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Interview with Mitt Romney's Five Sons; Interview with Chris Christie; Interview with Jeb Bush; Interview with John McCain; Interview with Condoleezza Rice; Interview with Rick Santorum

Aired August 31, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, the last word on the Republican convention. My candid conversations with Chris Christie and Jeb Bush.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We need to tell people the truth. We need to make hard choices. We need to implement that now.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I love my country. I see decline in the future unless we begin to solve these problems.


MORGAN: John and Cindy McCain, tough talk on Republican Todd Akin.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He should no longer be the candidate of the Republican Party of Missouri.


MORGAN: Rick and Karen Santorum blasting President Obama.


RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama believes the government should do more and that you cannot trust the private sector.


MORGAN: Condoleezza Rice, why she didn't want to be Mitt Romney's running mate.


MORGAN: What they really wanted, Dr. Rice, was probably you as V.P. --


MORGAN: -- to have a real position in power of the party.

RICE: First of all, nobody wanted that, especially me.


MORGAN: And the Mitt Romney you don't know from his sons.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say he seems laid back, is that what you said?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His hair is too perfect.




MORGAN: Good evening.

I'm here at the CNN grill. The Republican convention has been wrapping up. It's been a big week for the party. And I sat down with the many of the key players here in Tampa.

Tonight we begin with faith, family and Mitt Romney. The candidate's sons are on the mission. Today, they're more likable, more down to earth, very young men who defend Mitt Romney, and with their mother Ann, are just might be his secret weapons.


MORGAN: Ben, Craig, Tagg, Josh, Matt.




MORGAN: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you do it without the earpiece in?

MORGAN: No, no, no one was giving me any information. I was just trying to remember.

Now, chaps, we're at a crucial stage of the campaign. Your father is within breathing distance of the White House, big pressure. How are you guys coping as his sons with all the negativity that begins to pour down on what is, you know, your dad's head? What do you think?

TAGG ROMNEY, SON OF MITT AND ANN ROMNEY: You know you don't worry about the negativity. It comes with the territory, you knew it was coming before we got in. And you just kind of roll with it and keep moving and try to get your own message out there, which is a positive vision for what my dad believes America can get back to, try to get those 22 million people out of work back to work and that's his message. He and Paul Ryan are going to do everything they can to break through all the negative stuff out there and deliver that message to the American people.

MORGAN: Josh, I mean when you see an attack ad like the Obama Super PAC ad and it basically accused your father of being responsible for a woman's death, what do you really feel? Be honest.

JOSH ROMNEY, SON OF MITT AND ANN ROMNEY: You know some of these go too far clearly and we find them you know the ones that are untruthful you know they are hard to watch. We don't like it. It's not fun.

But at the end of the day the reality is the people who know my dad best, the people who have spent their lives with him or have worked with him at some point, the people who are supporting him and the people who know him the least are the ones who have the bad things to say.

And at the end of the day, my brothers and I and my mom we know who he is. We know what he stands for. We know what kind of person he is so we do let it roll off our back. But yes some of those ads take it too far.

MORGAN: Matt, lots of emotive issues around the Republican issues this year, especially the nominee race, a lot of the conservative social issues came to the fore. You guys are all Mormons, obviously. We all know about that faith.

When you meet young people, they say the problem with the Republican Party today, if they don't like the apparent intolerance over gay rights, over abortion, over these kind of issues.

You're young guys, how do you feel? Are you completely wedded and fined up to these positions that the party takes?

MATT ROMNEY, SON OF MITT AND ANN ROMNEY: You know, obviously we're not running for president so our positions don't really matter. But our dad is.

And one thing that I can tell you about him and about us is our faith teaches us to love everybody regardless of what their situation is, what their orientation is. That's really first and foremost. You love everybody.

But as far as policies are concerned, we all believe that family is important. And my dad does as well. That's something worth fighting for. How that exactly shakes out in the issues, that's up to him to decide. But we all believe the same things. MORGAN: Tagg, some of the language used by some of the Republicans -- not leveling this at your father. But some of the language can be very, almost bordering on bigoted. You're younger guys. It tends to be a bit generational.

Do you wish sometimes that the language used by the Republicans was less emotive?

TAGG ROMNEY, SON OF MITT AND ANN ROMNEY: I think my dad's been very compassionate in his views. He believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But he's also very compassionate and understanding that people have other opinions. And I think he's been respectful of both sides in that argument.

