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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript


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BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, from Cornwall, Pennsylvania, we're on the campaign trail with Mitt Romney.

With the polls closer than many expected at this point, Mitt Romney is riding high and getting a warm welcome in places like Pennsylvania, once Obama territory.

MITT ROMNEY: We're going to do it here in Pennsylvania with your help.

BOB SCHIEFFER: When he took a break to talk to us--

MITT ROMNEY: Hey, Bob, how are you doing?

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm good, yeah.

--he had strong words for the President's new plans to stop deporting the children of illegal aliens.

MITT ROMNEY: If he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with the illegal immigration in America, then this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So he did it with politics?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, that's certainly a big, big part of the equation.

BOB SCHIEFFER: He vowed to stop the President's health care plan no matter what the Supreme Court rules.

MITT ROMNEY: Regardless of their decision, if I'm President, we're going to stop Obamacare on its tracks.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And he saw little that United States can do to help the financial crisis in Europe.

MITT ROMNEY: Well, we're not going to send checks to-- to Europe. We're not going to bail out the European banks.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Later on his campaign bus, he remembered his dad on this Father's Day weekend.

MITT ROMNEY: He spoke the truth, suffered for it politically from time to time but he didn't care about the politics of-- of truth. He said what he believed and-- and moved on.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And he told us about the Romney family's Olympic athlete.

MITT ROMNEY: Yeah, it's not me.

BOB SCHIEFFER: On page two, we'll hear from the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean; Republican Senator Lindsey Graham; and for analysis, TIME magazine's Rich Lowry, Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal; and our own Jan Crawford and John Dickerson. It's all ahead because this is FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, again. Mitt Romney got on a bus this weekend and began a tour of six battleground states. He's traveling mostly on the back roads. He is visiting New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. We caught up with him in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor, thank you so much for joining us--

MITT ROMNEY (voice overlapping): Thanks, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --we really appreciate it. I-- I think we ought to just get right to the news.

MITT ROMNEY: All right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The President said, Friday, the government will no longer seek to deport eight hundred thousand of these young illegal immigrants who were brought into this country by their parents. I think you said this is just a short-term solution to a long-term problem, but would you repeal this order if you became President?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, let's step back and-- and look at the issue. I mean, first of all, we have to secure the border. We need to have an employment verification system to make sure that those that are working here in this country are here legally and then with regards to these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is. This is something Congress has been working on, and I thought we are about to see some proposals brought forward by Senator Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators, but the President jumped in and said I'm going to take this action. He called it a stopgap measure. I-- I don't know why he feels stopgap measures are the right way to go and he--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): Well, what would you do about it?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, as-- as you know, he was-- he was President for the last three and a half years, did nothing on immigration. Two years, he had a Democrats' House in Senate, did nothing of permanent or-- or long-term basis. What I would do is I'd make sure that by coming into office I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the-- for the children of those that-- that have come here illegally--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): Would you--

MITT ROMNEY: --and I've said, for instance, that-- that those who served in the military, I would give permanent residents, too.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Sure, but would you repeal this?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, it would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution with-- with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals, such that they know what their-- their stat-- setting is going to be--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): But would--

MITT ROMNEY: --not just-- not-- not just for the term of the President, but on a permanent basis.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I won't keep on about this but just to-- to make sure I understand, would you leave this in place while you worked out a long-term solution or would you just repeal it?

MITT ROMNEY: We'll-- we'll look at that-- we'll look at that setting as we-- as we reach that. But my anticipation is, I'd come into office and say we need to get this done on a long-term basis, not this kind of a stopgap measure. What-- what the President did, he-- he should have worked on this years ago. If he felt seriously about this, he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn't. He saves these sort of things until four and a half months before the general election.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, why did you think he did that?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I-- I think the timing is-- is pretty clear. If he-- if he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with the illegal immigration in America, then this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So he did it for politics?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, that's certainly a big part of the equation.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about health care. The Supreme Court is going to hand down its decision, maybe as early as Monday, on what to do about the President's health care law. If the court throws it out, what will you do?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I-- I will continue to describe the plan that I would provide, which is, number one, to make sure that people don't have to worry about losing their insurance if they have a preexisting condition, and change jobs. Number two, to let individuals buy insurance on their own, if they want to, on the same tax advantage basis that companies do today. And number three with regards to those that are poor or uninsured, I'd bring that responsibility back where it's been for the last couple of hundred years, to the states, and provide states the funding they need to help with this issue by granting Medicaid and DSH payments on a block basis to each of our states.

