The campaign discussion was dominated Tuesday by remarks made by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at a May 17 fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., which were surreptitiously recorded by an anonymous source and surfaced Monday evening.
The video was first obtained by Mother Jones magazine and published on its website. The full video of Romney’s remarks has also been obtained by NBC News and is included in two parts below, along with the full transcript.
Watch Part 1 of a surreptitiously-recorded video of Mitt Romney speaking to donors at a May 17 fundraiser, which was held at the home of private equity mogul Mark Leder. The video was was first obtained by Mother Jones magazine and later by NBC News.
Watch part 2 of a surreptitiously-recorded video of Mitt Romney speaking to donors at a May 17 fundraiser, which was held at the home of private equity mogul Mark Leder. The video was was first obtained by Mother Jones magazine and later by NBC News.
* * *BEGINNING OF TRANSCRIPT* * *
(This is a rush transcript. Accuracy is not guaranteed.)
MITT ROMNEY: (IN PROGRESS) -- time. And I guess everybody here is a dignitary and I appreciate your-- your help. And, by the way, I am serious about the food. Bring that doug-- doughnuts (?) so-- just try and clear and place-- places and-- and-- but Hillary has to eat her beets. (LAUGHTER) Okay?
I-- I'm gonna-- because of-- the table is small enough and the room is-- intimate enough I'd like to-- spend our time-- respond to questions you have. Listening to advice you might have. Occasionally, as-- as I did just a moment ago, I get envelopes like that, which is-- and I'll open this. It'll be campaign ideas. "Why don't you talk about the following issue?" So I'm happy to take advice and then we can all vote on whether it's a good piece of advice or bad piece of advice. (LAUGHTER)
And-- and so we'll-- we'll-- we'll get a chance to do that. But I-- I'm-- I'm lookin' to get your-- your perspectives. I-- just to tell you a couple of things you may not know about me. You probably know that I'm the father of five and-- and grandfather now of 18. I-- my oldest son this past-- had two-- had twins-- just last week. And-- so our-- our grandchild nest is getting larger. And they are a source of great joy.
When I was-- when I was probably halfway through my career at Bain consulting I met with a lawyer to draft a will. And-- and she said, "How do you divide what estate you might eventually have?" And I said-- (LAUGH) I-- I didn't have anything at that point. I said, "I wanna divide it equally among my five sons."
And she said, "Well, how much will you wanna give to the grandchildren that they will ultimately have?" And I said, "Well, I don't wanna give anything to the-- to the grandchildren. I'll-- I'll give it to the sons and they in turn will give it to their-- their children as needed." And she said, "You'll change your mind." I said, "No. No, I don't think so." So I saw her not long ago. And I said, "I don't wanna give anything to my sons. I wanna give (LAUGHTER) it all--" and-- so the-- (UNINTEL PHRASE). My grand--
MALE VOICE: So you-lost Samantha's vote (UNINTEL PHRASE). (LAUGHTER)
MITT ROMNEY: But this-- it-- it's not--
MALE VOICE: That's my daughter. (LAUGHTER)
MITT ROMNEY: --it-- it's not just because-- I love my grandchildren, as I do. I-- (CLUNKING) love my sons and daughters-in-law. It's that I'm very concerned about what the nation is gonna be like over the coming-- decade or two. And-- and I-- and I really do.
As I said in my remarks earlier, I see these two very different scenarios. One is-- has-- America really powering the world economy with an extraordinary economy here, with China working with us, wanting to see stability in the world-- and-- a very vibrant America with freedom and-- and-- and prosperity for-- the great-- bulk of the American people. On the other si-- other hand, I really do see something like Europe. And-- and I think that's the path we're on right now. So that-- that-- that's why I-- I wanna make sure that what I-- what little I'll have left after the campaigns goes to my-- (LAUGHTER) goes to my-- my grandchildren.
That's one piece of-- about me that you may not know. The other is just about my-- my heritage. My dad, you probably know, was-- was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company, but he was born in Mexico. And-- had he been born of Mexican parents I'd have a better shot of winning this, but he was-- (LAUGHTER) unfortunately born of Americans living in Mexico. They'd lived there for a number of years. And-- I mean I say that jokingly, but it'd be helpful to be-- Latino. And--
FEMALE VOICE: You can pull an Elizabeth Warren.
MITT ROMNEY: Pardon?
FEMALE VOICE: Pull an Elizabeth Warren.
MITT ROMNEY: Yeah, that's right. That's right. I can (UNINTEL) say. Folks who don't know Elizabeth Warren-- (FEMALE VOICE: UNINTEL) --she's the woman who's running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts -- (OVERTALK)
--who-- who said that she's Cherokee and has put on her application over the years that she's Cherokee and Harvard put down that she's one of their minority-- faculty members. It turns out that at most she's 1/32nd Cherokee. (LAUGH) And even that can't be proven. So-- at any event, I mean I could put down my dad was born in Mexico and leave it at that. (LAUGHTER)
But-- but-- but his-- his dad was in construction, very successful, in Mexico, but in America went broke more than once. So my dad never had the money or time to get a college degree. Without a college degree, became head of a big car company and ultimately governor. And-- and believed in America. Believed in the opportunity of this country. Never doubted for a moment that he could achieve his dreams.
And Ann's dad, my wife's dad, was born in Wales. His dad was a coal miner. This coal miner got injured in a coal mining accident. Realizing that there was no future there for him or his four children, then he came to Detroit and-- worked in the auto factories until he could save enough money to bring his kids over, which he did.
And-- and then they got together as a family and said, "You know, to be successful in America you've gotta get an education." And they couldn't afford an education. And the kids and the parents said, "You know, if we all work and we all save we could afford to send one of us to college." And they-- they sent my wife's dad. Can you imagine working every day, taking a couple of jobs and saving your money so that your brother could go to-- I mean I would never do that for my brother. (LAUGHTER)
But, you know, it-- so he went to college and got a degree at the General Motors Institute of Technology, which-- which is one of these programs where you work a semester and then you go to school a semester. And-- and-- and then after it was over he started a little company. He became more successful and he was able to hire his brothers and his brother-in-law and-- and provide for them in an extraordinary way.
