Transcript: Face to Face with Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson
Former Sen. Alan Simpson talks to Bob Schieffer on Feb. 17, 2012.

Face to Face is a mid-week web special brought to you by the Face the Nation team. Check out every Wednesday for the latest edition.

Bob Schieffer: Hello again this is Face to Face, our middle of the week web edition brought to you by the folks who put together Face the Nation every week and today I have to say, I'll let my biases be known, one of my favorite people to cover over the years when he was in the Senate and since Al Simpson, the long time and now former Senator of Wyoming and half of the famous Bowles-Simpson Commission that had the deficit plan that people are still talking about. Senator, thank you very much. Let's talk about this book, "Shooting from the Lip," which I think is a right good title for a story about you and speaking of shooting, there's one famous story that I'd never heard about you in the book. About the time, what was it, your grandfather shot a banker?

Alan Simpson: Yes he did. My grandfather was the Chairman of the Democratic Party in Park County and the guy bounced the checks and my granddad went in and said, "You know you bounced the check, we have money." And he said, "yeah but we don't like Democrats in this County so we'll just keep..." And he said, "Well if you do it again something bad will happen." And the guy bounced it and my grandfather went in with a 45 and just drifted his ear off, just shot him. The guy never bounced another check. But my grandfather went on to greater things, he killed a man in the middle of Main Street of Cody, Wyoming in August of '23.

Bob Schieffer: I always remember one time when you described gun control out in Wyoming as a "steady finger on the trigger."

Alan Simpson: How steady you hold your rifle, that's gun control in Wyoming.

Bob Schieffer: I must say, you came to the Senate and managed not to have to resort to firearms, as far as I know, while you were there.

Alan Simpson: I shot this (points to lips) off.

Bob Schieffer: And that's what your book is all about. Let's talk about a little current events right now. Republican politics -

Alan Simpson: That book is done by an old friend Don Hardy and you may remember him. But anyway, it's a good book. I didn't write it, I didn't have any editorial license over it, I read it as a reader when he finished and it's a very fine book. It's his book, I don't get a nickel off it. Kind of breaks your heart.

Bob Schieffer: Well I hope he makes a lot of money out of it.

Alan Simpson: That's why we're here.

Bob Schieffer: Let's talk a little about what's going on these days in politics. What is it with this Republican primary? It just seems to me that there's a certain part of the Republican party that is not ready to sign off on Mitt Romney and say he's one of us, that he's a conservative. Are you a Romney man? I don't even know.

Alan Simpson: I am now. I just watched it all, I've been watching. I know Santorum, I served with him. I served with him. I don't know Paul, but I, I am convinced that if you get into these social issues and just stay in there about abortion and homosexuality and even mental health they bring up, somehow they're going to take us all to Alaska and float us out in the Bering Sea or something. If we're going to do that, and here's a party that believes in government out of your life, the precious right of privacy and the right to be left alone. How then can they be the hypocrisy of fiddling around in these social issues? We won't have a prayer. But I have tossed some money in the kitty just last week to Romney. I think that he can win because of the ancient political thing that you know so well, people don't vote for anybody, they vote against. And if Obama keeps stumbling around in it - but he won't--but if he does, they'll vote against him. And at that point the other guy wins. But Republicans, I voted for Ike! My first vote. And the Taft people said Ike's a commy, he's a pinko. And the Ike people said that Taft was a right-wing nut. So I watch Republicans, they give each other the saliva test of purity, and then they lose and then they bitch for four years. And that's their history.

Bob Schieffer: So you think when you're talking about getting tangled up in these social issues that Rick Santorum is just too identified with those issues to run a good campaign in the fall?

Alan Simpson: Well I'll tell you, he is rigid and a homophobic. He believes that gays and lesbians, he mentioned in an interview in 2003, about bestiality, and gays and lesbians. I think that's disgusting. And they asked him, well he said I want a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and they said well what about the people who are already married? And he said well they would be nullified. I mean what is, what's human, what's kind about that? We're all human beings, we all know or love somebody who's gay or lesbian so what the hell is that about? To me it's startling and borders on disgust.

Bob Schieffer: And why do you think Romney, what do you like about Romney? Is he conservative?

Alan Simpson: You know that's the saliva test again. He got elected in Massachusetts, so you know that's, you know, an indication that he might be rather moderate, I know it's a sick thing to say moderate. He's done things that others have never done. He's been in the fray, he knows what a payroll is. He's done this or that, and now they're saying that he sought earmarks when he was in Massachusetts from the federal government. Who didn't? There isn't a soul wandering this whole village that hasn't done earmarks. Santorum stuffed them in his pocket, Newt, Romney, whoever, name them, Obama. That's the game. Bring home the bacon, go get the highway, go get the airport, go get the YMCA, get me some money. Well the pig is dead, there's no bacon to bring home.

Bob Schieffer: Do you think that Romney can get through this process and still be a strong candidate in the Fall? Because as he continues to try to move to the right and convince the conservatives that he is a conservative we find his favorability among independents keeps going down. It seems like he's going to have to do something to get those folks back.

Alan Simpson: No I think it's the saddest thing to watch the Iowa caucus where less people vote than vote in my state of Wyoming and we're the lowest population of the United States. And we might vote 2-300,000 maybe, I don't know, something in there. And Iowa, 50,000 people set the tone for America and the only way you can get out of Iowa is to be extreme. Extreme right or extreme left. So it's amazing that they get this far. But Super Tuesday will be when they wash the laundry, and if Romney can come out of there - now don't forget there's a lot of proportional voting - you can lose a delegation of 80 and pick up you know 38 of them. And, so, I think that he can make it. The stuff that has come out on Romney has now been rolling for a long time. Now, Santorum is caught in the roll. He hasn't had the searchlight on him. Every time the search light falls - on Cain, or Newt or whoever, you know the emperor's riding nekkid down the street. So, I think Romney's had the assault. He's been shelled from coast-to-coast and he's still there. Newt will not be there, there's just too much baggage. Santorum, as they peel the onion, will not receive the support he thinks. And I think it will be Romney and I think he's got a chance, a good chance, to be elected president simply because people vote against. And if Obama keeps messing around, which is doubtful, but he could. Keep messing around with contraception and the Catholics and all this stuff that they'll vote against him and that will bring Romney home.

Bob Schieffer: Well thank you very much, Senator, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. And you still answer the questions, and we kind of like that.

Alan Simpson: I thought I hadn't, but you did keep coming back.

Bob Schieffer: Well thank you very much. This is Face to Face, and we hope you'll remember to watch Face the Nation Sunday on television.