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Former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential Hopeful Mitt Romney Speaks with Erin Burnett on "Street Signs" Today at 2:30 PM ET (Transcript Included)

WHEN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 AT 2:30 PM ET
WHERE: CNBC'S "STREET SIGNS"

The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential Hopeful Mitt Romney on CNBC's "Street Signs" today at 2:30 PM ET. All references must be sourced to CNBC.

In the interview with CNBC's Erin Burnett, Romney discusses his economic plan, tax policies and global trade, among other topics.

ERIN: AND NOW MITT ROMNEY IS OUT TODAY WITH HIS TAX PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS, HE JOINS US NOW FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. AND OUR CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT JOHN HARWOOD WILL TRY AND GET IN ON THIS AS WELL AND WE HAVE BOB LANE, CEO OF JOHN DEERE, GOVERNOR -- GOVERNOR ROMNEY THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING TIME OUT OF WHAT I KNOW IS A BUSY DAY.

MITT ROMNEY: I'M IN LITTLETON NEW HAMPSHIRE AND A BEAUTIFUL DAY.

ERIN: AFTER BEING OUTSIDE ON A TRACTOR, I HAVE TO TELL YOU IT IS A BIT HOT, BUT LET ME BEGIN BY ASKING YOU, OBVIOUSLY THE JOBS NUMBER SHOCKED EVERYONE AND WALL STREET WHICH AS YOU KNOW DOESN'T USUALLY GET SURPRISED BY THINGS LIKE THIS. ARE YOU CONCERNED RIGHT NOW, WHEN YOU TALK TO YOUR ECONOMIC TEAM, THAT WE REALLY COULD BE FACING A RECESSION IN THIS COUNTRY?

ROMNEY: YOU KNOW, I DON'T THINK WE NEED TO SLIP INTO A RECESSION. I THINK THE SUBPRIME MORTGAGE MARKET HAS BEEN TROUBLED. I THINK THE PRESIDENT HAS TAKEN ACTION WHICH WILL CERTAINLY HELP THE NUMBER OF HOMEOWNERS AND I THINK THE FED IS TAKING THE NECESSARY ACTION TO PROVIDE THE MONEY SUPPLY. THE -- TO ALLOW THE CREDIT MARKETS TO STAY OPEN BUT, OBVIOUSLY, IF THE CREDIT CRUNCH EXPANDS BEYOND THE SUBPRIME MORTGAGE MARKET INTO OTHER ASPECT OF OUR ECONOMY, IT COULD SLOW THINGS DOWN AND I JUST THINK AGGRESSIVE ACTION WILL KEEP THAT FROM HAPPENING, IF IT IS TAKEN ON A TIMELY BASIS.

ERIN: IS THERE ANYTHING AT THIS POINT THAT YOU THINK THAT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION OR, YOU KNOW, WHAT WOULD BE THE ROMNEY ADMINISTRATION SHOULD DO TO DEAL WITH THE DETERIORATING JOBS SITUATION?

ROMNEY: WELL, I THINK YOU INDICATE EXACTLY WHAT THE ECONOMIC STRATEGY IS FOR THE COUNTRY. YOU POINT IN TIME OUT THE STABILIZING FEATURES IN OUR ECONOMY. AND YOU EXPECT THE FED TO TAKE THE KIND OF ACTION -- THEY HAVE BEGUN AND HOPEFULLY WILL CONTINUE TO TAKE, WHICH IS PROVIDING THE LIQUIDITY AND THE CREDIT MARKET -- IN THE CREDIT MARKET THAT ENABLES PEOPLE TO CONTINUE TO PURCHASE PRODUCTS AND THERE IS REALLY NO REASON FOR THE NATION TO SLIP INTO RECESSION AT THIS POINT. THERE ARE ALWAYS POSSIBILITIES THAT PEOPLE GET NERVOUS AND LEMMING-LIKE, TAKE ACTION THAT IS NOT WISE. BUT I DON'T THINK THAT IS GOING TO HAM. I THINK YOU WILL SEE THE -- HAPPEN, I THINK YOU WILL SEE YOU THIS CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN.

