GLENN: How are you doing, Governor?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I'm terrific, thanks, Glenn.
GLENN: Well, let's start with the news of the day. What do you think we're headed for today on the markets?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, I can't begin to predict the stock market. It will probably head down. The question is whether people will see it as a buying opportunity and turn it the other direction but I think there's a growing concern about the credit crisis and even solvency of our major institutions. So this could be going on for a while, but I'm no predictor of what markets are going to do.
GLENN: Tell me about the stimulus package. I think this $800 tax rebate -- I'm all for giving people money back but now they are talking about giving people money back that didn't pay taxes in the first place. Second place, $800, that seems like a short-term idea that doesn't even address the real fundamentals of what's going on.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, there's no question but that the real fundamentals are long term in nature and include the fact that our employment sector, our businesses are facing the highest taxes in the world right here in this country and we compound that by making it difficult for businesses to invest in new capital equipment and that's why the program I've put together calls for very substantial changes in the way businesses are taxed and creates incentives that we go to work and beginning to buy capital equipment and thereby helping boost our economy. But we've got a number of folks that have invested in some very bad instruments and some mortgages, sub prime mortgages that are going to see some losses and, of course, our desire is to make sure that the homeowners don't lose their homes.
GLENN: Bank of America came out. Earnings have fallen 98%. I mean, you just said it. People have made bad investments, they've made mistakes. What do you think of the concept of, let the market correct itself, let these people who have done bad business, let them -- let it purge itself and that way it can heal. You never heal a wound if you don't let all of the rocks and pick all of the rocks out of there.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, I think you're right and I think you're going to find that the big investment banks and the banks and so forth that have made these huge investments in this sub prime mortgage market are going to find some very difficult days ahead and there's going to be no interest in bailing those guys out and I think it's a very different matter to say, well, let's make sure that what's happening to them does not affect other enterprises from, you know, making pancakes to making cars and making computers and that's why there's an effort to put more capital into the marketplace to make sure that the credit crisis that's being seen by these investment banks and by the banks themselves is not something which brings down the entire economy.
GLENN: Are you concerned about the sovereign wealth funds? Are you concerned about Saudi Arabia owning part of Citibank?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: You know, they have been investing in this country for a long, long time. We've been sending them money for oil and they turn around and send money back here for various investments and at some point this is going to equilibrate. They are not going to keep on sending us oil for dollars that are declining in value. I think the same issue relates to what's happening in China. They continue to see declining dollars. Fundamentally this is going to correct itself. That's the nature of how markets work. But what we want to do is make sure that we don't have in the midst of this a downturn that causes people to lose jobs and then, if you will, it becomes a downward spiral. People lose jobs, they are not buying things, therefore companies aren't selling as much, so they have to let more people go. And that's why government steps into states like this at this tipping point to prime the market, to push it a little further -- when I say the market, I mean the economy -- to encourage the purchase of new equipment and the hiring of individuals. And that's what my plan calls for and I believe the President does as well.
GLENN: You know, I get a lot of phone calls on two subjects. One is everybody wants to give the tax cuts, everybody's coming out on this but nobody is talking about fundamental restraint in Washington, nobody's really saying, okay, we're going to do this but we also have to signal to the world that we're not going to spend more money than we have.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Wouldn't that be nice? And the big -- you know, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the entitlement program shortfall that exists in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and these are not impossible to solve. The President came out with a proposal a year or two ago. There have been other proposals over the years, but it's time for Washington, which is fundamentally broken, it's time for Washington to say, look, we're not only going to be dealing with these short-term stimulus issues but we're going to deal with the long-term concern that the world has and one of the reasons the dollar is weak is because the world looks at our economy and says, America cannot rein in its excessive spending and it's only going to get worse, not better. And so that's one of the reasons, Glenn, I'm in this race is I want to get Washington back to work solving the problems that exist. These are not insurmountable problems. It's the will on the part of somebody who doesn't care whether it's the Republican or the Democrat who gets the credit.
GLENN: Yeah, but how are you going to do that? Here's what happens. We send somebody to Washington, they say that and then they either sell their soul to the devil or they can't get congress to move because congress -- and it's happened with the Republicans and it's happened with the Democrats, they always seem to switch sides depending on who has the power. They don't move because they don't -- they don't want anybody else to have the credit. So how do you -- how do you as President fix that, get around it?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: One is a couple of things. One the president can say if you keep sending me bills, I'm going to veto them. Number two, there's a phenomena that exists when a crisis occurs and sometimes that's what it takes to get America to move but right now we're seeing a crisis as the world looks at us and says, you know what, America is not on stable footing economically and a crisis like that often causes people to take action. My wife says it's like watching two guys in a canoe moving down a river toward a waterfall. They are not paddling. That's Washington. And as they get closer to the waterfall, I'm convinced they will start to paddle as long as they have leadership that will show which way the shore is and that's what I'm trying to do.
