Halperin Interview: Who Will America Hire to Fix the USA? Obama? Romney?

Mark Halperin (TIME) writes today that he conducted a 36 minute interview with Governor Mitt Romney in Manhattan:

… Romney pushes back on President Obama’s Bain attack, predicts he can drive unemployment down to six percent by the end of his first term and says he wants Washington to sit still during the lame-duck session.

Halperin didn’t published the full 36 minutes; maybe he’ll release the rest of the interview at a later time. Here’s what he gave us…

Romney compares Obama’s record in office with his record at Bain Capital:

In part one, Romney speaks on his background in business and how that better qualifies him to be our next Commander-in-Chief:

Our hideous economy is what Americans are most worried about. We’re interviewing two people to lead us for the next four years. Americans will do the hiring. As we review the applicants’ resumes, records, and experience, do we want someone who knows nothing of private enterprise or someone who does? Will we re-hire the guy who continues to pile up unprecedented spending and is shrinking our labor force in record numbers? Or, will we hire someone known to stop wasteful, unproductive spending, has an amazing ‘fix-it’ record, and has created tens of thousand of jobs?

In part two, it takes Romney just 48 seconds to reduce the reelection question right down to a presidential brass tack:

“I spent 25 years in the private sector and that obviously teaches you something that you don’t learn if you haven’t spent any time in the private sector.

The president’s experience has been exclusively in politics and as a community organizer.

[R]ight now, we have an economy in trouble. And, someone who spent their career in the economy is more suited to help fix the economy than someone who spent his life in politics and as a community organizer.” ~ Mitt Romney

Romney speaks on elements that make a strong economy in part three:

He [Obama] just doesn’t have a clue what to do to get this economy going.

I do.

I laid out a 59-step plan that encompasses a whole series of efforts that will together get this economy going and put people back to work. ~ Mitt Romney

TIME to hire Romney.

Hat tip/MBA for Mitt (MRC reader)

UPDATE – Transcript of the interview may be read here. Also, click below the fold to see Governor Romney’s LATEST AD featuring stories from Obama’s economy:

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CNN/Tea Party Pres. Debate: Favorable Reviews for Mitt Romney

GOP presidential candidates appear on stage at the CNN/Tea Party debate last night in Tamp, FL. 9/12/11 (photo by David and Holloway/CNN)

What a night for Mitt Romney at the GOP CNN/Tea Party debate in Tampa, Florida! He more than held his own and by some early accounts – won – in a crowd that clearly had a likin’ for Rick Perry (although Perry faded in the last half; the crowd didn’t like his gardasil vaccine mandate and he received boo’s on his immigration stance.)

The reviews…

The Weekly Standard – Fred Barnes (my favorite article)

Romney’s Win

If a debate more than four months before the first vote is cast can influence the outcome of a presidential nomination race, the debate last night among eight Republicans should aid Mitt Romney’s candidacy. Seldom has there been as clear a winner.

Romney was crisp and succinct, prepared and focused, and aggressive in going after his chief rival for the GOP presidential nomination, Texas governor Rick Perry, when he needed to be. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, showed once again that he’s a far better candidate now than he was four years ago.

He did well in these instances, among others: spelling out the differences between the health care plan he championed in Massachusetts and Obamacare; explaining the problem with the Fair Tax is that it gives short shrift to the middle class; pointing out the built-in advantages Perry has in Texas in governing successfully; and refraining from boasting, except to say that “if America needs a turnaround, that’s what I do.”

Romney challenged Perry on Social Security at the outset of the debate, which was held in Florida and billed as a collaboration of CNN and various Tea Party organizations. It was Tea Party people who asked the questions, mostly better ones than a panel of reporters or pundits would probably have asked.

The first question was on Social Security, which Perry has called a Ponzi scheme and a failure. Romney has suggested Perry’s view makes him unelectable.

When Perry didn’t back down from those comments, Romney jumped in with questions, and host Wolf Blitzer let him proceed. Romney asked Perry about his recent book in which he said Social Security is unconstitutional and might be better run by the states.

Perry didn’t have a ready answer, or at least not a persuasive one. Nor did he offer the one thing that I expected from him in the debate: a Perry plan for fixing Social Security’s looming insolvency. […]
Back to Romney. The candidates were asked what they’d bring to the White House – what thing. Romney gave the best answer after repeating the Winston Churchill quotation that America always does the right thing after trying everything else first. He said he’d bring the bust of Churchill, sent away by President Obama, back to the White House.