ERIN: GOVERNOR ROMNEY, JOHN HARWOOD IS WITH US, I BELIEVE FROM THE MILWAUKEE AIRPORT, WE HAVE YOU.

HARWOOD: I'M HERE, ERIN.

ERIN: GO AHEAD.

HARWOOD: GOVERNOR, I WANTED TO ASK YOU HOW YOU EXPECT REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTERS TO MAKE THIS CHOICE AMONG THE TOP CANDIDATES. YOU HAVE RUDY GIULIANI SAYING THE OTHER NIGHT AT THE DEBATE, THAT ITS ABOUT EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE, WHICH YOU AND HE HAVE. FRED THOMPSON IS TALKING ABOUT BECOMING THE REAL REAGAN CONSERVATIVE IN THIS RACE. HE IS ALSO FROM THE SOUTH AND FOUR OUT OF OUR FIVE ELECTED PRESIDENTS HAVE BEEN FROM THE SOUTH. WHY SHOULDN'T REPUBLICANS, IF YOU ALL ARE CLOSE ON THE ISSUES, GO WITH THE ONE WHO MAY BE MORE ELECTABLE FOR THAT REASON?

ROMNEY: WELL, I DON'T THINK YOU COULD ASSESS RIGHT NOW WHO IS THE PERSON WHO IS THE MOST ELECTABLE AND I THINK THAT WILL BE DETERMINED THROUGH THE PRIMARY PROCESS. BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOMEBODY WHO HAS EXPERIENCE LEADING AND MANAGING AND GUIDING A LARGE INSTITUTION. I SPENT MY LIFE FIRST OF ALL, IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND HAVE BEEN A LIFELONG POLITICIAN AND THEN BECAME INVOLVED IN THE OLYMPICS AN RAND THE GAMES AND TURNED THEM AROUND AND WENT TO MASSACHUSETTS AS A GOVERNOR AND LED A LARGE ENTITY THERE AND I THINK YOU NEED TO HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE AND -- IN LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT IF YOU ARE GOING TO MANAGE THE LARGEST ENTS SURPRISE IN THE WORLD THROUGH -- ENTERPRISE IN THE WORLD THROUGH DIFFICULT TIME AND WOULD BE HELPFUL TO HAVE PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND THE -- HOW THE ECONOMY WORKS AND JOBS ARE CREATED AND LOST AND I THINK I'M THE ONLY GUY -- I MAY BE WRONG -- ON EITHER SIDE OF THE AISLE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT WHO HAS EXTENSIVE LIFE EXPERIENCE IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE A STRONG ECONOMY AND JOB GROWTH IN THIS COUNTRY IF WE WILL REMAIN THE SUPERPOWER OF THE WORLD.

HARWOOD: AND WHAT IS THE POLICY DIFFERENCE, THOUGH, THAT PEOPLE CAN LOOK AT AND SAY, HE'S ON THE RIGHT TRACK AND THE OTHERS ARE NOT?

ROMNEY: WELL, A COUPLE OF THINGS, WE TALKED ABOUT IMMIGRATION THE OTHER NIGHT AND THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US THERE. I THINK MAYOR RUDY GIUILANI AND SENATOR McCAIN ARE WRONG IN SAYING ALL THOSE THAT HAVE COME HERE ILLEGALLY UNLESS THEY COMMITTED A CRIME SHOULD BE ABLE TO STAY AND I THINK THAT IS A MISTAKE AND THERE ARE OTHER PLACES OF DIFFERENCE AND ONE IS MY TAX PLAN AND I BELIEVE MIDDLE-INCOME AMERICANS, $200,000 AND LESS PER HOUSEHOLD SHOULD BE ABLE TO SAVE THEIR MONEY, TAX FREEWAY. I THINK WE -- TAX-FREE AND SHOULD ENCOURAGE THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SAVINGS MENTALITY ITALITY IN THIS COUNTRY AMONG OUR CITIZENS THAT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO BUY HOMES WITH YOU A GOOD DOWN PAYMENT THEY SAVE MONEY FOR AND PAY FOR COLLEGE. AND THESE KINDS OF INCENTIVES FOR SAVING IS SOMETHING THAT -- ARE SOMETHING I THINK DISTINGUISHES US.

