The Indy Tribune sat down with Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney this week to talk about his struggle to win over certain sects of the electorate - including women, Hispanics and gays - ahead of November's election.
IT - Welcome, Mr Romney. A lot of political commentators have argued - and I think a number of recent polls will back me up on this - that you appear to be having a hard time courting the female vote. How do you respond to this and how can Mitt Romney become more appealing to the female voter?
MITT ROMNEY - I think that, once female voters take a close look at who I really am, they'll see that I'm a candidate they can relate to. For instance, I understand the challenges American women face. Finding a fake tanner that doesn't make you look streaky, finding a hair stylist who really shares your vision of what it means to have 'Presidential hair', managing multiple homes...these are all challenges I feel I share with female voters. I've also signed up for zumba. I'm not sure exactly what it entails, but it sounds exotic, so I'm hoping it will help me with the Hispanic vote as well.
IT - I want to come onto the Hispanic vote a little later, but you mentioned, there, managing multiple homes. It has been said, and I quote, "that Mitt Romney is utterly out of touch with the middle class." Do you have anything to say about that?
MITT ROMNEY - Frankly, comments like that hurt. I touch the middle class all the time. I don't like it. I take a scalding hot shower immediately after to scrub away the lingering stench of fear and disillusionment. But I do it. I shake their hands, I pat their shoulders, I let them pass me my Starbucks cup when they make my latte. To say I'm out of touch with the middle class is simply unfair.
IT - I'd be interested, also, to hear your stance on addressing poverty in the United States. You said earlier this year that you are "not concerned about the very poor". Do you stand by this?
MITT ROMNEY - That was a misunderstanding. Of course I'm concerned about the poor; no one wants to see his fellow Americans suffering in poverty. That is why we need to focus our efforts on looking the other way.
IT - In 2008, it was often asked whether America was ready for its first black president. You don't talk much about your faith, but it is common knowledge among American voters that you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Is America ready for its first Mormon president?
MITT ROMNEY - I don't see how my religion is relevant to my politics; one has nothing to do with the other. I can assure voters that my being Mormon has no bearing whatsoever on my ability to act as President of the United States. The founding fathers believed in the separation of church and state, and so do I. The Almighty, as much as I yield to Him, does not belong in our government. Except on our money. And in our gay marriage debates. God is against gay marriage, by the way.
IT - That's something one of our readers brought up - same-sex marriage. Following President Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage last month, it would appear that this particular issue is going to play a big role in November's election. James in Indianapolis asks: "How would you react if one of your sons came forward and told you they were gay?".
MITT ROMNEY - Romneys are not gay. Ever.
IT - Glad we could clarify that. Now, earlier you mentioned trying to appeal to a wider Hispanic demographic. Following your primary victory in Puerto Rico earlier this year, it was said that Mitt Romney may have struck a rapport with the Hispanic community, which has traditionally voted Democrat. Have you gained a sense of this on the campaign trail?
MITT ROMNEY - Absolutely. I feel confident that I will carry the Hispanic vote. Back when I was governor of Massachusetts, I made creating jobs within the Hispanic community a personal mission of mine. In the time I spent living in Massachusetts, I single-handedly increased employment among Hispanics by 12% just through hiring workers around my homes and my yards. Plus, I do enjoy a taco now and then. Yo quiero Taco Bell.
IT - Bringing the topic back around to women, if I may - one woman in particular has been with you every step of the way and that's your wife, Ann. What impact has she had on you politically?
MITT ROMNEY - Ann has proven to be a great political asset. Without her, none of this would be possible. After all, if it was not for Ann, I would not have such beautiful children, who in turn would not go on to have beautiful children of their own, and then our Christmas card would be just me and a golden retriever. Have you seen our Christmas cards? They're pretty darn spectacular.
IT - Final question Mr. Romney, and it's a question that has long been asked of presidential nominees such as yourself - will you be ready from day 1 to lead this country?
MITT ROMNEY - On day 1, I will probably be busy getting camera-ready with hair, make-up, and wardrobe. And on day 2, I need to get my teeth whitened. But on day 3, I am confident that I will be fully ready to lead our great nation forward into a new age of hope and prosperity.
IT - Mr Romney, thank you.