By the way, both-- both my dad and Ann's dad did quite well in their lives-- but when they came to the end of their lives and-- and passed along the inheritances to Ann and to me, we both decided to give it all away. So I have inherited nothing. Everything that Ann and I have, we have-- we earned the-- old fashioned way. And that's (APPLAUSE) by hard work (UNINTEL PHRASE). I see that all--
MALE VOICE: You've just lost the (UNINTEL) vote for a second time. (LAUGHTER)
FEMALE VOICE: (UNINTEL PHRASE) jokes (UNINTEL PHRASE).
MITT ROMNEY: I say that because there's a perception that, "Oh, you were born with a silver spoon. You know, you never had to earn anything," and so forth. And-- and-- and I-- frankly I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you could have, which is to get born in America. And I'll say there is-- let me-- 95% of life is-- is-- is set up for you if you're born in this country.
And I remember going to-- to-- sorry just to bore you with stories, but I was-- when I was back in my private equity days we went to China to buy a factory there. It employed about 20,000 people. And they were almost all-- young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23. They were saving for potentially becoming married and they work in these huge factories. They made various-- small appliances.
And-- as we were walking through this facility, seeing them work, the number of hours they worked per day and the pittance they earned, living in dormitories with-- with little bathrooms at the end of maybe 10-- 10-- rooms. And the-- and the rooms, they had 12 girls per-- per room. Three bunk beds-- on top of each other. And you've seen 'em. You've seen 'em.
MALE VOICE: Oh yeah.
MITT ROMNEY: And-- and-- and around this factory was a fence, a huge fence of barbed wire, and guard towers. And-- and we said, "Gosh, I can't believe that you-- you know, you keep these girls in." They said, "No, no, no. This is to keep other people from coming in, because people want so badly to come work in this factory that we have to keep them out or they'll just come in here and start working and-- and-- and try and get compensated. So we-- this is to keep people out."
And they said, "Actually, at Chinese New Year's the girls go home. Sometimes they've decided they've saved enough money and they don't come back to the factory." And he said-- and so on-- on the weekend after Chinese New Year there'll be a line of people, hundreds long, outside the factory, hoping that some girls haven't come back and they can come to the factory.
And-- and so as we were experiencing this for-- for the first time for me to see a factory like this in China several years ago, the-- the Bain partner I was with turned to me and said, "You know, 95% of life is settled if you're born in America." The-- this is-- this is an amazing land. And-- and what we have is-- is unique. And fortunately it is so special we're sharing it with the world.
I am-- I am concerned about the future but also optimistic, as I say. I-- I-- I look forward to getting America back on track and having-- and having people-- plan on-- on-- on bringing their-- their ideas and their dreams to this country. We need big dreamers, by the way.
I'm just-- just-- we didn't talk about immigration today, but gosh I'd like to bring in more legal immigrants that have skill and knowledge. I'd like to staple a green card to every PhD in the world and say, "Come to America. We want you here." Instead we-- we make it hard for people who get educated here or elsewhere to make this their home.
Unless, of course, you have no skill or experience, in which case you're welcome to cross the border and stay here (LAUGH) the rest of your life. It's a very strange setup-- run by people who don't understand that we're in a global competition of ideas and-- and our idea has to win, but only if America remains strong. Well, with that as an introduction-- I-- I-- I'm gonna turn to you for counsel, advice or questions. Policy questions. Wanna talk about tax policy? Or-- or political questions. How I win? Please.
MALE VOICE: One comment, Governor.
MITT ROMNEY: Yes.
MALE VOICE: The debates are gonna be coming and I hope at the right moment you can turn to President Obama, look at the American people and say, "If you vote to reelect President Obama you're voting to bankrupt the United States." I hope you keep that in your quiver, because that's what's gonna happen. And I think it's gonna be very effective. In some (UNINTEL).
MITT ROMNEY: Yeah. Yeah. It's-- it's interesting. There's-- the former head of-- Goldman Sachs, John Whitehead-- was also the former head of the New York Federal Reserve and-- and I met with him and he said, "As soon as the Fed stops buying all the debt that we're issuing--" which they've been doing. The Feds buy like 3/4 of the debt that America issues.
He said, "Once-- once that over-- that's over," he said, "we're gonna have a failed Treasury option. Interest rates are gonna have to go up. You know, we're-- we're-- we're living in this borrowed-- fantasy world where-- where the government keeps on borrowing money." You know, we-- we borrow this extra trillion a year. We wonder, "Well, who's-- who's loaning against the Treasury? The Chinese aren't loaning to us anymore. The Russians aren't loaning it to us anymore. So who's giving us a trillion?"
And the answer is we're just making it up. The Federal Reserve is-- is just taking it and saying, "Here, we're-- we're giving--" it's just made up money. And-- and this-- this does not augur well-- for-- for our economic future. No. I mean I-- you know, some of these things are-- are complex enough it's not easy for people to understand, but your-- your point of saying bankruptcy usually concentrates the money. Yeah, George?
GEORGE: Governor, to you-- to your point on complexity, how-- as you travel around America and talk to people in larger groups, perhaps people with different backgrounds or people who are sort of-- to what extent do people really understand that we're hurtling toward a cliff? And to what extent do people really understand the severity of the-- of the-- fiscal situation we're in? Do people get it?
MITT ROMNEY: They-- they don't. They-- by and large, people-- people don't get it. People in our party-- and part of this is our fault, because we've been talking about deficits (RUSTLING) and debt--
MALE VOICE: Right.
MITT ROMNEY: --for about 25 or 30 years as a party and so they've heard us say it and say it and say it. The-- the fact that Greece is going through what it's going through, and they read about France and Italy and Spain, has-- has finally made this issue topical for the American people.
