October 18th, 2015
10:46 AM ET

Mitt Romney: "I'd hate to lose" Paul Ryan as potential president

SOTU

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, former Governor and 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney (R-MA), joined anchor, Jake Tapper.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Liza Pluto – liza.pluto@turner.com

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Romney’s remarks on the Benghazi Select Committee: Well, there are two parts of the Benghazi hearing and I think she's being trying to conflate the two.  One of course is what her role was in the terrible misjudgment that she in not providing security in Benghazi to protect our Ambassador.  And I think the committee wants to make sure that those mistakes are not made again.  And then something that came from the Benghazi hearings but is not really directly related to Benghazi itself, and that is the fact that, unlike any other former Secretary of State, she had her own e-mail server.  And she was conducting business on the e-mail server and it's very possible that classified information was, was breached as a result of her misjudgment.”

 

Romney on Secretary of State Clinton’s handling of foreign policy: Well, let's step back about - and look at what she said.  The idea that somehow Putin was in charge during the time that Medvedev was the President is obviously absurd.  Putin was in charge.  Hillary Clinton was completely misguided and, and uninformed with regards to the intention of Putin, Medvedev, and Russia.  And her great mistake was characterized by her pressing that reset button with a great big smile on it that somehow she though Russia was going to be our friend and ally.  And she was badly mistaken and her mistaken perspective on foreign policy has led to the fact that, frankly, there's no place in the world that I can think of where American interests have been bettered by virtue of Hillary Clinton having served as Secretary of State.  That's quite an indictment, whether it's Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Libya, Israel, the South China Sea.  I mean, look around the world. That record of the Secretary of State I think will become the focal point of the debates in 2016 when a Republican nominee goes after that record.”

 

Romney rates the Republican field: [ROMNEY]:  “Well, I think there's some very positive attributes associated with a number of people that are running for President.  Marco has very compelling attributes, but look at Chris Christie.  This is a guy who's taken on some really tough situations in New Jersey.  He's a great debater.  He speaks his mind clearly and forcefully.  Look, he could be a very strong nominee.  Jeb Bush as well has an extraordinary record as the Governor of Florida, an education governor, a guy who's made a difference there and across the country.  He could be a very strong nominee.  John Kasich.  John Kasich has done a terrific job in the state of Ohio.  Rebuilt the economy there.  You've got four right there that are amazing individuals.  And then, of course, Carly Fiorina has risen dramatically.  So we've got some good folks.” [TAPPER]:  “What about Ben Carson?”

[ROMNEY]:”..Ben Carson I don't know as well, but he's obviously a very, a very gentle and sweet soul who speaks his mind.  And I think people are very drawn to somebody who is so willing to express his views as he is.”

 

Romney on Speaker of the House race and Paul Ryan as potential presidential contender: Well, you know, it's really a tough decision for him and I'm sure a personal decision.  From my own standpoint, I, I see Paul as one of the people coming along that, that has the potential to lead our country.  And if he became Speaker of the House in the near term, that's also a crucial role.  We, we need Paul in two spots at once and I - you know, there haven't been a lot of people that have gone on from Speaker to the White House, so I'd hate to lose him as a potential contender down the road for the White House, but I - he is such, a man of such talent and such integrity and character that, that he's a real resource for the country.  So whether it's now for the Speakership or whether instead we see him hold on and ultimately become potentially a candidate for President, I don't know.  It's his decision, but I'm just glad to know him and to know we have him in our quiver.

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee, Mitt Romney, joins us now.  Governor Romney, thanks so much for joining us.

 

GOV. MITT ROMNEY, (R) MASSACHUSETTS:  Thanks, Jake.  Good to be with you.

 

TAPPER:  So you just heard Hillary Clinton.  She's testifying in the next few days to the Benghazi committee.  She says Republicans in Congress have quote admitted that the panel's overwhelming focus is not fact finding, but to drive down her poll numbers.  Is she right?

 

ROMNEY:  Well, there are two parts of the Benghazi hearing and I think she's being trying to conflate the two.  One of course is what her role was in the terrible misjudgment that she in not providing security in Benghazi to protect our Ambassador.  And I think the committee wants to make sure that those mistakes are not made again.  And then something that came from the Benghazi hearings but is not really directly related to Benghazi itself, and that is the fact that, unlike any other former Secretary of State, she had her own e-mail server.  And she was conducting business on the e-mail server and it's very possible that classified information was, was breached as a result of her misjudgment.

 

TAPPER:  At Tuesday's debate Hillary Clinton said we have to stand - that the U.S. has to stand up to Putin's bullying.  Take a listen.

 

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON:  There's no doubt that when Putin came back in and said he was going to be President that did change the relationship.  We have to stand up to his bullying and specifically in Syria.  It is important and I applaud the administration because they are engaged in talks right now with the Russians to make it clear that they've got to be part of the solution to try to end that bloody conflict.

 

TAPPER:  Now you've been very critical of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's handling of foreign policy.  But I presume that statement by her is closer to your views than those of Donald Trump, who has basically said let Russia take care of ISIS in Syria.

 

ROMNEY:  Well, let's step back about - and look at what she said.  The idea that somehow Putin was in charge during the time that Medvedev was the President is obviously absurd.  Putin was in charge.  Hillary Clinton was completely misguided and, and uninformed with regards to the intention of Putin, Medvedev, and Russia.  And her great mistake was characterized by her pressing that reset button with a great big smile on it that somehow she though Russia was going to be our friend and ally.  And she was badly mistaken and her mistaken perspective on foreign policy has led to the fact that, frankly, there's no place in the world that I can think of where American interests have been bettered by virtue of Hillary Clinton having served as Secretary of State.  That's quite an indictment, whether it's Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Libya, Israel, the South China Sea.  I mean, look around the world. That record of the Secretary of State I think will become the focal point of the debates in 2016 when a Republican nominee goes after that record.

