"Face the Nation" transcripts, July 29, 2012: Mitt Romney, Rep. Wasserman Schultz, Rodney Erickson
JAN CRAWFORD: Let me ask you some-- some things about what you have said in the past. Back in December, you said, before you were making any statements about policy as regards to Israel that you would call up your friend, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Is that the position that you would take on, say, Israel's policy in regards to Iran now?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, we always speak-- we-- we always speak with our friends around the world. I'm-- I'm sure our current President, likewise, would-- would certainly want to communicate and-- and have a discussion with-- with our friends and allies around the world, and-- and particularly those that are in the region which would be most affected by-- by steps that-- that we might take. But-- but Israel and America and many other nations are allies, and even some that are geopolitical adversaries concur with us that-- that Iran must not become a nuclear nation.
JAN CRAWFORD: I'm trying to understand how your policies would be different from the current policies in the White House and it seems that perhaps you would be willing to listen more to the prime minister. As you said you would pick up the phone and call him first. Is it a difference in tone?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, the challenge is, you know, we have a long-standing tradition in this country to follow the advice of Senator Vandenberg, which is that politics ends at the water's edge. And so while I'm on foreign soil, I-- I just don't feel that I should be speaking about differences with regards to myself and President Obama on foreign policy, either foreign policy of the past, or for-- foreign policy prescriptions. Are there differences between us? Of course. But-- but being on foreign soil, particularly being here in Israel, this isn't the right time for me to-- to tell-- to draft those out. But, again, I've spoken in the past at the Herzliya Conference. I've described my own views, and I think those continue to be the-- the views that people could consider.
JAN CRAWFORD: Some of those views have sounded pretty hawkish, the way you've been talking in terms of-- of Israel and your approach in the Middle East. But I wanted so I just got a copy of the Newsweek cover that's going to be hitting the newsstands tomorrow that calls you a wimp. Have you seen this?
MITT ROMNEY: No. They tried--
JAN CRAWFORD: Does that concern you? Is that fair?
MITT ROMNEY: They tried that in George Herbert Walker Bush. He was a pretty-- pretty great President and anything but.
JAN CRAWFORD: But it-- it did hurt him to some extent, that-- that narrative did. Are you worried about what the media is saying here in this-- this kind of storyline that gets out there, and how do you counter that?
MITT ROMNEY: If I-- if I worried about what the media said I-- I wouldn't get much sleep and I'm able to sleep pretty well.
JAN CRAWFORD: Has anyone ever called you a wimp before?
MITT ROMNEY: I don't recall that. No.
JAN CRAWFORD: No. Well, that-- also in that same issue, there is an interview with Senator McCain and he says of you, "He has not got a lot of instincts on some of these national security issues, but he has the right instincts." Does that sound like faint praise to you?
MITT ROMNEY: You'd have to ask him. I-- I-- I respect Senator McCain a great deal and believe he has many-- many good ideas and suggestions that I would certainly want to avail myself of if I were in a setting that-- that required the input of other leaders. Senator McCain would be one of those that I'd want to hear from.
JAN CRAWFORD: But, you know, you've kind of grounded your campaign on your economic experience and ability to turn things around with the economy and in the private sector. Would you say that foreign policy is the area where you're weakest?
MITT ROMNEY: I would say that foreign policy is a place where intelligence, resolve, clarity, and confidence in cause, is of extraordinary importance. Ronald Reagan was one of our great foreign policy Presidents. He did not come from the Senate. He did not come from the foreign policy world. He was a governor, but his resolve, his clarity of purpose, his intelligence, his capacity to deal with complex issues and solve tough problems served him extremely well, and if I were elected President, I hope I could rely upon those same qualities.
JAN CRAWFORD: So it sounds like you're saying sometimes when a President steps into office he's dealing with a host of issues on the world stage and-- and perhaps it comes down to character because you can't anticipate what you're going to be dealing with. How would you describe the characteristics that you would bring as President to dealing with foreign policy?
MITT ROMNEY: I believe that as people will look at me, they'll see a person who has dealt with a number of very difficult and challenging circumstances and that I have been able to successfully navigate through those and create greater strength and greater opportunity. I believe that people recognize that I'm someone who has confidence in America's cause. That I am clear-- clear in the purpose that America represents. And that I would exercise might, if it were necessary, with resolve and I believe that that's the kind of posture which Ronald Reagan represented. I hope I would as well. I can tell you that Ronald Reagan was able to accomplish extraordinary purposes for our country without having to-- to put our military forces into-- into conflict. Only in one circumstance, which was in Grenada, did our forces go in a conflict setting. We were in a peacekeeping setting in Lebanon. Having strength, having a strong military, is-- is the ally of peace. Exercising that strength through-- through military action is not always necessary if you have the confidence and clarity of vision and purpose which America demands.
JAN CRAWFORD: Are you troubled by some of the growing isolationists' sentiments that we're seeing in the Republican Party.
MITT ROMNEY: I don't know that-- that I see more in our party than I do across the country. There are-- there are some who would prefer to see America play a less prominent role in the world. I believe the world benefits from American leadership. I believe this next century should be an American century. I believe as well that-- that American strength is-- is essential economic strength, family and value strength, military strength is essential for our own good that these things not only help secure peace for other people but preserve peace for us and-- and promise greater prosperity for America.
JAN CRAWFORD: So what would the Romney doctrine be then when you're trying to decide whether to intervene abroad?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, my doctrine is as I've described, which is confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might.
JAN CRAWFORD: And then last question, do you think America is less secure today than it was in the Cold War or after 9/11?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, there are certain places where we are more safe. There are other places where we are less secure. Certainly Iran is five years closer to a nuclear weapon, than it was when I spoke here at Herzliya five years ago. And Iran's nuclearization is the greatest single national security threat America faces. That's of great concern to me. I hope it is to the people of our nation and to people around the world. A nuclear Iran is a-- a dramatic and-- and devastating potential threat to the world and to America. And-- and all our efforts should be focused on making that our first priority or keeping them from having that nuclear capacity our first priority.
JAN CRAWFORD: All right. Governor, thank you very much.
MITT ROMNEY: Thanks, Jan.
JAN CRAWFORD: Really appreciate your time.
MITT ROMNEY: Thank you.
JAN CRAWFORD: Thank you.
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