And so when you do polls and you ask people, "What is the biggest issue in the 2012 election?" Number one is the economy and jobs by a wide margin. But number two is the deficit. And-- but the debt and the-- that doesn't-- that doesn't calculate for folks, but the deficit does. They're-- they're-- they recognize you can't go on forever like this, although the people who recognize that tend to be Republican. And the people who don't recognize it tend to be Democrat. And what we have to get is that 5% or 10% in the middle who-- who sometimes vote Republican, sometimes vote Democrat and-- and have them understand how important this is.
It-- it's-- I mean it's a challenge. I mean I-- I did the calculation-- for folks today. And USA Today publishes this every year. It's a front page story. The-- the headline once a year that somehow-- escapes people's attention. And that is if you take the-- the total national debt and the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, the amount of debt plus unfunded liabilities per household in America is $520,000. Per household.
MALE VOICE: Which is like 12 times their income. Right?
MITT ROMNEY: At-- at least.
MALE VOICE: Ten times (UNINTEL).
MITT ROMNEY: Yeah, yeah. Ten, 12 times their income. And-- and-- and even though we're not gonna be writing a check for that amount per household, they're gonna be paying the interest on that. You will be paying the interest on that. (LAUGHTER) Because we will-- my generation will be long gone and you'll be paying the interest.
And so you'll be paying taxes not only for the things you want in your generation, but for all the things we spent money on, which is just-- I mean it's-- it's extraordinary to think that tax rates-- someone calculated what would happen if we don't change Medicare or Social Security, the tax rate-- you know what the payroll tax is now? It's 15.3%. If we don't change those programs that tax rate will have to ultimately rise to 44%. (MALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
The payroll tax. Then there's the income tax on top, which the president wants to take to 40%. Then there's state tax in most states and-- sales tax and so forth. You end up having to take 100% of people's income. And yet the president, three and a half years in, won't talk about reforming Social Security or Medicare.
And when the Republicans do, it's the, "Oh, you're throwing Granny off the cliff." It's like, "You're killing the kids." The-- the biggest surprise that I have is that young people will vote for a Democrat. They look at this and say, "Holy cow. The only guys that are worried about the future of our country and our future are Republicans." But the-- the Democrats-- you know, they-- they talk about social issues, drawing the young people, and-- and they vote on that issue. It's like-- I mean there won't be any houses like this if-- (LAUGH) if-- if-- if we stay on the road we're on.
MALE VOICE: So-- (OVERTALK)
MITT ROMNEY: But he-- yeah? I heard-- I heard a voice. (MALE VOICE: UNINTEL) That's all right. Please.
FEMALE VOICE: Governor Romney, we are former Bostonians. And we will talk about how we know you. (LAUGHTER)
MITT ROMNEY: Uh-oh.
FEMALE VOICE: And-- no, no. (UNINTEL) good.
MITT ROMNEY: Yeah, okay.
MALE VOICE: 'Cause we-- (OVERTALK)
FEMALE VOICE: And--
MITT ROMNEY: --pleasure. Thank you.
FEMALE VOICE: We-- hopefully agree to what you say economically, but I would like to know-- I mean-- and I would like you-- and I would like there to be much more discussion on what I consider the real big issues. And the real big issues are Iran and how would you your point of view differ from President Obama's?
MITT ROMNEY: Yeah, thank you. And-- and I-- by the way, start eating. Those who have-- those of you who have food in front of you, it's warm. Start eating. This has meant-- I'm standing up so I can see you, but I'm not standing up so that you have to stop and look at me. So-- (LAUGH) and it's important to look at your food as you're eating it. All right? (LAUGHTER) Don't wanna see you putting a fork in your finger here. (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)
MITT ROMNEY: And you are right, which is-- a nuclear Iran is an unthinkable outcome. Not just for our friends in Israel and our friends in Europe, but also for us because Iran is the state sponsor of terror in the world. Has Hezbollah now throughout Latin America. Hezbollah with fissile material.
I mean if I were Iran, if I were Iran-- I mean-- and-- and a crazed fanatic, I'd say, "Let's get a little fissile-- material to Hezbollah and have them carry it to Chicago or some other place. And then if anything goes wrong or America starts acting up, we'll just say, 'And guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we're gonna let off a dirty bomb.'" I mean this-- this is where we have-- where America can be held up and blackmailed by Iran. By the mullahs. By crazy people. So-- so we really don't-- have any option but to keep Iran from having-- a nuclear weapon.
I'll give the specific on Iran and then maybe talk more broadly about foreign policy. The specific on Iran is-- we should have put in place crippling sanctions at the beginning of the president's term. We did not. He will say, "Yes, but Russia wouldn't go along with us."
Well, he gave Russia their number one foreign policy objective. For a decade all they've cared about is getting the missile defense sites out of Poland. And he gave them that and got nothing in return. He could have, I presume, gotten them to agree to crippling sanctions against Iran. He did not, which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest foreign policy errors of the modern time.
And, by the way, if he-- if-- if he could not have gotten that from Russia he should have kept the missile defense sites in Poland-- just-- just to keep a bargaining chip on the table. I mean-- put nothing in 'em if he wants to. I mean I would have kept-- I would have kept 'em. I wouldn't have traded 'em away. But that's-- that's where he was.
Number two, we should have been aggressively supporting the voice of the dissent in Iran. And when there was an effort towards revolution there we should have been aggressively supporting it. And, finally, we should have made it clear, at least by now, that we have military plans to potentially remove their-- their nuclear capabilities.
That doesn't mean we actually pull the trigger, but it means that we have-that we communicate to them that we're ready to-- to do so. And that it is unacceptable to America to have-- a nuclear Iran. Instead, what this administration has done is communicate to the Iranians that we're more worried about Israel attacking them than we are about them becoming nuclear. It's-- it's extraordinary.
So-- those are-- those are some thoughts directed at Iran. I'll-- I'll step back. Foreign policy. The president's foreign policy, in my opinion, is formed in part by a perception he has that his magnetism and his charm and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like Putin and Chavez and-- and Ahmadinejad and-- and that they'll find we're such wonderful people that they'll go along with us. And-- and they'll stop doing bad things.
