BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Willard Mitt Romney, where did you get those first two names?
GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: A little unusual. Willard was after J. Willard Marriott, the founder of the Marriott Hotel chain. He was my dad’s very close friend. They were both boys in Utah, moved back here to Washington, D.C., so I was named Willard after J. Willard Marriott.
Mitt is my given middle name, and that’s after a man named Mitt Romney who in the 1920s was a professional football player for the Chicago Bears, quarterback, and the greatest athlete the Romney family has ever known. So I’m really named after two great heroes, one an industrialist and the other a great athlete.
LAMB: Why did you pick Mitt over Willard?
ROMNEY: Well, I actually used the name Billy when I was in kindergarten. And there was a song when I was a boy called ”Oh Where Have You Been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Oh Where Have You Been, Charming Billy?” And it talked about kissing and your mother and so forth. And I decided that was a terrible song. And I came home and said, I can’t live with that name any longer.
And I talked with my mom about what name I could use. She said, well, you could use your middle name. And so sometime in kindergarten I switched to Mitt and I have been on the Mitt name ever since.
LAMB: When you decided not to run again for governor, how much did your thought of running for president enter into that discussion?
ROMNEY: Well, there is no question but that part of what was going through my mind was that I wanted to have the option open of considering a run for national office. That’s not a decision I will make for quite a while.
But I certainly would not think it would be appropriate to go into a race and to give your all to campaign for governor and then in the January inauguration time period, to stand up and say, well, I have now decided to go for a national office, and I’m going to go full-time campaigning for president.
That wouldn’t be honest with the voters. And so it was an option I wanted to keep open and therefore I couldn’t run. I also recognized that the items that I wanted to see accomplished either had gotten done or would be able to be gotten done in my last year.
And then some things, of course, I would never get through, no matter how many years I stayed and battled away, I would never get them through. So I haven’t by any means gotten everything done I would like to get done, but I think after four years you can get done most of what you are going to be able to do.
LAMB: When you father thought of running for president in ’64, and then actually ran for a while in ’68, how old were you in those years and what did you experience during that time?
ROMNEY: Well, I had the fun of working in all three of my dad’s gubernatorial campaigns, my mother’s Senate campaign. And in 1964 I was with Dad at the Republican Convention at the Cow Palace where Barry Goldwater was nominated and watched that very closely, listened to dad.
In ’68 I was 19 or 20 years old, and so I was aware of what was happening. I went off and served my church about that time in France and so I was not actively participating in the presidential campaign, but nonetheless got an interesting perspective because my dad would write lengthy letter about what was happening, what his concerns were, progress, lack of progress. And it was an extraordinary learning experience for all of us.
He called it, by the way, his ”mini-campaign.” Like a miniskirt, he said it was short and revealing.
LAMB: Well, you know, if you ever look at the history of your father and running for president, they all say the same thing, it’s all the ”brainwashing” comment. Why would that have been the issue? I mean, why would he have been accused of saying something stupid about being brainwashed in Vietnam?
ROMNEY: You know, I don’t know what the real reason was that his campaign came apart. But you are right. Everyone attributes it to him saying that he was brainwashed in Vietnam, and he didn’t mean literally brainwashed, of course it’s a figure of speech.
But for whatever reason, his opponents in the media seized on the figure of speech and tried to ascribe greater meaning to it than he intended. His point was that McNamara and Johnson had been lying to the American people and that what he had said in the past about Vietnam that he no longer agreed with was because in the past he had swallowed hook, line, and sinker what he had been told by military generals, by McNamara, by Johnson, and that they were wrong.
And interestingly, much later in life, he didn’t worry about it. He didn’t, you know, go back and bemoan the fact that he had lost campaign or the brainwashing word, but I remember that when McNamara came out with his book about ”The Fog of War,” and admitted that he had lied to the American people, my dad took a certain degree of satisfaction in the fact that the people now knew that what he said was true.
Actually, when dad said that McNamara and others had lied about Vietnam, Secretary McNamara, then secretary of defense said, well, George Romney wouldn’t know the truth if it hit him in the face.
Well, as it turned out, he did know the truth. And he used to say that in politics being right too early is not a good thing. But he was right and it was too early. And I think we can all learn a lesson from that. When someone says something bold and outrageous, you had better listen carefully.
LAMB: You know, in looking at your father’s past, the first question that came to mind when I found out -- I guess he was born in Chihuahua, in Mexico?
LAMB: You can’t be born out of the country and run for president, how did that work?
ROMNEY: Well, actually, the Constitution says that only a natural born United States citizen may become president of the United States. And so he had that researched very carefully and concluded that because his parents were American citizens living outside the United States at the time in Mexico, and that he required no naturalization to become a citizen because his parents were citizens, that he in fact was a natural born American citizen, and therefore could run for president. So that didn’t do him in.
LAMB: Nobody challenged him on that?
ROMNEY: No, it was never challenged. And part of it I think it was because it was pretty well-settled that given the fact he had never been naturalized, never had a visa or anything of that nature, no green card, he came in as a -- into life as a United States citizen, being born to U.S. citizens, that that was not a question.
LAMB: And when did he move to Utah?
ROMNEY: They moved when Pancho Villa, in the early 1900s, was revolutionizing what was then northern Mexico in a contested area between the U.S. and Mexico. He moved to -- I think initially to Los Angeles and then moved to Idaho. His dad went bankrupt in Idaho. Then they moved to Salt Lake.
I think his dad went bankrupt again in Salt Lake City. His dad was a contractor, it was a very difficult time for construction and contracting. And pretty proud of my dad and his brothers. A big family, several brothers.
