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Ballot Bowl 2008: Live Election Coverage From Iowa
Aired January 01, 2008 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What was that? Well look at that. I think he liked that message about a strong military. Well, we also, we also have to be concerned about some specifics like what do we do about Iran? Iran wants to become a nuclear power.
We have to stand up to them. There is a way - there is a way, I believe, there is a chance to resolve this. But we have to rely on the lesson that I just talked about, about strength. If we want to resolve what's going on with Iran, the first thing we have to do is be clear about the following. We have to explain to Iran and to everyone, our allies, other nations, we have to explain to them, if I'm president of the United States it will be crystal clear we will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power. We will not allow it to happen. And we will take whatever action is necessary to stop them. We will not take the military option off the table. We will not beg to negotiate with them. We will make them beg to negotiate with us.
And I believe if America clearly delivers that statement of policy, not a threat but a statement of policy. I believe there's a much greater chance that the countries now that are not helping us with sanctions against Iran will help us. In other words, the best chance to avoid having to take military action is to be clear that under the necessary circumstances you will. Because what you will find out is that then we'll get the cooperation that we need and then will get their attention.
You remember back to the 1970's when we had Jimmy Carter in the White House. Don't these democrats remind you of Jimmy Carter? Don't they? OK. Jimmy Carter was in the White House, the Mullahs took over Iran. It became an Islamic state. All of a sudden they took American hostages. They held the American hostages for 444 days. They tortured them. They humiliated them. And they humiliated America. They released those hostages in one hour. After 444 days, they released the hostages in one hour and the one hour in which they did it was the one hour in which Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as president of the United States.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: You have been listening to Rudy Giuliani. Happy New Year. I'm Suzanne Malveaux in Des Moines, Iowa. CNN NEWSROOM is taking the day off. We're doing something different this morning, it is called "Ballot Bowl 2008" live all day from well, yes, frigid Iowa. CNN's version of the college bowl games for you, the political gourmet, if you will. The major candidates, they are live, raw and unfiltered. Today, you can be an Iowan yourself and watch all of it plus inside a sports pub called the Buzzard Billy. The candidates are calling the plays. The fans are grading their strategies.
The second hour of "Ballot Bowl 2008" beginning right now.
And it's a new year, a new president for the next six hours. You will hear the candidates in their own words. They will be talking about the economy, the war in Iraq, health care, immigration, abortion, all of the major issues. We are covering a dozen live events as they unfold during these hours. Guiding us across Iowa, the best political team on television - Bill Schneider, Jessica Yellin are here with me in Des Moines, Candy Crowley on the campaign trail as is Mary Snow and Dana Bash will be joining us from Cedar Rapids. John King is going to be looking ahead to the next battle ground state, the primary state of New Hampshire. He's going to be joining us from Concord. Now, Republican Mike Huckabee, a new CNN opinion research corporation poll showing him tied at the top of the GOP in Iowa and right now he is holding a live event, our CNN Dana Bash is in Cedar Rapids.
DANA BASH, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Suzanne. We are in Cedar Rapids. This is where Mike Huckabee is going to end his day. He's speaking right now in Sergeant Bluff on the western side of the state rather and here is what we're going to be listening for. We have been covering for the past 24 hours or so now, the stunning and really bizarre news conference that Mike Huckabee had yesterday where he said he was going to have a negative ad, his very first negative ad against Mitt Romney to match what had been increasingly hard rhetoric against Mitt Romney and then he had again, this bizarre press conference where he said he is not going to run the ad. He pulled the ads from Iowa TV stations and then he said let me just play it for you here.
So this event that he said was going to show that he really does want to have a positive campaign and he was going to stop the harsh rhetoric against Mitt Romney. And that is what we're going to be listening for in this very first event since that press conference to see how his rhetoric changed. You know, Suzanne that Mike Huckabee has really surged here in Iowa because of the fact that Iowa voters see him as somebody who is you authentic, somebody who is a nice guy and he has really risked that by going negative. So there in the last two days he's going to try to change that tone. In fact, let's listen to what he's saying right now to voters in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa?
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some people say that's not a very Republican message. Oh, I would disagree. I would say that Republicans have always been about trying to give the guy who is at the bottom a chance to reach the next rung of the ladder. It is about personal responsibility. It is about opportunity. It is about the things that made us a great country. And what made this a great country was when people could sit down at their kitchen table and sketch out an idea for their own business with a pencil and a paper napkin and say I can make this work. And they could actually start that business and end up making a living at it. Working for themselves and then hiring some people and hiring some more people and the small business became a larger business. Sometimes our party forgets that 80% of all of the jobs in this country come from small business people. People who just have a dream and an idea and a lot of hard work to make it happen. It's that kind of idea that we got to return to if we're going to be not just a strong party but more importantly a strong country.
