Editor in Chief Asher Smith interviewed 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday before his speech at Glenn Memorial Church. Romney was at Emory promoting his recently released book,
No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. He was invited by the College Republicans and the Emory Law Federalist Society.
Smith: Your book is entitled No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. That begs the question — do you feel those holding high office now are not adequately making that case?
Romney: I think politicians in Washington have set America on a course of decline. By over-borrowing, by over-spending, by weakening our schools, by increasing our dependency on foreign oil — all these things combine to make America a weaker nation at a time when our strength is critical.
Smith: Your book and public speeches tend to place more stress on economic issues and your economic credentials, as opposed to the social and cultural concerns that many other Republicans place great emphasis on. Do you feel that social issues are less relevant to the electorate than economic concerns?
Romney: I think they’re important issues. I have a chapter which I called “The Culture of Citizenship,” which describes the influence of the culture and the things we believe on the nature of our country and how they are important. The book is primarily about the economic productivity of our nation and how we can compete globally given the competitive threats we face, but certainly social issues have an important part to play.
Smith: What do you want the main take-away for your readers to be from your book tour, after either seeing you speak or reading No Apology?
Romney: I want people to understand that we are on a path of decline — and that it’s essential for our freedom and for our prosperity to reverse that decline, and to address the challenges we face honestly and forthrightly, rather than kicking the ball down the field or simply responding to these issues with simple hopes and wishes rather than the hard work that it will take to overcome our problems.
Smith: Your father George Romney was considered to be a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination before the 1964 and 1968 elections. What are the most important lessons you’ve taken away from his political career?
Romney: You know, his was a very different time. I’m not sure that I can draw political lessons from his campaigns — and I was, after all, pretty young at the time when he ran for office. I was 15 when he ran for governor. I guess the best thing I can draw from his career is that you have to work like crazy and not worry about what other people say or what the media writes: say what you believe, and hope for the best.
Smith: Earlier today, President Obama remarked to NBC on the degree of similarity between his health-care reform policies and those that you passed in Massachusetts under your term as governor. How is the health-care reform legislation signed by Obama last week significantly different from the policies that you passed in Massachusetts?
Romney: Well, there are similarities. And some of the best features of his health-care plan are like ours — such as, we do not allow insurance companies to drop people who develop illnesses, our insurance is entirely portable, virtually all of our citizens are insured and there is an individual responsibility for getting insurance.
The big differences are that he raised taxes; we did not. He cut Medicare; we did not. He put in place price controls; we did not. And his is a federal program — a one-size-fits-all solution — and in our view — in my view, the best approach is a state-by-state creation of programs designed to fit the needs of citizens of each state.
Smith: Do you have any regrets now about signing Massachusetts’ version of health-care reform into law?
Romney: I am proud of what we accomplished. It was a step forward. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than what we had before.
— Contact Asher Smith