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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: Well Governor, congratulations, it was a close one but it was a win.

MITT ROMNEY: Well thanks, Bob, I actually think that three people had a good sendoff last night. Of course my team feels very good about our effort, but also Rick Santorum and Ron Paul -- we're all bunched together and now we go on to New Hampshire and the other guys in the race they're not throwing in the hat they're going to keep working.

SCHIEFFER: What was it like last night as you were watching the results come in?

ROMNEY: It was kind of fun you know we were up a few votes than down a few votes. At one point Congressman Aaron Schock said, "You know they say that in Chicago we'd know how to deal with a problem like this" and we all got a good laugh.

SCHIEFFER: It seems to me that the race is still, I mean we found out what we kind of thought was so at the beginning of all this, that there's a certain segment of the Republican party, the more moderate Republicans that like you and there's another group out there they haven't chosen one candidate yet, the more conservative voters but they settled on Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. How do you bring more conservatives into your (inaudible)

ROMNEY: Well I actually think that as people recall when I ran four years ago it was Mike Huckabee and I we were the two conservatives in the race battling for the conservative vote. I've got the same positions today I had then. I wrote a book about my vision for America. It's a very conservative take on what we need to do to get our economy going and to scale back the size of the federal government. I believe the kind of support I'm seeing in states like New Hampshire and South Carolina and Florida from conservative tea party voters, that augers pretty well for a strong showing in that segment of our party.

SCHIEFFER: Well I have to say though when we looked in the survey, our surveys last night, and they said who do you think is the true conservative you only got one-percent of the vote.

ROMNEY: You know people define that different ways. If you say who do you think is the person best suited to scale back the size of the federal government, which I believe is quintessential conservatism, I think I'll do pretty darn well. If you say who do you think can strengthen our position internationally? I think I'll do pretty darn well. If you think, who can get our economy going, who understands how jobs are created and what we have to do to get this economy cooking again, again I'll do real well. It depends on the issue and I understand I'm not going to satisfy everybody's image of a perfect candidate but hopefully I get the support I need to get the nomination.

SCHIEFFER: What do you do about Newt Gingrich? Somebody wrote this morning that a wounded Newt is more dangerous than a winning Newt because he has nothing to lose. He really unloaded on you yesterday as you well know and called you a liar, last night he called you a, quote, "Massachusetts moderate."

ROMNEY: Oh sticks and stones will break my bones, I'm not going to worry about what comes my way. I'm going to describe my views on issues, keep battling ahead, and make sure that people understand how I can get the country working again, and if Newt or anyone else wants to come after me, look, I've got to have broad enough shoulders to handle that because what's going to come from the Democratic National Committee and from the White House and President Obama is going to be extraordinary. So you know just get ready for it.

SCHIEFFER: Well do you worry though that what may come from the DNC may be sound bites from Newt Gingrich?

ROMNEY: Well you know that's okay. I doubt that they're going to have to go to Newt to get attack ads for me, they've got plenty of other people they'll go to and they'll do their own material. You know, I understand how they're going to play their game. They don't want to focus on the president's record. He has failed on the economy. He's failed to cut back on the scale of the federal government, building these massive deficits, and he's failed to secure us from Iran's nuclear ambition and so he doesn't want to talk about those failures, he wants to try and talk about the Republican nominee and somehow make us into a monster, and sorry, our Republican nominee -- hope it's me -- but we're all pretty good guys.

SCHIEFFER: If you should win New Hampshire, where you're out overwhelming favorite I think, you will have done something that no Republican candidate --with the exception of incumbent candidates-- has done and that is win Iowa and New Hampshire. Do you think that would put you in a pretty good place there? Are you predicting a victory down there?

ROMNEY: Well it's better than losing them both and uh, so I'm encouraged by how things appear at this point, but look I can't take New Hampshire for granted. I've got to earn it and work it very hard and then up come a lot of other states I've got to win and work hard there, this campaign has a long way to go before we have our nominee and you know I'm going to keep working long and hard to make sure I do my very best to get the nomination and if I do I think I'm in the best spot to replace Barack Obama and that, for me, that's the motivating factor here. Let's get him out and get this country back on track again. Scale back the size of government, get our economy going and protect us from the threats coming from abroad.

SCHIEFFER: What do you see, give me a little, just kind of a where do you go from here? You go to New Hampshire obviously where you are and then comes South Carolina. What do you see as the most crucial step coming down the way here?

ROMNEY: Well, again, it's making sure that people hear my message. I understand that the people running against me don't want to have that message get out, they want to try and divert and that's the nature of a campaign you don't complain about it or whine about it, but I have to get my message out. I'll be in New Hampshire next then I'll be going to South Carolina and Florida then comes Nevada and then a whole host of states that make up the pre-Super Tuesday states.

SCHIEFFER: When do you think it will be decided?

ROMNEY: It's so hard to tell what's going to happen from the other contenders, whether they'll be able to get the funding and the ground teams they need to go on to the subsequent states. Rick Santorum spent a lot of time as you know here in Iowa, he's now going to have to build that support elsewhere, but I don't think he's at ground zero elsewhere. He's been working those other places, he's got good support and I think he'll be a real contender.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think he is the main competition now?

ROMNEY: Well you know it seems like it at this point, I'm not enough of a pundit to know how each of the candidates stacks up right now but I think he'll find in the polls in New Hampshire in the coming days that he'll be the one who rises by virtue of his success here in Iowa along with Ron Paul, I think he'll also come up and so I think those are the guys that look like the toughest right now.

SCHIEFFER: Well Governor we want to thank you and wish you the best, hope we'll see you down the way.

ROMNEY: Thanks Bob, good to see you.


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