HARWOOD: ONE BACKGROUND QUESTION, GOVERNOR. WHY IS IT THAT YOU OPPOSED IN 1996 THE FLAT TAX, A LOT OF CONSERVATIVES THINK ULTIMATELY THAT THIS IS RIGHT WAY TO GO, HARD TO GET THERE BUT THE RIGHT CHOICE, WHY WERE YOU AGAINST IT IN.

ROMNEY: WELL, THERE WAS ONE ASPECT I THOUGHT WOULD BE TROUBLESOME, AND UNLIKELY TO BE ACCEPTED AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. BY BOTH PARTIES. AND THAT WAS THE VERY VERY, WEALTHY, THE PEOPLE WHO SIT BACK AND CLIP COUPONS, WHO HAVE VERY SUBSTANTIAL INVESTMENTS, WOULD PAY NO TAXES AT ALL. PEOPLE LIKE BILL GATES, AND STEVE FORBES FOR THAT MATTER, UNDER HIS PLAN WOULD PAY NO TAX AND I DON'T THINK THAT IS ACCEPTABLE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. EITHER POLITICALLY OR ANY OTHER WAY FOR THAT MATTER AND I THOUGHT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A VERY DIFFICULT POSITION FOR OUR PARTY TO ADOPTED.

ERIN: GOVERNOR ROMNEY WE ARE HERE WITH A SPECIAL SHOW, ACTUALLY BECAUSE WE HAVE A -- THE CEO OF JOHN DEERE WITH YOU, BOB LANE ONE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPORT SUCCESSERS IS IT A IN DEALING WITH THE AMERICAN HEARTLAND AND HE HAS A QUESTION FOR AS YOU WELL. GO AHEAD, BOB.

LANE: HELLO, GOVERNOR, NICE TALK TO YOU. I THINK --

ROMNEY: GOOD TO BE WITH YOU.

LANE: THANK YOU, I THINK I WAYS FAIRLY IMPORTANT TO YOU THESE DAYS AND YOU PROBABLY KNOW THAT JOHN DEERE HAS MAJOR INVESTMENTS, WE HAVE BEEN INVESTING HEAVILY IN WATERLOO AND DEBUICK AND DAVENPORT AND I HAVE SEPARATIONS THROUGHOUT THE STATE AND WITH ALL OF THESE JOBS THAT ARE BUILDING PRODUCT, TO SHIP AROUND THE WORLD. IN IOWA, I THINK YOU KNOW THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GLOBAL TRADING SYSTEM. WHERE THE U.S. CAN BENEFIT, THE WORLDWIDE COUNTRIES WITH WHOM WE WORK CAN BENEFIT AND KIND OF A WIN-WIN DEAL BUT THERE IS A LOT OF ASSAULT ON THE TRADING SYSTEM TODAY. WHAT, IF YOU ARE ELECTED PRESIDENT, WOULD YOU DO TO HELP THE AMERICANS EMBRACE THE IMPORTANCE OF REALLY FREE TRADE THAT WOULD ALLOW TO US KEEP CREATING THESE JOBS IN IOWA, FOR EXAMPLE?

ROMNEY: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR SUCCESS AS A CORPORATE LEADER AND AS A COMPANY. AND I DO SEE YOUR FACTORIES ACROSS IOWA AS I GO AND SEE A LOT OF GREEN TRACTORS EVERY WHERE I GO AND HAVE A JOHN DEERE COMPACT TRACTOR AT MY HOME AS WELL, SO --

LANE: WELL, THANK YOU.

