Mitt Romney: The Complete Interview

I've been a hunter all my life, not frequently, but as a boy, when I worked on a ranch in Idaho, we used to go out shooting rabbits, because they were eating all the barley, and I got pretty good with a single shot .22 rifle, and been quail hunting more recently.

So I'm a hunter and believe in Second Amendment rights, but I also believe that assault weapons are not needed in the public population.

Stephanopoulos: This gets to, I think, the core question.

You've had changes on many issues, many different kinds of issues.

Mitt Romney: Well, certainly not that one.

Stephanopoulos: Well, but joining the NRA, all going in the same direction. How do you combat the charge that these are conversions of convenience?

Mitt Romney: Actually, not all going in the same direction.

As you get older and you have experience -- I ran for office the first time, never having been in politics, 13 years ago against Ted Kennedy and since then I've learned a few more things.

I proposed, at that time, for instance, that we eliminate the Department of Education. A lot of conservatives thought that was a great idea.

I don't think that's a good idea anymore. I think we need the Department of Education. I think "No Child Left Behind" is performing a useful function in providing for testing.

It has a lot of errors in it and I'd like to change it, but I like the fact that we're testing our kids.

So some things are more conservative, some things are less conservative.

Stephanopoulos: Any issue where you are more liberal?

Mitt Romney: Well, that's certainly one of them where my view, the "No Child Left Behind," testing of our kids gives us an opportunity to see which schools are making it and which schools aren't. I think that's very, very important.

And I know a lot of conservatives who disagree with me on that. On immigration, for instance, I think everybody who's not a legal resident of this country should have a card, an identification card. Some people don't like that idea.

On the area of stem cell research...

Stephanopoulos: But on immigration, let me stop you on immigration, because just a year ago, you were saying that illegal immigrants here in the United States should have a path toward citizenship.

Mitt Romney: Well, I don't recall that particular language. I didn't say they should be rounded up.

Stephanopoulos: I know. You said, "Those who are here paying taxes and not taking government benefits should begin a process towards application for citizenship," reported in the "Lowell Sun," March 30, 2006.

Mitt Romney: Well, what I said is that those people should go to the back of the line, that those people who are here illegally should not get any benefit by being here.

Those that have committed crimes should be taken out of the country. Those that are in our jails should be taken out of the country. Those who are on welfare, require government assistance, should leave the country.

Those of the 12 million or so that are here, first, I want to find out who they are, how many are there. I want them to register.

Stephanopoulos: But they should have some path to citizenship?

Mitt Romney: Everybody in the world has a path to citizenship. Everyone in the world can go to apply to the United States and apply for citizenship.

But those that are here illegally should not have any advantage over somebody who's in Bolivia today that wants to become a citizen.

Stephanopoulos: So they have to go back home first.

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