CNN Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics - Transcript
WOODRUFF: Some of America's governors, meanwhile, have suggested that President Bush should spend less time worrying about Social Security and more time trying to fix Medicaid. Republican Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has been attending the annual gathering of governors here in Washington. I talked to him just a short time ago and I asked him if the president has the right priority.
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GOV. MITT ROMNEY ®, MASSACHUSETTS: The president has to deal with the massive concerns of our federal budget and the needs that the citizens of our nation have to be able to count on a secure future. And he recognizes that there's a gap in our ability to provide for our seniors down the road as the baby boomers come through this-you know, this age wave. And therefore, he's focusing on solving the problems of the future, and that's in Social Security. But...
WOODRUFF: Don't you think Medicaid is a bigger problem?
ROMNEY: Well, no, I think Medicaid is a huge problem, particularly for our states and for the federal government. And he's proposed-the president has proposed some changes in our Medicaid system.
But the governors and his administration are now working together to say, can we carry out really fundamental reforms in Medicaid that allow us to do two things? One, to help more people receive support that need our care, the uninsured, if you will? And two, to find a way to keep Medicaid from growing at such an accelerated rate that it eats up the federal and state budgets?
WOODRUFF: A lot of talk, more talk these days about whether you're going to run for president in 2008. And also speculation about whether you're definitely going to run for a second term as governor. Is there any question in your mind you're going to do that?
ROMNEY: Well, you don't make a final announcement until the campaign begins generally in the fall. This is a season to get some things done and not be involved in politics.
We just got finished with an election cycle. Let's get-let's get a lot of work done, and then the campaigns begin probably next-late next fall. And that's when the final announcement will be made. Anything beyond that is so speculative and so far distant it doesn't make sense to delve into.
WOODRUFF: I ask because you're familiar with all the speculation or the comment that for somebody to run for re-election in a socially moderate state like Massachusetts, at the same time you're trying to appeal to a socially conservative Republican base, is going to be a real high wire act.
ROMNEY: Well, I think most people who have been successful in the public arena have a position that people understand and appreciate. It doesn't change depending on the crowd.
And I am what I am, as Popeye used to say. And the folks in Massachusetts accept me for what I am on a valued basis and on social issues. But they also care very deeply about how their money is spent and whether the government is working for them, whether we create more jobs and improve our schools and solve the problems in health care.
They don't care whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. What they care about is am I willing to work for them and get the job done.
WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of positions changing, I'm sure you know the press has noted-they say that you've made some notably more conservative comments recently on stem cell research and on gay rights. The head of the Log Cabin Republicans in Massachusetts said, "What happened to the Mitt Romney who ran for governor, supporting employment nondiscrimination, hate crimes legislation, domestic partnerships and civil union-like benefits for gay couples?"
ROMNEY: You know, actually, on those bases, we haven't changed at all our views. And that is, as an administration, which is I'm very much opposed to any kind of hate crimes. Of course I do want to see equal opportunity in employment, and provide also benefits such as hospital visitation rights for domestic partnerships.
But I made very clear in my campaign throughout the entire campaign that I do not support gay marriage or civil unions, Vermont- style civil unions, as I called them at the time. Haven't changed my view at all. Now, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court came out with a decision which made that an issue that came front and center. I made it clear time and again I do not support gay marriage nor civil unions. Now, with...
WOODRUFF: So no shift in position?
ROMNEY: I'm the same place I have been all the way along on that issue. No-no-I don't think there's been an iota of change with regards to my view. I feel very deeply about the need to respect and tolerate people of different social-or sexual orientation. But at the same time, I believe marriage should be preserved as an institution for one man and one woman.