ROMNEY: YOUR PRODUCTS ARE WELL-RECEIVED AND THERE IS NO QUESTION BUT THAT TRADE ENHANCES THE INCOMES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, IT HAS BEEN CALCULATED APPROXIMATELY $9,000 OF ADDITIONAL INCOME IS EARNED BY AMERICAN FAMILIES BY VIRTUE OF THE FACT WE HAVE TRADE AROUND THE WORLD. SO WE DON'T WANT TO STOP TRADE. WE WANT TO CONTINUE THE GROWTH OF TRADE, AT THE SAME TIME WANT TO MAKE SURE COUNTRIES LIKE CHINA ABIDE BY THE KIND OF RULES THAT ARE FAIR AND EQUITABLE ACROSS THE WORLD. WE DON'T WANT THEM TO HAVE THEIR CURRENCY PEGGED ON A BASIS THAT IS NOT COMPETITIVE WITH WHAT WOULD HAPPEN ON A -- FREE-FLOATING BASIS. AND LIKEWISE WE WANT TO BE SURE THEY PROTECT OUR INTELLECTUAL PROMPT RIGHTS AND HAVE SAFETY STANDARDS THAT A-- PROPERTY RIGHTS AND SAFETY STANDARDS THAT ASSURE THEIR PRODUCTS CAN BE BROUGHT INTO THE COUNTRY WITHOUT WORRY TO OUR HEALTH AND WELL BEING AND THOSE WILL HAVE TO BE DONE AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE RECOGNIZE AS LONG AS THOSE ELEMENTS ARE PUT IN PLACE TRADE IS A GREAT SOURCE OF VITALITY FOR US AND WE WILL NOT RETREAT TO PUTTING BARRIERS UP AND THAT WOULD DO TO US WHAT IT DID TO THE SOVIET UNION AND THAT IS CAUSE ECONOMIC -- YOU KNOW, WEAKNESS.

ERIN: GOVERNOR --

HARWOOD: COULD I ASK YOU ONE MORE QUESTION ON TRADE? DO YOU HAVE ANY DIFFERENCE WITH THE WAY PRESIDENT BUSH IS -- HAS CONDUCTED TRADE POLICY OR CONTINUE THE SAME THAT'S BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS DONE WHICH FOLLOWS THE PRINCIPLES YOU JUST MENTIONED?

ROMNEY: WELL, THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT HANK PAULSON THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY IS WORKING HARD TO GET THE CHINESE TO MOVE ON THE TRADE ISSUES, AND THE SPECIFIC TRADE ISSUES I JUST DESCRIBED AND WE HAVE TO BE SUCCESSFUL DOING THAT AND I THINK THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IN THE EFFORTS THEY'VE CARRIED OUT, WITH COLUMBIA AND PANAMA AND PERU TO ESTABLISH TRADE RELATIONS ARE TAKING EXACTLY THE RIGHT COURSE AND I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS ARE AFRAID OF TRADING WITH COLUMBIA, PANAMA AND PERU. WE NEED TO EXTEND OUR RELATIONS OF TRADE, NOT CUT THEM OFF, IT MAKES US MORE SUCCESSFUL. AND IT ALSO BRINGS THOSE NATIONS CLOSER TO THE KIND OF FREE MARKET AND DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES THAT ENHANCE THE WORLD STABILITY.

ERIN: GOVERNOR ROMNEY WE ALL APPRECIATE YOUR BEING WITH US TODAY, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

ROMNEY: THANKS, ERIN, JOHN, BOB, GOOD TO BE WITH YOU.

LANE: THANK YOU.

ERIN: HAS A GOOD MEMORY FOR NAMES, TOO. TO FIND OUT WHERE ALL OF THE G.O.P. CANDIDATES STAND ON ALL OF THE ECONOMIC ISSUES WE TOUCHED ON HERE AND MANY MORE, CNBC IS JOINING WITH MSNBC AND THE "WALL STREET JOURNAL", WE'LL BE HOSTING A G.O.P. DEBATE ON OCTOBER 9th, IN DEARBORN, MICHIGAN AND THE ECONOMY CERTAINLY WILL BE FRONT AND CENTER. IN THAT DEBATE AND YOU CAN SEE IT HERE LIVE ON THE 9th OF OCTOBER, 4:00 TO 6:00 P.M. EASTERN ON CNBC AS WELL AS OUR WEB SITE, CNBC.COM.




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