Mitt Romney in 2007 GOP debate at St. Anselm College, sponsored by CNN & WMUR


On War & Peace: Right to invade Iraq, but not what came after

Q: Knowing everything you know right now, was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?

A: Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will, or a null set. If Saddam had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and theyíd come in and theyíd found that there were no WMD, had Saddam not violated UN resolutions, we wouldnít be in the conflict weíre in. But he didnít do those things. I supported the presidentís decision based on what we knew at that time. I think we were under-prepared and under-planned for what came after we knocked down Saddam.

Q: But the question was, knowing what you know right now--not what you knew then, what you know right now--was it a mistake?

A: Well, I answered the question by saying itís a non sequitur. Itís a hypothetical that I think is an unreasonable hypothetical. And the answer is, we did what we did; we did the right thing based on what we knew at that time. I think we made mistakes following the collapse of Saddamís government.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 5, 2007

On Civil Rights: Donít ask, donít tell sounds silly, but itís effective

Q: In 1994 you were quoted as saying that you advocated gays being able to serve openly and honestly in our nationís military. Do you still feel that way?

ROMNEY: No, actually, when I first heard of the ďDonít ask, donít tellĒ policy, I thought it sounded awfully silly. I didnít think that would be very effective. And I turned out to be wrong. Itís been the policy now in the military for what, 10, 15 years, and it seems to be working. This is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on. I wouldnít change it at this point. We can look at down the road. But it does seem to me that we have much bigger issues as a nation we ought to be talking about than that policy right now.

McCAIN: I think it would be a terrific mistake to even reopen the issue. The policy is working. And I am convinced that thatís the way we can maintain this greatest military. Letís not tamper with them.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Energy & Oil: No-regrets policy: biofuel, nuclear power, drill ANWR

Q: Is science wrong on global warming? And what, if any, steps would you take as president to address the issue of climate change?

GIULIANI: I think we have to accept the view that scientists have that there is global warming and that humans contribute to that. Itís frustrating and really dangerous for us to see money going to our enemies because we have to buy oil from certain countries. We should be supporting all the alternatives. We need a project similar to putting a man on the moon.

ROMNEY: Rudy Giuliani is right in terms of an Apollo project to get us energy independent, and the effects of that on global warming are positive. Itís a no-regrets policy. Itís a great idea. [We need,] as a strategic imperative, energy independence for America. And it takes that Apollo project. It also takes biodiesel, biofuel, cellulosic ethanol, nuclear power, more drilling in ANWR. We have to be serious also about efficiency and thatís going to allow us to become energy independent.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Energy & Oil: Big Oil should reinvest profits in oil refineries

Q: What do you say to the audience who believes that thereís too much of an alliance between the big oil companies and Republicans?

A: Big oil is making a lot of money right now, and Iíd like to see them using that money to invest in refineries. Donít forget that when companies earn profit, that money is supposed to be reinvested in growth. And our refineries are old. Someone said our refineries today are rust with paint holding them up. And we need to see these companies, if theyíre making that kind of money, reinvest in capital equipment. But letís not forget, where the money is being made throughout these years is not just in the major oil companies, itís in the countries that own this oil. Ahmadinejad, Putin, Chavez--these people are getting rich off of people buying too much oil. And thatís why we have to pursue, as a strategic imperative, energy independence for America.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Foreign Policy: US is not arrogant, but we have resolve

Q: If it came down to Iran having a nuclear bomb, would you authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons?

A: You donít take options off the table. All over the world weíre seeing the same thing happening, and that is, people are testing the US. We have to make sure they understand that weíre not arrogant. We have resolve. And we have the strength to protect our interests and to protect people who love liberty. For that to happen, weíre going to have not just to attack each one of these problems one by one, but say, ďHow do we help move the world of Islam so that the moderate Muslims can reject the extreme?Ē And for that to happen, weíre going to have to have a strong military and an effort to combine with our allies in such a way that we combine for an effort to help move Islam towards modernity. There is a war going on, and we need a broad response to make sure that these people have a different vision.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Government Reform: Never pardoned anyone as governor, but might pardon Libby

Q: Should Pres. Bush pardon Scooter Libby, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in the CIA leak case?

A: This is one of those situations where I go back to my record as governor. I didnít pardon anybody as governor because I didnít want to overturn a jury. But in this case, you have a prosecutor who clearly abused prosecutorial discretion by going after somebody when he already knew the source of the leak. He went on a political vendetta. Iíd keep the option open [for a pardon].

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Health Care: MA program relies on personal responsibility & the market

Q: [The Massachusetts] program mandates individual health insurance coverage. Some conservatives say this is simply big government--is it?