They paid back all the loans, all the debts that their family business had incurred before they went on to their own successful careers.
LAMB: Where were you born?
ROMNEY: I was born in Detroit. My mom and dad, after living Utah, moved to Washington, D.C., with the Marriotts, who were their good friends. And then later my dad got a job offer in Detroit, went there, and I was born in 1947, right in downtown Detroit. And we lived very close to the center of the city.
LAMB: In you history, it includes Stanford for how long?
ROMNEY: I was at Stanford my first year in college, for one year, then went on for two-and-a-half years serving my church in France, then came back and graduated from Brigham Young University.
LAMB: One place that I found that you almost died.
ROMNEY: Well, that’s true. When I was in France, I was driving a car that included the leader of our church in France, and a wonderful gentleman and his wife, and three people in the backseat.
And we were coming up a hill and around a corner going -- an area I knew well near Bordeaux, driving very slowly and carefully. And a drunk driver was passing a truck around a corner and suddenly as we rose above the hill and around the corner, there was a car in front of us going about 70 miles an hour.
It hit us head-on and I was knocked unconscious. The person sitting next to me was killed. Another individual was very seriously injured. But on my passport, because I was unconscious and removed from the vehicle with the Jaws of Life, the police, as they were sorting out the different individuals, the different injured folks, they took my passport and wrote on it, ”he is dead,” in French of course, il est mort.
And that word actually made it through the diplomatic channels to the United States embassy and it showed up in the news media in the United States that the governor’s son, Mitt Romney, had been killed in a tragic accident in France.
As it turned out, the rumors of my death were premature. And my parents were very pleased, as was my then-girlfriend very pleased that I was still among the living.
LAMB: And your then-girlfriend was Ann, your current wife.
ROMNEY: That’s right.
LAMB: And what -- how did she find out that you were still alive?
ROMNEY: Well, Ann and I have a long history together. We started dating just before her 16th birthday, had been going steady ever since. When I went off to France it was a difficult time for us to be away from each other for two-and-a-half years.
But when the report came to my dad first, he saw it, I think, in the media, he called Ann and said, there’s a report in the media that Mitt has been involved in a tragic accident, but we don’t believe it.
It’s interesting. He just didn’t believe it. And he called his friend Sargent Shriver, who was then the ambassador from the United States to France, and said, Sarge, there’s a report here that Mitt has been killed in an accident near Bordeaux, could you find out about it?
And apparently Sargent Shriver tracked it down, found me in the hospital where I was still unconscious and reported to my dad that I was alive and scrawny and the same kid he has always known.
LAMB: You were in France for two-and-a-half years as a Mormon missionary.
LAMB: By the way, why did your father not give you any of his inheritance?
ROMNEY: Well, he didn’t have as much as I think some people anticipated. And I did get a check from my dad when he passed away. I shouldn’t say a check, but I did inherit some funds from my dad.
But I turned and gave that away to charity. In this case I gave it to a school which Brigham Young University established in his honor, the George W. Romney School of Public Management.
And as an institute of public management, it helps young people learn about government and about serving in public service. And that’s where his inheritance ended up.
LAMB: Did he have a philosophy that he didn’t want to pass on a lot of money to his kids?
ROMNEY: Well, I don’t think he had as much as some people might have imagined. And he spent his money on things he cared about. He was a real champion of volunteerism.
So he funded volunteer efforts and worked to support the things he cared about. My kids got some money from my mom and dad. They are happy that they were able to receive some funds. That helped them in their education and getting started in life. But in my case, I figured we had enough of our own.
LAMB: At some point I noticed you were on the Points of Light Foundation board, but you go back to either your father starting the volunteer organization that merged into Points of Light?
LAMB: Explain that.
ROMNEY: Well, my dad began a group, I think it was first called Volunteer. And the idea was to help people connect with volunteer opportunities. His idea was to set up offices around the country, some affiliated with the United Way, others independent, where people would know what volunteer opportunities were available in the community.
And then people could come in and say, look, I have got so many hours and afternoons, what do you have for me? And they would try and put people together with volunteer opportunities. And he campaigned for that hard.
About the same time, President George H.W. Bush came out with the idea of the points of light and the Points of Light Foundation. It had a very similar concept. And the thought was, let’s put these two together where George Romney’s Volunteer organization could combine with the Points of Light Foundation and promote volunteerism, bring together -- one of the things was to bring together all the presidents, all the living presidents to promote volunteerism, something my dad championed and worked for.
He passed away just before that conference. And I was invited to step on the board and work with the Points of Light Foundation. It was a source of great honor for me to stand where my dad had stood, and to see this convocation of great leaders and people from around the country talk about volunteerism.
And the Points of Light Foundation continues to help the nation find opportunities for people to serve one another.
LAMB: You finished first in your class at Brigham Young University in Utah.
ROMNEY: Almost. I did very well at Brigham Young and I was the valedictorian in terms of speaking at the graduation. And I think I had the highest grade point in my college of humanities.
But I don’t know who was number one in the entire class. So I will correct the record on that. I graduated with highest honors and I did pretty well at Brigham Young. I didn’t do as well at Stanford, by the way.
But after my two-and-a-half years in France, I did pretty well coming back and going to school.
LAMB: Why did you go to Brigham Young?
ROMNEY: The truth is that my girlfriend from high school, Ann Davies (ph), had gone to Brigham Young University. And I went to Brigham Young, frankly, to look her up, convince her not to marry this other guy she was dating, and marry me instead.
And then we were both going to go to Stanford. And I was all ready to go back to Stanford and I knew she would get in as well, but I enjoyed Brigham Young so much and I had such a great academic experience there, I decided to stay.
