Romney’s top spokeswoman talks to FOX31 about Libya, polls

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DENVER — At the end of a tough week for Mitt Romney’s campaign, FOX31 Denver spoke exclusively Friday with top campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul about reacting to the crisis in Libya, new polls showing President Barack Obama pulling ahead and growing concerns among conservatives that the GOP’s chances to win the White House could be slipping away.

Here’s a transcript of the interview, which was conducted Friday morning via satellite with Saul, who spoke from the campaign’s Boston headquarters.

FOX 31: “Let’s start with Libya and the turmoil in the Middle East. Mitt Romney’s been criticized for his aggressive criticism of the administration’s response. What was he trying to say?”

Andrea Saul: “Gov. Romney showed leadership this week. It’s never too early to stand up for American values. And what’s going on in the Middle East right now is just unacceptable, to have Americans attacked. We need a Middle-Eastern policy that promotes peace through strength; and right now under President Obama we just don’t have that. What we’ve seen is chaos in that region.”

FOX 31: “Are you saying that we wouldn’t be seeing this kind of violence if not for President Obama’s policies? How would Mitt Romney handle this region, or have handled it to this point, so that things might be different?”

Saul: “Gov. Romney’s going to be clear who our allies are and who our friends are and who’s going to stand by them, like Israel. We saw President Obama again this week throw Israel under the bus by declining a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. That’s just unacceptable. Gov. Romney understands who our friends are, and who our enemies are, who wants to hurt us. In President Obama’s administration, there’s been a naivete about what’s going on in the world. They declared that the War on Terror is over when actually al Qaeda is active; they have said that [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad is a reformer. These are steps that are just sending the wrong signals to the wrong people.”

FOX 31: “After Mitt Romney came out so aggressively on Wednesday saying that President Obama was ‘apologizing for America’, he was noticeably less strident on Thursday when he spoke in Virginia. Why was that?”

Saul: “I would disagree with that characterization. Gov. Romney talked about the fact that we need strong leadership throughout this world; and there are three different areas where we need to be strong, and that’s in the military, with our morals and with the economy. Gov. Romney’s focus yesterday was on the economy, as it has been for most of this campaign, because that’s the area that’s most important to voters. How are we going to create jobs? What he talked about [Thursday] and what he’s talking about today is how President Obama’s policies send jobs that should be in America to China.”

FOX 31: “How concerned are you that, even though you keep talking about the unemployment numbers, the poll numbers seem to be moving in President Obama’s favor this week? Are you worried that your overarching message, your macro focus on the economy may not be enough?”

Saul: “Polls are going to go up and down. The number that Gov. Romney is focused on is 23 — 23 million Americans struggling to find work under this administration; 16 — we hit 16 trillion dollars on our national debt and it was convenient, or ironic if you will, that it happened during the start of Democrat convention. We’ve seen 4 trillion dollar deficits under this president; we have 46 million Americans on food stamps with more Americans in poverty than ever before. That’s why he’s running for president. Mitt Romney wants to make this country great again, to make sure that people have a chance at the American Dream.”

FOX 31: “We’re 20 days away from the first presidential debate in Denver, which could be the last big pivot in this election. This morning on Good Morning America, Gov. Romney said he expects President Obama to lie on the debate stage. Why would he say that?”

Saul: “Nobody has more debate experience than President Obama. We fully expect that he’s going to be a great debater. But we’ve also seen from President Obama and his campaign that he’s constantly mis-characterizing Gov. Romney’s positions. No matter how many people call them on it, no matter how many independent fact-checkers say what they’re saying is untrue, they just have no regard for the facts whatsoever.”

FOX 31: “Like what? Citing the Tax Policy Center study to argue that Romney plans to raise taxes? Give me an example.”

Saul: “That’s the perfect example. The only candidate in this race who’s proposing to raise taxes is President Obama. Gov. Romney has said that he is going to lower rates for all Americans by 20 percent. President Obama is going to raise taxes on small businesses, yet he’s trying to say it’s the other way around. That’s just inaccurate, and it’s a deliberate mis-characterization from the president.”

MORE CONTEXT: President Obama’s preference is to roll back the Bush era tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 a year. Romney is pushing to extend those tax cuts across the board and to further cutting individual income tax rates, broadening the tax base by reducing tax preferences, eliminating taxation of investment income of most individual taxpayers, reducing the corporate income tax, eliminating the estate tax, and repealing the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and the taxes enacted in 2010’s health reform legislation.

The Obama campaign is running television ads based on and often referring to a study by the Tax Policy Center, which concluded there is no mathematical way to pay for Romney’s changes to the tax code without raising taxes on middle class Americans.

Another study by economist Martin Feldman offers a different conclusion, that Romney’s plan is mathematically possible and that it mirrors the successful 1986 Reagan tax cuts and the policy embraced by the Simpson-Bowles commission in 2010.

FOX 31: “It sounds like the campaign is going to stop spending money in Pennsylvania and Michigan, which look like they’re going to go blue. I know Wisconsin and North Carolina look like possible GOP pick-ups at this point, but how critical does Colorado become to your path to 270 electoral votes if the map is shrinking?”

Saul: “Colorado’s going to be a very important state in this election. Gov. Romney has been there a lot, he’s going to be back there this weekend. Colorado is absolutely going to be a place where Gov. Romney makes sure that voters know he has a plan to turn this economy around; to make sure we get burdens off of small businesses, that we’re energy independent by 2020 — approve the Keystone Pipeline; that we repeal Obamacare.”

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