A: As governor, I talked to people, and they say, ďIf I lose my job, Iím worried Iíll lose my insurance, and my insurance premiums are getting higher and higher.Ē And we said: We got to find a way to get everybody insured. And the last thing we want is to have the government take over health care, because anything they take over gets worse. We said: We need to find a way to get everybody in our state insured with private insurance. [We found] a way to get them insured without raising taxes, without a government takeover. It relies on personal responsibility. Every Democrat up thereís talking about a form of socialized medicine, government takeover, massive tax increase. Iím the guy who actually tackled this issue. We get all of our citizens insured. We have to stand up and say the market works. Personal responsibility works.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Health Care: FactCheck: Romney plan virtually identical to Obama plan

Romney tried to distance his stateís universal health insurance plan from the proposals of the Democratic presidential candidates. Romney said, ďEvery Democrat up thereís talking about a form of socialized medicine, government takeover, massive tax increase. Iím the guy who actually tackled this issue. We get all of our citizens insured. We get people that were uninsured with private health insurance. We have to stand up and say the market works. Personal responsibility works.Ē

There are two problems with Romneyís characterization: One, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is the only Democratic candidate to propose a single-payer, wholly government-funded health care plan. And two, Romneyís Massachusetts universal insurance system bears a striking resemblance to the health care proposals of the Democratic front-runners. For example, the Obama and Romney plans are virtually identical. But in our view, the term ďgovernment takeoverĒ could only be applied to Rep. Kucinichís proposal.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Immigration: Enforce the law against 12 million illegals here now

Q: What would you do with the 12 million illegal immigrants who are now in this country?

ROMNEY: Well, one is to enforce the law as it exists. The law that was passed in 1986 asked for us to secure the border & said also to put in place an employment verification system. Neither one of those was done. So letís make sure that we enforce the law as it exists. And if you want to improve [the McCain reform] bill, take that Z visa and make it temporary, instead of a permanent right to stay in America.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Immigration: Proposed Z visa allows illegal aliens to stay in America

Q [to Romney]: Sen. McCain has accused you of flip-flopping on immigration. McCain said: ďPandering for votes on this issue while offering no solution to the problem amounts to doing nothing, and doing nothing is silent amnesty.Ē

ROMNEY: My view is that we should enforce immigration laws. And this bill, unfortunately, has at least one provision thatís a real problem. Itís the Z visa. It allows people whoíve come here illegally to stay here for the rest of their lives. Not necessarily as citizens; they have to wait 13 years to become citizens. Thatís not the point. The point is, every illegal alien, almost every one, under this bill gets to stay here. Thatís simply not fair to get put ahead in the line of all the people whoíve been waiting legally to come to this country.

McCAIN: Our legislation does account for people who are here illegally, it does have an employment verification system, and it weeds out those who shouldnít be here, and it gives others a chance to remain in this country.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Immigration: Make English national language; communicate in Spanish too

Q: Youíve been accused of flip-flopping on immigration. You indicated that youíd want the national language of the US to be English. However, why are you airing ads in Spanish? Your campaign also provides a Spanish-speaking version of your website with your son also speaking in Spanish.

A: Let me make it real clear--Iím not anti-immigrant. I love immigrants. I love legal immigrants coming to our country. Iím happy to communicate to them, and I hope they vote for me. And Iím happy to have people all over the country, and Iím going to reach out to them in any language I can to have them vote for me and understand why Iím going to support making this a great land.

I very firmly believe that we have to make sure that we enforce our borders, that we have an employment verification system, and that those people who have come here illegally do not get an advantage to become permanent residents, they do not get a special pathway. Thatís the problem I have with the bill the Kennedy-McCain bill.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On Principles & Values: Mormons believe in God, the Bible, & Jesus Christ as savior

Q: There was a recent poll here in N.H. 10% said they wouldnít vote for you because youíre a Mormon. What would you like to say to the voters out there tonight about your faith, about yourself and about God?

A: Well, Pres. Kennedy some time ago said he was not a Catholic running for president; he was an American running for president. And Iím a proud member of my faith. I think itís a fair question for people to ask, ďWhat do you believe?Ē And I think, as you want to understand what I believe, you could recognize that the values that I have are the same values youíll find in faiths across this country. I believe in God, believe in the Bible, believe Jesus Christ is my savior. I believe that God created man in his image. I believe that the freedoms of man derive from inalienable rights that were given to us by God. And I also believe that there are some pundits out there that are hoping that Iíll distance myself from my church so that thatíll help me politically, and thatís not going to happen.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

On War & Peace: FactCheck: Saddam didnít refuse UN inspectors prior to war

Romney tried to pin the blame for the Iraq war on Saddam Husseinís refusal to allow weapons inspections.
ROMNEY: If Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and theyíd come in and theyíd found that there were no WMDs, had Saddam Hussein, therefore, not violated UN resolutions, we wouldnít be in the conflict weíre in. But he didnít do those things.
Romney is not alone in playing loose with the facts about weapons inspections. On at least 3 occasions in 2003, Pres. Bush has made the same claim. However, that the UNís IAEA was not permitted to make inspections might come as a bit of a surprise to Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, who reported on March 17, 2003, that ďlate last night I was advised by the US government to pull out our inspectors from Baghdad.Ē Inspectors had been in Iraq since November 2002. They remained until the UN Secretary-General ordered their evacuation on March 17, just three days before US and British troops invaded Iraq.
Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

The above quotations are from 2007 GOP debate at St. Anselm College, Manchester N.H., June 5, 2007, moderated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
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