Romney says bin Laden “deluded”

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spoke early this morning in Cherokee, Iowa.  After his "Ask Mitt Anything" event, he answered a few questions from reporters.

Henderson:  "In your remarks, you talked about Osama bin Laden being delusional.  Could you expand on that?"

Romney: "Oh, I think his comments as a radical jihadist and the idea of people converting to Islam under the threat of coersion — these kinds of principles are not in line with, if you will, rational thought, in my view.  I think the whole radical jihadist movement is extraordinarily misguided and evil and is a form of delusion, but I believe that the people of the world recognize that.  I think when he makes tapes like this it hurts his effort.  It doesn’t help it and I was in some respects thankful that he reminded the people of the world what the face of evil looks like, that his message of conversion through coersion — striking at the foundations of civilization through terror, that that message needs to be heard from time to time because there is this global effort of people who wish to bring down all civilization and destroy life and categorize people based on their faith and this is something which is a very frightening but very real threat."

Later, as Romney was walking away, I asked him where he had seen the video. He said he had seen it on the television in his hotel room (he overnighted in Cherokee). I mistakenly referenced the video as the "Obama" video, however, which was pointed out to me by one of Romney’s staff as the group walked away.  Oops.  Laughter from the small cluster of reporters drew Romney to turn back around and add, "When you were asking it, I thought what Obama tape?"  More laughter.  I was urged to blog about my error by campaign staff (you know who you are, Tim Albrecht).  There.  I have done it

UPDATED:  Romney’s "Ask Mitt Anything" event in Cherokee is blogged below.

Rommey began promptly at 8:30 a.m. here in Cherokee, Iowa, on this crisp fall Saturday morning. He mentioned going for a run, then told a story about his dad running for governor of Michigan.  Next up, his story about his first view of Iowa corn fields, then he talked about running the Salt Lake City Olympics.

"I’m going on with all these stories," Romney said.  "I’ll get to politics in a moment."

Romney then briefly mentioned the Osama bin Laden tape released yesterday, telling the crowd it is "almost incomprehnsible" that someone could be so "deluded."

Now, he’s launching into his stump speech, talking about taxes.  "Of course I said I want to kill the death tax once and for all," Romney said.  No applause.  He quickly launches into a discussion of the tax plan he highlighted yesterday.

"People ought to be able to save without being taxed on their savings," Romney said.  The crowd applauded that.

Mentions campaigning in the town of Nevada, Iowa (he pronounces it correctly).  Then, Romney ridiculed Edwards’ tax plan and plan to stimulate savings.  "Whoop de doo" (Romney said of Edwards’s savings plan).

Now onto energy independence. "Get us off of foreign oil and keep our taxes down," Romney said.

Now, on to strengthening families.

"A deciions by a district court that said same-sex marriage is going to be allowed here in Iowa…There is in my view an attack on the family and the marriage structure which is not about adult rights, it’s about the nuturing of children…Since the beginning of time, ideal place to raise a child is in a place where there’s a mom and a adad…The courts are simply wrong on this as they abandon the will of the people…This is not about benefits….this is instead a question about the structure and the foundation of American society…and every child deserves a mom and a dad in their life." Crowd applauds.

Crowd claps louder when Romney talks about ensuring "kids" get married before having babies. 

"There is something very special about the heart of the American people," Romney said, a cue he’s near the end of his remarks. "As of last Tuesday, between Iowa and New Hampshire I had 462 events."

"I want to say thanks to the Gideons.  They put a good book in every hotel.  It puts me right to sleep," he says.  The crowd laughs and applauds.

"We are and always will be the hope of the earth," Romney says.

On to questions from the audience now, followed by my shorthand of Romney’s answers.

What would you do with Iran today?  Tighten sanctions hard — and I want to get nations like Saudi Arabia to work with China and other nations….I want to indict Iran’s president for inciting genocide…
Market directly to the people.  They have 75,000 bloggers in Iran.  I want to communicate with them that beocming a nuclear nation is not a source of pride, it’s a source of peril…They need to pull back their nuclear ambition…We want to communicate to the Iranians that the military option is not just on the table, it’s in our hand.

When you become president, is the US going to take a more proactive stance in preventing global warming? The answer is yes.  There’s nothing more powerful we can do than become energy independent…What are we going to do on a global basis? They don’t call it America warming.  They call it global warming, therefore I want to have all the nations involved in caps on CO2 emissions….If they are going to be caps, they really ought to be global.

