MITT ROMNEY: The president’s foreign policy in my opinion is formed by a perception he has that his magnetism and his charm and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like Putin and Chavez and Ahmajinedad and they’ll find that we’re such wonderful people that they’ll go on with us. And they’ll stop doing bad things. And it’s an extraordinarily naive perception and it led to huge errors in North Korea, in Iraq, obviously in Iran and Egypt and around the world. My own view is that the centerpiece of American foreign policy has to be strength. Everything I do will be calculated to increase America’s strength. When you stand by your allies, you increase your strength. When you attack your allies you become weaker. When you stand by your pricinples you get stronger. When you have a big military that’s bigger than anyone else’s you are stronger. When you have a strong economy you build American strength. For me everything is about strength. And communicating to people what is and is not acceptable. It’s speaking softly but carrying a very, very, very big stick. And this president speaks loudly and carries a tiny stick. And that’s not the right course for a foreign policy. I saw Dr. Kissinger in New York () I said to him how are we perceived around the world and he said one word: weak! Uh, we are weak. And that’s how this president is perceived, by our friends and unfortunately by our foes. And it’s no wonder that people like Kim Jong-Un, the new leader of North Korea, announces a long range missile test only a week after he said he wouldn’t. Because it’s like what’s this president gonna do about it? If you can’t act, don’t threaten.
When Jimmy Carter was president, we had hostages. Ronald Reagan was able to make a statement even before he was actually sworn-in, the hostages were released. R: On the day of his inauguration. AUDIENCE: Right. So my question is really how can you sort of duplicate that in some areas? ROM: I’m gonna ask you how do I duplicate that scenario? AUD: I think it had to do with the fact that the Iranians perceived Reagan would do something to really get them out. In other words, he would have the strength, and that’s why I’m following on what you said about strength and that’s why I’m suggesting something that you say in the next few months gets the Iranians to understand that their pursuit of a bomb is something that you would predict and I think that’s something that could possibly resonate very well with the American public. ROM: I appreciate the idea. One of the things that’s frustrating to me is that in a typical day like this when I do three or four events like this, the number of foreign policy questions I get are between zero and one. And the American people are not concentrated at all on China, on Russia, Iran, Iraq. This president’s failure to put in place a status of forces agreement allowing 10-20,000 troops to stay in Iraq: unthinkable! And yet, in that election, the Jimmy Carter election, the fact that we had hostages in Iran, I mean that was all we talked about. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, that was the focus and so him solving that made all the difference in the world. I’m afraid today if you got simply got Iran to stand down on nuclear weapons they’d go “ho hum” but by the way if something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.
QUESTION: It’s not your lucky night! More foreign policy. … How do you think the Palestinian problem can be solved and what are you going to do about it? ROMNEY: Um, I’m torn by two perspectives in this regard. One is the one which I’ve had for some time which is that the Palestinian’s have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish. Now why do I say that? Some might say well this is what the Palestinian’s have the West Bank and have security and set up a separate nation for the Palestinians. And then come a couple of thorny questions. And I don’t have a map here to look at the geography but the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there right next to Tel Aviv, the financial capital, the industrial capital of Israel, the center of Israel. The border would be maybe 7 miles from Tel Aviv to what would be the West Bank (Audience member : 9) 9 miles! The challenge is the other side of the West Bank. The other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point or Jordan and of course the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon, what they did in the Gaza which is the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel. So Israel of course would have to say “That can’t happen. We’ve got to keep the Iranians from bringing weaponry into the West Bank.” Well, that means that, who, the Israelis patrol the border between Jordan, Syria, and this new Palestinian nation? Well the Palestinians would say “No way! We’re an independent country! You can’t guard our border with other Arab nations.” And then how about the airport? How about flying into this Palestinian nation? Are we going to allow military aircraft to come in? And weaponry to come in? And if not who’s going to keep it from coming in? Well the Israelis. The Palestinians are going to say “We’re not an independent nation if Israel is able to come in and tell us what can land at our airport.” These are problems, and they’re very hard to solve, alright!? And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway for political purposes commited to the elimination and destruction of Israel and these thorny issues and I say there’s just no way. And so what you do is you move things along the best way you can and hope for some degree of stability and you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem. I mean we live with that with China and Taiwan. Alright, we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it. And we kick the ball down the field and we hope that ultimately somehow something will happen to resolve it. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it imminently. On the other hand, I got a call from a former Secretary of State, and I won’t mention which one it was, but this individual said to me “You know, I think there’s a prospect for a settlment between the Palestinians and the Israelis after the Palestinian elections.” I said “Really?!” And, uh, you know his answer was “Yes, I think there’s some prospect.” And I didn’t delve into it but you know I always keep open the idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world. They’ve done that time and time and time again and it does not work. So the only answer is show strength again. American strength, American resolve. And if the Palestinians someday reach a point where they want peace more than we’re trying to force peace on them then it’s worth having the discussion. ‘Til then it’s just wishful thinking.
Banter between R and guests.
