A few interesting exchanges during last night’s interview with presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
KUDLOW: You know, there’s a whole flood of stories on [the Sen. Larry Craig controversy] which I think to some extent may be a test of leadership in this primary. The Idaho Statesman has a devastating article about Craig, so does The Washington Post, so does Roll Call. Apparently, a couple years ago a professional man close to the Republican Party reported having oral sex with Craig at Union Station in Washington in 2004. Apparently, there are allegations and charges going back to 1982, where Mr. Craig denied having sex with pages. Isn’t this the sort of thing that reminds us all of the Mark Foley episode last fall, before the elections, that was devastating to the Republicans?
Gov. ROMNEY: Yeah, I think it reminds us of Mark Foley and Bill Clinton. I think it reminds us of the fact that people who are elected to public office continue to disappoint, and they somehow think that if they vote the right way on issues of significance or they can speak a good game, that we’ll just forgive and forget. And the truth of the matter is, the most important thing we expect from an elected official is a level of dignity and character that we can point to for our kids and our grandkids, and say, `Hey, someday I hope you grow up and you’re someone like that person.’ And we’ve seen disappointment in the White House, we’ve seen it in the Senate, we’ve seen it in Congress. And frankly, it’s disgusting.
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KUDLOW: You know, a couple weeks ago, you were campaigning in New Hampshire — a reporter asked you about Senator Clinton’s economics. Here’s what you said, quote, “That’s out with Adam Smith and in with Karl Marx.” It’s an interesting quote, sir. Would you like to expand on it?
Gov. ROMNEY: Well, yeah, it’s sort of tongue in cheek. But there’s some truth to it, and that is that Hillary Clinton has said that we have always been a, quote, “on your own” society. And there’s some truth to that. We believe in individual initiative, we believe in incentives, we believe in the Adam Smith theory of how to build a strong economy. And she said it’s time to end that and to move to an economy based on shared responsibility. She called it a “we’re in it all together” society. Well, that doesn’t sound as much like Adam Smith as it does like Karl Marx, and that’s why I made the comment. It’s a bit of a joke, but there’s truth in it. And I don’t think Hillary Clinton fundamentally understands how the private sector and our economy works. And I’ve spent 25 years in the private sector. I have some understanding of what causes jobs to come and leave, why businesses grow, why they shrink. And an “all in it together” society, with higher taxes for corporations, which she also is calling for, that’s a mistake.
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KUDLOW: You have such a distinguished business record, one of the founders of Bain Capital private equity fund. It’s done very well. Is it possible nowadays with these private equity funds and even hedge funds, kind of in, I won’t say disrepair, but in the public view, the populist view, not very popular nowadays. I remember years ago when you first ran against Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994, he attacked you for being a party to restructuring and job losses. Does this private equity fund background of yours, as distinguished as it is, might that be a problem in the presidential campaign if you were the GOP nominee?
Gov. ROMNEY: You know, I think it will always be considered a plus to have somebody who is president of the United States who understands how the economy works. We’re in a global competitive race with nations around the world to make sure that we have good jobs here and that we’re the nation of growth and vitality. And frankly, we’ve got three people on the Democratic side who are all running for president, not one of whom has ever had any experience, really, leading or managing. And you know, the government of the United States is the largest enterprise in the world with millions of employees, trillions of dollars in revenue. These guys have never run a corner store, let alone run an enterprise. And it would be helpful in this country, particularly as we face the competitive array that we do, to have somebody that understands how jobs are created, why businesses decide to locate where they do, why they leave. And that’s something I certainly understand.