This race, I don't think, is going to come down to social issues. We have 23 million Americans out of work, an economy that's stalling and we've added $5 trillion in debt in the last 3 1/2 years -- or $7 trillion in debt in the last -- it's going to come down to who can turn the economy around, get things moving again.

And people trust my dad on that a lot more than they do Barack Obama.

MORGAN: Ben, the Mormon faith, we've heard a lot of the negatives about Mormonism. What are the positives, from your point of view? What are the great assets of being a Mormon, that you would advocate?

BEN ROMNEY, SON OF MITT AND ANN ROMNEY: Well, in a view brief sentences, I guess, for me, at least, it's taught me great values in my life, how to live my life, how to treat other people, just like a lot of faiths that are out there that are a lot of great things about Mormonism, how to -- you know, how to live your life and treat your neighbor and love others.

MORGAN: You don't drink, you don't smoke, you don't take drugs, you don't womanize. I mean --

BEN ROMNEY: Yes, I mean, these are all things --

MORGAN: -- you're strapping young guys. Do you ever feel like, damn it, I wish we hadn't been Mormons?

BEN ROMNEY: These are all things that have been great blessings in my life at least. You know, living by that sort of code has really been wonderful for me.

MORGAN: Do you think the ethos of family values is really important?

Craig, this time with you, do you think actually it's a great asset?

CRAIG ROMNEY, SON MITT AND ANN ROMNEY: You know, I hope so. It's very important to us, the values we've been taught from a young age. And they're core principles of our faith and obviously we're very proud of that.

MORGAN: Let's talk taxation. I know you've been champing at the bit to get to this.

JOSH ROMNEY: Fantastic.

MORGAN: A lot of people say, come on, the old man should just release more of his financial records to just clear up once and for all how much tax he's paid.

JOSH ROMNEY: He's paid his taxes. And this is a gimmick by the Obama campaign to take the message off the economy and on to my dad's personal taxes. You know, at the end of the day, we have $16 trillion in debt, 23 million Americans out of work. And Obama continues to talk about my dad's personal taxes.

I mean, these are not things that really matter in the grand scheme of things. They want to use the taxes as a gimmick to hit him over the next few weeks to focus on my dad's taxes.

But really the big issue is the economy. The economy's faltering, it's sputtering along. Obama's had 3 1/2 years to get it turned around. He hasn't done it. That's the real issue.

MORGAN: Matt, how hard is it to be the son of a guy running for president with all the scrutiny and he's stinking rich. Whichever way you dress up, you're very, very rich people. How hard is that? When you get people attacking him for his success and his wealth?

MATT ROMNEY: You know, as Tagg pointed out earlier, this is the game of politics and we're prepared for that. But it is tough. I mean, it's tough to see that.

We know he did a great job of making that money. He worked very, very hard to do that. And nothing really -- you know, we don't take anything for granted. We know that there are a lot of people out there that are really struggling.

JOSH ROMNEY: One of the great ironies in this election is that President Obama is straight make it a disqualifier to be successful. If you've had a successful career in the private sector, that disqualifies you from being able to be a good president. And obviously President Obama has not had a business career and has not had that opportunity but wants to point to my dad's success as being somehow disqualifying.

MORGAN: Knowing your father as you do, can you guarantee to the American people he's got nothing to hide about his finances?

JOSH ROMNEY: Yes. I know my dad and what he stands for. I know his value system. He is the most honest guy I know, complete integrity. So he's got nothing to hide. He just really wants this to be about the economy, to focus on the economy.

Let's not distract ourselves with all these peripheral issues. Let's talk about the economy. Let's get down to the real issues. When you look at his vice presidential pick, this is a guy who spent his time in Congress really tackling the issues. And whether or not you agree or disagree with him on some of the issues, at least he's trying to make a difference. And my dad is doing the same thing. This is -- you know, he really wants to make a difference.

Let's talk about the issues.

MORGAN: Tagg, were you concerned when your dad picked a running mate who looks like one of his sons?

TAGG ROMNEY: You know what? I think Paul Ryan was a brilliant pick. There are a lot of political reasons to pick other people. My dad picked the person he thought would do the best job with him to tackle the debt and get the economy moving again and to pick up the mantle for the Republican Party eight years from now when he's out of office.