And a strong country means several things. A strong country means we have the kind of military that nobody on the face of this earth would ever want to mess with. If I were president we wouldn't be talking about light footprints, we would talk about a serious capacity of military because that's what brings about peace is true strength, the kind of army, navy, air force, marine corps that when people who would be our potential enemy would look at us and say I don't want to mess with those guys. Some of you are old enough like me to remember the old Billy Jack movies of the early '70s where Billy Jack said I'll put this heel on that side of your face and there's not a thing you can do about it. Remember that?
You know, that's the kind of military that says this is what we are going to do if you attack us and there's nothing you can do to stop us. Incredible, overwhelming, irresistible force is exactly what we always need to be ready with. And that's not a matter of wanting to go to war. It's a matter of never wanting to have to use a force and the stronger the force the less likely it is that you have to actually engage it and use it. But if you do, make darn sure that you outline what your plan is. Announce what victory will look like. Unleash that irresistible force when you do and don't let the politicians interfere and interrupt the battlefield commands of those who have the blood on their boots and the medals on their chest. Let those guys do their job and give them every single thing they need.
Never send our armies into battle with the concept if we go to war with the army that we have not the one we want. Send them in with the attitude, we go to war only when we have the army we need and the army that can win. That's what makes America a strong, safe, peaceful nation and that ought to be our concept when it comes to protecting our borders and our sovereignty around the world.
I was telling last night, when I was speaking in Benton County, Arkansas, a Lincoln day dinner, and it was an event in 1998, I was governor, had been for a couple of years. Senator Sam Hutchinson, who is up here in Iowa, campaigning with me, the first-ever republican elected to the U.S. Senate in the history of our state. He was standing beside me, we were in a receiving line as people came into the dinner. Beside him was his brother Asa Hutchinson, who is a third district congressman at that time and later went on to be the DEA, a director and then assistant director for Homeland Security for President Bush. Next to him was Faye Boseman who was a state senator and a candidate for U.S. Senator and all of them were from northwest Arkansas. Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller was on the other side of him and we were standing in this receiving line. People were coming through shaking hands and talking to us.
So, as we were standing there talking one lady came up, she took me to that hand and I said, how are you and she said I'm just fine. It's nice to see you, Tim. And I said, no ma'am I'm not Tim. She said, oh, I'm sorry, you're Asa? I said, no, ma'am, I'm not Asa. She said are you Faye? I said no, ma'am. I'm not Faye. I said, in fact, I'm Mike Huckabee. I'm your governor. She didn't miss a beat. It didn't bother her. She just looked at me and said oh, that's all right all you politicians look alike to me. You know I'm afraid sometimes people think politicians may all look alike what's even sadder is when they think we are all alike, that we think alike. That we have the same ideas.
The same dreams, the same goals, even the same background as well as the same future. For some of you that may have not decided what you will do Thursday night and I hope to help you come away from here today from this pizza ranch with a commitment not only to go out and vote for me at the caucuses but I want you to go with a commitment and an essence, just a fervent spirit that says I will not only go, no matter what the weather, I will take people with me to vote for Mike Huckabee and that's what I'm asking you to do today. And I want to share with you why.
First of all, because of the process issues that I think really are important. By that I mean, what does really make for the election of a president? And if it is nothing more than about whoever raises the most money ought to be president then let's stop this nonsense of getting out on New Year's morning at 9:00 in the morning when it's 3500 degrees below zero and a stiff wind. You say it's not that cold. Well, it feels like it to me. Let's stop all of this and just put the presidency up on eBay and whoever becomes the highest bidder can become president. I mean, we're almost getting to that point. One of the things I respected is the people of Iowa are not for sale. They are not even for rent. And I believe it would be a magnificent story to the rest of the country to say the reason that a candidate for president ought to have to come through Iowa is because you have to convince these people face to face. They are not suckers. They are not easily swayed. They are not star struck because somebody is running for president. Boy, have I ever found that out.
My friend Lamar Alexander who ran for president was in New Hampshire, another state that has a similar tradition. He went into a diner in Manchester. He walk up and introduced himself to a lady who was sitting at the counter sipping coffee, and smoking a cigarette. He said, hi, I'm Lamar Alexander. I'm running for president. She turned over to him, blew the smoke in his face and said great, just what we need, some other guy running for president. I'm sure sometimes you may feel the same way in Iowa but you realize you have an incredibly, amazingly important role to play in the process. Now that role would be enhanced if you decided that you vote for somebody because you believed that that person embodied what you believed.