BOB SCHIEFFER: If-- when-- when the Massachusetts health care law was put in, the Obama people delight in telling us that they base their plan on your plan in Massachusetts. It had a mandate. Do you think a mandate is unfair?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think federally it's unconstitutional, but, of course what I think is going to be a-- a-- a-- surpassed by what the Supreme Court thinks ultimately. But states have, under their constitution, the-- the right to require people to either go to school or get auto insurance or in this case, to get health insurance. We-- we created a solution. Republicans and Democrats, business and labor in our state, we worked collaboratively. The President instead, on a very partisan basis, jammed through a bill, didn't get a single Republican vote, didn't really try and work for a Republican vote. I mean the people of Massachusetts, the most Democrat state in the nation, voted for a Republican senator to stop Obamacare. He went ahead anyway and put this-- this bill upon the American people. They don't want it. I hope the Supreme Court believes--as I do--that it's not constitutional. But regardless of their decision, if I'm President, we're going to stop Obamacare in its tracks and return to the Tenth Amendment that allows states to care for these issues on the way they think best.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little bit about the economy. Yesterday, the British government said it would be injecting billions of dollars of cash into its banks to protect the economy there in light of what some are calling the most dangerous point in the financial crisis in over two years in Europe. If the European economy falls apart, do the American economy is going to be in big trouble. What should we be doing right now?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I-- I wish that over the last three and a half years that the President would have taken action to rebuild the basis of our economy, its foundation get it on such a strong footing that the challenges in Europe, if they occur, wouldn't have a significant impact as they might otherwise. But-- but, right now, we're dealing with twenty-three million people out of work or stopped looking for work or underemployed. Homes are still bumping along the bottom, foreclosures are at very high levels, median income is way down. The President has, frankly, made it harder for our economy to reboot. I-- I'd strengthen the-- the basis of America's economic might, hopefully, we never have to go back.

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): How would do you that?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, there are a number of things, Bob. The top three, for instance, one is to take advantage of our energy resources. We have a-- an extraordinary gift, which is massive natural gas reserves, as well as coal--

BOB SCHIEFFER: But-- but, I mean would that work right now? I mean, that's going to take a while to get that going. I mean, I-- I'm talking about what-- what if this whole thing falls in-- in Europe? What should we be doing here? Should we become involved? What do we do?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, we're not going to send checks to-- to Europe. We're not going to bail out the European banks. We're going to be poised here to support our economy, but I-- I'm very much in favor of the fundamental things one does to strengthen the economic footings of a nation. And-- and as to what's going to happen in Europe and what kind of impact that will have here, time will tell. But our banks are on a much stronger basis than they were at the time of the-- the last economic crisis, and they have built their capital base and their equity base and worked through a lot of their toxic assets, their toxic loans, and-- and I hope that, regardless of what happens in Europe, that our banking sector is able to-- to weather the storm.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The Federal Reserve, as I understand, is going to meet this week to weigh the possibility of a new economic stimulus for our economy. Now, you didn't think much of the last stimulus. What do you think they should do now--is it time for another?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, the-- the QE2, as it's called, which was a-- a monetary stimulus, did not have the desired effect. It was not extraordinarily harmful, but it does put in question, the future value of the dollar, and-- and will, obviously, encourage some inflation down the road. A QE3 would do the same thing. I know how it is. Politicians in office want to do everything they can just before an election to try and temporarily boost something, but the-- the potential threat down the road of inflation is something which we-- we have to be aware of, and at the last QE2, the last monetary stimulus, did not put Americans back to work, did not raise our home values, did not bring jobs back to this country or encourage small businesses to open their doors. What's wrong with our economy is that our government has been warring against small, middle, and large businesses. And-- and people in the business world are afraid to make investments and to hire people. I-- I want to make it very clear that in my administration, government will see it-- itself as the-- as the friend of enterprise and job creators, and we'll start building jobs again.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But are you saying here that-- that when this trouble that's going on in Europe right now, that we-- there's not much we can do but just sort of watch and see what happens?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, we can certainly offer our counsel and we can look nation by nation and talk about the kinds of things we think are appropriate for them to do, which actions we think are-- are too challenging for them to deal with, which-- which actions would have the best chance of shoring up their-- their banking sector. But I-- I surely don't believe that we should expose our national balance sheet to the-- the vagaries of what's going to be happening in Europe. Europe is capable of dealing with their banking crisis if they choose to do so. Obviously, this is going to depend enormously on-- on Germany. But-- but they and others will have to make that decision. But we don't want to go in and start providing funding to-- to European banks.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You were one of the vast majority of Republicans who signed the pledge that was circulated by the leading anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, "No new taxes under any circumstance." And I remember once back during one of the primaries, you-- you were asked if you would agree to one dollar in-- in taxes if you could get ten dollars cut in spending cuts, and you said at that time, no, I wouldn't even accept that. Do you still feel that way?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, we all felt that way. And-- and the reason is that government, at all levels today, consumes about thirty-seven percent of our economy.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But do you still--

MITT ROMNEY (voice overlapping): Let me go on and explain--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): --how?