LAMB: Who was Brigham Young?
ROMNEY: Brigham Young was the second president of my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the pioneer who, if you will, led members of my faith, including some of my early ancestors, from the middle west of the United States out to Salt Lake City, Utah.
LAMB: Well, if you go back -- and I found the name Pratt in your background who was some circuitous route related to Joseph Smith who was one of the founders of Mormonism.
ROMNEY: Yes. A fellow name Parley P. Pratt was one of my, I think, great-great-great grandfathers, maybe I haven’t got enough greats there, or too many. But he was my direct relative.
And as a matter of fact, my grandmother was a Pratt. And he was the scout that went out ahead of the wagon trains that helped get the Mormon pioneers west. And he was a surveyor as well. There are a number of places in Utah that have his name on them because he surveyed a great portion of the state.
LAMB: Now after Brigham Young, you went to Harvard.
LAMB: How did you -- how were able to get an MBA and a law degree at the same time?
ROMNEY: Well, Harvard has a terrific program, they call it the Joint Degree Program, where you can apply to the business school and the law school. If you get into both, you can take five years of educational training in four years.
Harvard has a way to make sure, however, you don’t get a discount. You pay the full premium for both or the full charge of both. But I was able to do law school and business school in a four-year period.
It was a lot of schooling. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. But it was a great opportunity to learn about the law. I loved business school, concluded when it was over that I didn’t want to be a lawyer, that I wanted to go into business. And I went to work in a consulting firm directly out of that four-year experience.
LAMB: And clearly it would be why you did well and, as you know, you finished well enough to give the valedictory address -- the question I want to ask you though is why do you think you did well? Other than having a lot of brainpower, did you have an approach to education?
ROMNEY: Well, the truth is that if I look back to my high school years, I give my credit to high school teachers, my mom and dad too. I loved reading and I liked writing. But in high school they just drilled in reading and critical reading, and then writing and a lot of writing.
And if you have to write a lot and read a lot, you get a very critical attitude and you learn -- you identify problems and you point out to -- inconsistencies and you recognize trends. And that kind of critical thinking and effective writing really helped me in college.
I was an English major, and then when I went to law school and business school I was able to gather my thoughts, express them well. And I have to say that the ability to communicate is something which helped me more than I would have ever imagined in law school and business school.
LAMB: How did you get elected governor of the state of Massachusetts?
ROMNEY: Well, it’s one of the great leaps in my career, the idea that a conservative Republican could be elected in the bluest state in America I think flows from the fact that Democrats as well as Republicans don’t want to see their money wasted.
They don’t like taxes. And when I was running for office, we knew there was a huge budget gap. They thought it was going to be about a billion or a billion-and-a-half dollars. It turned out to be $3 billion.
But I said I was going to get them into government and not raise taxes, not cut essential, vital services, but instead pare back excessive government duplication, waste, inefficiency, cut everything that was not of a high priority. And we were able to do that.
And I think people were looking for somebody who would be fiscally prudent and not raise taxes.
I also think that on social issues that my opponent was more liberal than the voters of Massachusetts, that may seem hard to some in the country. But there was a big issue surrounding abortion.
My opponent favored lowering the age of parental involvement in an abortion decision for a minor from 18 to 16. I said, no, keep it at 18, don’t change the abortion laws.
And also with regards to gay marriage. I was very clear I was opposed to gay marriage and civil unions, Vermont-style. She, on the other hand, said she would sign a bill on gay marriage -- favoring gay marriage if it reached her desk.
So on those issues where I was conservative and she was less so, she was liberal, I think Democratic voters who were conservative as well, came across the -- if you will, the partisan divide and voted for me.
LAMB: Why did you pick Massachusetts as a place to stay after school?
ROMNEY: Well, we loved the state. It has fabulous culture, great architecture. The ocean is gorgeous. Cape Cod is a favorite vacation place. We have a vacation home a little north in New Hampshire at Lake Winnipesaukee, which is one of the great jewels of the nation.
And we just love living in Massachusetts. And that’s where I got my first great job offer. So you basically go where the jobs are. That was a job that I liked, went to work at the Boston (ph) Consulting Group and then moved not long after to one of their spin-offs, one called Bain & Company.
So we liked living there and that’s what took me there. By the way, had I known I was ever going to get into politics, I think someone would have told me. Don’t stay in Massachusetts, the most Democratic state in America, go back home to Michigan where your dad’s name is golden.
And -- but I didn’t know I was going to get involved in politics, that came much, much later in life.
LAMB: The name Bain came up with a person in that chair, the mayor of Atlanta, a couple of weeks ago when she said that they -- she had hired Bain -- or Bain may have volunteered to tell her what was wrong with the City of Atlanta. And it made all the difference in the world.
What does Bain do?
ROMNEY: Well, Bain is an excellent firm in the consulting industry where truly bright people come together to devote their thinking power, analytical power, data-gathering power to take problems apart and look at them in a new way.
And I learned a lot by having been there for a number of years. I got to serve as an officer there. Ultimately became chief executive officer there. I left it after about a decade and started a firm that’s in venture capital and buys companies as well.
But it’s a place where thinking and rigorous analytical approach is combined with some pretty sound business principles. And a number of companies and governments as well have been able to get some valuable insights from that company.
LAMB: You got involved with a company called Staples. And I understand that when you got involved there was one Staples store and now there are 1,700-plus. How did you -- what impact did you have on the creation of Staples?
ROMNEY: Well, actually it was even before the first store got opened. I got a business plan -- because we had started a venture capital enterprise, I got a business plan that came across our desk, actually referred to us by another venture capitalist saying, hey, you might find this interesting.
