Mitt Romney Wants To Re-Tool Washington

Mike Wallace Interviews The Contender For The GOP Presidential Nomination

Sixty-year-old Mitt Romney is a dark horse in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination. Although he is the least known of the frontrunners, he's raised more money – $21 million – than any other Republican candidate.

As correspondent Mike Wallace reports, Romney attracted national attention when, as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2006, he balanced the budget every year, without raising taxes. He ran the state like the hugely successful CEO he's been for over 20 years.

And that came after he had rescued the 2002 Olympic winter games from financial disaster. And Romney says that now that he's turned around the Olympics and Massachusetts, he's ready to do the same for all of the U.S.A.

Over six feet tall, trim, fit, his hair graying slightly at the temples, he looks like a president. His movie star presence somehow reminds you of Cary Grant or Ronald Reagan.

"The rap on you of course is that you're too smooth, too handsome, too polished. Are you really known as matinee Mitt?" Wallace asks.

"That's the rap on you, Mike," Romney replies. "Too smooth, too polished."

But beneath the polish, there's the steel of a tough minded and seasoned executive who is used to running things his way. Romney is reportedly worth over half a billion dollars that he earned as a venture capitalist who used cost-cutting, bottom line zeal to help grow companies like Domino's Pizza and Staples and re-tool ailing companies into profitable successes.

Now he wants to re-tool Washington.

"It is time to cut out the mountains of waste and inefficiency and duplication in the federal government. I've done that in business. I've done it in the Olympics. I've done it in Massachusetts and frankly I can't wait to get my hands on Washington," Romney says.

"One thing people can be confident of is I have led and managed and I brought change to organizations. And if there's ever been a time that Washington needed to be changed it's now. It's a mess in Washington," he adds.

To many Americans, that mess in Washington has been created by his fellow Republican, George W. Bush.

Romney carefully follows Ronald Reagan's rule: never speak ill of a fellow Republican. But while he praises the president, he distances himself from Bush.

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"Why do you think all of a sudden the Democrats are in charge?" Wallace asks.

"Well, because of Iraq," Romney says.

"You mean the president screwed up in Iraq?" Wallace asks.

"I think the administration made a number of errors," Romney says.

"Like for instance?" Wallace asks.

"Well, I don't think we were adequately prepared for what occurred. I don't think we had done enough planning, I don't think we'd considered the various downsides and risks," Romney says.

"We, is George W. Bush," Wallace remarks.

"Well, he's the person where the buck stops," Romney says. "But it's the whole administration."

"They screwed up," Wallace remarks.

"Well, they made mistakes. I'm not gonna use the same phrase you would. And we're paying for those mistakes," Romney says.

And, he says, there were misjudgments. "I think there was a strong, honest belief among people in our administration that we would be welcomed with open arms. And that Iraq would become a model of democracy for all of the Middle East. And you know what? We were wrong," Romney says.

But Bush is right, Romney says, about the current U.S. troop surge in Iraq, at least for now.

"I think we're gonna know in a matter of months if it's working or it's not working," he says.

Among the things he wants to do as president is increase U.S. troop strength overall by at least 100,000 and modernize military equipment. He wants to secure the Mexican border and decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil. He's against gay marriage and civil unions and says that he'll hold the line on taxes.