FOX News Channel "The Big Story"-Transcript
MR. GIBSON: A big cable news exclusive interview now with the man who drew the longest straw at the recent straw polls in Iowa and Illinois. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been engaged in a very public clash with fellow Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani over an issue that could decide who gets the GOP nomination in 2008 -- illegal immigration. In their very own border war, one accuses the other of supporting illegal immigration when he was in office; the other calls his opponent a hypocrite. Giuliani appeared on Fox News the other night on "The O'Reilly Factor" to defend his position. And you know we're fair and balanced, so we want to get the other side. Mitt Romney is with me now.
In this fight with Rudy Giuliani over who is tougher on illegal immigration and sanctuary cities, what is your record on opposing sanctuary cities in the state that you governed?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, I wasn't a mayor, I was a governor. And so as a governor, I did everything in my power to make sure we weren't attracting people to come into our state illegally. I authorized our state police to enforce federal laws against immigration. I also vetoed a law that the legislature passed that would have given tuition breaks to illegal aliens. I also said we're going to have English immersion in our schools. And statement after statement that I made said we're going to do nothing to make our state an attractive place for illegal aliens. Mayor Giuliani, on the other hand, presided over a sanctuary city and said that those who have come here illegally he welcomes and said come to our city, we want you. That, in my view, is a mistake. I wasn't a mayor, and governors aren't going to save mayors from themselves. I was instead a governor, and I made it very clear that I was going to take no action to make our state more attractive to illegal aliens.
MR. GIBSON: All right. Now, Representative Peter King, in defending Giuliani and attacking you yesterday said, "Mr. Romney did not cut those cities' funding. He recommended millions of dollars in state funding for them and made no attempt to force these cities to change their policies."
MR. ROMNEY: You know, it's a nice try on the part of Mayor Giuliani's surrogate here, but governors don't enforce on cities federal law. I'm proposing we do that at the national level. If president, I will cut funding to cities that call themselves sanctuary cities and don't conform with the federal law. But governors don't do that. There's no governor in America that's done what he's suggesting -- ever. It's a silly, nice try, but the truth is that the mayor was presiding over a sanctuary city and welcome illegal aliens, and I did just the opposite.
MR. GIBSON: What would you have done in the mayor's position? Here was this situation where he had 400,000 illegals. The U.S. Department of Customs and Border Patrol would only deport 1,500 to 2,000 a year, so he's going to have 400,000 anyway. If you were in charge, what would you have done?
MR. ROMNEY: Oh, exactly what I'm suggesting mayors throughout the country do and that is conform with the federal law. We did that in our state. I authorized our state police to implement and to carry out federal immigration policy. We're going to have to enforce the law. Now, that doesn't mean we're going to round up, in the case of the mayor, 400,000 people and deport them all at once. But it also doesn't mean that you go out on the public airwaves and say if you're illegal we want you to come here. That's a very bad message to be sending to people around the world who want to come to America illegally. This is important, because we want legal immigration to continue and to be welcomed in this country. But illegal immigration, that's got to end.
MR. GIBSON: Newark, New Jersey, murder of three young kids going off to college, it turns out one of them was an illegal. He had been arrested before. Nobody was able to ask, because Newark is a sanctuary city. Are you saying that if it wasn't a sanctuary city, that guy would have been jailed or deported and the murders wouldn't have happened?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, there's a chance of that being the case. I don't know the specifics well enough to know that. But what I know is that when I learned that at the federal government level that they are willing to train local law enforcement and state police so that they can take people who are illegal and begin the process of deportation, that's something I signed up for, and a few other governors have as well and some other leaders across the state and across the country. That's what we ought to be doing, because when we find people who have committed crimes or done things that bring them to the attention of law enforcement, if they're here illegally, we ought to enforce the law. Ultimately, we need to improve our system so that people who want to come here legally know how to get in, and people who want to come here illegally aren't allowed in.
MR. GIBSON: This immigration issue has focused the differences between you and Mayor Giuliani. In your view, is this race now for the Republican nomination between the two of you?
