Campaign 2012: Obama vs. Romney

In separate interviews, President Barack Obama and his challenger, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, discuss the election year's hot-button issues

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As we continue our conversation with the candidates, we ask them about the qualities of leadership and the lessons of history. We begin again with Gov. Romney.

Campaign 2012, part 3

Pelley: What are the essential qualities of a leader?

Romney: Well, a leader has to have the capacity to build trust in the people he or she works with. People have to look at that person and say, "I may disagree with them. But I know where they stand. And I can trust them." A leader has the capacity of vision, the ability to see where things are headed before people in general see those things. That vision is typically a product, in part not just of their skill and brilliance, but even more their experience, their life experience. And so if you're looking for a leader to guide an economy, you hope that you have someone who didn't just study it in school, but someone who's actually lived in the economy.

Pelley: The historian, David McCullough, says that great presidents learn from the history of the office. And I wonder what you've learned from the history of presidents in the White House.

Romney: You know, I enjoy reading David McCullough's writings. My favorite book is perhaps of a biographical nature, was his book on John Adams, a person who had extraordinary character, a relationship with his spouse who may have been even brighter than he. We don't know as much about her as we do about him. But a man who had a very clear sense of direction, who helped guide the process of writing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He wrote the Constitution of my state of Massachusetts. And, we saw in him an individual who was less concerned about public opinion than he was about doing what he thought was right for the country. And even though he was defeated in his run for reelection, he did what he thought was right for America. And I respect that kind of character.

Pelley: Presidents and presidential candidates are booked down to the minute. And I wonder if you ever have a moment to be alone with your own thoughts. If so, when? And what does that mean to you?

Romney: Well, at the end of the day, usually at about 10:00, things have finally wound down. And I'm able to spend a little time. I talk to Ann. She is on her own schedule. And we spend 15 or 20 minutes on the phone. And then I read. And I think, think about the coming day and think about what I want to accomplish. I pray. Prayer is a time to connect with the divine, but also time, I'm sure, to concentrate one's thoughts, to meditate, and to imagine what might be.

Pelley: You pray every night before you go to bed?

Romney: I do pray every night, yeah.

Pelley: What do you ask for?

Romney: That's between me and God. But mostly wisdom and understanding. I seek to understand things that I don't understand.

Pelley: Presidencies are remembered for big ideas, emancipation, Social Security, man on the moon. What's your big idea?

Romney: Freedom. I want to restore the kind of freedom that has always driven America's economy. And that's allowed us to be the shining city on the hill. The kind of freedom that has brought people here from all over the world. I want people to come here, legally, to want to be here. I want the best and brightest to say America's the place of opportunity, because of the freedom there to pursue your dreams. So my message is restore the kind of freedom that allows America to lead the world.


President Obama also reflected on the nature of leadership with us. We spoke following his campaign stop in Golden, Colo.

Campaign 2012, part 4

Kroft: What are the essential qualities of a leader, in your mind?

Obama: Well, you know, I think that leadership more than anything is about setting a course and describing a vision for people. And you know, in the history of leadership in this country that vision isn't always realized immediately. You know, Abraham Lincoln understood that we were a single union. And it took a bloody Civil War and terrible hardship and sacrifice to achieve that vision. And that vision wasn't even fully realized until after he was gone. What I try to do is to constantly present a vision of America in which everybody's got a shot, everybody's treated with respect and dignity in which the divides of race and faith, gender, sexual orientation, that those are not the determining factors, in terms of whether people succeed but instead it's how hard you work and are you trustworthy and are you responsible and you-- do you look after your family and do you love people and love this country?