The Daily Beast – Howard Kurtz

[…] Romney seized control of the tempo in what may have been his strongest performance so far. He seemed at ease taking the fight to Perry and got the better of their heated exchanges. The former Massachusetts governor was clearly trying to position himself as the reassuring grownup on stage and Perry as the fearmonger.

Let’s unpack their verbal clash and see what it tells us about each man and his strategy.

Perry tried to clean up his mess from last week’s MSNBC debate, when he attacked Social Security as a Ponzi scheme without suggesting how he might fix it. This time he offered those near retirement age a “slam-dunk guarantee” they’d get their benefits before hailing his own “courage” in criticizing the ailing system.

Romney didn’t miss a beat, calling Perry’s Ponzi language “over the top” and “frightful” before delivering his strongest punch: that the Texan had called Social Security unconstitutional and “not something the federal government ought to be involved in.”

The Fix (The Washington Post) – Chris Cillizza


Mitt Romney: Four debates. Four times Romney has wound up in the winner’s circle. It’s not a coincidence. Romney proved yet again that he is the best debater in this field with another solid performance in which he effectively downplayed his liabilities on health care and accentuated his strengths on jobs and the economy. Romney played more offense than he has in previous debates, taking the fight to Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Social Security. He also got a major assist from Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), both of whom relentlessly bashed Perry. But that’s how debates work. Romney also, smartly, ignored the tea party audience in the hall — who occasionally booed him — and focused his messaging on the much broader audience of people watching the debate on CNN.

More good reading after the fold…

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Romney’s Q and A with TIME

Below is the Q and A portion of Time’s recent interview with Governor Romney. The article on their site has what I think is an awful picture of Romney. He looks like he’s about to cry and is thinking about how sad it is that he lost in the primaries. The picture is very dark, unlike the shining glowing photos they post of Obama.

The most interesting nugget I gathered from the article is that Romney spends most of his time writing a book. Well, I’m already excited. What’s it going to be called? When is it going to be released? Is he going to trash on the GOP like Huckabee did in his recent book? Inquiring minds want to know. Romney has only penned one book before, but I believe he is a great author. I was fascinated by his book “Turnaround” about the 2002 Winter Olympics.

~Nate G.

President Obama has announced an executive pay cap at some companies taking federal bailout money. A wise move?

I am very uncomfortable with government dictating the course for managing an enterprise. This should be done by the shareholders and by the board of directors, not by the federal government.

November was a rough month for the Republican party, and a Gallup analysis recently found only five states left in the “red” column. What explains the GOP’s rut?

I think politics is largely associated with individuals and less with party labels. I think without question that the economic downturn, occurring as it did during the tenure of President Bush, has cast a shadow over anyone in his party.

The prospects of our party I think are bright. I fundamentally believe that the Republican Party will do what is right for the country, and the Democratic Party will do what is right for their special interests.

Some observers have warned of a potential schism in the party between moderate voices and those farther on the right, like Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh. Does that possibility concern you?

I’m not terribly disturbed by the fact that our party is a relatively large tent. After all, we aspire to receive the support of slightly over half of the American people, and that’s not going to be a homogenous group.

Gov. Palin excited a lot of voters last year. Can you imagine rallying around her in 2012?

Gov. Palin is an effective and popular political voice, and I believe she will continue to draw interest among party faithful and that she’ll have an impact on the party’s direction in the future.

What are your thoughts on the anniversary of leaving the presidential race?

This has been a good year. I wish I would have won the nomination, and won the presidency. And yet, you don’t look back.

What’s keeping you busy now?

I help an entity called the Free and Strong America PAC. Our efforts are to help elect conservative candidates across the country. Perhaps the activity that is taking the most of my time these days is writing a book.

Could that book lay the groundwork for a future presidential run?

It’s not a political book so much as it is a discussion of the economic and foreign policy challenges that we face.

Okay, but can we expect to see you running for office again?

I really don’t know what the future holds. Like most Americans, I want to see Barack Obama adopt effective, correct principles and successfully lead our country. And so any discussion of future politics for me is, I think, premature.

Were you at all surprised by how much attention your hair got during the campaign?

(Laughs) It’s long been a source of self-deprecating humor. I love to make fun of my helmet hair. And so, I guess I bring that on myself.