And it's an extraordinarily naive-- perception and has led to-- huge errors in-- in North Korea, in-- in Iraq-- obviously in Iran and Egypt. Around the world. My own view is that-- that the centerpiece of American foreign policy has to be strength. Everything I do will be calculated to increasing America's strength.
When you stand by your allies you increase your strength. When you attack your allies you become weaker. When you stand by your principles you get stronger. When you have a big military, that's bigger than anyone else's, you're stronger. I want to-- when you have a strong economy, you build American strength. For me, everything is about strength.
And-- and communicating to people what is and is not acceptable. It's speaking softly but carrying a very, very, very big stick. And this president has-- speaks loudly and carries a tiny stick. And-- and that-- that is-- you know, that-- that's not the right course for a foreign policy. I-- I saw Dr. Kissinger in-- in New York. You're not eating. (LAUGHTER)
MALE VOICE: I'm mesmerized. (LAUGHTER)
MITT ROMNEY: He's bored to tears. I saw Dr. Kissinger. I said to him-- "How are we perceived around the world?" And he said, "One word, veek." (LAUGHTER) We are weak. And-- and that's has this president is perceived-- by our friends and-- and-- and-- and unfortunately by our foes.
And-- and it's-- it's no-- it's no wonder that Kim Jong-on-- the new leader of North Korea, announces a long range missile test only a week after he said he wouldn't. Because it's like, "What's this president gonna do about it?" You know, if you can't-- you know, if you can't act, why don't-- don't threaten. Please.
MALE VOICE: Just to follow up on the Iran-- (OVERTALK)
MITT ROMNEY: --by the way. Yes. Yeah, I just wanna show you how it's done. You take this. (UNINTEL) your fork. (LAUGHTER) Put it in. No.
MALE VOICE: But just to follow the president (UNINTEL PHRASE).
MITT ROMNEY: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Please, go ahead.
MALE VOICE: So this (UNINTEL) president we had possibly, Ronald Reagan was able to make a statement even before he became-- was actually sworn in. The hostages were released.
MITT ROMNEY: On the day of his inauguration.
MALE VOICE: Right. So my question is will the-- how can you sort of duplicate that scenario this time?
MITT ROMNEY: I'm gonna ask you--
MALE VOICE: With the (UNINTEL PHRASE).
MITT ROMNEY: --I'm gonna ask you how do I duplicate that scenario.
MALE VOICE: I think that that's due to the fact that-- the Iranians perceived Reagan would do something to really get them out. In other words, that he had strength and that's why I'm (UNINTEL) on your (UNINTEL) about strength. And that's why I'm suggesting that some-- something that you say over the next few months gets the Iranians to understand that their pursuit of a bomb is something that-- that you would predict (?). And I think that's something that-- that could possibly resonate very well with the American public and voters.
MITT ROMNEY: I-- I appreciate the idea. I-- I-- I can't-- one of the things that's frustrating me is that-- on a typical day like this when I do three or four events like this, the number of foreign policy questions I get are between zero and one. And the American people (LAUGHTER) are not-- (FEMALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
--are not concentrated at all upon China, on Russia, Iran, Iraq. This president's failure to put in place a Status of Forces agreement, allowing 10,000 to 20,000 troops to stay in Iraq? Unthinkable. And-- and yet in-- in that election, in the Jimmy Carter election, the-- the fact that we had hostages in-- in-- in Iran, I mean that was all we talked about.
And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert. I mean that's-- that was-- that was the focus. And so him solving that made all the difference in the world. I'm afraid today if you simply got Iran to agree to stand down on their nuclear weapon they'd go-- you know, hold on. It's really-- you know, but-- but, by the way, if something of that nature-- presents itself, I-- I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity. Please. Yes?
FEMALE VOICE: But tonight's your lucky night. More foreign policy. (LAUGHTER)
MITT ROMNEY: Yes. Huge (UNINTEL).
FEMALE VOICE: (UNINTEL) actually this time you were in (UNINTEL). And we appreciate you being there. How do you think that the Palestinian problem can be solved? And what-- what are you going to do about it?
MITT ROMNEY: I-- I'm torn by two perspectives in this regard. One is the one which I have had for some time, which is that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace-- and that the-- and that the-- the pathway to peace is-- almost unthinkable to-- to accomplish.
Now why do I say that? Some might say, "Well, just let the Palestinians have the West Bank and-- and have security and-- and-- and-- and set up-- a separate nation for the Palestinians." And then-- and then come a couple of thorny questions. And I-- I don't have a map here to look at the geography. But-- but-- the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there, right next to-- to Tel Aviv, which is the-- the financial capital, the industrial capital of Israel. The center of Israel. It's-- (MALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
--well, the border would be maybe seven miles from Tel Aviv to what would be the West Bank.
MALE VOICE: Nine.
MITT ROMNEY: Nine miles. Okay. (LAUGHTER) (UNINTEL) close. Nine miles (UNINTEL). The challenge is the other side--
MALE VOICE: Don't go (UNINTEL).
MITT ROMNEY: --on the West Bank--
MALE VOICE: --don't go head-to-head with (UNINTEL).
MITT ROMNEY: The other side of the West Bank, the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state, would either be Syria at one point or-- or Jordan. And-- and of course the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon. What they did-- into Gaza. Which is the Iranians would wanna bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel.
So Israel of course would have to say, "That can't happen. We've got to keep the Iranians from bringing weaponry into the West Bank." Well, that means that who, the Israelis, are gonna-- are gonna-- patrol the border between Jordan, Syria and-- and this new Palestinian nation? Oh, the Palestinians would say, "No way. We're an independent country. You can't-- you can't bor-- you know, guard our border with other Arab nations."
And-- and how about the airport? How about flying near to this Palestinian nation? Are we going to allow-- their military aircraft to come in and-- and weaponry to come in? And if not, who's gonna keep it from coming in? Well, the Israelis. Well-- the Palestinians are gonna say, "We're not an independent nation if Israel is able to come in and tell us who can land at our airport."