 

TAPPER:  Well, that nominee as of right now looks like it will be Donald Trump, even though I know you and your wife have said it won't be.  I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary that it will be.  Do you, are you afraid that Donald Trump will not be able to beat Hillary Clinton?

 

ROMNEY:  Well, I don't think it's likely that Donald Trump will be the nominee, but it's obviously too early to tell.  At this stage numbers go up and down, candidates have bursts of support.  Donald Trump has had a lot of support for a long time, and so I think a lot of folks think, well, this could a lot further than, than people had expected.  So I, I can't predict who it's going to be, but I can predict that we'll have a nominee that will be a stronger nominee, both on the basis of character and on the basis of track record, than Hillary Clinton.

 

TAPPER:  You would vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton?

 

ROMNEY:  I would vote for the nominee of the Republican party, and I don't believe that's going to be Donald Trump.

 

TAPPER:  I know you haven't endorsed, but there are a lot of Republican and Democratic strategists who think that Rubio at the end of the day is the strongest candidate to take on Hillary Clinton in terms of both his raw political talent and his demographic appeal.  Plus, of course, the generational appeal.  Do you agree?

 

ROMNEY:  Well, I think there's some very positive attributes associated with a number of people that are running for President.  Marco has very compelling attributes, but look at Chris Christie.  This is a guy who's taken on some really tough situations in New Jersey.  He's a great debater.  He speaks his mind clearly and forcefully.  Look, he could be a very strong nominee.  Jeb Bush as well has an extraordinary record as the Governor of Florida, an education governor, a guy who's made a difference there and across the country.  He could be a very strong nominee.  John Kasich.  John Kasich has done a terrific job in the state of Ohio.  Rebuilt the economy there.  You've got four right there that are amazing individuals.  And then, of course, Carly Fiorina has risen dramatically.  So we've got some good folks.

 

TAPPER:  What about Ben Carson?

 

ROMNEY:  Excuse me.  Ben Carson I don't know as well, but he's obviously a very, a very gentle and sweet soul who speaks his mind.  And I think people are very drawn to somebody who is so willing to express his views as he is.

 

TAPPER:  This week you said that you'd like to see your former running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, to one day be President.  Does that ambition that you have for him make you think that Speaker of the House would not be a good job for him to take?

 

ROMNEY:  Well, you know, it's really a tough decision for him and I'm sure a personal decision.  From my own standpoint, I, I see Paul as one of the people coming along that, that has the potential to lead our country.  And if he became Speaker of the House in the near term, that's also a crucial role.  We, we need Paul in two spots at once and I - you know, there haven't been a lot of people that have gone on from Speaker to the White House, so I'd hate to lose him as a potential contender down the road for the White House, but I - he is such, a man of such talent and such integrity and character that, that he's a real resource for the country.  So whether it's now for the Speakership or whether instead we see him hold on and ultimately become potentially a candidate for President, I don't know.  It's his decision, but I'm just glad to know him and to know we have him in our quiver.

 

TAPPER:  Sounds like you're coming out in favor of cloning Paul Ryan of whatever the biomedical (sic) ethics of that are, I'm not really quite sure, but is it…

 

ROMNEY:  I wish, I wish we could  I mean, you know, the reason he has such respect, not only on both sides of the aisle, but also on both sides of the Republican party, is because this is a guy who has laid out what he believes, he's a policy wonk, he is an advocate of the policies of Jack Kemp, and people respect who he is.

 

TAPPER:  But there are people in the Freedom caucus who think, who think he's too liberal.  I mean that's where this debate in Congress right now that has felled Boehner and McCarthy has gone, people thinking Paul Ryan is too much of a squish.

 

ROMNEY:  Well, you know, the challenge in our party is not so much that people have differing views on issues, as much as people have differing views about how to get those issues implemented.  There are some in our party who think the best approach is throwing bombs.  The problem with bomb throwing so far is that most of the bombs have landed on our own team.  That doesn't help.  There are others who think, look, the best approach is to see if we can't find common ground with the people across the aisle.  And that's been the approach in our party.  And you have Paul Ryan for instance that's willing to work with Democrats, so I think that's a productive think.  I confess that with Hillary Clinton, who the other night said that Republicans are here enemies, it's like, gosh, that's not the approach for a President in the White House.  I mean I thought she might have talked about ISIS being her enemies or people who are chanting death to America, but instead she said Republicans are her enemies.  Paul Ryan doesn't think that way, and I frankly think that we need leadership in Washington that's willing to work across the aisle.

 

 

TAPPER:  When your lovely wife, Ann Romney, was on my show "The Lead" recently promoting her book she agreed with Stu Stevens, Stu Stevens, your former strategist, who also told me that, if you were running for President right now, as you were thinking about doing but ultimately decided not to do, you would be winning.  What do you think?  Do you agree with your wife?  Do you agree with Stu Stevens?

 

ROMNEY:  I think Stuart is a brilliant guy, but I can't imagine running right now and I'm glad I'm not in this race.  A lot of people there are battling their way ahead.  I think the American people want to see a new face. That's a good thing and I, I, I can't imagine how I'd be doing on that particular stage, but I salute them for their willingness to get in and fight for the things they believe in.

 

TAPPER:  Governor Mitt Romney, thanks so much for joining us.

 

ROMNEY:  Thanks, Jake, good to be with you.

 

###END INTERVIEW###

 

 

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