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Public Statements

CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA: Governor Mitt Romney, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

ACOSTA: I wanted to talk about that "Washington Post" poll that came out that shows you trailing the president by eight points here in Ohio. Obviously this is a critical battleground state. You said recently that you've spent just as much time at fundraisers as you have in swing states since the convention. Looking back, was that a tactical error, do you think?

ROMNEY: You know part of a campaign is to go out and meet people across the country and also to raise money so you can have ads on TV. We keep very busy. There's no time off. It's around-the-clock kind of work. We're taking our message to the people of Ohio and across the country. And polls go up and down. But frankly you're going to see the support that I need to become president on Election Day. People recognize that we don't want a government getting larger and larger and more intrusive in our lives. And we have a question about what course America's going to take. I represent one that will create more jobs and more take home pay. The president represents more of the same.

ACOSTA: And it seems that your main message in this campaign has been about the economy. But that message is not resonating at least not here in Ohio. And I wonder how much of that is self-inflicted. What would you say to Americans out there who wonder if that videotape that came out last week is the real Mitt Romney?

ROMNEY: I'm overwhelmingly committed to helping every American. That's what this campaign is about. From the very beginning of my campaign I spoke about the need to help get people out of poverty, the need to get the 23 million people that don't have good jobs, struggling to find work, to help those people get good jobs. My whole campaign is about getting the economy going. People at the top are doing fine. They'll probably do fine whether Barack Obama were re- elected or not. It's the people in the middle and at the bottom that are struggling in the Obama economy. That's why I'm running, is to help them.

ACOSTA: And you criticized the president for referring to recent events in the Middle East as bumps in the road and you talked about the death of Ambassador Stevens and basically said that these aren't bumps in the road, these are human lives. Do you think the president intended to refer to Ambassador Stevens' death as a bump in the road?

ROMNEY: Well, he was asked about the developments in the Middle East. And he said the developments in the Middle East are bumps in the road. And those developments include 20,000 people being killed in Syria, a Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Iran on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power and of course the assassination of our ambassador in Libya. I'm not sure whether any of those qualifies as a bump in the road. They certainly don't in my view.

ACOSTA: Do you think the president meant to say that -- ROMNEY: Well that's -- he was asked about the developments in the Middle East. I'm not sure which developments in the Middle East he would consider bumps in the road. I consider the developments in the Middle East a very troubling development, a very troubling course. I believe also that the White House's failure to acknowledge that the assassination of our ambassador was a terrorist attack, a terrorist event suggests that they're trying to paper over the seriousness of the -- of what's happening in the Middle East.

ACOSTA: And the president said at the United Nations that the United States will do what we must to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. If you had been at the United Nations, what would have been your message to the Iranians?

ROMNEY: Well we've heard the president now speak at the United Nations in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 each time showing his commitment to keeping Iran from becoming nuclear and yet Iran gets closer and closer every year to having nuclear capability. It's very clear that his policies with regards to Iran have not dissuaded them from becoming nuclear by one iota in the words of Prime Minister Bebe (ph) Netanyahu, so the president is not effective in being able to take them on a different course. I would be.

ACOSTA: What would be your message though to the Iranians?

ROMNEY: Well words are words. You need to show the kind of action that suggests to them that we're serious about what we're saying. And those kinds of actions would include and should have included from the very beginning of this administration, crippling sanctions, indicting Ahmadinejad under the Genocide Convention for incitation to genocide. Treating the diplomats of Iran like the pariah they are, the way we treated the diplomats of South Africa under apartheid. These are the types of things that the president could have done, should have done from the very beginning, which he did not.

ACOSTA: And just the other day you said the president has been trying to fool people with his ads and his speeches about your record. But fact checkers have also taken issue with your ads. Haven't you also played fast and loose with the facts from time to time?

ROMNEY: We've been absolutely spot-on. And any time there's anything that's been a miss we correct it or remove it. The president on the other hand --

ACOSTA: Even the welfare ad?

ROMNEY: The -- absolutely. Look, it has been shown time and again that the president's effort to take work requirement out of welfare is a calculated move. The same thing he did with regards to food stamps. He took work out of welfare -- excuse me -- work out of the food stamps requirement. What was the result? The study shows that twice as many people went from having food stamps to those that are able- bodied to -- as a result of that change.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Taking work requirements --

ACOSTA: (INAUDIBLE) calls it pants on fire and "The Washington Post" gives it --

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: They're wrong? Is that what you're saying?

ROMNEY: There are -- you look at the facts. Did he take the work requirement out of welfare?

ACOSTA: I think what the Obama administration has said is that no, they're trying to give governors the flexibility to increase the amount of work that goes into receiving welfare benefits. You're saying you don't buy that.

ROMNEY: No, no. No, no. You always have the capacity to add work. There's never been a requirement that you can't have more work. The requirement that they're waiving was saying that people don't have to work to get welfare. That's the change that they proposed. I disagree with that direction. I think the president has also -- I disagree with the direction on the work requirement as it related to food stamps. Look taking work requirements out of government assistance is in my opinion a very bad course to take and creates a culture of dependency. We help people who need help. We want to help people that need help. But the idea of removing work requirements I think is a mistake.

ACOSTA: African-Americans have a tremendous sense of pride that there's the first African-American president in the White House. If you were to somehow beat the first African-American president, what would you say to the black community to assure them that you would be their president also?

ROMNEY: I want to be the president of all the people of America. I want to help all the people of America. You don't get into a race like this with myself and my family and do the kind of work and commitment that we've put forward without the passion to help all of America. And the people who really need the help right now are the people in the middle class. People who have fallen into poverty. I know how to get them help. The president doesn't.

ACOSTA: What would you do about those referees in the NFL?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: Would you order them back to work?

ROMNEY: I'd sure like to see some experienced referees with NFL experience come back out on the NFL playing fields.

ACOSTA: Paul Ryan called those refs out today. Are you glad that he did that?

ROMNEY: That's just fine. Paul was very angry that the Green Bay Packers he believes won and the referees took it away from them.

ACOSTA: All right. Very good. All right and thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

ROMNEY: Thank you.

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