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CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer - Transcript

Location: Unknown



February 29, 2004 Sunday

HEADLINE: Interview With John Edwards; Interview With Guy Phillipe

GUESTS: Dianne Feinstein, David Dreier, Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, Kenneth Starr, Alan Derschowitz, Benjamin Netanyahu, Guy Phillipe

BYLINE: Wolf Blitzer, Lucia Newman, Suzanne Malveaux, Candy Crowley

Interview with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Then, interview with Haitian rebel leader Guy Phillipe.

BLITZER: Let's get some Republican perspective on what's happening right now.

Joining us from Boston, someone who knows President Bush quite well, as well as the presumed -- or at least the front-running Democratic challenger, John Kerry, Republican Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is joining us on "LATE EDITION."

Governor, thanks very much for joining us.

We'll get to politics in a moment, but explain to our viewers what will happen on May 17th in Massachusetts, once the supreme court in your state says gay marriages can go forward.

GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, that depends in part on what happens on March 11th. March 11th is when our legislature reconvenes to consider a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. I believe they will pass such an amendment, and then some 2 1/2 years later the citizens will get to respond to that same question, to decide whether to accept that amendment or not.

The Supreme Court has given us a ruling that says on May 17th we need to start issuing marriage licenses. So we could have the anomalous situation where we're issuing marriage licenses which are valid for a couple of years, and after that the people would say, no more marriage.

BLITZER: Let me clarify. Even if the legislature should pass such an amendment, it wouldn't go into effect for 2 1/2 years. In the interim, people would be allowed to go forward with gay marriages in Massachusetts?

ROMNEY: You know, I think that's the opinion of most people who've looked at it, that the Supreme Court here will insist that even in an interim period we'd have to go ahead with marriages. There will of course be activity, and potentially action taken by the legislature to consider whether, during this interim period, the court's decision should be put aside, and make sure that the people have a chance to speak before we start issuing marriage licenses.

But we'll have to follow the law, and the Supreme Court will have the final word.

BLITZER: You heard Republican Congressman David Dreier say he doesn't think a constitutional amendment, that drastic step, is necessary right now, as the president is calling for. What do you think?

ROMNEY: Well, he's talking about of course a federal constitutional action. We clearly see that the courts are willing to intrude in matters that have been defined in civilization and by our constitution for centuries. And I think the need for a constitutional amendment at the federal level is to assure that, if there's some rogue court somewhere, or perhaps a rogue mayor somewhere in the United States, as we're seeing in upstate New York and also in California, that these kinds of marriages don't have to be accepted in all the state of the Union. That's an important feature.

I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, but I respect other people's views. But fundamentally I believe we should have the rule of law in our country.

BLITZER: If it is a Bush-Kerry race -- and it certainly looks like it will be -- you know both of these men. You're from Massachusetts. You're in a unique vantage point.

Set the stage for us. How tough will it be?

ROMNEY: Oh, I think it's going to be a real tough campaign. I think you're going to see a real stark contrast between two people, less on the basis of their positions, more on the basis of their character and their sense of leadership.

I think, in the case of President Bush, you see a person who's decisive, who has very clear values and is willing to take positions on tough issues.

In the case of Senator Kerry, who's a person a lot of us here know well and like and respect, we recognize that he's a person that has a hard time coming down with a clear decision. On most of the key issues that this campaign has faced, he's been on both sides.

And on the issue, for instance, of gay marriage, which is not the most important issue of this campaign, of course, he's on both sides again. He's said he supports the Massachusetts constitutional amendment, which would limit marriage to a man and a woman, but he's against a federal constitution amendment to do the same thing.

So, the fact that he's not willing to be decisive and to be seen as taking a position on key issues is something, I think, that'll harm him down the home stretch.

BLITZER: Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, we'll be hearing a lot more from you down the road. Thanks very much for spending a few moments with us.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Wolf.

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