Meet the Press   |  February 16, 2014

Romney Bares All on Olympics, Gay Rights and 2016

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who managed the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, discusses the games in Sochi, the ongoing same-sex marriage debate and the prospet of a Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2016.

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

>> the man who headed up the olympic games the last time they were here in the u.s., former governor of massachusetts and republican presidential nominee in 2012 , mitt romney . welcome back to "meet the press."

>> thanks, david. good to see you.

>> i want to ask you about the security threats. last weekend on one of the sunday programs, the chair of the house homeland security committee said about the games in russia he fears that something electric detonate, something will blow up. do you think the security concerns have been overblown?

>> no, i think they're very real when you have the kind of specific threats that were leveled at the games , you have to take them seriously. at the same time, i think russia has shown not only through the application of their security forces but also through their intelligence work that they have the capacity to keep the games reasonably safe. there's no such thing as 100% guarantee but i think at this stage, people feel pretty comfortable that the games will be safe.

>> where you've been critical of the russian government is the $50 billion that it spent to host these games in sochi, and you wrote eight pointed op-ed about in this week. i'll put a portion on the screen. you write if a corrupt wants to show off, what's the harm? waste is harm, particularly when need is as great as it is, harm occurs when a country spends more than it can afford to keep up appearances with big spenders. harm occurs when a country is excluded from hosting an olympics because it can't afford the fabulous frills and harp occurs when the world 's poor look in anguish at the excess. time to limit that excess and why?

>> well, i really think so because you don't need to spend $50 billion as russia has or as china did to put an olympic sport . olympic sport can be demonstrated at two or $3 billion. and all that extra money could be used to do some very important things in terms of fighting poverty and fighting disease around the world . that's what we really ought to be using those resources for supposed to wasting them in many cases to show off a country or i think more cynically to show off the politicians in the country. and to take money everyone some people so that politicians can be puffed up and shown around the world i think is something which is very distasteful at a time when there's so much poverty and so much need.

>> do you think putin views it as worth it? i assume he's among the politicians you're talking about being puffed up on the world stage?

>> i think there's no question but that the politicians who take this money and spend $50 billion to host the world for tv appearances, i think they think it's worth it or they wouldn't spend it. a lot of that money could be going into corruption, as well and paying off various folks. it's a very unsavory thing. i think the international olympic committee has to take action to limit how much is spent on olympic games .

>> in terms of city cities like boston vying for future games , definitely worth it, you would say go for it, don't pass up the opportunity?

>> it's a great experience to host an olympic games . everybody that touches the olympics that i've ever seen has said it was one of the greatest experiences of their life. not because of all the fun they had, but because of all the service they were able to give to others. it's a great unifying thing. boston would love it if the games came home.

>> let me talk to you about politics and, of course, the issue of gay rights around the world , particularly in russia has been part of the backdrop of these games . you think about the issue of same-sex marriage in america . ten years ago, almost to the month, it was massachusetts when you were governor that really set a same-sex marriage rights into motion, and you wrote about it at the time rather pointedly where you said after that decision by the court, the definition of marriage is not a matter of semantics. it will have lasting impact on society. ten years later as you've seen same-sex marriage now in 17 states and the district of columbia , has it is had a negative impact on society in it your judgment?

>> well, i think marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. and i think the ideal setting for raising a child is in a setting where there's a father and a mother. now, there are many other different settings that children are raised in and people have the right to live their life as they want to, but i think marriage should be defined if the way it has been defined for several thousand years, and fun gay couples want to live together, that's fine, as well. that's their right.

>> do you think it's had a negative impact on society that you have so many states now recognizing it?

>> oh, i think it's going to take a long, long time to determine whether having gay marriage will make it less likely for kids to be raised in settings where there's a mom and dad . that's not going to happen overnight. it happens over generations in fact, and again, i think the ideal setting is where there's a mom and dad that can invest air time and resources in supporting the development of a child.

>> as you look at the progression of this issue as a republican, do you think republicans have lost the fight politically over this?

