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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

BLITZER: We just heard from Newt Gingrich. I will speak with Rick Santorum in our next hour.

But, right now, let's turn to the Republican presidential front- runner, joining us, the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney.

Governor, thanks very much for coming in.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Wolf. Good to be with you. BLITZER: The president of the United States is in South Korea right now, had a meeting with the Russian leader Medvedev, and he was heard with an open mike -- it's always dangerous for these politicians or leaders to be talking near an open mike.

He was heard saying this to Medvedev, the Russian president. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is my last election. And after my election, I have more flexibility.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I understand you. I transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, in case you didn't hear it: "This is my last election. And after my election, I have more flexibility."

That is a factual statement that the president is making. If he doesn't have to worry getting reelected, he doesn't have to worry so much about domestic politics.

Is there anything wrong in -- when in comes to national security issues, to be saying something like that to the Russian leader?

ROMNEY: Yes, there's something terribly wrong with that.

It is alarming. It is troubling. The agreement that the president put in place with regards to nuclear weapons is one which I find very, very troubling already. The decision to withdraw our missile defense sites from Poland put us in greater jeopardy, in my view. The actions he's taken so far which he says are to reset relations with Russia have not worked out at all.

Russia continues to support Syria, supports Iran, has -- has fought us with the crippling sanctions we wanted to have the world put in place against Iran. Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage, and for this president to be looking for greater flexibility, where he doesn't have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia is very, very troubling, very alarming. I'm very, very concerned. I think the American people are going to feel the same way. This is a president who is telling us one thing and is doing something else, and is planning on doing something else even more frightening.

BLITZER: Well, when you say even more frightening, what he's planning on doing in your opinion?

ROMNEY: Well, my guess is it has to do either with nuclear arms discussions, or it has to do with missile defense site. What he did both on with nuclear weaponry already and the new START treaty, as well as his decision to withdraw missile defense sites from Poland, and reduce our missile defense sites in Alaska from the original plan. I mean, these are very unfortunate developments and if he's planning on doing more and suggest to Russia that he has things he's willing to do with them he's no willing to tell the American people, this is to Russia this is without question our number one geopolitical foe, they fight every cause for the world's worst actors, the idea that he has some more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed.

BLITZER: You think Russia is a bigger foe right now than, let's say, Iran or China or North Korea, is that what you're suggesting, Governor?

ROMNEY: Well, I'm saying in terms of a geopolitical opponent, the nation which aligns with the world's famous actors. Of course, the greatest threat that the world faces is a nuclear Iran and nuclear North Korea is already troubling enough, but when these terrible actors pursue their course in the world and we go to the United Nations looking for ways to stop them, when Assad for instance is murdering its own people, we go to the United Nations and who is it that always stands up for the world's worst actors, it is always Russia, typically with China alongside.

And so, in terms of a geopolitical foe, a nation that's on the Security Council, that has the heft of the Security Council, and is, of course, a massive nuclear power, Russia is the geopolitical foe, and their -- and the idea that our president is planning on doing something with them that he's not willing to tell the American people before the election is something I find very, very alarming.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the Supreme Court and the arguments being heard today on whether or not the health care law is in fact constitutional. Your opponent, Rick Santorum, he is really going after you big time. Over the weekend, he said this, listen to this quote.

I'll read it to you because we don't have the actual sound bite. He said this, "Why would we put someone who is uniquely, pick any other Republican in the country, he is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama? Why would Wisconsin want to vote for someone like that?" He says because of your record in implementing health care reforms with state mandates in Massachusetts, that whole issue is neutralized, and in his words because of that you would be the worst Republican in the country to put up against President Obama.

I want to give you a chance to respond to Santorum.

ROMNEY: I'm not going to worry too much about what Rick is saying these days. I know that when you're following further and further behind, you get a little more animated.

But the truth of the matter is that I have been able to connect with the American people. As you go across this country, you're seeing more and more enthusiasm for my candidacy, and the recognition on the part of the American people that we have to replace President Obama. And one big difference between the two of us is that if I'm elected president, I will repeal Obamacare, and I'll stop it in its tracks on day one, I believe its unconstitutional, I believe the court will find it unconstitutional.

And one more thing I'll tell you about it -- we can't afford trillions of dollars of new spending. It's a power grab by the federal government. It violates the Tenth Amendment. It violates the economic principles of economic freedom in this country. It's wrong. It needs to be repealed.

BLITZER: Why is it OK for states to have health insurance mandates but not the federal government?

ROMNEY: Well, first of all, it's a matter of constitutional direction. States have the power to provide mandates if they wish to do so. The federal government does not.

But number two, we're talking about trillions of dollars of federal spending. And we can't afford more spending. In the case of my state, there was no new tax that was required.

In the case of Obamacare, he's put in place $500 billion of new taxes -- $500 billion of Medicare cuts and then, of course, he is planning on stepping in and telling people what kind of insurance they have to have. Ultimately, I believe he's going to insist upon telling people what kind of treatment they can receive.

It's a bad piece of legislation. The American people know it. That's why we're going to repeal it.

BLITZER: David Plouffe, the president's senior advisor, was on television yesterday and he said flatly, that you, Mitt Romney, in his words, you're the godfather of the president's health care. You want to respond to David Plouffe?

ROMNEY: Well, I think we said that he's the Rumpelstiltskin of the new campaign. He's trying to turn a straw into gold. It's just not going to work for them. I'm going to make it very clear that as someone who knows a lot about health care, and who cares about the American people having health insurance, that the way they went about it, with their 2,700-page bill and trillions of dollars of new spending is absolutely wrong.

The wrong course is for the federal government to take over health care from the states, from the physicians, and from the people of America.

BLITZER: I'll leave it with this little cute note, Governor. Your son Matt tweeted this over the weekend, "My dad's finally getting a little R&R this weekend. Pic here at the movies today with me and my kids."

You went to see "The Hunger Games", how did you like that film?

ROMNEY: I enjoyed it. I actually read the books, too. You know, I read serious books, but every now and then I read just for fun. And that was -- that was weekend fun. So it was nice to be able to see a flick for the first time in a long time.

BLITZER: It's PG-13, is it a little bit too violent, though, for young kids?

ROMNEY: I think -- I think it's a little bit to disturbing for young kids. I think the PG-13 is an indication of the seriousness of the film, but I'm over 13 now.

BLITZER: But you went with young kids, didn't you.

ROMNEY: Just about that age.

BLITZER: Yes. OK, all right, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Glad you had a little free time, Governor. Thanks very much for coming in.

ROMNEY: Thank you. Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

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