These are problems. And they're very hard to solve. (LAUGH) All right? And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to seek peace anyway for political purposes. Committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel and these thorny issue-- thorny issues, that I say there's just no way. And so what you do is you say you-- you move things along the best way you can.
You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize this is gonna remain unsolved problem. We-- we live with in-- in China and Taiwan. All right? We have-- we have-- a potentially-- volatile situation, but we sort of live with it. And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately somehow, something will happen to resolve it. We don't-- we don't go to war to-- to try and-- resolve it imminently.
On the other hand, I got a call from a former secretary of State-- and I won't mention which one it was. But this individual said to me-- "You know, I think there is a prospect for-- for-- a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis-- after the Palestinian elections." I said, "Really?"
And-- you know, his answer was-- was, "Yes. I think there's some prospect." And I-- and I didn't-- delve into it, but, you know, I always-- keep open-- I mean I always keep open the idea-- I should tell you, the idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to give the paleshin-- to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world. We have done that time and time and time again. It does not work.
MALE VOICE: That's (UNINTEL).
MITT ROMNEY: So-- so this-- the-- the only answer is show strength. Again, American strength, American resolve. As the Palestinians-- someday reach the point where they want peace more than we're tryin' to put-- force peace on them. And then it's worth having the discussion. But till then it's just-- it's this legal (?) thing. (MALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
But it-- you can sit down and (UNINTEL), (OVERTALK)
MALE VOICE: I think the--
MITT ROMNEY: --do you notice--
MALE VOICE: --afterwards?
MITT ROMNEY: Please. (UNINTEL PHRASE).
MALE VOICE: (UNINTEL) like--
FEMALE VOICE: Well--
MALE VOICE: -- (UNINTEL PHRASE) possible. (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)
FEMALE VOICE: The individuals in this room obviously are your supporters. I am very concerned about the average American who doesn't know you. There is-- a terrible misconception and I spend numerous hours trying to-- I hate (UNINTEL) the (UNINTEL) when you are in such a deserving individual.
You were saying years ago-- on a call with George Bush, Senior, and he had-- he called me in my campaign in Massachusetts when you were running for Senate. I told him that there is a guy named Clinton who's going to beat him for following reasons." And he laughed.
Right now I'm very concerned. Women do not wanna be-- vote for you. Hispanics, the majority of 'em do not wanna vote for you. College students don't. After talking to them and explaining and (UNINTEL) on a one-on-one basis, we are able to change their opinions, but on a mass level, how-- how-- what do you want us to do, this group here, as your emissaries, going out to convert these individuals to someone who's obviously gonna be such an incredible asset to the country. We want you.
MITT ROMNEY: Well--
FEMALE VOICE: What do we do?
MITT ROMNEY: --I have-- I have some--
FEMALE VOICE: Just tell us how we can help you?
MITT ROMNEY: --I have some good news for you. It's not impossible. And the reason I say that is, for instance, The New York Times had a poll last week. The New York Times and NBC. And I was leading by two points among women. All right? Now the president came out and he said, "This is an outrageous poll. They don't know what they're doing."
But-- by the way, the polls at this stage make no difference at all. But the point is women are-- are open to supporting me. They like the president personally. But they're disappointed. They're disappointed with the jobs they're seeing for their kids. They're disappointed with their own economic standing right now. So we-- we can-- can capture-- women's votes.
We're having a much harder time with Hispanic voters. And-- and if the Hispanic voting bloc-- be-- becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting bloc has in-- in the past, why we're-- we're in trouble as a party and, I think, as a nation.
MALE VOICE: Rubio.
FEMALE VOICE: Exactly.
MITT ROMNEY: And-- okay. (OVERTALK)
MALE VOICE: Don't (UNINTEL PHRASE). Don't do it.
MITT ROMNEY: And so on the (UNINTEL)-- (LAUGHTER) (OVERTALK)
We have some great-- we have some great Hispanic leaders in our party that will help communicate what our party stands for. And-- what-- what I-- frankly, what I need you to do? Just to raise millions of dollars, 'cause the president's gonna have about $800 to $900 million. That-- and that's-- that's by far the most important thing you can do.
FEMALE VOICE: Is find (UNINTEL).
MITT ROMNEY: Because-- well, because you don't-- you-- you don't-- you don't have the capacity to speak to hundreds of thousands of people. I will be in those debates. There will be, I don't know, 150 million Americans watching me. If I do well, it'll help. If I don't, it won't help.
MALE VOICE: You will do--
MITT ROMNEY: Well--
MALE VOICE: --so well.
MITT ROMNEY: --well-- well--
MALE VOICE: Your debates are incredible. (APPLAUSE)
MITT ROMNEY: Thank you. Thanks. But-- but advertising makes a difference. And the president will engage in a personal-- character assassination campaign. And-- and so we'll have to fire back one, in defense and number two, in offense. And-- and that's-- that'll take money. By the way, you'll see the ads here in Florida may be one of those states that-- that is-- that is the key state. And-- and so all-- all the money will get spent in 10 states. And this is one of them.
So I-- the best thing I can ask you to do-- I mean, yeah, sure, talk to people and tell 'em what-- how you know me. And word of mouth makes a big difference. But, you know, I-- I'm not terribly well known-- by the general American culture because we don't-- (OVERTALK)
FEMALE VOICE: You're known as a rich boy. I mean they say he's a rich boy.
MITT ROMNEY: They don't-- (OVERTALK)
--but don't worry. Given all--
FEMALE VOICE: You're not.
MITT ROMNEY: --given all those negative things, given all those negative things, the fact that I'm either tied or close to the president and the fact that, you know, he's out there talking about the one year anniversary of Osama bin Laden being captured, unemployment coming down, unleashing his campaign, new campaign, we're still sort of tied? That's very interesting. And-- and it's the-- (UNINTEL) please.