>> you know, i don't know that you have to worry about who wins and loses a particular fight. i think you stand for various principles. you communicate those to the american people and they either support those or not. sometimes if something is lost, you move onto the next issue. you wish you'd have won ta one but you move on. i think in this case, it imcoulds to be an issue that people find important and something which is being considered in various states across the country. i do believe, by the way, that it's best decided by the people rather than by the courts. i think when the courts step in and make a decision of this nature, they're removing from the people something wilthey have the right to decide themselves.

>> 2016 politics is a topic that keeps coming up for you. i'll ask about you in a minute. but i want to ask about the democrat. senator rand paul started on "meet the press" and has said it elsewhere that basically the clintons should be judged on bill clinton , impeachment, his relationship with monika lewinsky. he causedham i a sexual predator . is the prospect of a hillary clinton candidacy, should that be judged on the record personal and otherwise of bill clinton , do you think?

>> well, i don't think bill clinton is as relevant as hillary clinton if hillary clinton decides to run for president. and in her case, i think of people will look at her record as the secretary of state and say during that period of time, did our relations with nations around the world elevate america and elevate our interests or were they receding. i think her record is what will be judged upon, not the records of her husband.

>> it's interesting that the republican party now on its website is really resurrecting the '90s and part of that message is keep the clintons out of the white house again. do you seep this as a pair and not just hillary clinton ?

>> i think hillary clinton , if she becomes a nominee will have plenty to discuss about her own record. i don't imagine that bill clinton is going to be a big part of it. that being said, the times when he was president were by and large positive economic times for the country. on the other hand, he embarrassed the nation. he breached his responsibility i think as an adult and as a leader in his relationship. and i think that's very unfortunate, but i don't think that's hillary clinton 's to explain. she has her own record, her own vision for where she would take the country. i think that's something which we debated extensively during the 2016 campaign.

>> what about mitt romney when the question was posed as "the new york times" reported it, january 19th it, romney asked if he would consider a third presidential run and the answer, are oh, no, no, no, no, i can't count all the noes. maybe you should be more definitive. is there something that might make you change your mind. reagan ran three times, didn't he?

>> you know, i'm not ronald reagan . that's been pointed out to me before. and i'm not running for president. we've got some very good people who are considering the race, and i'm looking forward to supporting someone who i think will have the best shot of defeating whoever it is the democrats put up.

>> i know you've said there's quite a stable of folks. but i want to go back to this documentary that was made but and your candidacy allowing rare access in, and you addressed this issue of what would happen if you lost, and i wonder, we'll take a look and i'll ask you about your impact on the debate going forward. watch this clip.

>> i get beaten up, that goes with the territory. have i looked to what happens to anybody who loses the general election . they become a loser for life, all right.

>> reporter: all right? it's over. mike dukakis can't get a job mowing lawns. we just brutalize whoever loses. i know that. i know that. and so i'm going in with my eyes open .

>> do you see yourself as a loser for life or rather do you think that you have a real impact on the future of the republican party ?

>> well, maybe i was exaggerating somewhat in that clip, but i think by and large, people who lose a presidential race are -- they step aside . in my case, he had the blessing of having a big family and i'm actually spending time with my kids and i enjoy that a great deal. i do also hope to continue to have an impact on the country and our way forward . i'm very concerned about america . for a lot of reasons. in -- i think on monday, it's the five-year anniversary of the president signing a stimulus bill that was supposed to get unemployment below 5%. and here we are with millions of people have dropped out of the employment system. we're finding is your selves less competitive globally. our deficits continue to be a real burden for the american people . these are things i care about. and just because i lost the presidential race doesn't mean i'm not going to keep fighting for the american people and for a future that's more prosperous than what we've sen over the last five years.

>> you saw usa hockey beat the russians yesterday. that's not the end of the story. do you think they'll win gold?

>> boy, i sure hope so and i think so. there's such heart and passion with our athletes there in sochi. i know we're not getting as many medals as i would have liked to have seen, but i have been very very proud of watching our athletes when shaun white , for instance, didn't get that medal, he showed a level of maturity and thoughtfulness and sportsmanship that i think was a model for people around the world . so yeah, go usa. i'm very excited to watch these hockey games .

>> well, said. governor romney, thanks so much for your views. always a pleasure to have you.

>> good to be with you. thanks, david.