Earlier today, Mitt Romney spoke with National Review Online about life on the trail, his meeting with Dick Cheney, and his upcoming trip to Europe. He called from western Pennsylvania, where he will later hold a rally at a wireless company.
A few days ago, you visited Vice President Cheney. Did he have any advice for you?
We did speak, at some length, about foreign-policy matters, in particular the circumstances surrounding some of the foreign-policy decisions of the Bush administration. I discussed with him the process of decision-making, and he described the individuals, the types of meetings that occurred, and the expression of views. Of course, I did not get him to tell me about individual personalities and their own perspectives, but rather the process by which the White House was able to take on important issues.
Speaking of Cheney, what makes a good vice president?
Well, I can’t speak for other people who’ve run for office and what they’ve looked for in a person who would be their vice president. In my own view, the people I’ve worked with over my career have been people who have the capacity to lead, who share my philosophy, and in some cases, people who provide perspectives and skills that I may not share.
We’ve heard a lot about Bain this week. How would you rate the press coverage?
I don’t see a lot of the press coverage because my travel schedule keeps me from seeing all of it. A long time ago, I got good advice from a friend who said, “Don’t read the papers, they’ll only throw you off of your message.” I don’t worry a lot about what’s being said from day to day. My own view is that people will recognize that I was instrumental in helping build a very successful business that employed a lot of people, and that our business was able to invest in other people’s dreams, many of which were successful.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel says you should stop whining about the Bain attacks. What’s your response?
I only call people out when they are being dishonest.
Looking back, how did your time at Bain prepare you for the presidency?
Your life experiences can come together and prepare you for responsibilities later in life. In my own experience, my family life, learning from the example of my parents, my life in my church, my education, my years in consulting, my years in the investment world, my leadership at the Olympics, and finally my leadership in Massachusetts — this all contributed to the person I am today and the capability I have to lead. With regard to Bain in particular, I had about ten years in consulting and 14 or 15 years in the investment world. The 25 years I spent in business gave me an understanding of how business decisions are made, as well as an understanding of the actions that are destructive to job creation and the actions that encourage job creation. I’ve watched this president, and his policies have made it harder to create jobs. His economic philosophy, shockingly revealed in his comment a day or so ago, is the reason why he has been so unsuccessful in reigniting economic growth.
Up in Boston, does your campaign have a similar corporate culture? Do you run it the Bain way, with horizontal leadership and vigorous debate?
Bain Capital was a firm that I led for 14 or 15 years, and Bain Consulting was an enterprise I led for two years as CEO. Our campaign is not modeled after either group.
For much of this week, you’ve been asked about your tax returns. What’s the downside to releasing your pre-2010 financial records?
My tax returns that have already been released number into the hundreds of pages. And we will be releasing tax returns for the most current year as soon as those are prepared. They will also number in the hundreds of pages. In the political environment that exists today, the opposition research of the Obama campaign is looking for anything they can use to distract from the failure of the president to reignite our economy. And I’m simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort, and lie about.
From a political perspective, a lot of pundits wonder why you haven’t gotten rid of your offshore accounts. Can you explain why you have not done that?
Well, first of all, all of my investments are managed in a blind trust. By virtue of that, the decisions made by the trustee are the decisions that determine where the investments are. Secondly, the so-called offshore account in the Cayman Islands, for instance, is an account established by a U.S. firm to allow foreign investors to invest in U.S. enterprises and not be subject to taxes outside of their own jurisdiction. So in many instances, the investments in something of that nature are brought back into the United States. The world of finance is not as simple as some would have you believe. Sometimes a foreign entity is formed to allow foreign investors to invest in the United States, which may well be the case with the entities that Democrats are describing as foreign accounts.
Former president George W. Bush is coming out with a new book, The 4% Solution, about economic growth. Is 4 percent growth viable?
He’s absolutely right that we’re not growing fast enough. The president’s policies have failed to create the kind of GDP growth that America could achieve. Job growth is well beneath the level we should be seeing, and that results from an economy that’s growing much less swiftly than it could. My policies are designed to achieve 4 percent per year growth of the GDP. I would also note that I would hope we could see a rate a good deal higher than that on a temporary basis after we come out of the economic doldrums of the Obama years.
In late June, when the Supreme Court upheld the president’s health-care law, Chief Justice Roberts disappointed many conservatives. Did Roberts’s ruling change your perspective on how you, as president, would evaluate a Supreme Court nominee?
I disagreed with the Roberts decision and I would be interested in an evaluation of a Supreme Court nominee that looked at his or her thinking on making difficult constitutional decisions. We don’t yet know the rationale fully behind Roberts’s change of opinion, but when we do, it will tell us more about the nature of someone we would nominate. I suspect that Justice Roberts shied away from making a big decision, despite his conviction that the Constitution, in reality, would have led to striking down Obamacare.
You’re heading abroad next week. Why are you going to Europe?
Foreign affairs and associations with foreign leaders are an important part of the presidency, a position I hope to achieve.
Upon your return, you’ll have a small window before the national convention. What’s your core campaign message, your big theme, between now and Tampa?
You’re going to have to wait to find out. If I told you that now, I wouldn’t have anything to spring on you guys after I get back.
The Democratic National Convention is being held in early September. Do you plan on campaigning while the Democrats are hosting their convention in Charlotte?
We haven’t got plans right now, but that’s a decision we’ll make down the road.
You’ve written many of your own speeches. Are you already working on your convention speech?
I am not yet working on my convention speech.
With that, Romney was whisked away to his next event. He’ll be in Bowling Green, Ohio, on Wednesday, and he’ll head across the pond early next week. Inside the Beltway, the vice-presidential speculation continues, but for now, there is little news on the veep front.