Ann Curry Dismisses Reagan's Foreign Policy Credentials
NBC’s Ann Curry interviewed Mitt Romney on Friday morning's Today on the impact of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, and in a tough interview, she dismissed Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy credentials. When Curry questioned Romney’s foreign policy experience, Romney noted that Reagan "was a governor, not a so-called foreign policy expert." Curry dismissively stated "Reagan was not elected at a time of war."
No, Reagan was just elected in an intense point in the Cold War. The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and U.S. diplomats were still being held hostage in Iran. Romney did say that Reagan was "elected at a time of the Cold War. And the Cold War was the greatest challenge that was faced by this nation in the last half of the last century."
Curry, who pushed Chris Dodd to slam the Bush administration on alleged "torture" and Al Gore to run for president, offered Romney tough (if not unfair) questions, and continually interrupted Romney throughout the interview. The entire transcript is below.
ANN CURRY: Reaction to Bhutto's assassination was swift from the candidates running for president. So will her death prompt voters to reconsider who is qualified to lead this country especially when it comes to foreign policy? Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is running for the Republican nomination. Governor Romney, good morning.
FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: Good morning Ann.
CURRY: Governor, if you were president today and you could get President Pervez Musharraf on the phone, what would be your message to him this morning?
ROMNEY: Well, the message is to rebuild the kind of strength that he's previously had with the people and to move towards democracy. I think it is important for a reconciliation, particularly with Mr. Sharif and potentially with the remaining leadership in Madam Bhutto's party to try and reach a consensus, to move towards elections and to legitimize in the eyes of the people of Pakistan the government and be able to move forward with the kind of stability --
CURRY: You've heard the criticism- excuse me for interrupting. You've heard the criticism that in fact he was an impediment according to Benazir Bhutto to democracy and also the criticism he may not have done enough to help prevent, to protect her and prevent what happened yesterday. Are you at all concerned in making this phone call to him about the quality of his character?
ROMNEY: Well, I'm not concerned about the quality of his character but I am concerned about the quality of his judgment in a setting like this. I think his action for instance to declare martial law in the past was one that was destabilizing and weakened his position there. I think his resistance to having Madam Bhutto become part of the government over time was a mistake in his part. I think he misread the mood of the Pakistani people and he should have moved more aggressively towards democratization. But this is not your average Muslim nation. This is a nation which has had democracy and he should have moved more quickly to restore democracy.
CURRY: Well, given that, has the United States made a major mistake in having President Musharraf be a major ally in the War on Terror? Is he a good ally in this War on Terror and does his country still deserve this $10 billion in U.S. aid in your view? Would you continue it as president?
ROMNEY: Well, we of course take action to protect our interests. And the reason we send money to Pakistan is to protect our interests and try to root out terrorists in the northwest portion, particularly of Pakistan, so that they can't continue to make incursions into Afghanistan and of course spread terror throughout the region--
CURRY: So that's a yes, you would continue that aid?
ROMNEY: Oh yes, we continue that aid and we're going to continue to work with General Musharraf, but try and move him to a posture that actually has more potential for being a long --
CURRY: So if you try to move -- sorry to keep interrupting but we don't have a lot of time. So if you were to try and move him, what grade would you give him today, "A" to"F," in terms of where he is where you would want him to be as an ally on the War in Terror?
ROMNEY: I'd want him to project strength to show that we also have the, that he has the support of the United States behind him, that we're standing alongside him and that we're moving towards democracy, that he's meeting with the leadership in both parties, multiple parties, that he's willing to open up this process to fair and open elections and that he'll respond to the voice of the people and bring stability back to the country and democracy.
CURRY: Most analysts would say, governor, that the events of yesterday will help your chief opponents Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. Are you concerned, are you worried that your impact, that your campaign will be impacted negatively?
ROMNEY: Oh, I think we have to put the events of the world at a higher level than thinking about local politics. But I do believe as well that people recognize that what we want in a leader is a person who can actually guide America in a very challenging time. You look back to the -- one of the great foreign policy leaders of our nation was Ronald Reagan. He was a governor, not a so-called foreign policy expert. He was a person who knew how to make difficult decisions and how to lead in times of crisis. And I think if you look at my life's experience you'll recognize that's what I bring to the table.
CURRY: Ronald Reagan was not elected at a time of war. Why should voters embrace you without having -- they're not seeing you have had a lot of foreign policy credentials. Why should they embrace you as leading this nation in this very challenging time in our world's history?
ROMNEY: Well, certainly Ronald Reagan was elected at a time of the Cold War. And the Cold War was the greatest challenge that was faced by this nation in the last half of the last century. So it was a very critical time. Ronald Reagan took on the spread of Soviet style communism throughout the world and he was successful not because he was a general himself and thought he could mastermind our military strategy but instead because he had the skills of leadership that allowed him to bring together brilliant people, to chart a course that would overcome Soviet expansionism and it worked. And my life's experience is likewise, being a strategist in the private sector, in the Olympics and also in running a state. That kind of leadership skill I think is exactly what America needs right now.