So, he didn't pick Paul Ryan for political reasons. He picked him because he was the right person to pick. I think it says a lot about how my dad will govern. I think, you know --

MORGAN: But it's quite a bold move. I think people were taken aback by the fact that it was quite audacious.

TAGG ROMNEY: Yes. And I think you'll look at what he'll do in office. He's not going to worry about the day-to-day back-and-forth and what's this or that person going to think. He's going to do what he thinks is the right thing to do and bring the American people along and have them get them behind him and lead forward and fix the problems that we're facing right now.

MORGAN: I want to end with all of you giving me one word, which is a great description of your dad. If the one who's already gone before you has already said it, you can't use the same word.



MORGAN: Frugal?

CRAIG ROMNEY: Qualified.

TAGG ROMNEY: Generous.


MATT ROMNEY: I said integrity on an earlier episode. But I'll say loving as well. He's very loving.

MORGAN: Loving as well, that's a nice way to end.

JOSH: Like father first.

MORGAN: Father can often be the one thing that is a great vote- winner.

Chaps, it's been a great pleasure to meet you. Josh, Matt, good to see you. Great to see you, Tag -- Craig, Ben.


MORGAN: Next, I sit down with the keynote speaker, the irrepressible governor, Chris Christie, a lively, as you'll see, occasionally rather heated conversation.


CHRISTIE: Leadership delivers. Leadership counts. Leadership matters.

Here's the great news I came here tonight to bring you, we have this leader for America, we have a nominee who will tell us the truth and will lead with conviction. And now, he has a running mate who will do the same. We have Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, and we're going to make them the next president and vice president of the United States!



MORGAN: When it comes to outspoken Republicans, you just can't beat New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. His no holds barred keynote speech stirred up plenty of controversy.

When he sat down with me, he was pointed in his criticism of President Obama.


MORGAN: If you were going to tear down the president, how would you do it?

CHRISTIE: I've done that many times. We were in Aspen last week, and I said, you know, this is a guy who I think the last three and a half was like in a dark room looking for the light switch of leadership. He hasn't found it for three and a half years. He's not going to find it in the next 69 days.

There's a lot to be said about that. But the fact of the matter is that I really believe that case has already been made, Piers. I believe that case has been made against the president. We need -- there's nothing new anyone is going to figure out about the president in the next 69 days. But they need to find out things about our philosophy and how our nominee reflects that philosophy.

That's what we did last night. I work very closely with the Romney campaign. They had my draft and knew what I wanted to say. They didn't change a word of my speech. So I have to assume they're real happy with it.

MORGAN: When it comes to the president, do you think he's an honest man?


MORGAN: You do?


MORGAN: You don't think he misleads the American public?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think he misleads people in political commercials. But I don't think that's breaking new ground. I generally think that he's an honest person. I just think he's dead wrong on policy. And I think he's led this country in the wrong direction.

And I also don't think he has the first idea about how to use executive power. But I don't think that means he's generally a dishonest person.

MORGAN: Has he been dead wrong about everything or can you find things to credit him with?

CHRISTIE: I think on certain areas of education policy I agree with him, trying to empower charter schools and choice around the country. I think he's been right on that. Not every bit of his education policy, but some of it.

MORGAN: Foreign policy.

CHRISTIE: Yes, I'm not going to go through like a checklist with you.

MORGAN: One of the allegations is the Romney/Ryan ticket is their lack of foreign policy experience. People are a bit concerned that the Romney/Ryan ticket is lacking in experience there.

CHRISTIE: Listen, I think that President Romney will surround himself with an excellent cabinet, excellent advisers. But also, a lot of foreign policy, in my view, Piers, is the willingness of the president to make tough choices. And I think that, you know, Mitt Romney will make those tough choices. And he will not be confusing folks out there.

He will stand with our friends. And he'll stand against our adversaries. And he'll get people around him. The one great thing about Mitt -- one of the great things about him is that he's not stuck on being the smartest guy in the room. He'll surround himself with extraordinary people to help make his government a success and our country a success.

MORGAN: Given that people have said, you know, why didn't Chris Christie talk more about Mitt Romney, given that's been the criticism -- and clearly you didn't intend that, from what you've told me -- what else would you say about the man. You know him better than many people now.

What are the qualities that maybe we're not aware of?

CHRISTIE: I mean, this is a man with an extraordinarily good heart. I mean, I've watched him interact with my children. You see politicians interact with children, especially ones that don't know the first thing about it. It's an abomination, right? They're patting them on the head like this and not knowing how to deal with them.