Because after all when you elect a president, what you really elect is somebody that when he is coming into your living rooms for the next four to eight years, you look at him, you listen to him, and you believe he's telling you the truth. The people of Iowa have a right to know the truth. The people of America have a right to know the truth. They need to know if we're at war why. They need to know how we're going to win it. They need to know if our borders are broken - why are they broken? Why is it our government hasn't done one thing to fix those borders in over 20 years and who is going to fix it and how and when? You have a right to know that. That's why I put out a very extensive plan that talks about we'll secure our borders, we'll end amnesty, sanctuary cities.
We'll have a very limited window of time, people will have to go to the back of the line to their home country and start over. It's for everybody's benefit. Nobody resents that people want to come here. We get on our knees every night. I hope we thank god we're in a country that people are trying to break into, not one that they're trying to break out of. This is a great country. But every person living here should live here the right way, the legal way. And come through the front door not slip in the back. And that's not just for our sake it's for their sake so they don't live in the shadows and live in hiding and live in fear. I want people when they see a police car to think that's my friend, not I better run and hide because he may be coming for me. By the way, there's a police car outside. Does that make anybody nervous? We got to fix that.
We also need to recognize that there's a $9 trillion debt on your grandchildren because we got a Congress who hasn't understood how to control its spending addiction and the result of that is that some of us who are my age may not see the real impact but the people my children's age are going to feel the impact. We have to stop just spending money and putting the debt on our children and on our grandchildren because our programs like social security won't survive another generation if we don't start acting responsibly.
I was a governor for 10 1/2 years. I balanced the budget every single year. I had to. That was the way we work because at state level you can't print money and you can't borrow money. But you take in is all you can spend. And sometimes it means you make tough decisions and cut the budget. Sometimes it means that if you want something like a new road system you have to pay for it and you ask the people to pay for it. In our state, we needed a new road system. We had one that was claimed to be the worst in the country. I went to our voters and I said, you know, it's embarrassing and it's not safe. People are getting killed on our roads every year. Your car repair bills are between $300 and $400 higher because of the road damage just under your cars. Everyone agreed. 80% of the people went to the ballot, voted on a bond program to fix it. 80% and we fixed our roads and within five years the truckers magazine that said we had the worst roads said we had the best in the country and the most improved. I was proud of that as a governor.
I'm glad that when we faced crisis in education I just didn't put it on the next generation. I didn't leave my state in debt I took a $200 million deficit and turned it into an $850 million surplus. That's what governors are supposed to do. It's what president and Congress is supposed to do but they've not been doing it. It's time we get people into office who don't live in the bubble world of Washington but who have lived in the real world where they have to make things work and whether it's a budget or whether it's education, which is what we did in our state taking a system that was always like 49th in the country and taking it so that the (inaudible) foundation, a very conservative think tank said we did more to reform education in our state in five years than had been done in the previous 50.
We also made it so that parents who wanted to take a different direction for their children, whether it was home school or parochial school or private school were empowered to make those options because after all the decision about where your kids go to school is a mother and dad deal not an Uncle Sam deal. It's not something that the government should decide for you, you ought to decide and announce to the government.
MALVEAUX: Standing by.
HUCKABEE: Another thing you will find -
MALVEAUX: Well, almost.
HUCKABEE: If you don't want a president who is committed to making the sanctity of life not just a talked about platform but something we finally do something about, maybe somebody else will be your guy. But if you want someone who believes that this is an important issue that helps define who we are as a culture and as a civilization, who believes that the sanctity of life is a defining issue for what kind of people we're going to be and looked at even by history. Then, I want you to know I'm committed not just in talking about it but doing for the nation what I did for my state and that's trying to move us to the place where we have respect for every single human life in the womb and outside the womb because we believe that the intrinsic worth and value of every life is critical, valuable and should not be compromised and should not be negotiated. That's not a political position for me. That is a position of principal that I will not recant on because I think it says more about our civilization than anything else does.
MALVEAUX: You've been watching former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee live from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, far on the western side of the state. We are here in Des Moines. That is where some die-hard Iowans are with me now, braving this very cold weather, 10-degree weather as a matter of fact. This is the CNN "Ballot Bowl" with the presidential candidates. We are talking live, raw and unfiltered.
Coming up Mitt Romney visits the Herman family home outside Des Moines. We'll be live in their living room. And Hillary Clinton makes a play for votes in Ames, Iowa. Also the day's headlines from CNN's Kyra Phillips. You're watching CNN's "Ballot Bowl 2008" from the best political team on television.