And I read the plan and I thought it was pretty interesting. And we approached the investment the way you would expect a rigorous, analytical person to do. We went out and started interviewing people and businesses around where the first store was proposed and said, would you go to a store where you could buy office supplies for a lower price?
And we said, how much do you spend on office supplies? And it turned out that they spent a lot less, they told us, than the business plan suggested people spend on office supplies.
So we came back to founder of Staples, Tom Stemberg, and said, you know, we don’t think your idea is going to work, people aren’t buying as much in business supplies as you think.
They are not going to leave their office to go to a store to shop for business supplies at a discount. He said, people don’t know how much they are spending on office supplies, go back and get their invoices and you will find out they are spending more than they know.
Well, we did that. He was right. And I became convinced it was a great idea. We put money in the company. And I happened to be there the night we were stocking the shelves, getting ready for the grand opening, wee hours of the morning, serving pizza.
I spoke to the young associates that were getting started, and, of course, Staples became a great American business story and retail story, and that fellow, Tom Stemberg, who founded it, is one of America’s great entrepreneurs.
LAMB: You are 47 now?
ROMNEY: Am I 47 now?
ROMNEY: No. I’m 58, but I appreciate the compliment.
LAMB: Thank you. I’m thinking that you were born in 1947.
ROMNEY: I was born in ’47, yes.
LAMB: The reason I mention that is how old were you when the Staples thing started?
ROMNEY: Well, let’s see, the first Staples store was probably 1985. And so that was 20 years ago. So I would have been 38 instead of 58.
LAMB: But what did you know then about starting businesses that made a difference as the plan unfolded and how could get money for this kind of thing?
ROMNEY: Well, what I had done through my years as a consultant is I had worked with a wide range of companies, large industrial companies, small companies, analyze their businesses, spent a lot of time looking at their history, made recommendations, some worked, some didn’t, learned a lot from that experience.
As a matter of fact, by consulting with company after company, of being tutored by people who had more experience than I, I learned a lot. And after a decade or so in that industry, when I got into the venture capital industry, I took those lessons and applied them to the same investment arena that I had in the consulting arena.
And it’s basically saying that you have some principles that you know work and that you have seen them work time and again. At the same time you know that there is value to gathering new data and analysis of data and finding new hypotheses and then acting on them and looking for strong leaders.
The most important thing in a company, of course, is its leadership. And right behind that is its vision, its strategy, where it’s going. And in the case of Staples, this new concept that came along, I saw a leader who I thought was brilliant, idiosyncratic as well, but a brilliant leader, and the concept seemed powerful.
And even though everybody I talked to said it’s a bad idea, every adviser said, look, people aren’t going to leave their office to go shop for office supplies, this is a time of convenience, people don’t want to get into a car and go get office supplies.
I still was convinced by this leader and by the study we did that this idea had real merit. And look at it today, $10 billion-plus in revenues, Staples Center in California where the L.A. Lakers play. It’s a remarkable success story.
And I’m just proud to have been a part of the very first days, the very first investors on the board of the company for a number of years. And if you want, I’m a footnote in the Staples history, but I’m proud to be even a footnote.
LAMB: What other boards have you served on?
ROMNEY: Well, I served on Marriott International’s board after -- being named after J. Willard Marriott, I was honored to be able to serve on the board. His son, Bill Marriott Jr., is a wonderful friend. And he invited me, following my race in 1995 against Senator Kennedy, to join the Marriott board. And I did that.
And I have been other boards, Accuride, makes steel wheels for trucks, many of the companies we invested in as a venture capital company, I served on their boards, some successful, some not.
We did a nice job for our investors. I learned what it takes to see companies grow and succeed. I also found that you can make mistakes and have your investment disappear and jobs disappear. It worked both ways.
It has been a learning experience. The private sector is a tough task master. People ask me, is it harder to work in government or in the private sector? Private sector is harder, it’s not forgiving. You make mistakes and you disappear.
You lose your money. You lose jobs. In the public sector, you can always just go out and raise taxes and do, you know, awful things like that. But it’s very forgiving in the public sector other than getting beat up in the press every day.
LAMB: Have you had a failure that you can talk about in business? And if you did, why did you fail?
ROMNEY: Well, one of my most favored consulting relationships was with a company called Burlington Industries, made textiles. And we worked very hard to make Burlington Industries more competitive in the United States.
But year after year, jobs were going to Asia and to Mexico at the time, and continue to go outside this country.
And, you know, I saw that there were some industries that we had a very difficult time competing in. And part of that is our national economic strategy, and part of it was perhaps failures domestically.
I saw someone like Roger Milliken, at Milliken & Company, continue to do quite well in the textile industry, but it was one that I found pretty daunting, which was how to succeed in the United States of America as a major textile company.
LAMB: As you sit in Massachusetts and look at this country and contemplate running for president, what are the big issues?
ROMNEY: Well, there are a number. There are four major challenges we face, some are opportunities. As we surmount our challenges, of course, we become stronger and therefore a better nation.
One, of course, is the extraordinary attack that we are under from the jihadists. I think Americans under-appreciate, underestimate just how severe that attack is and how long it will be in coming, and how long and broad our effort is going to have to be to beat it back and to help move the world of Islam into modernity and to have more of these extreme Muslims adopt the policies of the great majority of Muslims, a very peace-loving and God-loving people.
Secondly, we have an extraordinary fiscal challenge. We are spending too much money. We are borrowing too much money. And the entitlements and the growth of the Baby Boomer population means this is going to get worse, not better. We are going to have to do something about that.