I've seen Governor Romney with my children, my eight-year-old and my 11-year-old. And he's incredibly engaging with them and cares about them and makes them feel special when he's with them and wants to pay attention to them.

This is a guy who's an engaged father, an engaged grandfather. That tells you something about his heart. I think that that's not necessarily always come through.

MORGAN: But do you want to see -- do you want to see more of that on his speech tomorrow? Because I interviewed his five sons, for example. One of them said to me, the trouble with dad is he's always a CEO in public. He can't sort of remove that shackle of the corporate existence he had for so long.

And people don't see the real Mitt Romney that they see behind closed doors. Is Thursday the time for him to sort of metaphorically rip open his jacket and say, this is the real Mitt?

CHRISTIE: I hope he does, because if he does, the American people are going to like him and trust him and make him the next president of the United States. I'm convinced of that.

MORGAN: When it comes to trust, this election could come down to the economy and to who believes who most about the future for solving the economy. You have an interesting experience in New Jersey. You've lowered taxes and balanced budgets. Unemployment has risen to the highest level since 1977.

People will say well, look, that's a classic argument against the Republican position. Right? You've lowered taxes. You've balanced the budget, but it's got you nowhere with unemployment.

What do you say to that?

CHRISTIE: First of all, the statistic that it's the highest in 35 years is wrong. It was higher in October, November, December of 2009 than it is now. So it's a bad statistic.

But secondly, what we're doing in New Jersey is lowering the number of people who are working for the government. We're making government smaller. That's part of what we're doing.

That's going to help to unleash the private sector. And you're going to see those numbers go down over the course of time.

BLITZER: Who do you blame, yourself or Barack Obama, for unemployment in New Jersey? CHRISTIE: The fact of the matter is that the national economy has a huge effect on what happens in New Jersey. But also, I just told you, we made a concerted effort to lower the number of public employees. Our government had gotten to big and too bloated and we needed to make it smaller. That's going to have an effect on those numbers, a short-term effect.

But the long-term effect is going to be we're going to take more money out of the government back into the private sector.

Remember this: we've grown 90,000 new private sector jobs since I was elected governor. And in the last 12 months, we're the fourth highest state in America in the creation of new private sector jobs.

So the comeback has begun, Piers. And it's going to take us a while. We're digging out of a heck of a hole. But we're going to get there.

MORGAN: People who heard your speech last night and have been a bit critical have said this was entirely a pitch and a play for him to be president, you.

CHRISTIE: I don't understand that.

MORGAN: Did you have literally no aspirations to be leader of the free world?

CHRISTIE: Listen, since last October, I've traveled to 15 different states for Mitt Romney. I sat and allowed you to harass me in my office for an hour that somehow Mitt Romney was not going to win and Rick Santorum was going to be the nominee. And I steadfastly stood by Mitt Romney because I believe he would be the nominee and I turned out to be right, because I think he's the best person to be president of the United States.

So anybody who reads that into it just hasn't watched what I've been doing for the last year, which is been working as hard as any outsider for Mitt Romney and for his election as president. I'm proud to have done it.

MORGAN: Governor, thank you for talking to me. I think you've made a few things very clear.


MORGAN: Coming up, a man many thought could have been president himself, Jeb Bush, on why he believes the Romney/Paul is right for the Republican Party and for the country.


GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies. You were dealt a tough hand, you were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked. In the fourth year of your presidency, a real leader would accept responsibility for his actions and you haven't done it.



MORGAN: Jeb Bush has a unique place here at the convention. He's a brother of a former president and a son of another. He also has some advice for Mitt Romney, which he shared with me when we sat down for a wide-ranging interview.


MORGAN: Governor, nobody probably on God's Earth has a better idea of what Mitt Romney should do to win this election. You've been governor twice. You won two terms in Florida, which is going to be one of the key battlegrounds for the election. Your brother and your father were both president.

Is he a guy who can relate to the ordinary Americans in the street?

BUSH: And I'd say there's two factors to this. One is that he's been reluctant to share what's in his heart and who he is. And the second is the guy's had the bark scraped off of him by an opponent who wants to change the conversation as quick as possible, away from his economic policy.

So if you watch TV ads in Florida, we're -- I don't know if you know we're a battleground state.

MORGAN: Oh, yes.