MALVEAUX: I'm Suzanne Malveaux with the CNN election express in Des Moines, Iowa. Just two days to go until the Iowa caucuses. More of the CNN's "Ballot Bowl" coming up. Candidates in their own words. A quick check of the day's top stories. Kyra Phillips is standing by at the CNN center in Atlanta. Happy New Year, Kyra.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN, ANCHOR: Happy New Year, my friend. Well, let's start off by talking about the unrest and uncertainty for a key U.S. ally. We're talking about Pakistan's election Commission saying it would be impossible to go ahead with voting on January 8th, too much turmoil after Benazir Bhutto's assassination, it says. An announcement on a new election day is expected tomorrow. And Pakistan's interior minister is backing off its claims that Bhutto died because she hit her head on the sun roof. The ministry is now waiting for more forensics findings.
New violence erupts in the streets of Kenya, happening after the country's highly contested election. In one community, an angry mob set fire to a church where hundreds of people had sought shelter. At least, 15 people burned to death there. Getting ready for a winter blast, the northeast is bracing for another round of snow. Parts of New Hampshire already had about a foot on the ground and the region could get nine more inches today. Jackie Jeras is watching the west coast, the Santa Ana winds, the fire threat there. Boy, California doesn't need more of that.
JACQUI JERAS: Yes, they certainly don't. The good news is that today is the last day, I think, they'll be dealing with the really strong off shore flow and a high threat with the fire danger in Southern California. Also, in the southern parts of Arizona, the winds have been so strong last evening and overnight, we've been seeing gusts in the 60 to 80 mile-per-hour range. The high wind warnings here for Riverside and San Bernardino counties should be expiring at 10:00 local time and we just turn into wind advisories. So, we're going to calm down to maybe the 20 to 40 mile-per-hour range. We're going to kick up to the 20 to 40 mile-per-hour range in the southeast behind our strong cold front that's moving through. That's part of the same weather maker that's bringing snow into the northeast. Freeze warnings and wind chill watches in effect for Thursday morning in south Florida but that's nothing compared to Iowa standards there, Kyra, where Suzanne is dealing with a wind chill index of 8 below.
PHILLIPS: Doesn't she look good in that blue hat. She's got her big coat with her blue hat. She is striking out there. She makes cold look good.
JERAS: I know, but I tell you, you do start to get numb on your face and makes it hard to talk after a while.
PHILLIPS: Let me ask her about that. Let's get back to Suzanne Malveaux and the "Ballot Bowl 2008." Is that true, Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: You are too kind. I'm trying to talk. Yes, it is eight below with that wind chill factor so it's a little rough out here but we're having a good time. Thanks once again. CNN NEWSROOM is back tomorrow. Today, "Ballot Bowl 2008," the presidential candidates you will see them live, raw and unfiltered.
Coming up, we'll go live to the Harmon family living room in (inaudible) Iowa, that is where former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will be speaking to a group of Iowa voters. And then Hillary Clinton makes a play for votes in Ames, Iowa. We will take a look ahead in the New Hampshire primary one week from today. Our John King is with Senator John McCain there. You're watching CNN's "Ballot Bowl 2008" from the best political team on television.
MALVEAUX: We have a new poll this morning coming out that shows the Iowa race is too close to call. Our CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider joining us from nearby Iowa watering hole to break down all those numbers for us. Bill, I noticed you got a couple, I guess, voters back there behind you. Some fans of Richardson and McCain?
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, Suzanne. I'm here at Buzzard Billy's Flying Cafe, a fine establishment in downtown Des Moines. We got a lot of supporters here for Bill Richardson and John McCain. Now who says republicans and democrats can't work things out together. In fact, they have something in common. Both candidates, Richardson and McCain are running fourth in the new CNN poll. What are the polls standings? Who is running first, second and third? Well, take a look at the republican race. It's an eight-point lead for Mike Huckabee. Just two weeks, it turned into a dead heat between Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in that race. Romney has picked up some support. The economy is on the minds of the republican voters. And he leads the rest of the field when voters are asked who do you think can best manage the economy.
On the democratic side, what had been a three-way tie two weeks ago between Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and John Edwards has turned into a two-way tie between Obama and Clinton. Edwards has fallen behind. And as I said, Richardson is now coming in fourth. So it's now neck and neck, a tight race, two tight races here in the Iowa caucuses. Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Bill. We'll be checking back in with you a little bit later. Now, we want to go Senator Hillary Clinton who spoke in Dubuque, Iowa over the weekend. She took some time to respond to recent comments by Barack Obama. Obama questioned whether her foreign policy experience was much more than having tea while she was the first lady.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was so honored to be able to travel around the world representing our country. You know, going to places that often times were, you know, not necessarily a place that a president could go. We used to say in the White House that if a place was too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the first lady.
