Mitt Romney: Transcript of ABC/Yahoo News Exclusive Interview

George Stephanopoulos interviews former Gov. Mitt Romney.

ByABC News
November 8, 2011, 2:14 PM

Nov. 8, 2011 -- GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We are live on and Yahoo News for an original series called Newsmakers. And we're here with Governor Romney. Thanks for joining us, Governor.

MITT ROMNEY: Thanks, George. Good to be with you.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's start out with a big question. When did you first know you wanted to be president of the United States?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, as you know-- I ran four years ago, and after that election was over-- you know, we sold our house. Ann and I-- spent some time. I wrote my book. And-- and we thought we weren't gonna be running again. And frankly, had the economy turned around like I expected it would and-- we got down to a six percent unemployment rate, I wouldn't be running.

But-- the failure of this presidency-- compelled Ann and me to say, "Look, we-- we gotta get back in, in part because of the experience I've had in the economy." So-- sometime in the last-- two or three years, we decided, "Let's get back in. This-- the job the current president's doing is not getting Americans back to work."

WATCH: George Stephanopoulos Interviews Fmr. Gov. Mitt Romney

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and you're now at the top of the Republican field along with Herman Cain, but as you've seen, in most national polls, including our own ABC News poll, you seem to have a ceiling of about 25 percent and you're facing persistent questions, as you know, about your core principles. I mean, I'm -- I'm kind of struck. I think there's only two -- one thing in the world that the White House and Erick Erickson of RedState agree on."

And here's what David Plouffe says. He says you have no core. Erick Erickson of RedState says exactly the same thing. "Mitt Romney is unprincipled. The man has no core beliefs other than in himself." And this does seem to be holding you back. Governor Huntsman said it made you unelectable. Does that get you angry when people question your core like that?

MITT ROMNEY: You know, I think people can look at my life. They can see how I live my life-- at home-- in-- in the business I was in for 25 years, and of course, as governor, and at the Olympics. And-- my record demonstrates what I believe. I also, as you know, had the chance to write a book and lay down my views on the major issues that the country's facing.

And, you know, I understand that politics is politics, people look for some edge they can get. But-- but people know how I've lived my life and what I believe on the major issues of the day. And frankly, I'm in this race, because of the failure of President Obama to turn around this economy. And my conviction that having spent my life in the economy, having actually created jobs, is a qualification that's necessary for the country to get America back to work today.

So you know, I'll-- I'll let the slings and arrows come, as they may. And continue talking about the failure of this presidency. And I know, of course, the last thing the president wants to do and his team wants to do is to talk about their record. But I'll keep bringing it back to it. They failed.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And-- and your opponents are coming back to your record. They look at issues like a woman's right to choose. They look at gay rights. And say, "You've tried to have it both ways, on those issues." How do you intend to respond?