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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney no -- watching all of -- very closely.
He joins me from Park City at all where has been hosting -- rather -- usual summit among the participants.
At this event Chris Christie the governor of New Jersey read Paul Paul Ryan.
Meg Whitman of course Hewlett-Packard fame ran for California governor David Axelrod -- -- a mastermind of the campaign.
That well I guess get mr.
Romney a former governor not a president.
Governor good to have you thanks for coming.
Thanks Neil good to be with you today by the way that cast of characters reads like a Barroom scene at Star Wars.
Had a -- -- -- -- Did you get a -- one plays a one time.
Well I wanted to bring together people actually from both sides of the aisle and people within each party that had -- views about the priorities that they think the nation had to be pursuing.
Hear from them so that we can as a group listened to them and say it but what are the highest priorities and that ask ourselves.
Are we actually addressing the highest priorities are not and the answer turned out to -- not a surprise.
The priorities Republicans were concerned about the priorities Democrats were concerned about are not being addressed and instead Washington is being.
Pulled of a lot of different directions but not doing what has to be done.
To get Americans -- work in good jobs with better pay and to secure -- brighter future for our kids.
How did you get David Axelrod to -- Well you know -- I asked David Axelrod the governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper a Democrat as well the mayor of Los Angeles Democrat mayor Stockton California Democrat asked them to come and they were.
A gracious and willing to come and express their views and they were warmly received even though we disagree pretty legitimately -- policy.
That that the funny thing -- You know we're all Americans we all care about the country.
We get along on a personal basis I think it's helpful to have the kind of dialogue that that looks for common ground and look for common vision for the future.
Did David Axelrod overview or any the other is there mention all of these percolating scandals governor because now.
It appears out of control.
Well we didn't spend lot of time talking about what Washington is feeling right now all of these scandals and there.
There are some that are very very disconcerting and where we know there's been wrong knowing the IRS -- is certainly one of those.
There are other issues that have been.
The brought to the for such as the NSA monitoring of various data.
Exchanges and so forth emails phone calls and so forth that that raise questions but are not necessarily wrong doing and we have to separate those and look into them.
That the president's ability to manage that that the government -- the United States.
And the and the trust that Americans have for our government has been very seriously eroded by.
That the -- -- revelations that -- come forward about the IRS.
Now the president you might have heard today sir and said that these privacy tradeoffs are relatively modest losing -- words this is not Big Brother.
What do you think of that.
Well congress shall take a look the investigating committees we'll see what's been done the president is saying look no one's reading emails no one's listening in on phone calls.
If that's the case why you know that then these he's going to be pretty much a given a pass.
On the other hand if that's not the case people will say look that's a violation of constitutional principles.
But we don't know exactly where that is but -- like I have to tell you this I'm not gonna jump on the bandwagon bandwagon of attack in the president and everything that's going on in Washington.
He has a responsibility to care for the safety and security of this country and our people.
And and and the practice of gathering information looking for trends finding things that might suggest someone is gonna attack this country.
Is an important part of that presidential role.
At the same time he has a responsibility -- to abide by the constitution.
And I hope he's been doing that that this is an area that'll be looked into like many others but but areas we do know.
That there have been major problems of bad decisions being made relate to the IRS and of course to Ben Ghazi.
And frankly I think the -- this subpoena of media.
And reporter records and and phone calls -- that's an area that's that's deserving of some real concern.
Aren't a lot of these.
It's having data from a lot of Internet companies and those like Google would FaceBook and apple.
To say nothing gob of -- ask -- Verizon's actually -- Verizon to hand over phone records.
Mid April April 16 I believe governor and that was as soon after the Boston's.
-- terror attacks if you were present at the time of the of those Boston attacks would you would -- -- Trying to get your hands on this type of -- -- Well I I parity can't back.
Respond to that without having all the information about what precisely was sought and what the purpose of it was and how it could be used.
And also looking to what the constitutional requirements are.
But but in a modern age where people are planning attacks.
Using the communications vehicles that we have including the Internet.
To look for communication that suggests impending attack so that is taking credit for things that have happened in the past so we can find the bad guys before they attack us again.
That's certainly a responsibility which a president of the government at a governor our government rather.
Had asked to -- So I you know I'm not greatest attack the president on this.
I know a lot of people in my party and other parties are going to be unhappy that I'm not willing to attack him on this but I -- to say look.
That the safety of this country comes first.
The constitution has to be followed.
I don't know that it was not followed this case and before I get real hot under the collar about about -- -- wanna learn more about what was done and how is used or.