Third challenge we face is the rise of Asia. That’s good news, of course, because an economy that has been a backwater economy for generations, and people living in poverty are now going to come forward, be able to buy our products and services.
But it’s also a challenge. They believe in education, hard work. They are mercantile, I’m talking about India, China, all parts of Asia. We are now going to be competing with a very different, very large and aggressive competitor. We have got to raise our game dramatically if we are not going to become the France of the 21st Century; starting as a superpower by not ending up as such.
And then finally I think we are under a challenge culturally. By that I mean that there are certain values that have formed the basis of the American culture that I think in important ways lead to our success as a nation. And those are under attack.
Do we believe in hard work or do we not? Do we believe in opportunity? Do we believe in big government or small government? I believe in small government.
Do we respect human life? Do we think that family is the foundation of our society? These are challenges that are being brought forward today in our society, all of those areas I think are critical, vital.
I’m proud that we have a president that is fighting for the appropriate values. He is fighting to overcome the jihadists. He has launched a new initiative with regards to Americans’ ability to compete globally. And I think that is an effort that is of utmost importance.
LAMB: What would you copy from what he has done, if anything?
ROMNEY: Well, he’s a great leader and a man of vision. And I think that the most important thing that a president can do is to establish the honor and respect and integrity that is owed the highest office in the land.
And that’s something he promised to do and has done, whether you agree with him or disagree with him on the issues. There is no question that he is a man of vision, character, and knows where he stands.
He is also a person who has brought accountability to education. Now that -- most of education policy happens at the local level, but at the federal level, by passing No Child Left Behind, we are now able to see which schools are succeeding and failing.
And that is ultimately the source of our competitive strength, the ability of our kids to develop the skills to compete over the next century. And that’s something he has done with great energy and passion. And I think that fight has to continue.
And, of course, he has been unwavering in recognizing that what we face from the jihadists is not a band of -- a tiny little band of whackos or terrorists in some mountains in Afghanistan, but instead a very global threat from a very extreme wing of Islam.
As he says, people who have kidnapped a very great religion. And not the whole religion, but a part of it. And he has taken that fight very seriously and has put in place a number of fronts to overcome it and to reject it. And that’s a process which has to be ongoing.
LAMB: You were involved in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. You are going to know why I am asking -- going to ask you this question based on what you just said, the four areas if you ran for president you would be thinking about. It’s two words: Bode Miller.
What do you think of what happened to Bode Miller and his attitude? He came zero-five in the Olympics. He was on the cover on every magazine. His attitude, what he would do at night and all that stuff, what did that -- I’m sure you have an opinion on it.
ROMNEY: Well, I don’t want to be critical in any way of any athlete that’s good enough to get on the U.S. Olympic team and compete on a global basis. But I do know that in the back of my mind, something that my dad used to say comes to mind.
And that is, there is nothing as vulnerable as entrenched success. And overconfidence can be a very dangerous attitude. And I don’t know whether that’s all of what was going on in Bode Miller’s life. It seems like that was probably part of it, who knows?
But I know that in the case of our nation, and I know you have made that connection, in the case of our nation, we are the most powerful nation on the Earth. We are way ahead of any Asian country at this point.
I don’t sit and quake in my boots about what is coming down the road, but I recognize, we have to raise the bar in education. We have got to invest more in technology. We have got to change our immigration laws. We have got to be serious about shrinking the size of government and releasing more entrepreneurial activity.
We have to -- I go back to one of my favorite cowboy philosophers. Will Rogers said, you know, even if you are on the right track, if you don’t move, you will get run over.
And America is on the right track, we are way ahead, but we have to move again. We have got to get going and recognize that you can’t be the superpower of the planet forever unless you take challenges seriously and improve your game.
And I think, going back to Bode, my guess is he may have been a little overconfident.
LAMB: Well, what -- as you look at Washington, you have got a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican president, and you mentioned the money thing, the deficit is big, the balanced budget doesn’t exist anymore.
How could you come into the middle of all of this and change that?
ROMNEY: Well, I’m not about to announce anything of that nature right now. But I can say that the gap between how Congress and the president work in Washington, how Washington works and how states work is really quite shocking in some respects, I think to everybody.
I mean, I have -- I come from a state that has a legislature that is 85 percent Democratic. I get along with the speaker of the house and the senate president. I realize I can’t do anything without a collaborative approach with them.
Sometimes we battle things out and if I can get public opinion on my side, I might get a victory, but by and large we have to work collaboratively. And we do. We balanced our budget three years ago, $3 billion out of whack, we balanced it without raising taxes.
I couldn’t do that without their support and their collaboration. And somehow Washington has to reduce the temperature, the boiling that goes on here, the critical harping that seems to go on, the partisanship.
And, you know, it’s interesting, that happens in my state. Election year, you know, the last six months before the election everybody starts pointing at each other, getting ready for the campaign, but as soon as the campaign is over, the campaign rhetoric is buried and you meet in each other’s office and talk about what has to be done.
And I don’t know why we can’t return to that in Washington as the way of doing business. And I’m not going to point fingers one way or the other. But it’s not as if everything in Washington is run by Republicans.
It’s a collaboration between two parties, as it should be. And there is nothing wrong with debate and disagreement over issues. But there seems to be a personal rancor and an attempt to seize on every gotcha opportunity as a way to try and embarrass the opposition party.
And it’s not one party more than the other. I think it’s both. And it has to change. There is too much at stake right now. The nation is facing challenges which are far too great to allow this kind of partisanship and rancor guide so much of our national agenda.
LAMB: How does it change?
ROMNEY: Well, it changes with people. It changes with individuals, being willing to take a hit and not respond. It changes by personal relationships, by individuals being invited into each other’s homes.
