Romney looking to fall campaign, but not yet to VP choice

Although he is inching closer to nailing down the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney says he won’t personally call on Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul to get out of the race. 

In an exclusive interview with HUMAN  EVENTS, Romney refused to join the suggestions of many of his supporters that it was time for his opponents to get out of the race.
“I can’t possibly be the judge of those dynamics,” he demurred. “I’m happy to let others say that, but, as a candidate, it would be presumptuous of me to do so.  The other candidates can do what they think is right.”

Romney also made its clear he’s now looking less at the nomination contest and more toward a fall campaign against Barack Obama.  Although the distinctions between the two are numerous, he said, the chief difference is that Obama “wants to make America more of an entitlement basin, with government having a more dominating role.  I want an opportunity society, one in which people can choose their own course and those who are poor can escape poverty because of a stronger economy.”

In addition, the former Massachusetts governor speaks warmly of his vision of closing or combining numerous government programs — hinting strongly that he would not mind if the national Republican platform referred to rolling back federal programs, as it did from 1980-2000.

In discussing his vision, Romney emphasized his desire to roll back what he called “too much overhead, too much spending and too much bureaucracy” in the federal government. He cited the example of workforce training duplication, with 47 related programs at the federal level and eight different federal agencies dealing with the same problem.  Romney’s plan for reform would send the money being spent on these programs to the states in the form of block grants, resulting in a much-simplified workforce training program.

Regarding education, Romney said he believes in an ongoing role for the federal government and voiced his view that the federal government must push back against federal teachers’ unions.  But, he quickly added, “the home of education is not at the federal level, but at the state and local levels.”

We reminded Romney that from 1980 until 2000, the national GOP platform contained clear-cut planks calling for abolishing such government agencies as the National Endowment for the Arts and several Cabinet-level departments (notably the Department of Education), but that references in the platform to shutting down parts of government were eliminated in 2000 at the insistence of advisers to presidential nominee George W. Bush.  Would Romney be open to his party’s platform once again calling for abolishing government agencies and departments?

“We’re getting down to semantics here,” he replied, “but my position, as I said, is for smaller government and if the platform reflects that, then as the nominee, I could hardly be opposed to it.”

Given his recent high-profile endorsement by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), we asked whether he had talked to the senator before the announcement, and whether Rubio was on his list of prospective running mates.  He said he had talked to Rubio in the past and talks to other members of Congress from time to time.

“But, no,”  he said, “I have not even begun to make a list of possible running mates or even to think about it.  That would be presumptuous, even for a ‘presumptive’ nominee.  But a lot of people are talking to me about a vice presidential nominee,” he concluded, “so I think that means they think I will be the nominee.”