So, I had the time of my life. I was the first, you know, high- profile American to go into Bosnia after the peace accords were signed because we wanted to show that the United States was 100 percent behind the agreement. We wanted to make it clear to the Bosnians of all backgrounds. Plus we wanted to thank our American military and our allies for a great job.
So, we landed in one of those corkscrew landings and ran out because they said there might be sniper fire. I don't remember anybody offering me tea on the tarmac. We got there and went to the base where our soldiers were and I went out to a lot of the forward operating bases to thank our young men and women in uniform and to thank the Europeans, including the Russians who were part of that effort.
Remember going to Macedonia in 1999 during the American bombing campaign against Serbia because as you know, they were trying to ethnically cleanse the Kosovars. And we had a problem. The Kosovars were fleeing, understandably so. And they rushed over the border into Macedonia and they were in these refugee camps. And the Macedonian government understandably was worried about being overrun by refugees, so they closed their border.
I was asked to go and to negotiate and ask the Macedonian government to reopen the border. I went to the refugee camps and I met with the government officials. And in so many parts of the world, it is imperative that the United States represent our values, what we stand for.
That's why I was so pleased to be part of the northern Ireland peace process. I went to northern Ireland actually more than my husband did. I think I was probably was responsible for the large meeting we had in the town hall in Belfast bringing Protestants and Catholics together. I'll never forget it. It was in a big room like this and people were on one side or the other. We started a conversation. Pretty soon, you know, one woman would say, you know, I worry every time my husband leaves for work. Another woman across the table would say, I worry every time my son goes out at night.
And they looked at each other and all of a sudden they weren't on some sectarian divide, they were mothers, they were wives, they were finding that they had actually some common concern -- building towards peace, bringing people together, trying to take on conflicts, creating a higher level of hope and aspiration across the world again.
When I went to Beijing in 1995 and said that women's rights were human rights, I was saying that not only because that's what we believe in America, but because it's in America's interests that we have more countries that actually give rights to women. Because where a country does that, we are less likely to have problems because of differences in values.
When I became a senator, there were those who said well, you know, she will never work with Republicans and Republicans will never work with her. Again, they didn't know why I'm in public service. I'm in public service to try to solve problems, to try to alleviate suffering, to try to help people make the most of their own lives. So, immediately I began to work with Republicans. That was my job.
I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground. And as I worked we began to find that common ground. So that I found myself working with a Republican senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham because we both saw a similar problem in our states. Our National Guard and reserve members who were being called up to active duty were being diagnosed when they were given medical exams with all kinds of untreated problems.
Why? Because 20 percent of them had no health insurance in their civilian jobs. So we introduced legislation. Pentagon didn't want it. The president threatened to veto it, but we didn't care because it was the right thing to do. And we passed it. And now every National Guard and reserve member and their family has access to health care. They are entitled to it and should have it. MALVEAUX: Coming up on CNN's Ballot Bowl, Mitt Romney here in Iowa. He's just arrived at the Hermanns house in Ankeny. We'll go live to the Hermanns living room. That is up next as the CNN Ballot Bowl continues.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to the CNN Ballot Bowl. I'm John King reporting live from Concord, New Hampshire, the capital of the Granite State. New Hampshire holds the first presidential primary one week from today. Iowa of course kicks off the process in just two hours. We're just 48 hours away, plus a few hours for the evening time caucuses in the great state of Iowa. Most of the candidates out in Iowa today.
John McCain the only candidate campaigning here in the Granite State today. We'll bring you some of Senator McCain's campaign events live. He's in a very close race here with the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on the Republican side.
A very close race as well on the Democratic side here in New Hampshire. Again though, as you take a break maybe from the parading, you take a break from football today to watch our raw coverage of the candidates, we're showing you live speeches, also some taped speeches as they have campaigned in Iowa and New Hampshire and across the country these past several months. At the moment, Mitt Romney the former governor of Massachusetts in a very close race in Iowa with the former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. He's in the living of the Hermanns in Ankeny, Iowa. One of the unique parts about this process in Iowa and New Hampshire, these very small, intimate gatherings of the candidates. Let's check in with Governor Romney now in Iowa.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're competing with an entirely new array of competitors where the folks are numerous hard-working and not very well paid. There are other challenges in education, a new challenge there where our schools are no longer being measured just relative to other schools in the country but also how we stack up with schools around the world.
