Daily Rundown   |  February 20, 2012

Crunch time for Romney

Eric Fehrnstrom, Senior Advisor to the Romney campaign, discusses the campaign and responds to criticism Romney is getting for consistently referring to his time running the Olympics.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the fresh shourn the romney campaign is mounting. michigan 's primary just eight days away now, romney has been playing up his biography, not only his roots in michigan but work leading the 2002 olympics . how romney spent his weekend, marking the ten-year anniversary of the salt lake city games.

>> the games were a show place for the great qualities of the human spirit , determination the courage, team work , character, faith.

>> joining me now, romney campaign senior advisory eric turn strom. good morning, eric .

>> morning, chuck.

>> i want to start, you guys are ratcheting up i would say your campaign against rick santorum a bit. you got a release out this morning mock the fact when started running in 1989 , different things, this is what was the popular song and things like that but this hit on him as a career politician . in all famers, mitt romney has been a career candidate for office going back to 1994 . has he not?

>> well, no mitt romney spent the bulk of his career in the private sector, i think that's what the choice comes down to chuck. he never left washington after defeated for re-election in 2006 and so the choice for voters do you want more of washington in the white house or do you want a conservative businessman who can come in from the outside who has experience -- experience fixing things, fixing failed enterprises like an olympics that was mired in corruption and red ink , fixing a state that was failing, fixing failing businesses? that's mitt romney 's experience. we think that's what our next president, the qualities our next president should possess.

>> let's stay with the olympics here. you guys have been hitting santorum on earmarks. he beat -- he pushed back over the weekend. let me play something santorum said about the olympics and federal money.

>> one of the things he talks about the most is how he heroically showed up on the scene and bailed out and resolved the problems of the salt lake city olympic games , heroically going to congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the salt lake olympic games .

>> care to respond?

>> yeah, well, i think we have to travel back in time to late 2001 , early 2002 , the olympics were the first national special security convenient in the wake of t -- event in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. the funding that rick santorum was belittling was to mobilize security and protecting athletes coming frormd around the world, sec spectators coming to salt lake city to watch the games for 17 days a big difference between seeking earmarks for the penguin exhibit at the pittsburgh zoo . we wanted to avoid another munich and we did. by designating this a special security event, the federal government provided security. i'm not sure what point mr. santorum is driving at.

>> but it goes to this larger point, some of the -- for instance, governor romney has hit him for raising the debt ceiling five times. are you saying governor romney is against ever raising the debt ceiling?

>> well, look, i think that is a good comparison to make because mitt does have executive experience in business and government, in both those places, he cut budgets, he balanced budgets without raising tax. then you look at the equivalent experience by mr. santorum and you will see that he voted five times to raise the debt ceiling without compensating cuts. i think that's an important distinction. he also voted to raise his own pay when he first came into congress, of course, he said the level of compensation was just fine with him, but of course, washington has a way of capturing people and infecting their minds it wasn't long after that that he began to start --

>> i want to go back to the debt ceiling. i mean, are you saying this governor romney wouldn't have been for -- that he would have been somebody who would have voted against raising the debt ceiling, forcing the country to potentially decide who gets paid, who doesn't, leading to a down -- there would have been all sorts of repercussions for not raising the debt ceiling, including just paying bills.

>> i think what mitt romney would have been cysted on is comp pen sitting cuts, that's not what took place when rick santorum voted five times to increase the debt ceiling.

>> so what president bush did, because all -- most of those times that he raised the debt ceiling were asked by president bush , you guys are basically saying how president bush did it is not how president romney would do it?

>> i can only describe what would do as president and as president, chuck, he would insist on compensating cuts whenever there was a bill to increase the debt ceiling. that was his view last summer, it would continue to be his position as president.

>> can you envision a scenario where you guys lose the michigan primary ?

>> you know, mitt romney has connections to three states, massachusetts, where he raised a family, started a business, was governor, michigan , of course, where he spent the first 18 years of his life and his dad was a governor and utah, yes ran the olympics back in 2002 . four years ago we won all three of those states. is any one of them a must-win for mitt romney ? no, i think the must do for any candidate running for president is achieving 1,145 delegates. that is what is going to secure the nomination and it is a long process. as of right now, we have a nearly 3-1 lead over our closest lival in terms of delegates. we expect to add to that on the 28th of february and then super tuesday, march 6th .

>> you believe if you lose michigan , would you still think you are the front-runner for the nomination if you lose michigan ?

>> we think we are going to win michigan . if you go back and look four years ago, chuck, mitt went into that contest trailing john mccain . he won it by nine points, think mitt romney had the right message, job, economy message for that state, which is experiencing nearly 10% unemployment, may be satisfied with high unemployment in the obama administration. mitt romney certainly suspect, believe wes toe to the 24 million americans out of work or underemployed to do everything we can to fight for jobs that is his message in michigan and everywhere else in the country. one more question, there's been some talk, do you believe that senator santorum 's position on social issues is too conservative, too -- makes him unelectable on the general?

>> senator santorum is spending his time talking about -- questioning the existence of public schools, questioning prenatal testing. just yesterday, he was talking about world war ii and making a comparison between president obama and hitler. look, we are going to stay focused on jobs and the economy. i'm happy to talk about mitt romney 's conservative record as governor. avenues pro-life governor, he vetoed an embryonic cloning bill, vetoed an emergency contraception bill. he fought for traditional mar arrange he fought for abstinence education , a record any conservative can be proud of, but this election is going to turn on jobs and the economy and that's where our message is focused.

>> l eric fern strom, senior adviser to the romney campaign. eric , thanks for coming on this morning.

>> thanks, chuck.