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Interview with Representative Darrell Issa

Interview with Representative Darrell Issa

By The Situation Room - May 28, 2012

ACOSTA: Mitt Romney is calling for President Obama to take stronger steps to put an end to the regime of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad -- Bashar al-Assad. The massacre of 108 people in the town of Hula is putting a harsh new spotlight on the violence in Syria.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked today if the United States should be considering military action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I think, as you know, my job is to provide the commander-in-chief with options. And I think the military option should be considered. And I think that. But, my -- my preference, of course, always, as -- as the senior military leader, would be that the international community could find ways of increasing the pressure on Assad to do the right thing and step aside.

But, of course, we always have to provide military options. And they should be considered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: A short while ago, I asked a leading Mitt Romney supporter, Congressman Darrell Issa, about U.S. policy in Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Well, let me ask you about what Chairman Dempsey had to say. You just heard that. He talked about the -- the possibility that all military options would be on the table in dealing with that situation there.

Is there an appetite in Congress right now for another military action in that part of the world, whether it be unilateral or in, you know, in some kind of cooperative effort with NATO?

Is there an appetite for that?

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), OVERSIGHT & GOVERNMENT REFORM CHAIRMAN: Jim, I think there's always a belief by Congress that we have an obligation to stop innocent people from being slaughtered, as they are in Syria, and particularly when you have these countries -- Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, bordering Syria. This is an important area to make sure that human rights are respected. And we have to take a role, probably with NATO, to ensure that these people are protected as we try to figure out whether or not a new leader is also in the works.

ACOSTA: Is there anything more that the Obama administration could be doing right now?

Mitt Romney put out a statement over the weekend criticizing the president in his handling of what is happening in Syria right now.

Is there anything more that a Romney administration could do, do you think?

ISSA: Well, I certainly think a Romney administration would quickly gather our NATO allies, including Turkey, and say this is in your backyard. This is an area in which we will help. We will provide technical support, leadership, but ultimately, the forces on the ground to stabilize the situation and protect innocents that are being slaughtered would have to come out of Europe, come through Turkey or Israel or Lebanon or Iraq. And that means it's going to be a combined effort. And I think that's where Governor Romney coming in fresh and saying it's not about a war, but it is about protecting innocent lives would make a difference.

ACOSTA: And Chairman Issa, one of the reasons why we wanted to talk to you is because you have made in turning to politics now in the race for 2012, the presidential race. One of the reasons why we wanted to talk to you is because you are one of the wealthiest members of Congress.

It's been reported that your own personal wealth is somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million. Mitt Romney, obviously, is one of the wealthiest men to run for the White House. And there's been this whole line of attack coming from the Obama re-election campaign in recent weeks on his private business record.

And I'm just curious what you think about Mitt Romney's response to all that? Has it been an effective response? Do you think he could be more effective in talking about his own business experience, because obviously, it hasn't only been a situation where companies were closed under his watch at Bain Capital, obviously, companies were created. How do you think he's handled it?

ISSA: Well, you know, when you go in to save troubled companies, you go in to build companies that need building and restructuring, you're going to have some casualties, but you know, that's exactly what we need in Washington and why I'm so delighted to support Governor Romney is that, in fact, he understands that our government has gotten too big.

There are agencies that need to be reformed, closed combined, something the president talks about but hasn't done. And the American people understand that on this day, when we're talking about taking $58 million by sequestration out of our men and women in uniform, that there's got to be a better way.

There's got to be ways to take money out of GSA and other agencies that are throwing fancy parties and make it available for the essential services that the American people want. So, I do want to a person who understands that it's not nice, it's not easy to lay people off, but it's the right thing to do if you've got a bloated government.

And that's what Governor Romney promises to do, reform government, making work poor people for less (ph).

ACOSTA: And let me ask you, I mean, what do you make of some of the comments that he's made out on the campaign trail? And obviously, you know, the Democrats have, you know, linked them together as sort of a highlight reel where, you know, Governor Romney has said "I like to be able to fire people."

Obviously, that quote lifted out of a larger context, corporations are people, too. You know, the Democrats try to weave these sound bites together, if you will, to create this larger narrative about Mitt Romney. I mean, how do you think he's handled some of these moments?

Do you think he should go back, and perhaps, say, wait a minute, I shouldn't have said that here or shouldn't have said that there? What do you make of some of those comments? Has he come across as out of touch?

ISSA: Well, you know, Jim, we're always going have things taken out of context and when they're taken in context, they mean something differently. But I'm always reminded that Jack Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, when he was campaigning used to pull out this supposed telegraph from his father saying, "Stop, I don't want to pay for a landslide."

We've had wealthy people who set aside their wealth and advantage to serve our country in the past. And it's done as well. Ultimately, what --

(CROSSTALK) ISSA: -- is also -- not all. I think that in fact -- not at all, the American people want successful people, people who know how to create wealth. Remember, America's greatness is based on creating wealth like the rest of the world has never known, and then, making sure it's shared throughout a middle class and even the underprivileged.

That's what makes America special is anyone can go from being the middle class or even poorer, and ultimately, end up like Mitt Romney, a successful person running for president and giving back.

ACOSTA: Let's have a little fun here talk and talk about somebody else who'll be on the campaign trail the next 24 to 48 hours. Another wealthy individual by the name of Donald Trump, and I don't know if you've seen this, Chairman Issa, but he is going to be with Mitt Romney at a fundraiser in Las Vegas tomorrow night.

And then, over the weekend, he sort of got into a war of words with George Will who is also a noted conservative. And I want to throw up on screen the two things that were said by both of these individuals over the weekend. Donald Trump calling George Will, perhaps, the dumbest and most overrated political commentator of all time.

If the Republicans listen to him, they will lose. And then, let's tell you what George Will had to say. He said this on ABC's this week program. He called Donald Trump a "bloviating ignoramus." Who's right?

ISSA: Well, I think that Governor Romney is setting his own course. It's a course very different than Donald Trump would set, and candidly, it's a little different than George Will would set. Whether you're a pundit or simply a self-promoter, you have an opportunity to input to Governor Romney. But I think what you see is, Governor Romney has run throughout this primary his own game.

He's been about who he is and about believing in America. And ultimately, the Romney campaign is going to be about believing in America and making it better rather than hope and change of changing America from what it was to something that none of us would recognize. And I think that's really why this is the Romney time, and I think we all appreciate in campaigns, people supporting us.

ACOSTA: Right.

ISSA: But Donald Trump and George Will will be signing on to Governor Romney, not the other way around.

ACOSTA: All right. That's all the time we have, Chairman Darrell Issa. Thanks for joining us from Sunny Southern California. We wish we were there. Thanks very much. We appreciate it.

ISSA: Thank you, Jim. 

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