Questioner mentions something Chuck Schumer said in Senate about the surge…what will Romney do?  There has been a rush to judgment on the surge which Americans have to shake their heads at….It’s absolutely extraordinary….Some of these guys are so anxious to declare defeat that they’re not willing to look at the data….without listening to General Petraeus….I hope that we’re all pulling in the same direction…I believe that Democrats love America, too, but gosh, some of them say things that are discouraging and disgraceful…Romney talks about surge of support for families of soldiers again. There is applause from crowd to that.

If you are elected president, what are the first three things you would do? One, build the best team in the world….probably first thing you do is get on your knees and say, "help." …then the team…people who make their decsions based on data not politics…Two: you probably meet with leaders of the opposition party.  Let’s put aside the score-setting and the arguing and the debating because we’re got four years to do reat things…they keep on bashing the president…You win or you lose together…Let’s stand united.  Applause from the crowd.  Romney goes on to other goals…estalish great relationships with friends around the world.
China — build a partnership relationship rather than an ememy relationship. I want to make sure that we get health care for all of our citizens. Applause from the crowd.  Put in place a strategy to win the fight against radical jidhad; improve schools; achieve energy independence. I can’t do it in three, but the good news is this — it’s not one person running the country….and we can as a nation deal with the challenges we face."

How will you qualify your cabinet members and what will be the consequences of mismangment and bad behavior? I grew up in the private sector — and if someone really messes up — you’d say go work somewhere else.  You’d fire ’em. This sub-prime mortgage crisis….How did that happen.  It turns out there’s an agency in the federal govt that is to warn people….they didn’t do their job so what’s going to happen to those leaders?  Congress wil say they need more money.  That’s not the right answer.  They should get fired…and I want to see some of these folks out of the way…That’s a standard I would certainly apply to my own cabinet members. It’s understandable when we see somebone have a personal failing…the Bible tells us to forgive, but if somebody becomes a leader of this country and holds themselves out as an example to the rest of the nation, they represent the institution, the country to the world and to our kids and if people of that nature fall in a public way, they ought to get out of the job.
You want people who are really bright, smarter than me, people who love debate. No "yes" people. I’m less concerned about their party affiliation that whether they love their country. I know there are some good Democrats out there. Quoting Reagan again: It’s not that all liberals are ignorant– it’s just that what they know is wrong. Laughter from the crowd. I’m going to get good conservatives. Judges who follow the law and don’t make it up.

Quesitoner says his is an issue that most candidates avoid:  NY and MA have some of the most onerous gun laws in the country, denying gun owners their 2nd amendment rights.  Under President Romney are we going to go back to the original meaning of the constitution? I’m certainly going to defend the constitution. I’m not looking for new laws in that regard. I had support of NRA when I was running for governor. Do we see eye to eye on every single issue?  We had some bills in our state that we worked together on…and we were able to reduce the licensing and restrictions on gun owners.

What do you plan on doing with NAFTA? What about those truckers from Mexico crossing the order? For the last 20 years, I have listened to presidedntial candidates say we need to reduce size of our fed govt.  Will you do it? First of all, we’re not going to build some superhighway into the US. We’re going to end illegal immigration.  I was in San Diego about two weeks ago where there’s a double fence.  Border patrol agents. How mamy people try to make it across….90 per day.  Catch about 40.  About 50 make it through.  99 percent are coming over for work.  But one percent are coming over here for the drug trade. We don’t know who’s who. You just had a ring of that broken here in Iowa recently. How are we going to stop it?  Turn off the magnents.  Stop employers who knowingly hire illegals. Applause from crowd. No more sanctuary cities. More appause. Number three — for those already here illegally — some Rebublican candidates say they all ought to be able to stay unless they’ve commited a crime.  Those 12 million should get in line with everybody else.  No special pathway. Now, on shrinking size of govt. I will fight to do the same thing in Washington as I did in Massachusetts.  Hold down on spending. Limit spending on non-military at inflation less one percent. I like vetoes.

There are just waay too many drop-outs and too many unpaid teachers….there’s just such discouragement…How do you fix education?  (I had to log off momentarily and picked up answer two minutes in.) I want to say to parents before you can send your child to school, you must complete a parental preparation class.  Applause.

"I’m told that you guys have got to get back to work.  I’ve got to move on to the next corner of the state. I want to underscore how important what we’re talking about is…I need your help when the caucuses come and I need it now. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.