Female guest: Individuals in this room are obviously your supporters. I am very concerned about the average American who doesn’t know you. There’s a terrible misconception and I spend numerous hours, trying to, I hate being the defender when you are such a deserving individual. Years and years ago um I called George Bush Sr. and he had called me in my campaign in Massachussetts when I ran for Senate. I told him that there is a guy named Clinton who’s gonna beat him for the following reasons and he laughed. Right now, I’m very concerned. Women do not wanna vote for you. Uh, Hispanics majority don’t want to vote for you, college students don’t. Um, after talking to them and explaining and rationalizing on one-on-one basis we are able to change their opinions but on a mass level how, what do you want us, this group, to do as your emmisaries going out to convert these individuals to someone who is obviously going to be such an incredible asset to this country. We want you. What do we do? Just tell us what we can help with.
ROMNEY: I have some good news for you. It’s not impossible. And the reason I say that is for instance, the New York Times had a poll last week, the New York Times and NBC, and I was leading by two points among women. Alright, now the president came out and said this is an outrageous poll, they don’t know what they’re doing, by the way the polls at this stage make no difference at all. But the point is, women are open to supporting me. They like the president personally but they’re dissappointed. They’re dissappointed with the jobs they’re seeing for their kids. They’re dissappointed with their own economic standing right now. So we can capture women’s votes. We’re having a much harder time with Hispanic voters. And if the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as commited to the Democrat’s as the African-American voting bloc has in the past, why we’re in trouble as a party and I think as a nation.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: RUBIO!
ROMNEY: We have some great Hispanic leaders in our party who will help communicate what our party stands for and uh, practically what I need you to do is to raise millions of dollars because the president is going to have 800, 900 million dollars. That’s by far the most important thing you can do. You don’t have the capacity to speak to hundreds of thousands of people. I will be in those debates. There will be, I don’t know, 150 million Americans watching. If I do well, it’ll help. If I don’t, it won’t help.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You will do so well. Your debates are incredible.
ROMNEY: Thank you. But advertising makes a difference. And the president will engage in personal, character assasination campaign, and so we’ll have to fire back, one, in defense and number two, on offense. And that’ll take money. By the way, you’ll see the ads here. Florida will be one of those states that is the key state. And so all the money will get spent in ten states. And this is one of them. So the best thing I could ask you to do, I mean, yeah, sure, talk to people and tell ’em how you know me and word of mouth makes a big difference, um, but you know I’m not terribly well known by the general American public…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You’re known as a rich boy. I mean, they say “He’s a rich man.”
ROMNEY: Given all those negative things, the fact that I’m either tied or close to the president and the fact that he’s out there talking about the one year anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s being captured, unemployment coming down, unleashing his campaign, and we’re still sort of tied. That’s very interesting. Please…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I would disagree with that. I think a lot of young children coming out of college feel they were let down by the president. Feel that there’s not a job out there for them and thought they were gonna be making 60,000 and now they’re making 30,000, you know, very similar to the E6. My question to you is, why don’t you stick up for yourself. To me, you should be so proud to , that’s what we all aspire to be, kill ourselves, we don’t work 9-5, we’re away from our family five days a week, I’m away from my poor girls five days a week, Why not stick up for yourself? Why is it bad to aspire to be wealthy and successful? You know, why is it bad to kill yourself and why is it bad to cut 30 jobs that net 300, you know when people talk about you cutting jobs you saved companies that were failing and earned money. My question is when does that piece
ROMNEY: If you heard in my speech tonight … In every stump speech I give I speak about the fact that people who dream and achieve enormous success do not make us poorer they make us better off. And the Republican audience that I typically speak to applauds. I said that tonight, and the media’s there, and they write about it they say that Romney defends success in America and dreamers and so forth. So they write about it. But in terms of what gets through to the American consiousness, uh, that’s, I have little influence on that at this stage as to what they write about. And, uh, that will happen. We’ll have three debates. We’ll have a chance to talk about that in the debates. There will be ads that which attack me. I will fire back in a way that describes in the best way we can the fact that if the theme of my speeches, I wind up, you know the ambassadors , I wind up talking about how the thing which I find most dissappointing in this president is his attack of one American against another American, the division of American based on going after those who have been successful. And then I quote Marco Rubio, in my speeches I say, Marco Rubio says that when he grew up here, poor, that they looked at people that had a lot of wealth and his parents never once said we need some of what they have they should give us some instead they said if we work hard and go to school someday we might be able to have that
AUDIENCE: Loud applause
ROMNEY: If we all continue to do that how much of that gets pickd up, there’s so many things that don’t get picked up in a campaign because people aren’t watching, by the way most people don’t watch during the summer, we’re going to go through a season here starting from May to June where almost no attention paid, then after Labor Day, September, October that’s when it’ll get going
AUDIENCE: For the past three years all everybody’s been told is don’t worry we’ll take care of you. How are you going to do it in two month’s before the election to convince everybody that you’ve got to take care of yourself?
ROMNEY: Well, there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. Alright, there 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon … who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it, that that’s an entitlement, and government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean the president starts out with 48, 49, uh 48, he starts out with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax, 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes, doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people I’ll never get them to accept that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the five or ten percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful that look at voting one way or the other depending in some cases on emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like. I mean, it’s, uh,thy, when you aks those people, we do all these polls, I find it amazing. We poll all these people to see where you stand in the polls. But 45 percent of the people will vote for the Republican and 48 or 49