GLENN: The other question that people ask me all the time, and you are a guy who can actually answer this question is, most people don't -- you know, they have their 401k, they are fighting to keep their head above water. You know, they don't have a lot of money. What can they do in this economy? What is it that the average individual can do to shore themselves up or to help?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, the best thing we can do in an economy is for kids to work hard in school, for our parents to do a good job at work, for entrepreneurs to take the risk to build new enterprises and to pursue all sorts of innovation and technological insights. This is what propels a nation like ours ahead of those of other nations is just the content of our work, the quality of our productivity improvements, the level of our technological advances. These are the things long term we have to do for America to lead. And it begins, of course, with great homes, with great parents, with terrific schools and, you know, our schools are falling behind international standards. We're well behind other nations that we compete with in terms of the success of our kids coming out of school and if that's the case, we'll have a hard time keeping up long term. Short-term, you know, you put your head down, you weather this, you realize that the markets are going to go up and down. Throughout my life I've seen markets collapse, I've seen great fear and panic enter people's hearts as they see what's happening in markets. But somehow what comes down has always come back.
GLENN: I found something confusing in the paper today and I don't know if you watched the Democratic debate last night. Did you watch it?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: I did not see it. We were doing our own events.
GLENN: They were talking about who's best, the Democrats are debating, who is best to beat John McCain. Now, I see on the front page of the New York Sun today where the race stands depends on who you ask. Let me just ask CNN. It says Romney has 72 delegates, McCain has 38 delegates. Have I missed something here or is this media bias?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, there's no question but that the media has always had great affection for Senator McCain and for good reason. They see eye to eye on a lot of things. And yet this is very much a race. Here in Florida the polls in the last couple of days have Senator McCain and myself tied here with a more engine of error. There have been three polls out. We're all going to be battling down here. Mayor Giuliani can't be written off, either, and nor can Governor Huckabee. We've got a real race going on and so far there have been six contests and I won three of them and I've come in second in two. So if you will, my medal count is the strongest but, you know, we're going to keep battling along here. I'm not the household name that John McCain is but I expect to beat him.
GLENN: Do you want to make a plea to Thompson's people? I mean, there's rumor that he may drop out this week. If he does, where do his people go?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: You know, I think either the Thompson folks come to me and to Governor Huckabee, I think it's less likely they'll go to McCain although both Senator Thompson and Senator McCain served together and were friends and I presume if Senator Thompson gets out, he will endorse Senator McCain because of their long friendship but I would never presume to suggest to another candidate get out. They are entitled to stay in as long as they would like to stay in. I think Fred Thompson has made our debates more interesting and he's been fun on the trail and I like him a lot. You know, I would miss him if he got out.
GLENN: You know, I was watching -- well, that's bullcrap and you know that. You would like to have -- you would like to have fewer people in the race, wouldn't you?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Oh, you know, I'd love to have fewer people in the race but I'm certainly not going to suggest to some other candidate that they get out.
GLENN: I get it, I get it. I mean --
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: It's a huge sacrifice to get in. So --
GLENN: I mean, I don't know about you but if I were in your position, I would want everybody else to drop out. "Well, we'll miss you, guys, it's been fun. Oh, well."
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Hey, Glenn, I'll sign up for that one, everybody else leave but me.
GLENN: All right, that's just me.
In the debate, and I've been watching over the last few days. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama going at it. They are hitting each other pretty hard. I mean, I find it amazing that Barack Obama now understands how a conservative feels about Bill Clinton where he's not really, he is kind of fudging the truth a little bit. If what happened over the last few days with Bill Clinton would have happened to you or any other conservative; for instance, if you were sitting behind Martin Luther King, III as he was giving a speech on Martin Luther King day and you fell asleep at the same time that you were beating up on the black candidate, you would be called a racist. I'm convinced of it. If you were the candidate that has to run against the first female or the first African-American, how do you navigate the waters? Because you know you're going to either be called a sexist or a racist by the media and by the operatives of those candidates. How do you elevate the level of dialogue so it doesn't just degenerate into that?
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, that's a great question, Glenn, that I don't have a great answer to other than to say that the kinds of challenges we face today are so daunting as a country that I think people are going to say, you know, normally kind of a, if you will, a People magazine analysis of the campaign is all I'm going to do. I think they are going to instead do more of a U.S. News and World Report analysis. They are going to say, you know, I want to know who's going to make sure that America is stronger and who can defeat this threat of global jihad, I want to know who can make our economy stronger because I'm concerned about the value of my savings but even more concerned about the ongoing job I have and my ability to get good healthcare. These kinds of issues I think are going to swamp a lot of the, if you will, the personality and FaceBook kind of issues. And even those will be titillating to the media and to observers. When it comes to going into the voting booth and pulling the lever, people are going to say, what is in my personal best interests here and they are not going to care whether someone is male or female or of one ethnicity or another. They are going to want the person who can do the job for them.
GLENN: Governor Mitt Romney, it is always a pleasure, sir, and I'm thrilled with your progress and at least -- just know that at least somebody in the media is noticing the poll numbers that seem to be surging, that you are ahead of the delegate count and that John McCain is not a foregone conclusion and I appreciate your time, sir.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Thanks, Glenn. Good to be with you.