MALE VOICE: I-- I would disagree with that. I think a lot of young children coming out of college feel they were let down by the president. And they feel that there's not a job out there for them. And it's (UNINTEL) and it's 60,000, now they're making $30,000. You know, very similar to the U6 (UNINTEL). You know, on-- on (UNINTEL).
MITT ROMNEY: Yeah, yeah.
MALE VOICE: My question to you is why don't you stick up for yourself? To me you should be so proud of your (UNINTEL).
FEMALE VOICE: Right.
MALE VOICE: That's what we all aspire to be. (UNINTEL) ourselves. We don't really (UNINTEL). We're away from our families five days a week. I'm away from my four girls five days a week and my wife. Why not stick up for yourself and say, "Why is it bad to be-- to aspire to be wealthy and successful?" You know, "Why is it bad to-- to-kill yourself and why is it bad to cut 30 jobs that net 300?" You know, when you're people coveting-- cutting jobs. You see companies that were strict-- that were failing in (UNINTEL PHRASE). So my question is when does that, you know, doing? (UNINTEL PHRASE).
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I am--
MALE VOICE: (UNINTEL) set (UNINTEL PHRASE). (UNINTEL PHRASE) neighborhood. And what can we (UNINTEL) up for nothing to (UNINTEL) president's success story (UNINTEL) yours, so--?
MITT ROMNEY: If-- if you heard in my speech tonight, I-- I talked to 'em again. But I didn't-- (MALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
Oh, you weren't here.
MALE VOICE: He came here early, so he was (UNINTEL PHRASE).
MITT ROMNEY: No, it-- in-- in every stump speech that I give I-- I speak about-- (MALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
--the fact that people who dream and achieve enormous success do not make us poorer. They make us better off. And the Republican audience that I typically speak to have (UNINTEL). I said that tonight and the media's there. And they-- they write about it. They say that Romney defends success-- success in America and dreamers and so forth. So they write about it.
But in terms of what gets through to the American consciousness-- that's-- I have very little influence on that at this stage. As to what they write about. And-- that will happen. We'll have three debates. We'll have a chance to talk about that in the debates. There will be ads which attack me.
I will fire back in a way that describes-- in the best way we can the fact that if the theme of my speeches are-- are why-- wind up at-- at-- you know, the ambassador heard me today several time-- I wind up talking about how the thing which I find most disappointing in this president is his attack of-- of one America against another America-- America.
FEMALE VOICE: Yes.
MITT ROMNEY: The divi-- division of America, based on going after those who have been successful. And then I quote Marco Rubio. I tell-- in my speeches. And I say, "Marco Rubio--" did I say-- I think what I said at the-- I (UNINTEL) at the fundraising event earlier today. But I did when I was in-- Jacksonville. (OVERTALK)
Exactly. I just said, "Senator Rubio says--" (FEMALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
--"when he grew up here poor, that they looked at people that had a lot of wealth. And his parents never once said, 'We need some of what they have. They should give us some.' Instead they said, 'If we work hard and go to school, someday we might be able to have that.'" That's-- (APPLAUSE) I will continue to do that.
How much of that gets picked up? There are so many things that don't get picked up in a campaign-- because people aren't watching it. By the way most people don't watch during the summer. That's gonna-- we're gonna go into a season here, starting from mid-June, of almost no attention paid. Then, after Labor Day, in September and October, that's when it'll get going.
MALE VOICE: For the past three years, all everybody's been told is, "Don't worry. We'll take care of it." How are we gonna do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you've gotta take care of yourself?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, there are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right? There are 47% who are with him. Who are dependent upon government, who believe that-- that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they're entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it. But that's-- it's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
And-- and-- I mean the president starts off with 48%, 49%, 40-- or he-- he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. 47% of Americans pay no income taxes. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every-- every four years.
And-- and so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5% to 10% in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion. Whether they like the guy or not. What they-- what it looks like. I mean the-- it's the-- the-- when you ask those people-- we do all these polls. I find it amazing. We poll all these people, see where you stand in the polls. About 45% of the people will vote for the Republican and 48% or 49%--
* * *END OF PART ONE* * *
* * *BEGINNING OF PART TWO* * *
MITT ROMNEY: (BREAK IN AUDIO) --about twice as much as China. Not 10 times as much like is reported. And-- and-- and we have responsibility for the whole world. They're only focused on one little area in the world, the South China Sea, the East China Sea. That's it. And they're building a military at-- at a rapid rate.
So-- this idea that somehow we-- oh, we spend so much money on the military. It's like, "Guys, don't over think how strong we are." We-- we have said-- you probably know. This is a couple years ago. When we had one of our aircraft carriers (UNINTEL) by-- by Japan. And-- and the Chinese pulled up behind it in-- in a diesel sub, a super quiet diesel sub. Pulled up behind it. They could have te-- torpedoed it. And-- they were (UNINTEL).
Where-- where does that (UNINTEL)? Our Navy's smaller in number of ships than anytime since 1917. And this president wants to shrink it. The-- the list goes on. Our Air Force is older and smaller than anytime since '47 when the Air Force was formed. And he wants to shrink it. If we go the way of-- of Europe, which is spending 1% to 2% of their economy on the military, we will not be able to have freedom in the world.
MALE VOICE: When-- when the electorate tunes in September, the markets are gonna be looking marginal tax rates rates going up. Another debt ceiling fight. The sequestration under the debt ceiling deal. What do they call it? Taxageddon-- you know, they call it. (LAUGHTER) The-- the Obamacare-- taxes on dividends and capital gains. I mean-- it-- (OVERTALK)
MALE VOICE: --the markets are gonna be speaking very loudly about COBRA and all of those issues.
MITT ROMNEY: They'll-- they'll probably be looking at what the polls are saying, but if it looks like I'm gonna win the market-- markets will be happy. If it looks like the president's gonna win, the markets should not be terribly happy. It depends on, of course, which markets you're talking about. Which types of commodities and so forth.
But my own view is that if we-- if-- if-- if we win on November 6th there will be-- a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. And we'll see capital come back and we'll see-- without-- without actually doing anything, we'll (CHUCKLES) actually get a boost in the economy.