Whether this does represent invasions of privacy governor Diane five -- said it doesn't really bother her one bit using her words every -- has had a calm down.
When -- -- in the media were dumping about whether this was over reach.
Do you think their response is justified that this wasn't a big deal everyone -- take a -- -- Well I think what people hear that their personal communications.
Are potentially being watched by government -- concerned.
And particularly when they've just come on the heels of the revelations of the IRS has been using people's most private information and used it for political purposes.
And and there's a there's a loss of of that trust in our government there's been a breach of I've really it's significant magnitude.
And people have a right to be very very concerned and so I don't think you just dismiss this.
At the same time you don't -- claim that someone's guilt -- that there's been a breach of the constitutional principles until you've actually seen what's been done and how it's been done.
And and that's something which show that investigation will occur -- that get the that that the if you will the prosecution ahead of the facts let's get the facts and and see if in fact.
There's been some kind of inappropriate gathering of information.
All right because I admit -- Harry Reid sir and I've I've just about at a time when he.
Stepped on the floor of the senate to say that he was.
Very well aware from.
Of well placed source the UN they taxes in ten years now it was later -- was not true at all.
But it did raise the possibility.
-- -- tax return information or part of it.
Was leaked to him.
What do you think it.
Well if you get it leaked from the IRS she obviously got through -- information because.
As was pointed out when we released -- returns and actually laid out also what -- paid in taxes over a decade.
I'd paid millions and millions of dollars in taxes so at there was -- a year where I didn't pay a lot of money in taxes so he was just wrong.
I don't know what a source of data was but.
But obviously there's your campaigns are World League Debbie we talked to -- that are sort of of course a major donor to your campaign.
He was subjected to no fewer than three agency audits he was indicated on each at all.
But he had to pay 8085000.
Dollars I think he was telling him he was here it -- various attorney and and account.
And fees just to protect its Goodman.
Well this is a very dangerous and troubling development.
The idea that an agency that has our most personal information.
It is you know we did it -- me they know how much money we make what would make it -- what kind of assets we have where all of our properties might be they know everything about us financially.
They have all that information and they have used that information.
To pursue a political agenda.
That should be a very frightening thing to people on both sides of the -- I know it is.
It is a -- negligent management that has allowed that to occur it may be worse than negligence we don't know who all knew about it and who directed it.
But but it it is a violation that the American people will not soon forget it has to end.
And in my view we have to put in place a special prosecutor to understand who knew what and how.
That information was used.
And we also need to put in place a structure.
Which says -- in the future these audits and these.
These inquiries by the IRS or other agencies that carry out.
Did the various kinds of -- audits.
These things have to be -- -- Viewed I don't nonpartisan nonpolitical basis and assure that these institutions -- pursuing a personal agenda of one kind or another.
Do you think that this goes beyond.
Some rogue agents I mean it's 88 now by last count.
Who were involved in targeting these conservative groups and individuals -- think it gets bigger than that.
Well you know if if you don't have any process in place.
What agents are doing.
You're opening the door for people to misuse data for their own personal political of them -- us.
Or for other event that is and this is what people across this country are afraid of big government.
Becoming so large and so intrusive that no one could stop it from interfering in our lives and punishing people.
Without being edit.
Required to go out of the public and and and demand.
That information and legal basis.
And and so you don't know how many people knew about this at how far up the the latter it it goes we don't know but I think we have to find out that's why I think we need to have a special counsel special prosecutor.
Appointed to look at this -- that just two -- But we don't -- the governor goes on SARS -- but we do know now after the fact that it -- -- being at least.
It conservative group's efforts and and those of groups that were arguing on your behalf.
Some even said it and affecting turnout on the as a result of these groups being stymied do you agreement -- It's infuriating.
Look I gotta tell -- stuff fun to lose an election.
But -- but to hear that that the government of the United States and particularly an agency that has all the information about the American people.
Was using that power to help defeat me in one way or another.
Is is really quite upset legacy could imagine do you think -- -- -- that is if you think it's hoped to be election.
I don't think there's evidence of enough wrongdoing at this stage to suggest a a different outcome would have.
Occurred but I guess -- -- -- being its -- and it -- look what if these groups were not targeted to the degree they work.
What did it up that -- their ability.
Suits -- sort of energize the base -- they so preoccupied.
That was the argument that many conservatives have since argued.
It just defending themselves and getting this this civilian of the IRS off their back.
That that it it it did affect their ability to get voters out to the polls.
-- there's no question but that is some organization was.
Being you know run through the mill.
