George Stephanopoulos' Interview With Former Gov. Mitt Romney

STEPHANOPOULOS: And after a quick change of seats, we are joined by Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. You heard Governor Huckabee there. He's not backing away from his criticism of the Bush administration foreign policy and he stands by his assertion that he was supporting the surge before you.

ROMNEY: Well, you saw very clearly that wasn't the case. Actually in the interview it was pointed out that John McCain and Mitt Romney supported the surge and then they were asked - then he was asked, do you also support the surge, and he expressed his concerns about the surge, and it's legitimate to have concerns, but it was very clear that I supported it before he did as opposed to the way he described it in the debate last night. I think more fundamental, however, was his mistaken approach in saying that the president or the president's administration is an arrogant bunker mentality administration. That I think is simply wrong. To say that there have been mistakes, to say that the war has been not conducted perfectly is totally appropriate. Military historians are quick to point that out, as is the President. But to say that this president acted out of arrogance or out of a bunker mentality is simply wrong. He listened to alternative voices and he took the course which he thought was best for America and he kept us safe.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You and John McCain also went at it on the issue of immigration again and whether or not his plan is a plan that includes amnesty. Here's what you said last night.

ROMNEY: I don't describe your plan as amnesty in my ad. I don't call it amnesty.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But here's your ad.

ROMNEY (campaign ad): On immigration McCain supported this year's amnesty bill, higher taxes, amnesty for illegals. That's straight talk for being in Washington too long.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Had you not seen your own ad?

ROMNEY: I hadn't seen that one and my staff told me afterwards it does say amnesty and I said well it's not supposed…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, two ads. Both of them say it.

ROMNEY: Yeah, there's a man in the street one that says amnesty, as well and I was simply incorrect. His bill - he does not technically under the term support amnesty because he says, well, he makes them pay $5,000 and technically that's not amnesty. And I guess that's true. You could say to somebody, if you pay 5 bucks, that is not amnesty, but the reality is it's a…

STEPHANOPOULOS: So is it amnesty or not?

ROMNEY: Well, you're going to have to define the word for me. I call it…

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're running for president, not me.

ROMNEY: Okay. Well, when you ask the question, when you ask the question, you want a specific answer based on your definition.


ROMNEY: My definition is this, that if a - if illegals are able to all stay in this country and thereby get an enormous advantage over everybody else, that is a form of amnesty.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you do believe his plan is amnesty then?

ROMNEY: Not under a legal definition but under the normal colloquial definition, yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't understand the distinction.

ROMNEY: But let me tell you this. Why don't I just tell you what his ad – what his posture does. What his posture does is it says that every alien in this country who is here illegally gets to stay here for the rest of their life and that is wrong.

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