Governor Mitt Romney recently took part in an interview with Robert B. Bluey, Editor of HumanEvents.com:
Link to full interview here: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=18683
Q & A: Mitt Romney Discusses Iraq War, Reagan's Influence and Gay Marriage
Robert B. Bluey
December 28, 2006
As he ponders whether to seek the presidency in 2008, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday took a break from his family vacation in Utah to talk exclusively to HUMAN EVENTS about the War on Terror, his conservative beliefs and the role bloggers are playing in politics….
RB: Well, thank you for taking the time to call today and do the interview with HUMAN EVENTS. I really appreciate it.
MR: You’re certainly welcome….
RB: As you think about these national issues [during the decision process of running for president], what are some of the things you think you would offer conservatives if you were to run?
MR: The things I’d offer for all Americans would be similar to, I think, other great Republicans in the past and in the present. And yet in my case, I come with a little different background and different perspective, and therefore, what I’d offer would be slightly different I’m sure in some ways than others.
The key issues we face, of course, are first, the conflict with the jihadists. This is a conflict which is going on within the world of Islam, and the jihadists are attempting to overcome the moderate, modern factions of Islam and replace them with a caliphate. It’s going to require the involvement ofthe U.S. as a leader of the world to help move Islam away from that kind of extremism and violence. That’s one challenge.
Another challenge is our ability to compete with Asia. Asia’s going to be a much tougher competitor than we’ve known before. I spent my life in international business, been to Asia and, of course, other places in the world and done business there. I have a good sense how you make a nation more competitive. And that’s something that’s going to be critical.
Domestically, we’re going to have to stop spending too much money. And we’re also going to have to stop using so much oil that we’re getting from countries that don’t like us. And, of course, our spending problem is related to our entitlement problem. So we’ve got a lot on the table. My approach on each of these issues would probably be a little different than the other folks who are looking at the race, but that’s something time will tell.
RB: One of the people who is considering a run, Sen. [John] McCain, has advocated sending up to 30,000 more troops to help stabilize Iraq. Do you support sending more troops into that country?
MR: The process that is being pursued right now is that the President and his senior staff are meeting with generals and officials at the front in the theater and finding out their perspectives. That’s something you have to do, along with meeting with al-Maliki to determine where they are and where they can be.
I’m not going to weigh in. I’m still a governor. I’m not running for national office at this stage. I’m not going to weigh in on specific tactics about whether we should go from 140,000 to 170,000. That’s something I expect the President to decide over the next couple of weeks and announce that to the nation. I want to hear what he has to say.
But fundamentally, we’re talking about a very different approach than the Iraqi Study Group concluded. Their approach suggested somehow we would pull out in a setting that was less than victorious. We really do need to make sure we stabilize the nation to the extent humanly possible so that Iraq cannot be torn apart by its neighbors and so that a sectarian disaster does not ensue.
RB: Now on domestic issues, in a recent interview with National Review Online, you addressed concerns that conservatives have raised about your previous views on abortion. I’m wondering, why should conservatives believe you when you say you’re now pro-life despite some previous statements you’ve made on that subject?
MR: Conservatives, of course, can make their own assessment. But the great thing is people don’t have to look at what people say, they can look at what they do.
When I was running for office 12 years ago, there were a number of things that I said and felt at that time that, with the benefit of experience, I have a different view today. One of those is abortion.
As governor, I’ve had several pieces of legislation reach my desk, which would have expanded abortion rights in Massachusetts. Each of those I vetoed. Every action I’ve taken as the governor that relates to the sanctity of human life, I have stood on the side of life.
So talk is cheap, but action is real. And people can now look at my record.
RB: And also on the issue of gay marriage,the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusettstoday gave you a symbolic victory in terms of scolding some of the lawmakers for their actions. Do you believe the same [skepticism among conservatives] will hold true on gay marriage or will people still critique that 1994 letter and some of the comments you made in that campaign?
MR: No, actually, my view on marriage has been entirely consistent over my political career. And that is that I oppose same-sex marriage. I also oppose civil unions.
There are some people who feel that is inconsistent with also encouraging the elimination of discrimination against gay people as well as others of differences. I’m very much opposed to discrimination. I also recognize that it’s not wise to create a special class and establish new rights for any particular group. But I’m opposed to discrimination.
At the same time, I’m opposed to same-sex marriage. And ever since that feature has become a prominent one in my state, with the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court, I have taken every action that I could conceive of within the bounds of the law to defend traditional marriage and to stop same-sex marriage.
You mentioned the decision today of the Supreme Judicial Court. It’s more than symbolic. The Supreme Judicial Court—and this is a battle that my administration took to the court—they said, in fact, that the Legislature must take a vote on a citizens’ petition to have this go before the voters. They must take a vote, and failure to do so would represent a violation of a legislator’s oath of office. That is a very powerful statement, and I believe it gives me a pretty significant degree of confidence that we will see on the ballot in Massachusetts the right of citizens to define marriage. And that’s what I’ve been fighting for now for over two years.
RB: Some other things that have been looked upon in recent weeks have been comments you made about Jesse Helms and Ronald Reagan back in 1994—critical comments. Do you regret making those? And could you put those in a context to explain to conservatives what you were trying to say?
MR: When I was running for office for the first time in 1994, I was trying to define who I was, not who I wasn’t. I was trying to define that I was an individual who had his own views and perspectives and I wasn’t a carbon copy of someone else. I’ve said since, and continue to reiterate, that one of my heroes is Ronald Reagan.
I’ve been asked time and again in interviews, who are your heroes? And I mention Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower among others as some of my favorite heroes, and I feel that deeply. But I am a different person than any other person and my interest is, of course, looking forward to defining who I am.
Of course, now there’s no need for me to try to define myself in reference to others. I’ve got a record. And people can look at my record and see, for instance, that when people were clamoring to raise taxes in Massachusetts, I said “no” and we held the line on taxes, and held the line and borrowing, and we balanced our budget. They can see that I vetoed literally hundreds of line items in budgets because I thought there was too much spending. They can see that I fought for better schools. They can see that I fought for a better environment. And they can recognize that a lot what Ronald Reagan was doing I’m also doing. So I’m pretty proud to follow in his legacy, if you will, recognizing, of course, that there’s some differences. He’s just a lot better than anyone else I know.
RB: Governor, I really appreciate your taking the time to talk to us.
MR: Thank you so much. It’s good to be with you.
Happy New Year.