WASHINGTON—To celebrate the rededication of the Washington D.C. Temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) sat down with Bret Baier for Fox News Sunday for a discussion on faith, family, and the challenges facing our country.
A transcript of the interview can be found below and the full video can be found here.
Baier: In the shadow of this magnificent building [the Washington D.C. Temple], it’s really quite something to look at it. If you drive down the capital beltway and there it is. It’s spectacular.
Romney: I remember the first time I came here. I was on a bus with my family and friends from Boston and people told us that we wouldn’t miss it— “Don’t worry, you’ll see it.” We wondered, we kept on looking out the window left and right, where is it, and then suddenly there’s this beautiful white building. It looks like it was in the middle-of-the-road. It’s quite majestic.
Baier: For someone who doesn’t get it, this means a lot to you and your faith.
Romney: There’s no question. This building is a place where most members of my faith, if they want to be married forever, not just here on earth, not death till your part, but forever, this is where they’ll come to have their marriage made permanent. We call it “sealing.” Putting together forever, a family, and that’s the highest ordinance which occurs in this building.
Baier: You’ve spoken out numerous times throughout your political career about how much your faith means to you. A big speech back in 2007 were you addressed it head on and you said it’s really your center, your heart.
Romney: I learned from my parents and from my faith the values which have, if you will, guided my life. I’ve not always been entirely true to them. Sometimes I’ve strayed and come back, but I have been devoted to the principles taught by my faith and my family. That doesn’t guide your politics necessarily, but it does guide how you interact with other people. It guides the degree of honesty you have, the vision you have for the future, things you hope for, and of course it’s been a defining part of my life.
Baier: For other religions, they look at the Mormon faith and have questions and there’s all this kind of intrigue about it. But the basic thing that you talked about was the principles that you live by.
Romney: When I ran for office, I pointed out that we don’t choose presidents or elected offices anywhere based upon the religion of the person who is running. But nonetheless, we look at their religious foundation to understand whether they will share our values, believing in honesty, integrity, family, and those things that I think are central to my faith and to other faiths. I love the fact that America is a religious nation and that people have a conviction that there is something more important than just themselves and their own selfishness. They think there’s a purpose and great significance.
Baier: You’ve had some tough votes in Washington and one of them obviously was the impeachment vote.
Chris Wallace (CLIP): Do believe that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president and should be removed from office?
Romney (CLIP): I do believe he should be removed from office. That’s the vote that I will take in just a short while.
Wallace (CLIP): You realize this is war. Donald Trump will never forgive you for this.
Romney (CLIP): There is a hymn that is sung at my church, an old protestant hymn, which is “do what is right, with the consequence follow.” I know in my heart that I’m doing what’s right. I understand there’s going to be enormous consequence.
Baier: Do what is right, but the consequence follow.
Romney: That little phrase has certainly connected for me throughout my life, which is try and do what’s right. Don’t worry so much about what it means for your reelection or for your promotion or for how much money you’re going to get. Do what you believe is right, and that’s a reminder, I think, that is important for all of us.
Baier: So, it’s grounding for you when you’re up on Capitol Hill dealing with all of the stuff day-to-day?
Romney: The values that you have, the fundamental principles that guide your life of integrity and honesty, recognizing that other people are also children of God, that all people are children of God—black, white, gay, straight—we are all God’s children. Those kinds of principles, I think, are important part of both politics as well as everyday living.
Baier: You’ve got a big family.
Romney: I do!
Baier: How are they doing?
Romney: I’ve got 25 grandkids and we just had our first great-grandchild, so it looks like going to be no end to the propagation of Romney.
Baier: The expanding Romneys, and they take this in the same light? I mean, have you passed that onto them?
Romney: Well, it’s an important part of my job, I think, as a grandfather now to share with my grandchildren, if you will, some of family legacy. And there are really three elements to our family legacy. Number one is our commitment to the family—caring for one another. Number two is our commitment to faith—our conviction that God lives and that Jesus Christ is his Son. And number three is kindness.
Baier: For somebody who looks at that and says, “How can they be that good?”
Romney: We are not. There have been times in my life when I have strayed from being 100% accurate or 100% honest. When I’ve done things for advantage of politics, and I look back at those things now with great regret, and so I say at this stage in my life, I’m not doing that anymore. I’m going to be straight and honest to the extent that I humanly can and I’m not going to worry about what the consequence might be for me politically or otherwise.
Baier: In an age of social media where it can get dark sometimes.
Romney: Oh, yeah.
Baier: It’s tough to pull out of that.
Romney: I wonder how people who read the comments actually make it day-to-day. I don’t know that I’ve ever read comments on Twitter. I follow Twitter pretty carefully to see what’s going on. I find, you know, getting instant news is interesting and compelling and helps me do my job. But reading comments people have about things I might say—look, I recognize a lot of this is just bots coming from the Chinese and the Russians, others is coming from disaffected people. Others from, if you will, a person that’s living in the basement of their parents’ house. I really don’t need to worry about those folks. I remember when I was running for governor in Massachusetts, my advisor Mike Murphy said to me, “I will help you in your campaign and you can watch tv has much as you’d like and see what’s going on in the campaign. You can’t read the papers about yourself.” And I said, “Why is that?” And he said, “If you read an article about yourself, you will inevitably start, in your next address, addressing what was in that article. It may have been written by 25-year-old young person, it may have been off the mark, but you’re going to be influenced by it. And so likewise, reading social media comments, you don’t want to do that and be influenced by it. Do what’s right and let the consequence follow.
Baier: Not to get too political, but there’s a lot of threats that we face as a country. But the social fabric and keeping it together and families that your religion and faith talk about a lot. Where do you see that threat for the country?
Romney: The founders of my religion and the leaders of my religion have long said that our Constitution was inspired. And of course, the freedom of religion being central to our Constitution. And so, I think, at the same time we believe that having people will recognize that one another are not just citizens, fellow citizens, but also fellow children of God, that we are in the same human in family, helps bring the temperature down.
Baier: When you were running for president, you made a point to make this speech about your faith. Why did you think it was important?
Romney (CLIP): I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest. The president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.
Romney: John F. Kennedy, who when he ran, wondered can we elect a Catholic president?
John F. Kennedy (CLIP): I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic party’s candidate for president.
Romney: Today, we chuckle at that. But back then, it was a question. And he pointed out that the Constitution made it clear that religious liberty was part of the American experience and that there would never be a religious test for someone seeking political office. And that was exactly the case in my circumstance, as well. I want to remind people there’s not a religious test. You may not agree with my faith. You may not think this is the most beautiful building in Washington, D.C., as I do. But nonetheless, you allow people of different faiths to serve in office as long as they make their oath of office their primary responsibility and queue to it in a way that does not vary.
Baier: Last thing. I mean, your family has been through a lot, a lot of races. Are you still into this politics thing?
Romney: I would much rather spend time here [at the Temple] than in the Capitol building, but politics is exciting and there’s great work to be done. The country faces some enormous challenges, but good people of all faiths can come together and hopefully address those challenges to keep America the hope of the Earth.