It changes by holding out an olive leaf. I was very pleased with much of what the president has been able to accomplish. No Child Left Behind, he was able to get that done in part by collaborating with Senator Kennedy. And they worked together and both parties worked together. That’s what I think is key.
LAMB: Are you prepared though in a national race to deal with the kind of media attention you are going to get on one issue that comes up in every article, and that is your Mormonism?
ROMNEY: Well, you know, I think without talking about a national race necessarily, I think the American people, whether in their governor or their senator or their president, would like to have a person of faith. And I’m without question a person of faith.
I don’t think they care so much what brand of faith they are, and of course, they are going to be differences in religion. There’s a leap of faith in every religion, and I’m proud of my faith, but I’m not going to talk about my religion.
I subscribe in some respects to what Abraham Lincoln said in -- well, it goes to the Lyceum Address when, at age 28, he said, you know what, in America there is something called the political religion. It’s our adherence to the laws of the land, to our oath of office.
And as a governor, I consider my highest promise the promise I made to uphold the constitution of my state and of the country. And regardless of one’s faith, that’s the biggest responsibility.
LAMB: I have got an article from The Washington Monthly of September of 2005, and the headline on it is ”Mitt Romney’s Evangelical Problem.” I’m going to read this because you are going to deal with this one way or the other at some point or the media, as you know, will get -- if they don’t feel they are getting the answer, they will just keep banging away.
She writes, Amy Sullivan writes: ”But moderate Republicans aren’t the ones who could derail a Romney candidacy. His obstacle is the evangelical base, a voting bloc that now makes up 30 percent of the Republican electorate and that wields particular influence in primary states like South Carolina and Virginia.”
”Just as it is hard to overestimate the importance of evangelicalism in the modern Republican Party, it’s nearly impossible to overemphasize the problems evangelicals have with Mormonism. Evangelicals don’t have the same vague anti-LDS prejudice that some Americans do.”
”For them it’s a doctrinal thing based on a very specific theological dispute that can’t be overcome by personality or charm or even shared positions on social issues.”
ROMNEY: Well, I know a number of great evangelicals that I speak with and that are very interested in me and what I stand for. We worked together in Massachusetts. They had no difficulty supporting me there. They have had no difficulty supporting my dad when he ran for president and for governor.
And the reason is because I’m at the forefront of some of the toughest issues in the nation that relate to the culture of our land. We have dealt with same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. And I’m the leader in the fight to preserve traditional marriage.
We have dealt with stem cell research. I’m the leader in the fight to keep cloning and stem -- if you will, embryo farming from being introduced to the land. We have dealt with abstinence education in classrooms.
And I’m fighting hand-in-hand with evangelical and conservative religious leaders to encourage abstinence education in our schools. So we are on the same page on values. And that’s what evangelicals care about.
But, of course, there will be some percent who say they wouldn’t vote for me no matter what. But, you know, overall, if you look at the American public, the great majority want a person of faith but don’t care about what particular religion they believe in.
Then there is probably a pretty significant slice to say, you know, all other things being equal, I would just as soon not have a guy in that Mormon church that I don’t much about, but you know what, all of the things aren’t equal.
They get to know candidates. They learn about their positions. And they see whether they have the same values or not. And that sweeps away questions about someone’s particular religion. And then of course there is the last tiny slice that wouldn’t support somebody based on a religious test.
I don’t think that’s the American way. It’s certainly not the way in the Republican Party. We don’t apply religious tests. And I think for that reason, whether it’s me or somebody down the road, they are going to get judged ultimately by their positions and their views on the issues and their character and their vision.
I think people long ago said, well, Ronald Reagan can’t get elected, after all, he has been divorced and he is an actor. Jack Kennedy can’t get elected, he’s a Catholic. Mitt Romney can’t be elected governor of Massachusetts, the most -- well, one of the most Catholic states in America.
And all those things happened because people looked beyond the differences in doctrine and churches, which I would never get into, and instead focused on the person and their vision.
LAMB: Let me ask you, I am old enough to remember your father running back in ’68. I don’t remember any discussion of his Mormonism. Why is it that all of these -- you can look at all these articles, they are bringing it up now. Has there been a mood change in the country about the importance of talking about religion?
ROMNEY: No, I don’t think so. I think actually back in ’68 there were a number of people who had the same concerns about my dad’s faith, but it just got quickly pushed aside. It was discussed early, early in the -- his race for presidency and then became a non-issue because there were questions about Vietnam and our ability to compete and questions about the direction for the country and those things swept any questions about the particular brand of religion people have aside.
Look, all religions are unusual to people who don’t grow up in them, don’t understand them. They have their elements that require a bit of faith to accept. And I just don’t think Americans are going to get into a doctrinal comparison of one religion versus another as they look at their -- at the people who might lead them.
They look for people of faith and they look for individuals who follow Abraham Lincoln’s admonition, which is to subscribe to America’s political religion where you place the Constitution and the rule of law first.
LAMB: Why is Dwight Eisenhower one of your favorite presidents?
ROMNEY: Well, I happen to believe that one of the most important things a president of the United States does is set a culture of integrity, character, vision, patriotism, that the values that a president is known for and lives by live on well beyond some of his or her policies -- I guess all his, at this point. His policies.
And, you know, I will go back -- and read a couple of books about Teddy Roosevelt last year, ”Theodore Rex” and ”The Rise of Teddy Roosevelt,” I looked at some of his policies and said, gosh, I have exactly the opposite view today. The Republic Party has a different view then it did back in 1900.