BUSH: So we get a lot of TV ads. You would think Mitt Romney is everything, you know, should be in prison for first degree something. I mean --

MORGAN: He did all this -- I mean, I was following the trail of the Republican nominee race. And to be fair to Barack Obama and the Democrats, Mitt Romney was beating up all this opponents with equal vigor on the nominee race, wasn't it?

I mean, they've both been at each other.

BUSH: That's right. But I'm saying that you're -- to answer your question about why it is that people may not relate to Mitt Romney, they're seeing TV ads that make him into the devil incarnate, and he's not then as comfortable with showing what's in his heart ands who he is. And that is what it is.

MORGAN: Should he have revealed more of his taxes? It's one the problems, transparency here, that people know he's very rich and there are ongoing concerns about exactly why he got to be so rich?

BUSH: I happened -- again, I may be an aberration, but I think his wealth was earned. He earned it. His success should be celebrated, not be demonized. But we're living in a world where every single aspect of every single little thing is scrutinized in unfair ways. So I'm not sure what the motivation was to do what he did, but he did the same thing John McCain did and there wasn't a big outcry. I mean, let's be fair about that.

Two years of tax returns, you get a pretty good sense ever how he's made his money and where he's paid his taxes and tithing he does which is again pretty remarkable.

MORGAN: On taxation, many Republicans are resolutely opposed to any new taxes. You've been suggesting that that maybe shouldn't be quite such a rigid position.

BUSH: Yes. I mean --

MORGAN: There's going to be a way getting this deficit down and, surely, some kind of revenue not an alien concept.

BUSH: If you get into very orthodox doctrinaire kind of positions where something that may not be a tax increase is considered one by some third party and therefore you can't abide by it. I mean, in order to get entitlement reform done, which if you look at our fiscal structural deficits and they're huge, 80 percent of it is spending -- 80 percent of it needs to be fixed with spending.

In order to get that done, you have to find through tax reform, in all likelihood, raising eligibility limits for Medicare. I mean, there's a lot of things that could be done that someone might view as a tax increase. It may be an ending of an exemption of some kind.

We have to -- we have to start solving problems. We have to be focused on solution.

MORGAN: Is it possible to get this deficit significantly reduced from $16 trillion without some tax increase?

BUSH: It's possible, sure. You can begin to see a reduction in the deficit. You're not going to reduce the debt because the debt will grow $1 trillion next year and $1 trillion after that and $10 trillion in 10 years and maybe more if we can't grow the economy.

So the job number one is to grow the economy. If you grew it 3.5 percent to 4 percent a year, and that would require substantial changes in policy, but it could be done, you would garner more than enough revenue to be able to deal with that 20 percent, for sure.

It would change the whole debate about whether you're saying people of high income need to pay more taxes, even though higher income people now, we have the highest progressivity of any country in the developed world. We already pay 1 percent of the people get 20 percent of the income and pay 30 percent of the taxes. At what point do you say, OK, you've given enough?

We need to grow the economy and then deal with these out-year spending costs that are just unacceptable and unsustainable. And tax reform provides the catalyst I think for common ground to make this happen in a divided country.

Look, I just -- you know, I love my country and I see decline in the future unless we begin to solve these problems. If we can't solve it by having 60 Republican senators and a majority in the Congress and a Republican president with a clear agenda, if that doesn't happen in this election, then there has to be some compromise.

Ronald Reagan did it. He compromised. And he's now an icon among conservatives as he should be.

MORGAN: Governor, it's been a pleasure seeing you.


MORGAN: Next, a man who knows more than anybody else about what it's like to run against Obama, Senator John McCain and his wife Cindy. Why they believe Mitt Romney will win in November.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: When we nominate Mitt Romney, we do so with a greater purpose than winning an advantage for our party. We charge him with the care of a higher cause. His election represents the best hopes for our country and the world. It is said that this election will turn on domestic and economic issues. But what Mitt Romney knows and what we know is that the success at home also depends on our leadership in the world.


MORGAN: It has to be a bittersweet time for John McCain, the man who beat Mitt Romney, then ran against Barack Obama and lost. Now finds himself backing his one time rival.

I sat down with the senator and his wife, Cindy, to talk about the state of the GOP and the hurdles for candidate Romney in this campaign.


MORGAN: Senator McCain, Mrs. McCain, welcome.

MCCAIN: Thank you.


MORGAN: Unfortunately, it's just before the hour where we let you have beer in the CNN Grill, I'm afraid.

