"Face the Nation" transcript: February 26, 2012

Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., on "face the Nation," Sunday, February 26, 2012
CBS/Chris Usher

Below is a rush transcript of "Face the Nation" on February 26, 2012, hosted by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer. Guests are Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Democratic Governor Marin O'Malley of Maryland.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, could Mitt Romney really lose Michigan, the state where his dad was governor? We'll talk to one of his strongest supporters, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

MITT ROMNEY: This guy says he's a loud mouth from New Jersey, but don't you believe it. He's a lot smarter than that.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-New Jersey/Romney Supporter): We know a President when we see one. And he is right here.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The man who has emerged as Romney's chief rival Rick Santorum might take issue with that. He says Romney will do and say whatever it takes to get elected.

RICK SANTORUM: What you see today maybe something different than what you get tomorrow.

BOB SCHIEFFER: As the campaign got even stranger, Santorum accused President Obama of, well, here's what he said.

RICK SANTORUM: President Obama once sa-- said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob?

BOB SCHIEFFER: The President managed to weather that criticism and stay on key.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (PBS): Come on, baby, don't you want to go.

BOB SCHIEFFER: It was that kind of week. And we'll talk about all of it with Christie and Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley because this is FACE THE NATION.

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

BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. New Jersey governor, Chris Christie is right here in the studio with us this morning. Governor, it's always good to have you because you have this unusual habit of answering questions, so let's--

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-New Jersey/Romney Supporter): We'll keep it going, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --let's just talk some politics--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --this morning. Your man, Mitt Romney, is having a lot of trouble even out in Michigan it seems which a lot of us find hard to believe. He-- the-- I mean, it would seem to me he would be a shoe-in out there. And, yet, it just doesn't seem to be working. Rick Santorum is neck-and-neck with him. What-- what's he doing wrong?

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, you know, I don't think anybody is a shoe-in this year, Bob. It's a very volatile electorate. I think, part of in this primary is that Republicans really are focused on wanting to defeat President Obama. And I think our primary voters are shopping. They want to make sure they pick the very best person to give the President the very best race. And they're not settled on it yet. And so, I know, that it's something that Governor Romney isn't doing, I think over the pace of time as they get to know him better, they're going to come to Governor Romney.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, Rick Santorum suggested yesterday that Mitt Romney is just not really a person of conviction. Listen to what he said here.

RICK SANTORUM: Oh, I'm running for the Senate against Ted Kennedy, I'll be a liberal. I'm running for governor of Massachusetts, so I'll be a moderate. And now, oh, I'm going to run for Republican nomination for president, I'll be a conservative today. What's he going to be tomorrow?

BOB SCHIEFFER: So that's the question, Governor? I mean--

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think he is what Rick Santorum called him in 2008 which was the most conservative candidate and a real conservative when Rick Santorum endorsed him in 2008. I think what you just saw in that clip is naked opportunism, Bob. I mean, now that he's running against him, all of sudden he doesn't know what-- what Mitt Romney is. When he was endorsing him in 2008, he called him a real conservative. I'll go with the less affected Rick Santorum evaluation in 2008. Mitt-- Mitt Romney is a real conservative.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But it does seem that Governor Romney is having a little trouble connecting with the common folk. I mean, he seems to say things that might be funny at the country club, but they sort of fall flat outside the country club. I mean, like Friday, he was talking about how much he liked cars. And he managed to say this.

MITT ROMNEY: I like the fact that most of the cars I see are-- are Detroit made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and a-- and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a-- a couple of Cadillac's actually. And I used to have a Dodge truck. So, I used to have all three covered.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Obviously most people don't have four or five cars, Governor.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Why-- why would he say that?

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: So the cat is out of the bag, Bob, on the fact that Governor Romney is wealthy. I mean, so he-- so he has a number of cars. Many people who have made a lot of money over time do. And so I-- I think this is just something where to be candid, folks are looking for him to make trip-ups. He's telling the truth about the cars he has. What if he didn't answer the question about how many cars he had or didn't talk about it, then people would be saying he was hiding it. Listen, Governor Romney has been successful. I think, that's what we want in a President of the United States. Do we want somebody running who has been a failure at everything they've done and is-- is that going to recommend him for the White House? He's been a great success in business. He has been a great success as executive, as governor of Massachusetts. I think that's the kind of guy we want in the White House.