If the president gets reelected, I don't know what'll happen. I can't-- I can never predict what the markets will do. Sometimes it does the exact opposite of what I would I ex-- would have expected. But I-- my own view is that-- that-- if we get a tax-- a Taxageddon, as they call it, January 1st, with this president-- and with a Congress that can't work together and I-- it's-- it really is frightening. It's really frightening in my view.
MALE VOICE: 54% of American voters think the Chinese economy is bigger the U.S.' economy. When I first met you four or five years ago you did the diagram where you went very granular and you said, "Look, guys, this is a small group." You said, "This is it. This is-- this is what it is." Tell us (UNINTEL PHRASE) this. Not-- how are you gonna win if 54% of the voters think China's economy is bigger than our own? Or if it costs four cents to make a penny and we keep making pennies?
Canada got it right a month ago. Why isn't someone sayin', "Stop makin' pennies. Round it to the nearest nickel." That's an easy thing, you know, compared to Iran. I wanna see you take the gloves off and talk to people that actually read the paper, that read the book and care about knowing the facts and-- knowledge is power. As opposed to people that are swayed by, you know, what sounds good at the moment. You know, I-- if you turned into a-- like eager to kill, it would be a landslide, in my humble opinion. (LAUGHTER)
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I-- I wrote a book that lays out my view for what has to happen in the country and-- and people who are fascinated by policy will-- will read the book. We have a website that lays out white papers on a whole series of issues that I-- I care about.
I have to tell you, I don't think this will have a significant impact on my electability. I-- I-- I wish it-- I wish it did, but I think our ads will have a much bigger impact and the debates will have a big impact. I-- you know, I-- I-- you know, I-- I--
MALE VOICE: I don't even know who (UNINTEL) Peterson and he told us--
MITT ROMNEY: Well, but that's-- (OVERTALK)
MALE VOICE: --we were in trouble 20 years ago.
MITT ROMNEY: I-- but that's-- that's my point, which is-- is just being-- being right. My dad used to say, "Being right-- early is not good in politics." And-- and-- in a setting like this-- a highly intellectual subject on a whole-- discussion of a whole series of important topics typically doesn't win elections. And there are-- there are-- there are fra-- and, for instance, this president won because of "hope and change."
FEMALE VOICE: Right.
MITT ROMNEY: All right? He won because of "hope and change." (OVERTALK)
Yeah. But I-- (LAUGHTER) so-- so it's-- it's-- I-- I-- and I-- I can tell you I have a very good team of extraordinarily experienced, highly successful-- consultants. A couple of people in particular who've done races around the world. I didn't realize it. These guys from the U.S., the-- the Karl Rove equivalents, they do races all over the world. In Armenia. In Africa. In Israel.
They-- I mean they worked for Bibi Netanyahu in his race. And so they do these races and they see which ads work and which-- which-- which processes work best. And-- and-- we have ideas about we-- what we do over the course of the campaign. I'd tell it to you, but I'd have to, you know, shoot ya. (LAUGHTER) You know? Hopefully we'll be successful. Please?
MALE VOICE: I think-- I think one of the aspects about "hope and change" that worked well for Obama four years ago was he promised to bring us more honest, transparent-- (LAUGHTER) governance in Washington. I've been around politics. The first campaign I worked in was Barry Goldwater's in 1964. So I think I'm the oldest Republican here (UNINTEL PHRASE).
But-- from what I've seen in the last months because of my own personal involvement in the issue is-- is the government in Washington right now just is permeated by cronyism, outright corruption. Our-- our regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect the public are protecting the people that they're supposed to be regulating.
And-- I think people are fed up with that. Doesn't matter whether you're in the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street, people see that the government is working for the powerful interests and the people who are well connected politically and not for the common person. Which threatens that whole idea that we have this great opportunity.
Which we should have and have had that historically in the U.S. for anybody from what background to become successful. One way in which that becomes compromised is when the government is no longer seen as being an honest agent and where our tax dollars are not really-they're being put to work for us but for the people who are plugged in politically (UNINTEL PHRASE). You know, you have-- you had cases like Solyndra and the Fullbush (PH), which I talk about (UNINTEL) involved in. You've got Eric Holder, who's probably the most corrupt attorney general that we've had ever in-- in-- in American history. And-- I think it's something that-- that-- if spun the right way and in simple terms, can actually resonate with the American people.
Obama did not keep his promises. Nancy Pelosi was supposed to give us an honest Congress. Has-- has given us just the opposite when she was speaker. And-- I think that's a campaign issue that can work well. I'm optimistic that you'll be elected president and my recommendation would be clean house immediately. SEC, the CFBC-- are-- are-- are disaster areas. And-- (OVERTALK)
MITT ROMNEY: And what-- I wish we weren't unionized so we could go a lot deeper than you're actually allowed to go. But-- (MALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
Am I in the way here? Yeah. I-- I-- I can say this, which-- and I'm sure you'll agree with this as well, which is we-- we speak with-- with voters across the country about their perceptions. Those people I told you, the 5%, to 6% or 7% that we have to sort of bring on-- on our side? They all voted for Barack Obama four years ago.
So-- and, by the way, when you-- when you say to them, "Do you think Barack Obama is a failure?" they overwhelmingly say, "No." They like him. But when you say, "Are you disappointed that his policies haven't worked?" they say, "Yes." And-- and because they voted for him they don't wanna be told that they were wrong. That he's a bad guy. That he did bad things. That he's corrupt.
The-- these-- those people that we have to get, they want to believe they did the right thing but he just wasn't up to the task. They love the phrase that he's over his head. But if we're-- when we-- but, you see, you and I, we spend our day with Republicans. We spend our days with people who agree with us. And-- and these people are people who voted for him and don't agree with us.
And-- and so the things that animate us are not the things that animate them. And the-- and the best success I have in speaking with those people is saying, you know, "The president's been a disappointment. He told you he'd keep unemployment below 8%. Hasn't been below 8% since.