And it's incredibly important for us to lift our schools so we can be more competitive. I'm proud of my state that I went to work to make sure that we can have school choice and protect school choice in our state. We raised standards and made sure that our kids that did well got something known as the Adams scholarship. The top quarter of our high school graduates, we gave the Adams scholarship to them, which is four years tuition free at our state university or state colleges.
We also fought to make sure that our kids were taught in English. It used to be in our state we had bilingual education. Kids were taught in languages other than English, through school. We said no way. We want you to get immersed in English because to be successful in America, you need to speak the language of America.
And so these are new challenges. The challenge of health care -- 47 million people without health insurance. It's not good for them, it's not good for you. It's not good for them, of course, because if they get sick they don't have a primary care physician to care for them. They have to go to the hospital to get care. It's not good for you because guess who is paying for it if they don have insurance? You are.
And so we need to find a way to get everybody insured but not with government insurance, but instead with private free market insurance. Not with socialized medicine, not with Hillary care. That's not the right course for this nation.
There are other challenges. What was that? OK. The list of challenges goes on and on. One of them is immigration. We have a great heritage in this country of legal immigration. And it's a welcoming thing to bring folks in from all over the world who speak different languages with different cultures and education and skills that can contribute to the American experience.
But it's also important to protect legal immigration and to stop illegal immigration. And that is something I can do. So we face a whole series of challenges at a time when the world is going through enormous change. I think you're going see more change in the next 10 years than you have seen in the last 10 centuries.
And so in a time of change, in an election about the future and election about serious things, I think it's important to have somebody who knows something about change, who has lived in the private sector, who knows why jobs come and why they go, who has traveled in the world to understand how we compete with other nations. And I will fight to strengthen America, to make that our future bright and prosperous for our kids and for their kids, just like your dad said.
I'm not totally worried about me and how I'm doing and how my wife and I are going to do in our next few years. I'm much more concerned about my kids and what their future is like and their kids. And I remember I was at a dinner in New York with a fellow with a fellow named Ed Risilka (ph) and he said to me, you know what concerns me about America is that politics has become a profession, not a duty.
And for me politics is a duty. I didn't spend my life in politics. I spent my life in the private sector, 25 years in business. First helping companies make or break decisions. I was a consultant, actually worked in Marshalltown, Iowa at Fisher Controls. And got some good learning there. I must admit I was happy to go back to Marshalltown and see they were still there. My advice wasn't so bad that it put them out of business.
Then I had a chance to help start a business of my own. And that plus my consulting assignments before took me to about 20 countries around the world to do business. Then I went to the Olympics and they were in trouble and together with a great team of people, we turned those games around and made them a great success. Most successful games in some respects of any Olympic winter games in history.
Then I went to Massachusetts. It's not easy being the Republican governor in the most Democratic state in America. But we were able to do good things together. Republicans and Democrats came together to get the job done. We balanced our budget every year. We didn't raise taxes. And we found a way not just to talk about health care, but to actually solve one of the critical problems in health care, which was we got every citizen on our state on track to have free market private insurance. All those that were uninsured and since I signed that bill a year and a half ago, 300,000 more people in my state are insured.
So I'm sort of looking forward to talking to the other candidates about this. They all talk about their health care ideas, their health care plans. I've actually done it and I'm the only candidate Republican or Democrat that can show I got the job done and did it in a setting where there are Republicans and Democrats.
I heard the news last night you may have seen that some people are speculating that Mayor Bloomberg may get in and run for president. He's a great guy. And, you know, wish him well, come on in. The water is fine.
But I did think that the commentator I was speaking with said there are a lot of people out there that are concerned about the two parties and about the battling between the two parties and how ineffective they have been in getting the job done. And there is a lot of truth to that. Ann says that watching Washington - Ann is my wife - watching Washington is like watching two guys in a canoe on a fast-moving river headed towards the waterfall and instead of paddling, they are arguing. And if that keeps up, we're in real trouble because the waterfall is coming. Now I think we can get the guys to put the paddles in the water and to start moving together.
That is something I was able to accomplish. We were able to reach out. Did we battle on politics? Of course. But did we get the job done in balancing our budget without raising taxes? Yes. Did we lower taxes in key places? Yes. Did we improve education? Yes. Massachusetts is now ranked at the top of the nation in the annual exams of the semi annual exams, our kids score at the very top.
Did we get health care for all of our citizens? Yes. We put that in place. So I'm convinced that by working with people across the aisle and by coming in not as a life-long politician but as someone who spent his life in the private sector, I can help get this nation back on the kind of track it deserves to be on for our kids and our grandkids.
