Some outtakes from an interview I did with him on what he is thinking:
On why he’s running for president:
I want to be president because I believe the American people deserve a leader who believes in them. I think 2008 was an experiment where a lot of people wanted a president they could believe in. That experiment failed.
My sense is people want a leader who trusts the American people, one who promotes rather than hampers the free enterprise system, one who believes in the growth of our private sector economy not the growth of the public sector government. In short, I want to be president because we have a great many things we need to get right – from national security and foreign policy to the economy to domestic social issues – and the current president has gotten almost all of those things wrong.
On the path to victory:
If I didn’t think I could win I would not be doing this. I think my record, my experience, my achievements, and my worldview stand in bold contrast to a lot of others. I’ve been written off and underestimated in almost every election I’ve run. That’s fine. Reagan once said there’s a difference between the box office and the critics – I try not to pay too much attention to the critics. The stakes are too high.
On his mainstream appeal:
If it is considered a threat to stand up for the values and virtues, the building blocks and ballasts, that have helped us secure the blessing of liberty, then that is our opponents’ problem not mine. I think the vast majority of Americans support life and marriage and our national defense and the idea of free enterprise. My question back to you is: “Who and what are the real threats to our more perfect union?”
I have a long history of bipartisan working relationships on Capitol Hill. As president, I would actually be able to uniquely work with my former colleagues, regardless of party and the particular split of Congress at the time of my election if there is one. I actually think my background as a federal legislator for 16 years will help in the success in forging consensus and moving the ball forward. I saw how poorly some of the previous administrations understood and treated members of Congress, and I certainly will not let my staff fall prey to the arrogance that can often overtake people who work at the White House.
On why Sarah Palin is such a lightning rod:
she doesn’t do things the way most politicians do them, doesn’t speak the way most politicians speak and, yes, if you are an outspoken conservative woman, that’s going to attract more criticism as well.
That’s been the case in our movement for a very long time; look at how conservative female politicians and columnists and radio hosts are criticized – strong women that don’t tow the party line get attacked. The good news is they tend to handle it better and it seems to faze them less and less. I am proud to be in a party that has a field that includes strong women like Sarah and Michele Bachmann.
As for me, I think it’s that I’ve led on the issues, I’ve been out front on them, and haven’t just quietly checked the boxes or kept my head down hoping not to attract notice. It’s the man – or the woman – with the football that gets tackled after all.
On what he is hearing on the campaign trail:
They want to know how it is we could lose so much so quickly. I don’t think very many people saw the speed with which President Obama could dismantle the economy and economic freedom or how quickly he would be able to consolidate power in Washington.
We haven’t had liberal Democrats in power in a while and I think a lot of people have forgotten how they govern and what they truly believe. Ronald Reagan used to say that freedom is only one generation away from extinction. With all the powers and levers of government now, that timeline has been accelerated. And it surprises people.
The government was designed to help people thrive and reach their God-given potentials. Most people know that intuitively and they speak a lot about how so much of that has been lost – taken, actually. In a country dedicated to free enterprise and entrepreneurism, it has become frustrating to people that the government has come to do the exact opposite of making life and work easier; it now makes things harder on people and business, and it does so all in order to strengthen the state not the individual. And this at a time that the competition from around the world has increased, especially from China.
This is what bothers people the most. Just at the time when we need to unleash American ingenuity and entrepreneurship, the very things that made us a great economic and military superpower, we are being shackled. These are the sentiments I note the most as I travel around the country.
On faith and public life:
I actually believe that Americans want our leaders to have a reliance on God. It shows that they are humble, and understand that they are under a higher authority. And we want leaders who respect religious conviction, not demean it. We want leaders who understand that faith is essential to the sustenance of democracy, that faith is an agent for good, that it protects the weak and defenseless, that it motives people to confront injustice.
Look at all of the great social movements in America over the centuries; most were led by religious leaders.
And, in case you missed it: What Bono said.