The Daily Rundown | December 21, 2011
>>> and we're back here in keene, new hampshire, where we've joined former governor mitt romney on the campaign trail. he starts a three-day bus tour today. governor romney, let's talk policy. you said something interesting to chris wallace about the bin laden decision by the president. you said any president would have made that decision. what did you mean by just any president. it seemed a little whimsical. maybe you didn't mean it to sound that way.
>> i just mean that -- and i went on to say but i give credit to this president for actually having made the decision. i don't think it's unusual on the part of this president to have finally taken out osama bin laden . after all, we had been looking for him for some time. intelligence finally gave him a good indication of where he was. he gave the order. i do think prior presidents would have done the same thing had they been in the same position.
>> are you comfortable with a policy of this sort of unilateral -- you know, four years ago this became a debate an issue. do you act unilaterally in pakistan . are you comfortably to act unilaterally without maybe telling an ally like pakistan that you might be firing drones in their country?
>> i think in a setting like this one where osama bin laden was identified to be hiding in pakistan , that it was entirely appropriate for this president to move in and to take him out. i have no compunction about that at all. that was the right course for him to take. i supported that at the time and do now. in a similar circumstance, i think other presidents and other candidates like myself would do exactly the same thing.
>> let's talk about iraq. you wouldn't -- you wouldn't answer the hindsight question, and i understand that. you don't have all the information at the time. but the way you answered the question about whether if you knew everything then that you know now, that maybe the war would have gone differently or maybe history will judge this war badly. is that your sense on this?
>> well, if we knew at the time of our entry into iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction , if somehow we had been given that information, obviously we would not have gone in.
>> you don't think we would have gone in?
>> of course not. the president went in based upon intelligence that they had weapons of mass destruction . had he known that that was not the case, the u.n. would not have put forward resolutions authorizing this type of action. the president would not have been pursuing that course. but we did not know that. based upon what we knew at the time, we were very much under the depressiimpression as a nation that they had weapons of mass destruction , that saddam hussein was intent on potentially using those weapons, and so he took action based upon what he knew. but to go back and say, well, knowing what we know now would we have gone in. well, knowing what we know now, they did not have weapons of mass destruction , there would have been no effort on the part of our president or others to take military action .
>>> let's talk about syria . given the role the u.s. and nato played in protect civilians, do you think at some point nato or the united states and some coalition of the willing is going to have to go in there and protect civilians in syria ?
>> you know, i don't want to speculate as to what the conditions might be and raise alarm bells. i am, after all -- i'm not a president, but i'm looking for that job. i do believe that we should act very aggressively to try and encourage the dissidence within syria , to remove assad and to bring a more representative form of government.
>> support them militarily if that's what's necessary?
>> certainly support them covertly. we should support turkey and saudi arabia as they're putting pressure on syria . i won't rule out military support of some kind but i don't want to describe exactly what we might do paubecause the circumstances can change. but syria is very different than libya. it is the only key ally for iran , its route to the sea. a key satellite to iran . its link also with lebanon. so syria plays a key role for iran . any action we might take will certainly be met with an opposite reaction from iran . and iran at the current time is almost assuredly involved in syria trying to protect the status quo.
>> all right, on health care , it's ground that's been plowed a lot with you, i understand that. do you still believe in the idea of a mandate as a conservative idea? one of the defenses you've made of this is saying, hey, this was a conservative idea in 1993 , that the heritage foundation and then speaker newt gingrich -- or actually he was not yet speaker, were touting as a conservative alternative to what then the clinton administration . do you still believe a mandate is a conservative idea, the idea of the personal responsibility aspect?
>> we, there were two options in my state. one was to continue to allow people without insurance to go to the hospital and get free care paid for by government, paid for by the taxpayers. and so that is a government-dominated, government-provided free service. the alternative that we had as an option in our state is people who can afford to buy insurance themselves should do so rather than relying on government. given those two options, the option that we chose was a more conservative approach. at least that's my view. personal responsibility is more conservative in my view than something being given out free by government.
>> is there another conservative idea out there that you think can cover 30 million americans?
>> well, the best --
>> for people that can afford it?
>> the best idea is to let each state craft their own solution because that's the heart of conservatism is to follow the constitution, the tenth amendment of the constitution gives this responsibility to states. now, states could look at what we did and maybe improve on it. i noted in my book, for instance, that one way to encourage people to get insurance who can afford it is to give a break to people, a tax break to people who do have insurance. mathematically that creates the same incentive as a penalty. i think republicans tend to be inclined to giving breaks to people who have insurance.
>> are you concerned, though, that that could create, and i know this is an awkward term to use, sanctuary states, where some states are going to just cover more people than other states? massachusetts versus a mississippi, say?
>> well, that's something that would be worth looking at for any state to consider. people have to look at massachusetts and to see what the record has been of its experience. but my own understanding is that under federal law , people are able to get covered. virtually in any state in america , someone that is seriously ill can go to the hospital and get treated even if they can't pay for it. in my opinion that's a big government solution.
>> so how do we stop that? that's how the mandate came in, right?
>> that's how it arose, how do we get individuals to take responsibility for their own care. there are a lot of different models. one is to have clinics where people are treated at low cost or no cost. the other is to do as i suggest, which is to have, if you will, tax breaks given to people who have insurance. there are a number of ways of encouraging personal responsibility .
>> speaking of taxes, that's something i want to tackle when we go on the bus trip . but one final question, is there something about you that you think the public doesn't know yet, that you wish they did?
>> well, my guess is they're going to come to know me on a more personal basis as time goes on. so far most people have only seen me in debates. debates are fine but they're a series of 60-second answers. as you get to run a campaign and people really focus on what you're doing and you get chances to speak with people like you, they see you in a setting where you're not confined to 30-second or 60-second answers but you can instead speak on a more extensive basis, so i think people get an understanding of why i'm running for president. very fundamentally, i want to restore the greatness of america . i'm concerned this president has put us on a path of decline and is making us more like europe. and that's a choice america faces. and i believe that my experience and background will help america become stronger again, creating good jobs and good incomes for the american people .
>> well, that debate is going to be ongoing and we will continue to talk later on the bus tour. governor romney, thanks for doing this. thanks everybody here, very nice