But you know, what Teddy Roosevelt did for this country and his power and vision and passion and his character still inspires us. And so I look at Dwight Eisenhower as the man who, if you had to point to a single man who helped us win World War II, you would say, boy, that’s Dwight Eisenhower.
I looked at what he did in the White House and the character and integrity he brought to the White House and said, that’s a man I respect. I grew up when he was president. He’s my first memory of president, 1952 election. I remember that, you know, ”I like Ike” slogan.
And he was a person you did like and you respected as an individual. Now he did some important things as well. The whole idea of building an interstate highway system and investing in infrastructure turned out to be enormously powerful.
Staring down the Russians at that time the Soviets was an important contribution, so he made contributions politically. But it’s his contribution as a man, as a father, as a husband, as a person of integrity that I most respect.
LAMB: On leadership, I’m not looking for philosophy as much as specific things that you do as a leader that people who are around you notice. Can you give us some examples of what you do when you -- as governor?
ROMNEY: You know, I will try. But one of my closest members of my team, a fellow named Eric Kriss, who served as my secretary of administration and finance said to me one day, he says, you know, leaders fall in two groups. One is a group of people who have a formula and know what their formula is and follow it step by step.
And the others are people who are more natural leaders and don’t have an idea why. He said, Mitt, you are in the latter category. And there is some truth to that. The kinds of things that I can tell you about myself is first, given my history in law and business and then in consulting and then investing, I’m very analytical.
I approach problems by having an open mind and wanting to analyze it. I had strong principles that I bring to bear as I carry out that analysis, but that’s the way I approach any setting. I love debate.
I look to hire people who are at least as smart as I am and hopefully smarter who have differing viewpoints than me. I brought it in my cabinet, by the way, some very independent, some would say, Democratic minds as well.
And we argue incessantly. I find that not only enjoyable, but a great way to try and find the right answers. I love people. I like dealing with people. I like interacting with people. Some people say they hate meetings. I don’t like meetings where you just sit there and people drone on and on.
But I like meetings where there is a give-and-take, where analysis is brought forward, where different viewpoints are expressed. So for whatever reason, this kind of give-and-take, this rigorous databased approach to problem-solving, has allowed me to be relatively effective in the business setting I was involved in, and then in the Olympics, and now as governor.
I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish. I could probably get more done if I were king, but you know, that isn’t the right way to go.
LAMB: What’s a normal day like?
ROMNEY: Well, a good part of the day is spent discussing major issues that may have arisen.
LAMB: What time do you get up?
ROMNEY: Oh, I get up 5:30 to 6:00, typically exercise. I run about three miles on the treadmill these days. I used to do it outside but now on the treadmill I use stationary bike as well, get into the office around 7:30, quarter to 8:00 and then begin meeting with key members of my team.
There may be trips out to different parts of the state and talking to mayors or other leaders. We will have meetings with people on my own team as well as meetings with folks across the aisle and talk to legislative leaders.
The evenings are filled with events welcoming folks to Boston or Massachusetts, but also fundraising. You know, one of the strange things about the new laws on fundraising is that politicians is that politicians spend far more money -- excuse me, far more time worried about money than they ever did before.
When my dad was governor and running for governor, this was something that was done in the first few weeks of the campaign. But now, given the extraordinary labyrinth of laws, you can’t even follow the laws. You can’t follow where they are supposed to lead you.
But you have got these limits and you have got to be out all the time raising money, raising money, and you don’t owe favors to people who write a big check, but you owe favors to people who get 100 other people to write little checks.
And it’s a very ineffective way of financing campaigns. But nonetheless, that’s a big part of what you do in politics, even when you are not running for office, you are always raising money. And that’s unfortunate.
LAMB: Do you pick up the phone and call people and say, I need money?
ROMNEY: I do, outside the state capital, once a week going to the state Republican Party headquarters and sit down and make phones calls and encourage people to give money to the Republican Party or give money to my campaign.
LAMB: How do you like that?
ROMNEY: It’s not my favorite part of the day, to ask for money, I do like talking to people, though. And most of the people I’m calling are folks I know. And I’m not very effective at this, and I think my fundraiser would tell me, because I spend about 10 or 15 minutes talking about their life, their family, their business, what’s happening in their community.
And then I say, oh, by the way, could you help me with a fundraiser or could you contribute to the Republican Party. So I take a long time. But I have been able to raise the money that I need to run for my campaigns and to keep my party alive and well.
LAMB: Could you do what George Bush has done? It seems like he never stops raising money?
ROMNEY: I think at the presidential level, and it’s not something I have devoted a lot of attention to, his fundraising effort, but I think people who are considering national office, whether that’s Hillary Clinton, who, I guess says she is going to have $100 million before the first primary?
I mean, $100 million, $2,200 at a time, it means fundraising all the time. It’s really -- it’s a very strange system. And I think people think, oh, because it’s only 2,200 it’s not corrupting. It means money doesn’t have influence.
Well, we have learned money has just as much influence as ever, maybe more. It’s just now in the corners. It’s hidden with these new 527s. The money is coming in and the money that is being raised $2,200 at a time is being raised by organizations who are out raising the money.
And you owe just as much political favor to the organization as you did if -- in the days of the past. So I’m frustrated with the laws. I don’t have a great answer. I would far rather see a setting where people were able to make whatever contributions they make, they make it to the party and the candidate.
It’s reported so we know who is making the contribution and we can have accountability in that manner rather than having millions and millions of dollars given by wealthy individuals to 527s, we don’t know exactly who gave what to whom, and then the candidate cannot even control the spending.
You can see I am kind of animated about this.
LAMB: Go back to the personal for a while. I assume no smoking and drinking.
ROMNEY: Yes, I don’t smoke and drink, got good health.