MCCAIN: Actually I think that's gin.

MORGAN: You are in a unique position because you beat Mitt Romney in a presidential campaign and you lost to Barack Obama. There's no one better to talk about this stage of the campaign then you. What is your take on it? MCCAIN: I think he's in pretty good shape. And obviously I have enormous bias in this judgement. But he had a very good speech by -- by his vice presidential candidate selection. His wife, Ann, did a very good job on opening night.

But what he's got to fight is the unfavorables that are the result of hundreds of millions of dollars of attack ads by the Obama campaign, where he was heavily outspent. He won't be after the convention.

And also I think the -- Americans are very unhappy with our economy. But they want to see a path forward. And I think that Paul Ryan kind of laid that out.

MORGAN: Were you pleased, in particular, to see the issue of faith being opening discussed now by the hierarchy? When Paul Ryan -- I thought it was a very smart thing to say, actually, I'm not a Mormon, but we share common values and morality. I thought that was a very clever way of actually killing the Mormon issue as a problem.

C. MCCAIN: Exactly. It's about strong values, strong American values, which we all share. It's about two men, and their wives of course, that could possibly be the top tier of this government, being not only strong in what they believe and strong in their faith, but believing in what's best for the country and moving forward, not putting their personal interests first.

MCCAIN: I think also that there is questions about the Mormon faith, as you know. I think that Ann talking about it -- and I am convinced that Mitt will talk about it, and -- to tell people that his faith is part of his life. And that's what's made him the person he is today, because the Mormon faith has come under significant scrutiny and attack from time to time.

MORGAN: But I think a lot of that is down to the fact that's he's refused to discuss it. I think that's been a strategic error actually, because I thought if he talked about it openly more often, the kind of cult element, stigma that's been attached to it may have dissipated a bit.

Because, in the end, it's one of many religions in America. There are many. many Mormons in America. It didn't have to quite be the stigma that it's been allowed to grow into.

MCCAIN: And the Mormon faith requires that people go on missions. Now, he has said in the past, his mission was one of the important phases of his life. You know, it's really remarkable. They take these young men and women and send them to a foreign country. They're kind of on their own. Their job is to recruit people for their faith. But it broadens them enormously.

MORGAN: Last week, the Todd Akin rile blew up. To me, it feels strange that you have Mitt Romney who clearly has move around on say an issue like abortion. Paul Ryan has moved towards Mitt Romney's sort of compromise position, that there should be exceptions. The GOP platform still resolutely insists there cannot be any abortions even in the cases of rape, incest or health to the mother. As a Republican, how do you feel about that?

C. MCCAIN: I'm sorry for that. As a woman, I'm sorry for that. We don't agree on that issue. Clearly John and I take a different stand on that. But it's also not the most important issue that is driving this campaign. I think outside sources are driving it.

But that's not -- as a woman, and as -- you know, people here, we're concerned about the economy.

MORGAN: I suppose the problem is what it does is it lends, again, succor to the argument that the Republican party is anti-woman.

C. MCCAIN: You're right.

MCCAIN: I agree with you. It was harmful to our party. Second of all, the platform -- some wag said, at one point, it's what you stand on during the convention and run away from during the campaign. And the fact is people care what Mitt Romney's position is, which is the exceptions for rape, incest and the -- and the life of the mother. That's what they care about more.

The third thing is I think -- that's important to keep in mind that what Mr. -- Congressman Akin was talking about was not abortion, it was about rape. And all of us find -- that's why all of us find that totally unacceptable, what he said. We were offended that he should state such a thing.

By the way, getting the nomination of your party for the Senate or the presidency is a privilege. He has abused that privilege. That's why he should no longer be the candidate of the Republican party in Missouri.

MORGAN: Senator, as always, great to see you.

MCCAIN: Great to be with you.

MORGAN: Lovely to see you, Mrs. McCain.

C. MCCAIN: Thank you.


MORGAN: When we come back, Condoleezza Right on her party's message for black voters and for woman, and why she says she wouldn't want to be on the ticket herself.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will rebuild us at home. And they will help us lead abroad. They will provide an answer to the question, where does America stand?

The challenge is real. And the times are hard. But America has met and overcome hard challenges before.




RICE: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have the integrity and the experience and the vision to lead us. They know who we are. They know who we want to be. They know who we are in the world and what we offer.


