Today’s Romney Interview
The transcript is here. The opening questions:
HH: Mike Huckabee’s the flavor of the month. He surged up in Iowa. What are the differences between you and Governor Huckabee?
MR: Well, you know, we have the views that are similar or the same with regards to abortion and same sex marriage, but we feel very differently about subjects like taxes and immigration. Governor Huckabee was in favor of, and is in favor of, a program that allows the children of illegal immigrants to get a special deal for college tuition. They get the in-state tuition rate. I think it’s wrong to give illegal alien kids a better deal than the kids of U.S. citizens. And secondly, with regards to taxes, he has been very much in favor of raising taxes. He did so as the governor of Arkansas time and again. And I have a very different view. I fought to keep taxes down and to lower taxes. So we’ve got some different views. I think government should cut back on spending and taxing rather than raising it.
HH: You spent a lot of time in Iowa. Does that movement in his numbers concern you much?
MR: No, no. You know, I’m very pleased that my support has been strong in Iowa, continues to be strong. I think…I’d expected that Mayor Giuliani or perhaps Fred Thompson would be the number two competitor there, but you know, that hasn’t happened, and instead, the number two competitor is going to be, it looks like, Mike Huckabee, and he’s a good guy, and I look forward to the battle. I’ve always felt this is going to be a close race, and that’s what I think you’re seeing.
HH: Rudy Giuliani today was attacking the health plan you helped put into place in Massachusetts, saying that you have abandoned the idea of doing mandates, and I’m quoting now, “I think he realized he made a mistake,” and he was referring to you. What’s your assessment of his assessment of your plan, Governor?
MR: Well, you know, he really needs to ask us before he comes out with those kinds of things. I like our plan, I’m happy with the plan we put in place. We’re going to see how well it works in Massachusetts. And my view is that I would provide the flexibility to every state in America to create their own plan to help get their people insured. That’s what we did. And if they want to copy our plan, that’s terrific. But the last thing I’m going to do is tell every state that they have to do it exactly the way we did it. I’m not one of these one size fits all, Hillary Clinton types. I want private insurance, free market insurance for our citizens. That’s what we accomplished, and I like what we did. And by the way, we’re getting everybody insured. No other state in America has done that. Neither Mayor Giuliani nor anybody else has a plan to get everybody insured on the Republican side but me. So shoot away, but first, you’ve got to get your own plan before you’re going to have a stable footing.
Read the whole thing, including his response to Robert Redford’s bigotry. Mark Steyn said about that response:
HH: So what did you make of Romney on the program today?
MS: Well, you know, you were playing I’ve Got You Under My Skin. I love…one of the great things about him is his temperament. Nothing ever gets under his skin. I mean, he could have gone mad at that outrageous remark of Robert Redford, and he just shrugged it off. And I like his temperament more and more. One thing I do think he’s absolutely right on is the implications of these swollen entitlements. And I think, actually, if he were the nominee, he’d be very well positioned to run against Hillary Clinton on that. You know, Hillary Clinton has voted for a ton of pork projects like federal money for this, some knitting mill in Seneca, New York. Well you know, if I was passing by that knitting mill, I’m sure I’d be happy to chip in. I can see why the people of Seneca might, I can see why the people of New York might. But I don’t think this is a federal issue. And I think he’s right, that actually, you need a profound cultural change in this country, so that we reposition what is plausible and what is feasible in terms of federal spending.