MR. ROMNEY: Oh, I think it's too early to say how it's settled out. There are a lot of great people still in the race. And we're going to have plenty of time for more debates, and there are going to be ups and downs and a lot issues that are going to come to fore.
MR. GIBSON: Giuliani was asked yesterday by somebody, you know, how come your daughter isn't supporting you, and he said leave my family alone. Is he right about that?
MR. ROMNEY: Yeah. You know, look, I like Mayor Giuliani. He and I get along great. He's campaigned for me. There's some places where we've had some differences on policy. One is with regards to sanctuaries and creating magnets for illegal aliens to come into your jurisdiction. As a mayor, he welcomed illegal immigration; as a governor, I said I opposed it.
MR. GIBSON: And say with us. Coming up, more of our exclusive interview with 2008 White House hopeful Mitt Romney. I'll ask Mitt which Democrat he thinks he'll be running against if he wins the Republican Party nomination.
MR. GIBSON: Back now with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the winner of the 2008 straw polls in Iowa and Illinois and the possible next president of the United States.
Let's turn to candidate Obama. Now, I know you've criticized him over his foreign-policy statements of the last couple of weeks.
Yesterday in Iowa, he made a speech, and he said not only did I not make a mistake saying those things, I'm going to repeat them. He says that it is the policy of every candidate and everybody knows it. If there is actionable information on where Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan, we will hit him. Is he still, in your view, wrong to say so?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, it shows a lack of understanding of how diplomatic affairs are carried out and how you communicate to the world when you're in the position of a president or a would-be president, and that is America always keeps our options open. When the president was asked this same question, he said you can be sure we would take action. But he doesn't say we're going to go into the country, we're going to bomb it, even if our ally doesn't like it. You have to be a little more careful in the words you use. And likewise, just a day or two ago, Barack Obama also said that we need more troops in Afghanistan to keep our troops from, what was said, bombing cities and killing civilians. This kind of language suggests a little more time is going to be needed for him to be ready to communicate to the world what our foreign policy is.
MR. GIBSON: If you found out where Osama was, would you bomb that cave without telling Musharraf?
MR. ROMNEY: You can be sure we would take necessary action to get Osama bin Laden, but I would certainly not say something which would tend to incite people in Pakistan against the leadership that country. You can anticipate that we have a close relationship with General Musharraf and that that relationship would continue. But we don't talk about taking unilateral action and bombing people who are our allies and our friends.
MR. GIBSON: The other possible candidate one would face in your position on the Democratic side is Hillary Clinton. Karl Rove said Hillary Clinton is the likely nominee of the Democratic Party. Do you think she's got it in the bag? Is she going to be the one that you would face if you were the nominee?
MR. ROMNEY: I think she's the most likely. You know, I wasn't as confident of that two or three weeks ago, but I think Barack Obama's comments on foreign policy, frankly going from guardrail to guardrail, have hurt him and will hurt him more as that's brought out in the Clinton campaign. I think she's the most likely nominee, in some respects, that will make a campaign very, very clear, because she would take America on a sharp left course with big government and big taxes and Big Brother, and I don't think that's where America's going to go.
MR. GIBSON: The markets are gyrating all over the place. The Fed instituted a rate cut overnight. People are having mortgage problems all over the country. Mortgage companies are collapsing. What is the answer to this problem?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, the Fed has taken appropriate action, I believe, to help stabilize the market. I don't think that the solution is in trying to bail out investors. Investors took a high- risk, high-return approach which has not paid off for them. And that's the nature of sophisticated investment.
MR. GIBSON: You're talking about the hedge funds.
MR. ROMNEY: I'm talking about the hedge fund guys and the Wall Street guys. But there are a lot of families that have been hurt that didn't realize what they were getting into, and that's something that's going to require some very careful attention.
MR. GIBSON: Governor Romney, thank you very much. Appreciate you coming in.
MR. ROMNEY: Thanks, John.