"Face the Nation" transcript: February 12, 2012


Below is a rush transcript of "Face the Nation" on February 5, 2012, hosted by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer. Guests are Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and White House Chief-of-Staff Jack Lew.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, Mitt Romney edges Ron Paul and wins the Maine caucuses. Until he won yesterday, it had been a rough week for Romney. After Rick Santorum swept Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota on Tuesday, Romney was suddenly everybody's favorite punching bag.

FOSTER FRIESS: A conservative, a liberal, and a moderate walked into the bar. The bartender says, hi, Mitt.

BOB SCHIEFFER: As conservatives raised doubts about whether Romney was one of them, he set about to change that.

MITT ROMNEY: My path to conservatism came from my family.

I was a severely conservative Republican governor.

I know conservatism because I have lived conservatism.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Will it work? Is Romney's campaign back on track? We'll ask Ron Paul who came very close in Maine.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: The revolution is only beginning.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But is the long race hurting Republican chances this fall? We'll ask Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. And we'll bring in the White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew for the latest on the war in which the President finds himself with the Catholic Church.


ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. And welcome to FACE THE NATION. First to the campaign, yesterday, Maine weighed in on the Republican presidential race. Mitt Romney ended up just edging out Ron Paul who joins us this morning from his district in Clute, Texas. Congressman, you made a long flight to be with us this morning from your home state. Thanks for joining us.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Thank you. Good to be with you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I want to ask you something. You came very, very close to beating Mitt Romney in Maine yesterday. Our estimate is he's going to get eight delegates there; you're going to get seven. But I know this is one that you really wanted to win. Where do you go now?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (Republican Presidential Candidate/R-Texas): Well, you know, our numbers on the delegates are much different because the process has only started and we're in a very good position to win a good majority of those votes. But you know, we were a little bit disappointed last night but we were disappointed that the one county where we have done the best in the past and we were expected to do the past the best, they canceled their caucus. So we-- we did very well up there. But we're going to con-- continue to do what we do and do the very best and keep accumulating delegates.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What-- what do you see as your path now? Do you really think you can get the nomination or you are just there to get enough delegates to be a force at the convention?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Sure. I think both. We're there to win, do our best. You know, Romney has been up and down. The others have been up and down. And I haven't been down. I keep going up. I don't really go up and down. And our numbers grow. And once they join our campaign, anybody join our campaign, becomes solid supporters and who knows what's going to happen. We live in an age where things change rather rapidly politically and economically and certainly in foreign policies, things change. So this whole ballgame can change rather rapidly.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you something. People may disagree with you, but I don't know anyone including me who doubts your sincerity or who doesn't believe that you believe what you're saying. Having said that, why do you think Mitt Romney is having so much trouble convincing people that he is a conservative?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Well, I don't know exactly why because I think that if it comes to Gingrich or Santorum, they should suffer the same consequences. Maybe it's the type of coverage and-- and the image. But I don't think they have been vetted very well because I know them pretty well. And their records-- their records are far from being conservative. But Mitt has been a governor. He's taken these positions. But I think that all of them are rather typical of what's wrong with the country. You know, that they-- that they don't have firm convictions. And, of course, they've been rewarded. Many people are rewarded for saying, well, don't be overly rigid. Well, they are very rigid in flip flopping. Well, I might be so-called rigid in defending the Constitution. But in the past that was seen to be a negative because we weren't in much trouble. We were a very wealthy and nobody worried too much about it. But now, we're broke. And-- and now what I'm talking about has much greater appeal to the larger number of people in the country today.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So you're saying what Governor Romney's problem with conservatives is that in fact he is not a conservative.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Well, I think he is conservative in some ways, but I think he's every bit as conservative as the other two. That's my point. You know, I don't think he's less conservative. I think if-- if the country only has the choice of those three individuals, they have to look for the person who might be, you know, more willing to look at even more conservative ideas. I mean if you are overly rigid as an interventionist as far as foreign policy and economic policy goes, they may well be worse than the person who says, well, you know, I was more liberal when I was a gover-- governor. But now I'm more conservative because I have to represent more conservatives. Well, I think the problem is-- is that all three of them have represented the same system, the same status quo in not wanting changes in the foreign policy. None of them talk about real spending cuts. None of them talk about real changes in monetary policy. So, they're-- they're not a whole lot different. So, I think it's-- when it comes down to those three is probably going to be management style more than anything else.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, talking about his governorship, Governor Romney told the CPAC convention here in Washington that he was-- the word he used was a severe conservative. I know about liberal Republicans and conservative Republicans and libertarian cons-- Republicans, but I never heard of a severe Republican or a severe conservative. What-- what is that? Do you know?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Well, I think I share your interest in that because that was the first time I've heard that definition. So I guess Mitt will have to tell us exactly what it means. So obviously he means he's-- he's a serious conservative. And he was trying to defend himself or portray himself as such. But I don't know exactly what he was meaning by that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: There-- there seems to be kind of a lack of enthusiasm this year. I mean your people-- I'll give you-- I'll give you your due. Your people come out and they seem committed to you. But I don't see that kind of enthusiasm elsewhere in this field. Why-- why do you think that is?

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Well, I don't think the other candidates are offering a lot-- lot of change. I think one of the most disturbing thing, well, a couple of things the Republicans ought to be disturbed about, that they do not-- other than myself they're not appealing to young people. And another thing was that twenty percent of Republicans now are considering that they might, you know, either just stay at home or vote for Obama. And they are staying home from the primaries. So that means they're not offering, you know a real alternative. I think when people hear my message they get excited about it because, you know, it makes sense. You know, a lot of people come and say, you know, what you're saying just makes common sense, you know, why do we keep getting involved in these wars? What's this idea that you need money, you just print it, you know, that seems so logical. Yet, it's been ingrained in our system for nearly hundred years. Well, if you need money, spend it. Just print it and everything is going to be all right and deficits don't matter. Conservatives and liberals have taught for decades that deficits don't matter. That's what-- that's come out of both parties. But young people especially seem to, you know, get away from those clichés and say, well, we want to hear some common sense. We want to have somebody who believes in something that will obey the constitution. And that's what I find excites so many people.