Mitt Romney defended his conservative bona fides today, insinuating that some mistook his lack of “outlandish … rhetoric” for a lack of conservative beliefs.
“I don’t know on which issue I’m not conservative,” he told Sean Hannity. Romney cited what he had done as governor of Massachusetts — balancing the state budget annually, increasing school accountability and education choice, and increasing the state’s rainy day fund — as proof he was conservative. “I think my record is as conservative as you’ll find,” he said. Alluding to the health-care program he signed into law, Romney noted that Newt Gingrich had conceded during the last debate that he had supported an individual mandate at one point.
And he pointed out that he had been elected in a very Democratic state: “I think people recognize that when you’re elected in a dark-blue state like Massachusetts … a conservative like me is playing an away game,” Romney remarked, noting also his efforts on abortion and traditional marriage.
Romney did identify one way in which he differs from some of his GOP rivals: “I may not be as incendiary or outlandish in rhetoric.”
He touched upon how specifically he would repeal Obamacare. If the GOP majorities in the House and Senate are large enough, Romney said he would just push for the legislation to be voted on as soon as possible. If the majorities were slimmer, he would see what “major parts” could be repealed by reconciliation, and then go on to see how the entire bill could be repealed. And if the GOP lacked enough lawmakers to get the legislation through, Romney said he would order the Secretary of Health and Human Services to give every state an Obamacare waiver.
Talking about Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, Romney said, “It sounds nice, but recognize that middle income Americans under that plan pay more taxes. A lot more taxes.”
Romney also said he was now satisfied with Perry’s take on the comments by made by Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress about Mormonism. “His final answer, which came at the debate, when he said he disagreed with the pastor, was what we had been looking for,” Romney said. “I think Gov. Perry has now come to the point where he recognizes that his praise of that introduction … that was the wrong course to have taken.” (After Jeffress’ introduction, Perry had said the pastor had “hit it out of the park.”) But he also criticized Perry for running an ad that selectively quoted Romney’s support for his health-care program being copied across the country, without his follow-up sentence that he didn’t “believe in applying what works in one state to all states if different states have different circumstances.”
Asked if his proposed actions toward China could create a trade war, Romney responded, “We’re already in a trade war. We just don’t know it.” He said that if elected, he would identify China as a currency manipulator and slap tariffs on products that involved currency manipulation or theft of American design. Romney argued that China wouldn’t want a trade war with the United States: “They sell us a lot more stuff than we sell them.”