MORGAN: Who better to advise Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on foreign policy than Condoleezza Rice. Her speech in Tampa brought the crowd to its feet, as the former secretary of state defended the pair and the party.

Before she addressed the convention, Dr. Rice spoke to me.


MORGAN: Dr. Rice, how are you?

RICE: I'm very well, thank you. Nice to see you.

MORGAN: Very nice to see you. Mitt Romney has two big problems, according to all the polls: women and black voters. You are a very high-profile woman and a block voter. How do you feel about that, and in particular, this recent extraordinary poll, it seemed to me, the "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll, that said Mitt Romney was rating -- literally polling zero amongst black voters in America. I found that staggering. You must have done too.

RICE: I do, except I also know that a lot depends on how one asks the questions. And I'm always a little bit suspicious of polls myself. Look, what we have to do is -- as a party is to explain to people why these issues, which are so prevalent among Americans in general, also speak to concerns for minorities and women.

If you are a black person and you're not concerned about the fact that the unemployment rate among young black men is more than twice the national average, then you're not concerned about minority issues. If you're not concerned about the fact that our schools are failing kids in the least privileged circumstances, many of whom are minorities, then you're not concerned about minority issues.

And Mitt Romney speaks to those issues. And so we have a tendency to say, what are minority issues? Well, education, jobs, the sorts of things that most Americans are worrying about these days.

MORGAN: Is he focusing enough, though, on the black vote, on the female vote? Does he need to do more? Because is that going to be a problem? At the moment, there's a perception that Mitt Romney's decided, you know, Barack Obama, I can't beat him with the black vote, so there's no point wasting time and energy chasing a vote I'm not going to get?

RICE: Well, look, there was great pride -- and I shared it -- in America's first black president. Everybody understands that. Ultimately, one has to ask, are these policies that are helping America and, in particular, are they helping some of the most vulnerable among minorities, kids in failing schools, unemployed youth?

And the policies aren't helping those constituencies. So I do think that Mitt Romney is speaking to black voters, speaking to women voters who hold many of the same concerns. But it has to be -- there has to be receptivity on the other side too. It can't just be a one way transmission.

MORGAN: One of the problems the party has -- it reared its ugly head last week with the Todd Akin fury -- is this percent that because of some of the extreme positions, as many people see them, on social issues like abortion and other, that adds to the fire that somehow the party is anti-woman. What did you make of the Todd Akin thing?

You yourself are not as hard line about abortion as many in the party.

RICE: No, no. Well, first of all, the way that the party leaders, Mitt Romney and others, responded should tell people how the party feels about that. It was a statement that -- that really bordered on ridiculous. And I think everybody said that.

Now, women, the party and women; you saw a parade of women who are leading this party, governors and senators. And I say, what more do you want? Yes, they are women of conservative views.

MORGAN: Well, actually, what they really wanted Dr. Rice was probably you as VP to have a real position of power in the party.

RICE: First of all, nobody wanted that, especially me.

MORGAN: A lot of people wanted that.

RICE: Well, I didn't want that.

MORGAN: You really didn't want that?

RICE: No, I really didn't want that. We've got a great candidate for vice president in Paul Ryan.

MORGAN: You've said that you have no desire to be in Mitt Romney's cabinet should he win in November. Not many people believe you.

RICE: Well, they should.

MORGAN: Look me straight in the eye. Are you 100 percent or 99.99?

RICE: Piers, I wrote a memoir called "No Higher Honor." There is no higher honor. But I've had that honor. And I'm very happy to be, now, a professor at Stanford. And that's where I'm going to be.

MORGAN: Far more important than anything has been your appointment as one of the first two female members of the Augusta National Golf Club.

RICE: Yes.

MORGAN: A triumph for women all over the world.

RICE: Yes. Well, I'm very honored. I'm honored that the members of Augusta want me to be among their number. It is a beautiful golf course with wonderful traditions. And I said some time ago, you know, the face of America, the face of golf is changing. And I'm very grateful to enter with Dala Moore, who's also --

MORGAN: When you say you're honored, a bunch of old dinosaurs who banned women for over 100 years, it's not that great an honor, is it? It should have happened years ago.

RICE: It happened, as it should with private clubs, on the timing of the members of that club. But I am honored. And I look forward to playing there. I've got to work a little bit on my short game, because it's very hard to hold the greens at Augusta.

MORGAN: Have you chosen your first partner to play with you?

RICE: No, but I'm working on it.

