July 3rd, 2007
02:19 PM ET
12 years ago

Romney: 'Clinton handed out pardons like lollipops'

Romney campaigned in Iowa Tuesday.

(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, an opponent of pardons while he was governor of Massachusetts, defended President Bush’s decision to commute the prison sentence of former Cheney Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

While appearing at a breakfast in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Romney said Mr. Bush issued the commutation after he “looked very carefully at the setting” and that commutation was justified because Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald “went after somebody even when he knew no crime had been committed."

"Once he had found out that someone else was the source of the information, he still went after Scooter Libby," Romney said. "Gosh, given that fact, isn’t it reasonable for a commutation of a portion of the sentence to be made?"

Romney had said earlier that he refused to grant pardons, which have eliminated the guilty verdict against Libby, because he didn’t want to overturn a jury’s decision.

The Massachusetts Republican also used the issue to take a shot at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who criticized the president’s decision Monday night while campaigning Iowa with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

“Wasn't it Bill Clinton who was handing out pardons like lollipops at the end of his administration," Romney said, "and isn’t there some recognition that you might look a little silly if you didn't have anything to say when he was handing out pardon after pardon after pardon for political purposes only?”

- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. John Marselle,Albuquerque,NM

    Apparently, Mr Rommney has it wrong again..if you consider that President Reagan gave Pardons to over 370 people. Check the records Mr Rommney over 80% were Republicans..Does that surprise you? Your ignorance is only surpassed by your polite arrogance.

    July 3, 2007 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. Nicole Haslet Texas

    I cant't believe these presidential candidates are defending this President who is going to give a pardon to a LIAR!! They keep saying the President looked at all the evidence very careful!! When has Bush ever looked at anything careful? Give me a break! Where in a CIVIL WAR because of this Presidents itelligence! God help us if one of these clowns gets in the White House.

    July 3, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  3. Kathy, Lansing Mi.

    This isn't about what past Presidents did, and it isn't a blanket topic, it is specifically about Scooter Libby. Generalizing is just a way to spin away from the real issue. If you complain about what past President's have done than i suspect you think two wrongs make a right? He did it so we can too? A jury of Americans found Libby guilty of a seious crime and Bush just gave them the finger pretty much. I'm sure Libby knew all along he would never see a day of jail time. For that matter, most of America knew it. It's typical for this administration to once again think they are above the law. Anyone remember Valerie Plame? Would you know her name had it not been for Libby, Rove etc? Libby will be pardoned before Bush is out. He's just biding time because he thinks Americans are passive and will forget this case. I for one will NOT.

    July 3, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. Tom, Dedham, Mass

    Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Department of Justice.

    George W. Bush:
    Pardons: 113
    Commutations: 4 (including Libby)

    Bill Clinton:
    Pardons: 396
    Commutations: 61

    George H.W. Bush:
    Pardons: 74
    Commutations: 3

    Ronald Reagan:
    Pardons: 393
    Commutations: 13

    Jimmy Carter:
    Pardons: 534
    Commutations: 29

    Gerald Ford:
    Pardons: 382
    Commutations: 22

    Interesting numbers, eh?

    July 3, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. Robert, Detroit, MI

    Flip-Flop, Flip-Flop,Flip-Flop, Flip-Flop, Flip-Flop, Flip-Flop, Flip-Flop, Flip-Flop, Flip-Flop.....

    and the beat goes on.

    July 3, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  6. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    I think Romney is not sure about LEGAL FORMALITIES, Clinton's pardon was before the legal precess, Bush's pardon for Libby is in guilty and sentenced 30 months by Republican proscutor and Republican Judge. That is totally different cases. I am not surprised with Republican's unreasonableness and stubbornness.
    Dear Romney, don't be so positive when you are not certain.

    July 4, 2007 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  7. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Ronald Reagan isn't screaming and pointing fingers at anyone. The point was the hypocrisy of Hillary. Clinton gave out 3 times as many pardons as "W" and to really questionable people.

    We've had mostly Republican presidents so the "80%" comment is mute as well.

    July 4, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  8. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Excellent post Realist.

    Here we go again about "what Clinton did" LOL. Do republicans and conservatives not have access to calenders? Hint: It's 2007 now and Clinton (NEWSFLASH!)is NOT the president. Hasn't been for SEVEN YEARS already!

    And how does what Clinton did that was wrong make THIS any less wrong? Answer: It doesn't. It only makes them BOTH wrong. The right will do anything to try to spin out it's way out of yet another bad decision by Bush. People need to take a course on debate logic and common sense.

    I, along with most people, didn't agree with Billy's pardons, just like most people didn't agree with this commutation here. But Dubya knew that ahead of time, and did it anyway – so he could help out a buddy and embolden the 25% of the general population that agreed with the move. Shrewd political move there Dubya! Apparently he doesn't have access to his approval rating or the results of the last congressional elections to see how consistently pandering to that 25% has played out over the years.

    Shawnie ... if you're bragging that Romnie "doesn't believe in overturning juries", why is he condoning Dubya having done EXACTLY that? This is another ideological flip flop by a guy who makes up his platform as he goes along.

    Libby was given an excessive sentence because he was FOUND GUILTY of lying and obstructing the very investigation into how guilty he was. God forbid he should pay for that by 1) serving what would have probably amounted to a fraction of the original sentence (with time off for good behavior) 2) in a minimum security "prison" probably more like a country club than anything else.

    July 4, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    I am bragging that Romney didn't give any pardons, and if you find pardons objectionable that should mean something.

    I was under the impression that the jury decides the guilty/not guilty verdict and the judge metes out the sentence. Pardons and commuted sentences are different as well. The commuted sentence does not overturn the jury's verdict.

    Pardons are a check and balance in our system. We all know that judges make some pretty questionable moves and at times show really poor judgment. The Executive branch and the Judicial branch both have checks and balances on each other and it is more commonly a really good thing than not.

    July 4, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Very funny. If you hate Bush, you must love the Clintons. If you love Bush, you must hate the Clintons. Totally lame logic. NAFTA, welfare "reform," war in Kosovo... What did Bill Clinton do politically while in office that any Republican neo-con wouldn't have done at the time? As far as I'm concerned, Bush and the Clintons all stink!

    July 6, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Randy, Richland, Wa

    Pointing out Clintons Pardons doesn't make what Bush did right or wrong each pardon or Commute must stand on its own merits. But what it does do is point out the hypocrisy of the Left. We see the same thing with the firing of the U.S attorneys. Bush sneezes and the left wants to make it some kind of national scandal,all for political expediency.get a new playbook, the old one is not only transparent, but getting really boring.

    July 13, 2007 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
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