Now I'll tell you one more thing that gives me confidence and optimism in the future and that is the people I see across the country. I really wish you had the chance that we had this year to go across America and to go across Iowa and see the people in this state and other states. We are a remarkable people as a nation. It's what makes America the nation we are. It's not just our land, and the beauty of the mountains and the fruited plains. It is the heart of our people.
The American people with heartland values, you call them heartland values here. In Michigan, they call them Midwestern values. That's where I grew up. In New Hampshire and Massachusetts, they call them Yankee values. When I was down in Memphis, Tennessee they printed out a T-shirt for me that said Yankee governor, southern values. And these are American values you will see all over. And they are a respect for hard work, a love of opportunity.
Americans love opportunity more than ease and dependence. We came here either as immigrants ourselves or descendants of immigrants largely for opportunities. And so we're a nation that loves opportunity. We're a nation that is family-oriented. We love our kids. We're willing to sacrifice for future generations more than we're willing to sacrifice just for our own happiness, we want to make sure they have a bright future.
We're a god-fearing people. We believe in God. We believe in something greater than ourselves even if we don't believe in God. And we're a patriotic people. I'm convinced wherever I go the love of this country runs very deep in the veins of the American people. I've seen that throughout my life. I'll stop here, but I want to mention one or two things.
KING: You have been listening to the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney. He's in the Hermann residence in Ankeny, Iowa campaigning for president just two days away from the lead-off caucuses there in the state of Iowa. I'm John King reporting live from Concord, New Hampshire, the capital of the Granite State which holds the first presidential primary one week from today.
You may hear the seasonal carols from the church bells just up the street. It is a beautiful New Year's Day here in New Hampshire. You heard Governor Romney there in the Hermann residence. A very positive, upbeat message talking about his career, turning the Olympics around, his career in private business and his one term as Massachusetts governor.
He mentioned his health care plan. Worth noting a story in the "Boston Globe" just today discussing that health care plan. It is a plan under which if you can afford health insurance and you do not buy it in the state of Massachusetts, you can be fined. You can pay a penalty. The "Globe" story noting that penalty goes up next year, the new year beginning this year to $900 a year compared to $220 in 2007.
That's been part of Governor Romney's pitch that he worked with the Democrats in Massachusetts to enact health care. Many Democrats don't like the plan. They say it doesn't go far enough. Many Republicans say it has too big of a role of the government. That is one of the debates tracking Governor Romney as he competes in Iowa and then moves on here to New Hampshire. Spending the past few days with the governor running around Iowa in the final days of campaigning has been CNN's Mary Snow. Mary, a very upbeat message there from Governor Romney. His rivals of course would say he is the candidate who has spent millions on those attack mailing, millions on those attack television ads. But clearly a much more positive message as the people of Iowa prepare to vote just two days from now. Take us through the rest of the governor's day and his closing message, if you will?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well John, he's taking that message to homes like the Hermanns that we just saw. About a half- dozen of these house parties. The Hermanns told us before this that they were expecting about 40 people with half of them undecided. So Mitt Romney, obviously, trying to sway those undecideds. He mentioned that positive tone that he is stressing in these final few days. Also hitting the air waves with a new ad today as he canvasses the state. John?
KING: Mary Snow outside of the Hermann residence in Ankeny, Iowa. Mary, enjoy those house parties as you continue your travels.
And remember, you're watching the CNN Ballot Bowl throughout the day. We're trying to give you raw, unfiltered access to the candidates for president, both Democrats and Republicans so you can hear more than just the sounds bites. Some of their policy ideas, some of how they discuss themselves personally and how they interact with voters in the lead-off state of Iowa, the lead off state of New Hampshire here as well.
Coming up we'll take you to see Senator Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner on the Democratic side. She's campaigning in Ames, Iowa. A very, close tight race in Iowa as well. You will also hear from Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, one of the longer shots in the Democratic field, trying to break through in the great state of Iowa. A news update, the latest of today's other news coming up just after the break as well. Stay with us. Remember, you're watching the CNN Ballot Bowl.
KING: Welcome back to the CNN Ballot Bowl. I'm John King reporting live from Concord, New Hampshire. You see the beautiful New Hampshire state capital behind me, built in 1816. The primary here in the state of New Hampshire, the first presidential primary, is one week from today. The lead-off caucuses just 48 hours away in the state of Iowa.
