Romney Discusses Perry, Palin and the Polls


romneyFormer Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was interviewed by phone Wednesday by USA TODAY’s Susan Page. Questions and answers have been edited for space and clarity.

Q: Does Gov. Perry’s position on Social Security, suggesting that it is unconstitutional, make him unelectable in the general election?

A: I think that the suggestion that Social Security be ended as a federal entitlement and instead be returned to the states, or instead be given to the states, is a very disconcerting approach and one which he will need to explain.

Q: What if he says he thinks Social Security is constitutional?

A: Gov. Perry’s book just came out this year. I don’t think he can reverse course within just a matter of a few months. He also spoke in interviews about his views on Social Security. So he has cast a die, and I don’t think he can simply walk away from the positions he took in writing and person. Borrowing from John Adams, with a small adjustment, ‘words are stubborn things,’ particularly if they’ve been written out.

You know, I can’t judge what the political consequence is of his position on Social Security or immigration. But I can tell you I have a different view than he does, and the American people will decide which view they agree with. …

Given the fact that the book is recently published and he reiterated his position with television interviews, I think his position is now cast in concrete.

Q: What accounts for Gov. Perry’s quick rise to the top of national polls?

A: Borrowing from my favorite line of the 2012 season from Sarah Palin… polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers. Look, they’re going to be highly fluid. My guess is we’re each going to go up and down. …

My job is to express what my views are on issues, how I’d lead the country, how my experience differs from the other people on the stage. And if they select me then I will serve with pride. If they don’t, that’s certainly their right.

Q: Why haven’t you done better with core Republican voters?

A: You know, I can’t begin to assess how people make their minds up in deciding what to answer in polls. I do know that I have a distinctive experience base, that my views on issues have been detailed in a book I wrote two years ago. And if people are attracted to that experience and those views, I’ll be the nominee. If not, I won’t.

I’ve now been experienced enough in the political sphere to know that you sleep a lot better if you express your views honestly and you don’t worry about the outcome.

Q: Do you think Sarah Palin will jump into the race?

A: I don’t think there’s any way of predicting that. I think it would be a good thing if she did. She would make the race that much more exciting, bring more people to watch the debates, and I hope she gets in.

Q: Is President Obama more vulnerable than you expected?

A: You know, I must admit I thought that following the results of the 2010 election he would move aggressively toward the center, would try to become less partisan and would exhibit the kind of Clintonian approach that built Bill Clinton‘s re-electability.

He has not done that, and that is something which was unexpected. The president has now resorted to his tried-and-true approach of populism and class warfare. …

The president spoke of a new era of civility, of bipartisanship, of restoring hope in America and he has disappointed on all those dimensions. He has been as political and caustic as we have seen in modern history. He has been excessively partisan, and rather than hope the American people are increasingly fearful.

Q: The White House says it is Republicans who have refused to act in a bipartisan way.

A: The president is conveniently forgetting for his first two years he had a Democrat House and a Democrat Senate. He simply cannot blame Republicans for the failure of his economic policies. … He had a virtual free hand in pursuing his economic plans, and those plans have failed. … He is good at campaigning and blaming, but leadership seems to be beyond his grasp.

Q: In 1984, Walter Mondale famously asked a fast-rising primary foe, Gary Hart, ‘Where’s the beef?’ Do you have a similar question about Gov. Perry?

A: What I would say is that my life experience has been in the private sector and has been in turning things around that are in trouble, whether that was a business or the Olympics or in a state. My job has been turning around enterprises that were in trouble. Gov. Perry came into a state that was doing just fine. If Americans thinks America needs someone to go along with what’s already in place, I’m sure that Gov. Perry is fine. If Americans think America needs a turnaround to make our economy globally competitive again and to create jobs, then I think I’m the better choice.

{USA Today/ Newscenter}


  1. this guy isnt great but hes got a better chance at beating obama than the others do. also although rick perry speaks strongly on being pro israel he will be villified as a bush-like president in the long run which will just send another pro palistenian liberal dictator to the white house in 2016. so romney isnt great but the best idea for us yidden in my opinion.