That they were less able to do the job they.
Put themselves in place to carry out -- and therefore had a chilling effect -- their capacity that.
Two turn out voters -- to pursue the the agenda that they might have of course that was the the result but but I can tell you that I I don't believe it was such a widespread and effective program of the part of the IRS or other agencies that it would have resulted in -- different outcome of the election.
But that's not what's at stake here what's at stake is -- the American people believe.
That the information they have is not being misused by our government.
And that the government is is not trampling on our rights as citizens of this country.
And pursuing I an agenda political agenda at the expense of freedom in America.
I'm among the attendees that Europe that today New Jersey governor Chris Christie now I know you've addressed affected by guns and by god that you certainly -- -- no offense.
To what many in the media described as -- the governor's romance.
With the present Obama right after hurricanes sandy.
I know that's your view but were any in your family because I certainly -- committee in your campaign at the time governor.
Angry at Christmas it.
-- you know I can't speak for all the members of my family I've got 21 grand kids about tension heightened.
And there's still a lot of talking the older ones but I don't know maybe why you however aren't very you have done yet.
Well I take responsibility for myself and I've been a governor.
And I know what happens when there's been a a natural disaster and that is you look for help from the federal government.
You want the president -- do you want other agencies of the federal government to step in and provide help and Governor Christie.
It did what he thought was best for the people of this state and I don't blame him for that at all.
He was helpful to me in my campaign in every way possible.
I I consider my good friend.
He he has a great future he's been a terrific governors did a good job in New Jersey I've got -- well.
All right so you don't agree as some others in your campaign did at the time that he got a little too chummy.
With Barack Obama as just the wrong time.
Well I can tell you the hurricane to become at the right time.
At at that stuff because -- Chris Christie that's because what are the advantages of incumbency.
Is there -- there is an event like that view you get to see the president today fatherly role and and showing his sympathy for people who were.
Harmed who have been victims of a storm and obviously that.
That gives a little boost to the president's effort and that's just that's just the nature of how our system -- in the nature of a politics and let got back into America to go back and try and revisit that that the right thing for me to do is to look forward and to say how can.
The things I care about.
Which are helping put people back to work getting America -- -- to a balanced budget.
Fixing our schools improving our health care system and get the cost down how I do those sayings for -- I sit today.
All right what your your big man about that but it all still be attacking journalists and follow up with the it's not a question how do you think.
That is others look back at that incident that barricade sandy for whatever.
News severity -- had clearly be it did arrest that what had been the president's slide in the polls.
And there are others who look back at edit your posts first debate performance -- -- knocked it out of the park.
And they felt that you or your campaign -- sort of sat on that and and and then.
-- drop the ball yourself that you and other words you didn't stay.
On offense and and and -- just didn't keep going for the jugular.
Well we went after that that first debate is hard and heavy as we could -- kept -- promoting that as well as we thought we could.
I'm sure people come up with ideas of things we might have done differently that's always -- nature of Monday morning quarterbacking but what you're in the the middle of the game fighting -- hard.
Yard by yard.
You're doing your very best and I believe the -- team was a superb -- I idea I spoke with a a leading Democrat I won't mention his name but one of the top leaders of the Democratic Party he said look I -- -- -- one week out.
That this was a very close race.
But you don't -- events occurred the unemployment rate dropped below 8% for the first time just weeks before the election.
That change the national mood the media celebrated that.
Had it stayed above 8% white.
That but it made a difference but.
You know all told you -- -- -- your time going back and saying what kinds of events could have happened differently.
I made plenty of mistakes of the campaign.
The president made mistakes in his campaign -- runs a perfect campaign.
The net result of -- -- was he won I lost half you get over that you learn from the experience and and you move on and you say how do we fight for what's right.
But nevertheless with all the scandals that had it sued it in the last few weeks -- between the big guys in the Justice Department and overreach and reporters and the IRS and the large number groups and individuals who broke -- into the Verizon files in the Internet files and all of this stuff.
Occurring as Health and Human Services Department is sitting up companies.
To donate to push for health care.
If all of this it come up last fall different results.
The there's no way I can make that calculation but I could tell you would have made a difference a course.
And you know that's.
Again what are the advantages of incumbency yeah I have some control of what when things come out.
But but it up for me.
I know a lot of people are really have focused on these scandals and and and they are this IRS thing is really troubling and Ben -- me for me the big issue on Ben Ghazi is.
Why was it not a rescue mission.
And and -- you might say well that would have succeeded why was that it tried I mean these these are real real issues -- real concerns but all right at.
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