MITT ROMNEY: --and-- and the answer is I do feel that way. Government is big and getting larger, and there are those who think well, the answer is just to take a little more from the American people, just give us a little more and-- and there are places that have gone that way. California, for instance, keeps raising taxes more and more and more. And funny thing, the more they raise in taxes, the deficits get larger and larger. The only solution to taming an out-of-control spending government is to cut spending and my policies reduce the rate of spending, bring government expenses from twenty-five percent-- federal expenses from twenty-five percent of the economy down to twenty percent and ignite growth of our economy. That's the way that we're going to balance our budget is getting people back to work with rising incomes again. So, we're going to get bigger tax revenues as a-- as a result of that good news.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We-- we know, Governor, you've told us, you haven't been bashful about telling us where you want to cut taxes. When are you going to tell us where you're going to get the revenue? Which of the deductions are you going to be willing to eliminate? Which of the tax credits are you going to-- when will you going to be able to tell us that?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, we'll go through that process with Congress as to which of all the different deductions and exemptions are the ones--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): But do you have any ideas now, like, the home mortgage interest deduction, you know, various ones?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, Simpson-Bowles went through a process of saying how they would be able to reach a-- a setting where they had actually, under their proposal even more revenue for the government with lower rates. So mathematically, it's been proved to be possible. We can have lower rates, as I propose, that creates more growth, and we can limit deductions and exemptions--

BOB SCHIEFFER: But you're not--

MITT ROMNEY: --but my view-- my-- my view is the right way to do that is to limit them for high-income individuals because I want to keep the progressivity of the code. One-- one of the absolute requirements of any tax reform that I have in mind is that people who are at the high end, whether you call them the one percent or two percent or half a percent, that people at the high end will still pay the same share of the tax burden they're paying now. I'm not looking for a tax cut for the very wealthiest. I'm looking to bring tax rates down for everyone, and, also, to make sure that we stimulate growth by doing so and jobs. For me, this is all about creating good jobs.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But people at the top would-- would be paying the same-- basically the same--

MITT ROMNEY (voice overlapping): Share.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --at the same share (INDISTINCT) beginning.

MITT ROMNEY: Yeah, I'd be looking for-- I think that's important to say, look, I'm not looking to reduce the burden paid by the wealthiest.


MITT ROMNEY: I'm looking to keep the burden paid by the wealthiest as the same share as it is today.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me turn to foreign policy. And Bill Kristol writing in The Weekly Standard this week, says, "We are reaching the time of consequence in our dealing with Iran on nuclear weapons." He says it is time for the President to go to the Congress and say, "I want you to authorize me to be able to use military force, if that becomes necessary. And he says if the President is not willing to do that, then the Congress should do it-- themselves. What's your take on that?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I-- I can understand the reason for his-- his recommendation and his concern. I think he's recognized that this President has communicated in some respects that, well, he might even be more worried about Israel taking direct military action than he is about Iran becoming nuclear. That's the opinion of some who watch this. And so, he wants the President to take action that shows that a military-- excuse me, that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. And I-- and I believe it's important for us to communicate that. I can assure you if I'm President, the Iranians will have no question but that I would be willing to take military action, if necessary, to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I-- I don't believe at this stage, therefore, if I'm President, that we need to have war powers approval or a special authorization for military force. The President has that capacity now. I understand that some in the Senate, for instance, have written letters to the President indicating you should know that-- that a-- a containment strategy is unacceptable. We cannot survive a-- a course of action which would include a nuclear Iran, and we must be willing to take any and all action, they must all-- all those actions must be on the table.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What have you learned out here on the campaign trail? You say you've been talking to regular folks. What are they telling you?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, it's fun going across the country. This has been a great and thrilling experience. I-- I come away impressed with how patriotic people are, how much they love this country, how much they respect the principles that made us a unique nation? I come away impressed with the entrepreneurialism of the American people in tough times. A lot of people have found ways to make do and-- and make better. People are, however, tired of being tired. These have been long years, three and a half years of a very difficult economy, and in a lot of cases, a lot of disappointment, disappointment with the President and with his policies. I-- I hear from small business people day in and day out why is it that my government seems to think I'm their enemy? They feel they're under attack by their own government. We've got to change the attitude in this country. We-- we've got to recognize we're all in this together. Let's not divide Americans. Let's come together and say to business creators, job creators, we want you to succeed. We want you to hire more people. How can we help? Government has to be the friend of the American people.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Now, Governor, I'm-- I'm running out of time here, but it just prompts me to ask you this question. The country is deeply divided. The Congress is deeply divided. What is it that you think you can bring to it to bring the two sides together because they're a long way apart right now?

