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Romney Tells Leno He’d Rather Santorum as VP than President

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(BURBANK, Calif.) — It wasn’t all laughs for Mitt Romney during an interview with Jay Leno on the host’s late-night television show, during which Romney discussed delegate math, the war in Afghanistan and health care.

Sitting down for his fourth interview on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Romney hit on many of the points he discusses daily on the campaign trail. One thing not talked about on the show? Cars, despite Romney and Leno’s shared love for automobiles.

On Rick Santorum criticizing him and suggesting he would be his vice president in the same week:

“Well, you know, you’re on all the time when you’re running for office,” Romney said. “Everything you say is being followed by, you know, a small camera of some kind that someone has. You don’t always get every word just right. And so you have to give people a little bit of slack I think. In this case Rick Santorum is a good guy, he’s running a good campaign. We have some differences in background and differences on some issues, but basically a good guy and, you know, I’m happy with him saying he’d like to be part of an administration with me, nothing wrong with that, if he’s the VP that’s better. I’d rather be the president, let him be the vice president.”

On the road to the White House:

“Well, they allocate the delegates on a proportional basis this time, so we knew it was going to take awhile, and I actually sent my son Matt to go to the northern Mariana Islands, we got nine delegates there, to go to Guam — nine delegates there,” said Romney. “Ann and I went to Puerto Rico, got 20 delegates there. So we keep adding them up and plan on becoming the nominee.”

On whether a brokered convention in August is likely:

“I don’t think so,” Romney said. “I think it’s more likely that we’ll rally around a candidate. I hope it’s me. And I think if we wait until the end of August to have a nominee, it makes it a lot tougher to be successful in replacing our president. And I know there are some who think President Obama ought to be re-elected, I’m not one of them. I think it’s time to get someone new.”

On Russian President Dmitry Medvedev suggesting that Romney’s remarks that Russia is the United States’ No. 1 geopolitical foe is a statement stuck in the 1970s, and whether Russians are more like us than our other enemies:

“I don’t want to call the Russians our -- someone like us exactly,” Romney said. “The Russian people, certainly, are people like us, but you have Vladamir Putin and Mr. Medvedev, and they’re continuing to support Iran and to keep us from putting in place crippling sanctions against Iran as it pursues its nuclear weaponry. They continue to support Assad, Bashir Assad in Syria. They continue to support people like Chavez and Castro. They basically stand up for the world’s worst actors, and when America tries to put pressure on those actors with sanctions or other U.N. actions, Russia always stands up for what I would consider to be the world’s worst leaders. So if they were like us they would say, you know what, get rid of Assad. They’d say -- Iran, you may not have nuclear weapons, that is unacceptable, we’re going to put in place crippling sanctions against you. Kim Jong Il, open up your nation and let people have freedom. If they were like us, they’d be speaking in favor of freedom as opposed to opposing it.”

On health care coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions:

“Yeah, well, people who have been continuously insured, let’s say someone’s had a job for a while and been insured, then they get real sick and they happen to lose a job, or change jobs, they find, gosh, I got a pre-existing condition I can’t get insured, I’d say no, no, no. As long as you have been continuously insured, you ought to be able to get insurance going forward. So, you would have to take that problem away. You have to make sure that legislation doesn’t allow insurance companies to reject people.”

“People with pre-existing conditions, as long as they have been insured before, they are going to be able to continue to have insurance,” he said.

Asked about those who might have not have insurance but they try to get it with a pre-existing condition, Romney said, “If they are 45 years old and they show up and say I want insurance because I have heart disease, it’s like, hey guys. We can’t play the game like that. You’ve got to get insurance when you are well and then if you get ill, you are going to be covered.”

On whether he’ll reveal the federal agencies he’ll cut as president before he’s election:

“Uh, depends on whether I have that answer to that. I mean, we’ll look agency by agency and think where the opportunities are best, but I’ll take a lot of what Washington does and send it back to the states. And I’m talking Medicaid and food stamps and housing vouchers and training programs, and give the money back to the states and they can run programs for their own poor in the way they think best.”

On whether the recent shooting in Afghanistan suggest we’re working our troops too hard overseas:

“Now that Iraq is completed, the number of rotations will come down and of course in Afghanistan the numbers of troops are being brought down as well and we’re not going to determine our foreign policy based on the actions of one very ill individual, but at a time like this the president is proposing reducing our number of active duty personnel. And you raised I think a very legitimate concern. My view is we should be adding 100,000 active duty personnel, not reducing our military budget and reducing the number of people who can be in conflict protecting America. It’s a dangerous world. Let’s not reduce our military,” said Romney, who later went on to repeat his criticism of the Obama administration’s release of the withdrawal date in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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