"50% of kids coming out of school can't get a job. 50%. 50% of the kids in high school in our 50 largest cities won't graduate from high school. What are they gonna do?" And the-- these are the kinds of things that-- that I can-- I can say-- to-- to that audience that-- that they nod they head and say, "Yeah, I think you're right."
What he's gonna do, by the way, is try and vilify me as someone who's been successful. Or who's-- or who's, you know, closed businesses or laid people off and this is an e-- an evil bad guy. And that may work. I-- I actually think that right now people are saying, "I want someone who can make things better. That's what-- that's gonna motivate me. Who can get jobs for my kids and get rising incomes." And I hope to be able to be the one that wins that battle. Yeah, please.
FEMALE VOICE: I've seen Obama a lot of times on these sort of talk shows, making (UNINTEL PHRASE). I've never seen you on-- on any of them. And I think a lot of (UNINTEL), especially, you know, (UNINTEL PHRASE) talking about, I think they will (UNINTEL) see you in a different light, because I think a lot of women, especially, do not watch debates. They don't come to these functions. They can maybe you have to show your face more on TV and talk in your just, like, regular aesthetic. Is that (UNINTEL PHRASE). (UNINTEL) the typical (UNINTEL PHRASE). But it's--
MITT ROMNEY: It's (UNINTEL).
FEMALE VOICE: It's (UNINTEL). Yeah.
MITT ROMNEY: See, in Sweden, you'd-- you'd say Johansen (LAUGHTER) (UNINTEL PHRASE) about that.
FEMALE VOICE: So I think maybe you could reach a lot of new votes.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, thank you. I-- I have been on The View twice now. (LAUGHTER) But-- (UNINTEL PHRASE) President Obama. I've been on The View twice. (OVERTALK)
It went-- it went very well. (FEMALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
But-- Regis is gone.
MALE VOICE: Kelly and Michael Straham (UNINTEL PHRASE).
MITT ROMNEY: And I've done the-- I've done the night-- the-- the evening shows. I've been on Letterman a couple of times. I've been on-- on Leno-- more than a couple of times. And now Letterman hates me because I've been on Leno more than him. (LAUGHTER) So (UNINTEL)-- very, very jealous of one another, as you know.
And-- and there's-- I was asked to go on Saturday Night Live. I-- I did not do that in part because you-- you wanna show that you're fun and you're a good person, but you don't wanna-- you-- you also wanna be presidential. And Saturday Night Live has the potential of-- of looking slapstick and not-- and not presidential.
FEMALE VOICE: I agree.
MITT ROMNEY: But The View was-- The View was fine. Although The View is-- is high risk because of-- of the five women on it, only one is conservative. Four-- (FEMALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
--are-- are sharp tongued and-- and not conservative. Whoopi Goldberg in particular. Although last time I was on the show she said to me, "You know what? I think I could vote for you." And I-- and I said, "I must have done something really wrong." (LAUGHTER) I-- (FEMALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
I'm gonna sit down and enjoy my-- Darlene, you get the last word.
DARLENE: I was just gonna say that I think-- our media strategy that will be sending Ann on The View and having her sit there.
FEMALE VOICE: Yes.
MITT ROMNEY: Got it.
FEMALE VOICE: Because she, I think, is your-- your best surrogate (UNINTEL).
FEMALE VOICE: Yes.
FEMALE VOICE: Your best advocate. She--
FEMALE VOICE: I agree.
FEMALE VOICE: --connects so well. I mean we talked so much about this (UNINTEL) and somebody said, "Oh, many people think of you as a rich-- rich guy." And those of us who know you know that's-- you know--
MITT ROMNEY: You know--
FEMALE VOICE: --not the-- not--
MITT ROMNEY: --I'm poor as a church mouse, right?
FEMALE VOICE: Yeah, yeah. (OVERTALK)
FEMALE VOICE: Well, we do know that you've (UNINTEL PHRASE). Or (UNINTEL).
MITT ROMNEY: My (UNINTEL). Yeah.
FEMALE VOICE: And that Ann really connects with people and she can tell the story about her father. And she's the (UNINTEL) person who can sit with Matt Lauer and go on Good Morning America (UNINTEL PHRASE) and go on The View and hold her own with all of these people. And really-- get you I think the women connecting to you more (UNINTEL).
FEMALE VOICE: Especially more (UNINTEL). And I think she's-- she's a great--
MITT ROMNEY: I hate to (UNINTEL) you. (UNINTEL PHRASE). We-- we-- we use Ann sparingly right now so that people don't get tired of her or-- or start attacking.
FEMALE VOICE: (UNINTEL) get tired of it. Who gets--
MITT ROMNEY: And--
FEMALE VOICE: --tired of Ann (UNINTEL)? (LAUGHTER)
MITT ROMNEY: I'll tell you-- but-- but you will see more of her-- in the September, October timeframe. And-- you know, we have a -what's her name- in Hillary Rosen, who-- who, you know, attacked her and-- and that-- that made Ann much more visible to the American people, which I think was very helpful. It gave her a platform she wouldn't have had otherwise. And-- I agree with you. I think she will be extraordinarily helpful.
FEMALE VOICE: Just to sort of-- (UNINTEL PHRASE), people who friended her on Facebook or what-- whatever happened after the Hillary Rosen thing, just-- that shows you the value of social networking and just, like, how important media can be to selections like that. I-- I just think that she is-- is (UNINTEL). And I know she wants-- she wants you to win for (UNINTEL).
MITT ROMNEY: She's out there.
FEMALE VOICE: She is.
MITT ROMNEY: She's in-- she's in-- in Texas tonight. She was in Louisiana last night. She's-- raising money in those places. (FEMALE VOICE: UNINTEL)
She was at Ben Crenshaw's house for dinner today. Tonight. Isn't that something? So there are some benefits. (LAUGH) One of the benefits is eating the world's best dessert, which I will. Thank you. (APPLAUSE) You've been great.
* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *
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