LAMB: Do you ever do that?
ROMNEY: No, no, never did.
LAMB: Part of the church requirement?
ROMNEY: You know, I grew up in a home where there was no smoking and drinking. My church said not to do it. And so I never picked it up as a habit.
LAMB: Children, how many?
ROMNEY: I have got five sons. My wife and I, as I said, met in high school. We got married when she was just turning 20, I was just about to turn 22. And our five boys are young, all married now, all having kids, well, one isn’t having a child yet, but four have or will. And we have eight grandchildren, a ninth will be born in May.
LAMB: What kind of work are they in?
ROMNEY: They have chosen their own paths. I didn’t bring them into my business. I instead said, do what your heart wants to do. And my oldest son who loves the Red Sox is passionate about baseball, left his job as vice president of Reebok to become the chief marketing officer for the L.A. Dodgers. He has move to L.A.
My next son works as a real estate developer in San Diego. The next one is a real estate developer in Utah. The fourth son was so smart that he got into medical school, Tufts Medical School.
And the fifth is in the music production business for a advertising agency in New York City. So very different careers and darn it, all over the country.
LAMB: Would they get involved with you in a campaign if you ran?
ROMNEY: Well, they have got their own careers and they can’t be away from their jobs for extended periods of time, but of course they and their beautiful wives would be involved in my efforts if I run for office again, regardless of the office.
They help me in my race for governor. I had -- my oldest son actually became the campaign manager of the person running for lieutenant governor and then joined my team when she was successful in her primary.
And so my sons have been very active. My middle son, Josh, built signs for my race against Ted Kennedy. He worked in the garage as a young teenager building I don’t know how many hundreds, thousands of signs he built.
So we are teaching our sons the nature of true American politics at the grassroots level.
LAMB: You read periodically about your wife having MS.
LAMB: When did she get it and would that have any impact on your decision to run?
ROMNEY: Well, my wife’s health comes first in our life. I love her more than anything in life. And she was diagnosed with MS after our last son was just leaving the nest. Fortunately she had all the energy and vigor she needed to raise rambunctious sons.
And then she was diagnosed with MS in 1998. We soon thereafter went out to the Olympics and found a doctor there and therapist there that have done wonderful things for her. She is in great health. Part of her regimen is riding horses virtually every day. She loves to ride.
She hadn’t ridden since she was a little girl but she got out there to Utah, started riding. She is now one of the nation’s amateur dressage competitors, ranked 15th in her class in the nation.
She’s a marvel and in great health. And her support and vigor is critical to anything I do.
LAMB: If you asked her right now what you should do, what would she say?
ROMNEY: Well, she and I talked at great length about what our future holds. When I was in the Olympics, we wondered what was I going to do when the games were over? We couldn’t figure it out. And then the decision to run for governor came out of the blue.
At this stage, her view is do a great job as governor and we will see what the future holds, keep the option open of running for national office. By the way, keeping the option open means you have to be kind of active, you can’t -- you have to show up in South Carolina and Iowa and Michigan, New Hampshire, Arizona, the early primary states, that people have to see you.
But she says I should keep the option open, and that’s what I’m doing.
LAMB: Your last day as governor of Massachusetts will be when?
ROMNEY: It will be January of 2007, January 2nd, 3rd or 4th, something in there as a new governor is inaugurated.
LAMB: And what is your plan? When do you decide -- when will you decide whether you are going to run or not and make it public?
ROMNEY: Probably shortly after that. I think most people who look at a national run wouldn’t want to, you know, make a final decision until sometime in 2007, early 2007. That’s my expectation.
Who knows? There may be developments which occur that bring me to a conclusion that I should run. There could be others that could accelerate a decision. But, you know, the -- as you know, politics is one of the most unpredictable sports in Washington and so you just have to sort of wait it out and see how things develop.
LAMB: If you run, what do you think the main reason will be?
ROMNEY: Well, I -- hard to predict at this point. But the reason that I ran for office the first time, for governor, was because I wanted to help people, and I love this country, and I believe that we face extraordinary challenges and that we need to be told very clearly what those challenges are and take the action necessary for America to remain the world’s economic and military superpower.
I want to help people and I want to help my country. And if I can do that in elective office, that’s what I will do.
LAMB: If you decide not to run, what do you think the main reason will be?
ROMNEY: Well, if I believed that somebody else could do the job that needed to be done. If I believed that I was not in a position to be as effective as I wanted to be. If there were a personal health or family matter that came first. All those things would figure into my calculation.
LAMB: What are the things that you like the most about being in public life and you like the least?
ROMNEY: Well, the best thing about being in public life is that you really can help people, that you can do things that make a difference in people’s lives, million’s of people’s lives. It’s fun to meet people whether, you know, walking down the street or in the store or at a restaurant and have them talk to you about something you have done where they like it.
By and large people are kind enough not to tell you about the things that they didn’t like that you did when you see them face-to-face. But that’s a great feeling and it’s a great rewarding sense of accomplishment.
The least attractive part of being in public life is that these days the public and the media participate in, I will call it, gotcha, which is finding some word you may have said to blow it up into a major crisis. It’s about finding a position and perhaps characterizing it in a way that isn’t the way you meant it.
And so it’s kind of a constant battle to always be ahead of those that are pulling against you. In some respects one of my favorite public service opportunities was working at the Olympics. And what I liked so much about that was not only being able to do a great thing, but having everybody on your team.
The whole community, the nation, the whole state, they were all for our games to be successful. And even the media wanted us to succeed. So that’s perhaps the best it ever gets.
LAMB: Mitt Romney, thank you very much.
ROMNEY: Good to be with you.