All day long, we're showing you the candidates, Democrat and Republican for president, unfiltered, so you get more than the sound bites. You will see them in living rooms, small events in Iowa, in New Hampshire, where they get to interact with voters in these very retail-politic states. One of the debates happening now as the votes get closer is more and more candidates being excluded from the debates.
There are debates here this weekend in New Hampshire and the sponsor of this debate saying those who will be invited all depending on how they stands in the polls and how they fare in the results in Iowa on Tuesday.
So one of the candidates with a lot at stake, one of the longer shot Democrats is Senator Joseph Bidden. He is a Democrat of Delaware. He ran unsuccessfully for the presidential nomination of his party back in 1988. He is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And even though like the other Democrats, he frequently says he would bring a quick end to the war in Iraq, he has chastised some of the other candidates for shying away in his view from a more muscular foreign policy by not saying that the United States must leave force on the table as an option in foreign policy.
We'll listen to some taped presentation by Senator Biden here. Again this is in Independence, Iowa campaign recently. We'll also hear live from Senator Biden later in the day. Again, Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware.
SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Violent crime was down every single year for eight years, 8.5 percent per year. The administration eliminated the crime bill and what happened? Violent crime in your state and every other state has risen, every other state.
Why didn't Democrats want to do it? They didn't want to offend the left or the right because you had to go in and bang some heads to get it done. And I am listed every single year as one of the four most dedicated people to civil liberties in the United States Senate. Myself and Patrick Leahy are always the two and they add others. Feingold is now one of them and others.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are pragmatic solutions. Why don't Democrats try to do it? The reason they don't is because they make interest groups mad if they try to do it. When I introduced the crime bill, every liberal grouping, I'm listed as the fourth most liberal senator for the last 35 years. Every liberal group said whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. And every conservative group said all this money spending on prevention, oh, it's a waste of time.
But I got it done. While others talked about the carnage and literally, literally the genocide going on in Bosnia, I convinced the president of the United States to act. I got on a plane and I few to meet with Milosevic in Belgrade, Serbia. And I sat across the table not much wider than this in his own office. He was a PhD and spoke perfect English. He looked at me and said senator, what do you think of me? And I said I think you are a dam war criminal and I'm going to spend the rest of my life seeing you're tried as one.
And he let the world know I said that to him, thinking it would be inappropriate for a senator to say that to a head of state. He was a damn war criminal. And I did spend the remainder of my career seeing that he was in fact prosecuted.
But, ladies and gentlemen, all I can think sitting there at that table was about my father. My father was an elegant man who was high school educated, a decent, honorable man. Our dinner table was a place where you sat down and had conversations and incidentally eat, rather than eat and incidentally have a conversation. My dad used to rail against the fact that in 1932 and '34 and '37, world leaders treated Hitler with respect and I was determined I would not do that.
Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, while others talked about what we're going to do in Iran, I flew to Iraq. I came with a plan. So folks, it's not just about experience. You need experience. It's not just about change. No one has instituted more changes than the Democratic Party in the last 20 years than me.
But it's about action. It's about dealing with the problems we face. And there's a way to do it. It's within our rail houses my brother would say. Folks, look, I have an opportunity to fly across your state quite frequently, and I've flown from Mississippi to Missouri and from Minnesota to down to Missouri so many times. And sometimes when you fly over this incredible state and it is an incredible state, it really is. You sit there in this little twin engine plane that we rent and you sit there about three to four, five, six thousand feet and on a crystal clear night you look down and you see the tiny pinpoints of light.
And literally without fail as I look out that little portal, I wonder what are they talking about in that home I can see? Just 9:30, 10:00 at night they, just put their kids to bed. What are they talking about? Are they talking about the same things that they talk about in my neighborhood where I was raised? I think they are. I think they're talking about things like what are we going to do that dad has passed away now? Can mom maintain the house by herself? Can we afford to have her move in? Do we put Johnny and Billy in the same room? And what do we do about? What do we do?
They're sitting there knowing they just put their bed, who is 14-years-old and wonder, is it safe to let her be on the Internet? There is so much pornography and so many predators on the Internet. Is it safe? And by the way, Mary just got invited to the junior prom. He seems like a nice kid, but I understand he uses drugs. He smokes a lot of marijuana and there's talk about meth. What do we do about it? How do we keep him away from that?
We're just simply like this morning, you have $75 to fill your gas tank? Do you have $75 to fill your gas tank? And by the way Charlie, did you get that weather stripping? I know you did it last year, but we need it more this year because the cost is going up so much. And how in god's name do we get Billy to the University of Iowa? How do we do that? And the word is the company made me leave it. We're going to lose our insurance. That's what people where I come from talk about.
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