MITT ROMNEY: You-- you are right. And-- and, perhaps, part of what I would be able to do flows from the fact that I-- I'm really not a guy that's going to from the next step in my political career. Bob, I don't have a political career. I served as governor for four years. I spent my life in the private sector. The private sector is where I've-- I've made my mark. I-- I'm in this race because I want to get America back on the right track. I don't care about reelections. I don't care about the-- the partisanship that goes on. I want to get America right. We're at a critical crossroads in this country, and if we keep going down the path we're on, we're going to become like Europe with chronic high unemployment with-- with wages that are stagnating, with fiscal crisis down the road. That's where we're heading. We have got to take an entirely new course in this country and it has to be adapted and-- to our current times, but I know what it takes to get America going again and America is poised. We're on the cusp of an extraordinary economic resurgence in this country, but it's going to take a different President with a different vision.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So you're not saying you're just intend to serve one term?

MITT ROMNEY: Oh, no, look, I'm going to do whatever I think is right to get America right, but for me this is not about politics. This is not about, did I win this or did they win this? This is about what can we do to get America right? And there are good Democrats and good Republicans who care about the country more than anything else and who know that we're getting very close to a dangerous cliff and we have got to pull back and we've got to work together. Heck, I was in a state where my legislature was eighty-seven percent Democrat. And we faced some tough times. We worked together. We-- I didn't get everything I wanted. They didn't get everything they wanted. They got most of what they wanted. And-- but we worked together. And that's got to happen in Washington. We've got to have people who're willing to put aside the partisanship, stop worrying about the next elections, and, say, you know what we've got to fix the country fast.

BOB SCHIEFFER: When we come back, more with Mitt Romney from his campaign bus.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little politics. Why-- why the bus tour? What's this about?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, it's really a chance to get across the country, not just do the fund-raisers, which are part of everyday otherwise. But to see people across America, particularly in some of the small towns that don't typically get presidential politics.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Why these six states, these are six states that Barack Obama won last time out, right?

MITT ROMNEY: These are-- these are all states they I look forward to winning in the general election. And so I'm-- I'm making sure I-- I plant the flag, if you will.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know this is Father's Day weekend. I know you were very close to your-- your father.


BOB SCHIEFFER: What does Father's Day mean to you?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, every time I think of my dad, it tugs at my heart strings. I mean, my dad was such an extraordinary person, born poor, raised poor, never graduated from college. Never-- never worried about the past, always looked forward, had such confidence in America that he went on to achieve great things in business and in government. I mean I look at my dad as one of a kind, spoke the truth, suffered for it politically from time to time, but didn't care about the politics of-- of truth. He said what he believed and-- and moved on.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know somebody told me that during those primary debates when you would often write things down, they said, "you'll never guess what he wrote down." Share that with me. What did you write down?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, of course different notes in different circumstances but each time I wrote, dad, at the top of my page, reminding myself of-- of the sacrifice that he made in-- in his life, for his family, for us, and of his passion for America. So, yeah, dad was just three letters at the top of the page.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So I here you've got an Olympic athlete in the family.

MITT ROMNEY: Isn't that something. Yeah, it's not me. It's my wife, of course. She's the athlete. But in this case, it's not her personally. But she along with two other people purchased a horse and have trained it up and it's done so well that-- that the trainer and that horse are going on to represent the United States in the Olympics in London. So she's quite thrilled and I'm sure she'll be watching. I have a campaign to attend to, so I won't be able to see it perform but I'm-- I'm very pleased for her--

BOB SCHIEFFER: This is dressage.

MITT ROMNEY: --and for-- and for her training. Yes, it's the sport of dressage, not many people are familiar with it. But something for which she has a passion and frankly, her getting back on a horse after she was diagnosed with MS, was able-- she is convinced to help her regenerate her strength and renew that-- that vigor. And so she cares very deeply about-- about this sport and about-- and about horses. She's-- she's a real-- I-- I joke that I'm going to have to send her to Betty Ford for addiction to horses.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How is she doing with the MS? We heard she had a little flare-up around Super Tuesday.

MITT ROMNEY: And she didn't tell me about that.


MITT ROMNEY: You don't know, she didn't mention it. She knew that if I had heard a thing about it I would have shut her down and said you got to go home, you got to take some rest and see the people who give you care and get you tuned back up again. But she-- she knew it was important for her to keep working, so she kept it from me and kept on working. And-- but-- but she has been almost symptom-free ever since 2002, so almost ten years.


MITT ROMNEY: And she has great-- a-- a great doctor and others who help her stay strong--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Good for her.

MITT ROMNEY: --including the horses.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much, Governor.

MITT ROMNEY: Thanks, Bob.


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