, but they’re doing a fine job turning the state around.
TR: They’re doing a great job. Detroit had been run for a long time by, in Michigan by Democrats, and they had pro-union policies, and it didn’t work. And so I think people in the state said you know, we’ve had enough of these other guys. Let’s bring in some people who understand business. And my dad is one of the same type of person which is someone who gets business, and is willing to spend some of his time in government to try to apply the lessons of business to turn around government.
HH: Now in terms of Maine and CPAC, obviously Rick Santorum had a great Tuesday night. You guys had a great Sunday or Saturday night by winning the CPAC straw poll and by winning the Maine caucuses. So what was the week like as a whole?
TR: It was a lot of fun. This race has been lots of ups and downs. We think ultimately, we believe that ultimately, we will prevail. It was great to see the people of Maine support us, and the conservatives at CPAC vote for us. And hopefully, we’re able to continue that win streak with wins in more states coming. We realize we probably aren’t going to win all of the states, but we’re hoping to win as many as we can, and get all the delegates we need to win the nomination, and then go beat Barack Obama in the fall.
HH: Now Michigan and Arizona, which are on the 28th. Is that the date they’re on?
HH: Yeah, the 28th. Very different states. I mean, they’ve got almost completely different profiles in terms of both what their issues are and who lives there. So as you prepare to go back and forth, and I assume you’re going to both places, what are the big three issues in both of those states?
TR: You know, the issues, even though the people, the states are different, and sometimes, some of the local issues are different, the major issues are the same everywhere, which is jobs, the economy, spending, reining in government debt. Those are the things that really speak to people. And it’s clear to me that my dad’s the best qualified guy to get the economy working again. And by the way, he is, everywhere he’s gone, he’s successfully cut spending, whether it was at the Olympics, or as governor of Massachusetts. Even in a blue state with 85% of the legislature being Democrat, he was able to cut spending. They had a $3 billion dollar budget deficit. When he left, they had a $2 billion dollar rainy day fund. And so those are the issues that speak to people, and I think, you know, a lot of people, not just Republicans, but Democrats and independents as well want the government to stop wasting so much of our taxpayer money.
HH: Tagg, I’ve got to ask, I don’t remember asking you this when I was writing the book, but when your dad took the Olympics job, your mom was not thrilled. Your dad was not really going to do that, and your mom kind of talked him into doing that. Where were you on that calculation?
TR: You know, I had no idea he was considering it at the time. I’m glad that he did it. As I told him after he was announced, I told him, I said dad, I could not conceive of a possible way that it would land, have you end up on the front page of a sports page. But somehow, he did it. And he did a fantastic job there. The people of Salt Lake just celebrated their tenth anniversary of a very successful Olympic games.
HH: But it was a nightmare going in, right? It was an utter, total wreckage.
TR: Yeah, it was, there was a $380 million dollar budget deficit. The scandal just happened, sponsors were trying to figure ways out of their sponsorships, and there were certainly no new sponsors signing up. And listen, he had help. He did it the way he’s always done things, which is he surrounded himself with very good people, and a very good team, and he went in there and fixed the budget, got the city excited about hosting the Games again, got sponsors to feel better about it, and then signed up new sponsors, and then cut spending. He went and cut a lot of sacred cows. And the IOC was not happy with all the benefits he was cutting back for them, but he said this was what he needed to do to put on a successful Games for the athletes and for the fans. And they’re the real, the people that really matter.
HH: All right, Tagg Romney. Last night, I had a great dinner with a very senior guy, he’s very senior. He hasn’t made up his mind, but he’s leaning towards Santorum. And his answer is, his reason to me was he thinks he knows with more certainty who Rick Santorum will put into his cabinet than he does who Mitt Romney will put into his cabinet. So how would you answer that objection?
TR: You know, my dad as governor of Massachusetts, governed as a conservative. You look at his track record, his track record is extremely conservative. And what you want is someone of his character and of his proven ability to get things done. My dad’s the only guy in the race who actually has been a governor, or a CEO. And he knows what it’ll take to turn the country around. And we’ll surround himself with people who are extremely capable and talented. And they’ll get the job done. And it takes more than just being able to talk about things. It takes actually having done them. Lots of people can talk the talk. Walking the walk is entirely different, and that’s what my dad excels at, is walking the walk. He’s proven over and over and over again that he can get things done.
HH: Now Tagg, you’re an HBS guy. Your dad’s an HBS guy. So I’m just curious. Are you guys on your mark where you thought you would be – delegates, money, momentum, polling, when you looked at this a year ago?
TR: We’re ahead of where we thought we’d be. I mean, when you get into this, you think is there any way…you don’t expect you can actually be the nominee. There’s an outside chance you might. The reason he got into the race was not because he had an overarching desire to be president, but because he really, genuinely believes that there’s a lot of things that are going wrong in the country, and that he can fix them. And so he ran, and said you know what, I’m not sure if the country will vote for me or not, but I’m going to get in and do the best that I can. And if I’m lucky enough to win, then I know I can fix these things.
HH: What are your fundraising and volunteer numbers at, though? Are they where you thought they would be?
TR: Absolutely. We have exceeded our expectations on both counts. I think we’ve out fundraised the next closest candidate by a pretty significant margin. The reason for that is because our message is resonating. The number of volunteers, we have thousands and thousands of volunteers who are helping us all across the country. So we feel very, very good about the state of the race.
HH: Tagg Romney, thanks for checking in. When you’re over in California, stop by the studio again, and I appreciate the time.
End of interview.