MORGAN: Because I'm available.

RICE: You ready?

MORGAN: Well, I banned myself until they allowed women back, so I've now released my own ban. So I'm available.

RICE: I see.

MORGAN: I can help you with your short game.

RICE: I do have a long line. so --

MORGAN: Dr. Rice, it's a great pleasure.


MORGAN: Next, Rick and Karen Santorum. I'll ask the former presidential candidate about his now famous hand speech and his advice for Mitt Romney.


RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Under President Obama, the dream of freedom and opportunity has become a nightmare of dependency, with almost half of America receiving some sort of government assistance. It's no surprise fewer and fewer Americans are achieving their dreams, and more and more parents are concerned their children won't realize theirs.

President Obama spent four years and borrowed five trillion dollars trying to convince you that he can make things better for you, to put your trust in him and the government to take care of every problem. The result is massive debt, anemic growth and millions more unemployed.


MORGAN: Rick Santorum has come a long way in a few short months, from Mitt Romney's number one challenger to a loyal supporter. I sat down with him and his wife, Karen, shortly after his big convention speech.


MORGAN: Welcome to you both. First of all, let me see these hands. It was all about the hands tonight.

SANTORUM: They asked me to talk about welfare. And when I thought about that, I just thought about, well, what the center part of welfare reform as I worked on it, because I helped to write the bill, was work. So when I think of work, I think of my grandfather and I think of what he did to work his way, and that he wasn't reliant on welfare benefits, as immigrants don't.

So I thought I'd -- I really felt that that was a sort of theme, to talk about him and his hands, which I had talked about before. And the more I thought about it, it -- I just thought of all of the people I have met.

MORGAN: Actually, I thought it was powerful. I like the way you threaded it through. What I didn't like so much is you continuing to make out that President Obama, in some way, wants everyone on welfare to forget about going to work, because you, in your heart, know that is not true. That is not what has happened, is it?

SANTORUM: Well, what has happened is a dramatic expansion of government entitlement programs and programs like -- and more to come, Obamacare, which is a huge government expansion that is going to, quote, "guarantee people health insurance," which of course, you know, it does not necessarily mean health care.

MORGAN: But you don't actually believe he wants people on welfare to stop looking for work or being placed. You don't think that is really what he wants, do you? Be honest.

SANTORUM: I think that what the president of the United States may, in his own mind, believe is the way to get America going is the way to dependency and it is a way -- look, people on welfare -- I worked with this issue. People on welfare made rational economic decisions not to work, because the government programs were so generous that it cost them money to work.

These are things that while he may not say, well, I want -- does he really believe, oh, I don't want people to work? No. But his policies lead to rational decisions which lead to dependency.

MORGAN: Right, but that is quite an admission you just made, because if you don't think that is what he really believes, you should be more honest about it.

SANTORUM: No, he believes that the government should do more for -- I don't believe there is any question that Barack Obama believes that the government should do more and that you cannot trust the private sector. He goes out and uniformly condemns profit, condemns the private sector.

MORGAN: There are so many accurate things that you could go after President Obama on. Why go after things which just don't really stack up?

SANTORUM: Well, I would make the argument that when you dramatically expand the size and scale of government, when you dramatically expand social welfare programs, when you provide waivers to work requirements, as he did -- people don't talk about this, but two years ago, he did a waiver to Food Stamp's work requirement, and Food Stamps have exploded.

He has dramatically increased the social welfare state in this country. And you can make the argument that he believes that it is a good thing, that government should be there not just as a safety net, but should be there to provide sort of a basic.

He is someone who believes in the living wage, that government should guarantee a certain wage. Yes, he believes in a heavier hand of government. And I would make the argument that that leads people to be dependent upon Washington for them to be provided for. And I think that is a dangerous thing.

MORGAN: Well, it was good to see you up there, back on form, back on fire. I always said about you that whether you agree with you or not, you are a man who is at least consistent. I think that is a powerful thing in a politician.

SANTORUM: Well, thank you. I'd rather use the word -- I try to be authentic. I just try to be who I am.

MORGAN: They're similar things. Good to see you. Nice to see you, Karen. Take care. Take care.


MORGAN: Next week, I'll be in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the live coverage at the Democratic National Convention. I'll sit down with all the party's movers and shakers. And I'll be in the CNN Grill every night with special midnight editions of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

And that's all for us here in Tampa. Goodnight, everyone.