July 3rd, 2007
02:19 PM ET
9 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. Brendose, Oceanside CA

    Anyone REALLY care what this guy has to say? He'll be gone after the primaries. Don't waste your space on your website, CNN.

    July 3, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. MJ, St. Louis

    I advise all liberals to please just don't pay any attention to Romney at all. Y'all just go ahead and nominate Clinton or Obama (or better yet – both on the same ticket!), stay as lib as you can get, perhaps even propose cutting off all funding for the troops, propose forced national health care, and go whole hog into promoting socialism, communism, whatever y'all want. Then in November, the American people will choose. Just keep on talking, libs, the more you talk, the more the conservative movement grows. I am so into free speech. 🙂

    July 3, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Judi Aune, Raleigh, NC

    Hallelujah, finally someone has a good memory when it comes to the "sacred" Clintons. Bill Clinton pardoned real criminals and knew it. Why is it that no one remembers the dirty deeds of Clinton. The public, certainly the liberals, always block out the real truth about politicians. Sad for America.

    July 3, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Paul, Nashua NH

    Wrong Mitt will be there to the end. The more people see him and get to know him the more they like him. He'll win this whole thing.

    July 3, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Realist, Kansas City, KS

    Clinton handed out pardons like lollipops? Maybe so, but I can't recall him pardoning any members of his own administration to keep them out of jail. That's exclusively a Republican tactic, as in Ford's pardon of Nixon, Poppy Bush's pardoning of the Iran/Contra criminals, and now Junior's pardon of Scooter.

    July 3, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. DJ, Los Angeles

    "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"

    Spoken like the true flipity-flop that he is

    July 3, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Romney is an all-American class act. It is true, Clinton gave out 3 times as many pardons as Bush has.

    Libby's sentence was unduly harsh and it was an over application of justice. Libby got a sentence several times what past trespassers have received.

    Romney is winning the primaries by the way.

    July 3, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Sorry, couldn't resist this one.

    "Spoken like the true flipity-flop that he is"

    Uh, DJ, you're not even using this worn-out cliche right. When Romney was governor, he didn't issue pardons because he didn't believe in overturning juries. He was condoning a commuted sentence which is quite different than a pardon and he has been completely consistent.

    July 3, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. David, Gilbert Arizona

    I love the way politicians, voters, and candidates keep pulling out how many pardons past presidents have given.

    My mother always taught me that just because one person does something in no way means I can do it.

    Just because Clinton "handed out pardons like lolipops" in no way makes what Bush has done right, morally or ethically.

    Bush is well within his legal right to commute Scooter's sentence. It doesn't mean the action is the right thing to do. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

    As he leaves office I expect Bush to pardon Scooter completely.

    July 3, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Matt Houston, Texas

    Have democrats not realized that Hillary will divide the country as much as Bush is doing?

    Obama is really the only one who will be able to bring the country together.

    July 3, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. Dan, Reno NV

    From the looks of the 2008 election developments, Romney just might well be the next president of the United States. He is smart, competent, good-looking with a great family and a wife that fits the role of first lady. Compare her to Giuliani’s wife, McCain’s wife and Thompson’s “teenager” and you’ll see the difference. If we care about the office of the President of our country, Romney will restore the integrity and reputation of the office of POTUS!

    July 3, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. sonny c.ville platte,la

    Even the Red,White and Blue Republicans have to admit this one stinks-and it comes so close to Mr. Law & Order too.

    July 3, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. Ty, Lakeland,Florida

    It's a damn shame this President does whatever he wants. Then he lies to the american people trying to justify his actions.
    Why do we have a court system or even a democracy when one person can unjustly reverse without explaination change the will of the people and court
    This is one arrogant president.
    Why did'nt he step in and help the border crossing guards? Then we have Tony Snow trying to blow smoke and just made matters worst. I so proud of Collen Powell he got out of this lying unjust administration. Jeb don't even think about running for president.

    July 3, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. DJ , Las Vegas

    Clintons list is found here http://www.usdoj.gov/pardon/clintonpardon_grants.htm

    You will find some people from his cabinent.

    Like the secretary of HUD

    July 3, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. Brian, Yorktown, VA

    Realist said, "Clinton handed out pardons like lollipops? Maybe so, but I can’t recall him pardoning any members of his own administration to keep them out of jail."

    Please allow me to help jog your memory. The list includes ex-Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros, who was convicted in a controversy over payments to an ex-mistress, as well as former CIA Director John Deutch, who had a long history of security lapses.

    July 3, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Actually it was W's father who handed out pardons like lollipops. Romney is
    inaccurate as always.

    July 3, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    So many of you are dead on, Romney is so right here. This will shed light on the Clinton pardons that were barely reported by the usual suspects.

    Mark Rich was dealing with Iranians while they had hostages, wiretapping, fraud and many other misdeeds and Billiary gave him a full pardon, why didn't we hear about abuse of power then?

    If this hurt Valerie Plames and Joe Wilsons life so much, why are they not asking for the head of the real "leaker"?

    Something fishy here.

    Romney – 08

    July 3, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. D.S. -- Lansing, MI

    Bush pardoned Libby, so he wouldn't "squeal" on him. This cover up is probably bigger than watergate. It will all come out years after Bush is out of office. His legacy will be one of corruption and "Being the face" of the unseen power brokers pulling his puppet strings.

    July 3, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Pete, Tarpon Springs, FL

    He will say whatever the conservative right (remember those are the people who ruined the party of Reagan) want to hear. If you want to talk pardons etc. look at the record. Of course they all do it. They usually do it at the end of the presidency. Wait till "W" is done. I want to know why "W" has refused to see his way to pardon the border agents CAMPION AND RAMOS? Would that offend the people of his beloved Mexico?

    Btw. There isn't a single viable candidate at this time that really stands for the party and most of all for the people of America.....


    July 3, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. Veronica Feinstein, Stamford, CT

    Perhaps if some here would do their homework (use the googles on the internet tubes ... they can be your friend), they would see that Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson and even Ronald Reagan had more pardons than Clinton did.

    Just another pathetic attempt by some in the GOP who scream, "BUT! CLINTON DID IT TOO!". VERY weak and VERY lame.

    July 3, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. Veronica Feinstein, Stamford, CT

    As far as Mitt's concerned ... he's FLIP FLOPPING more than a fish out of water.

    July 3, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. Travis

    Why is everyone whining? Pardons are part of the checks and balances of the constitution. Even so, there is very little check on the court system.

    July 3, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. kat, tucson, AZ

    Thank God someone is speaking out in behalf of reason!!! Clinton did what ever he pleased. This whole lopsided country is going insane. If a Democrate commits treason (Nancy Pelosi going to an enemy nation against the wishes of her own government for talks) it's ok. If a Republican walks on the wrong side of the road or jaywalks they should go to prison! What the heck. Valarie and her husband made no secret of who they were. Everyone knew it but Libby should go to jail because he talked about it?? There is no reason in Washington right now. I hope the next election finds some reason in this country before we completely loose our governement to insanity!!! I used to be independent but the Democrates scare me to death. Look at their last front runners....Gore has gone insane in full public view, John Kerry tries to run with the veterans who hate him, Hillary Clinton is one of the most hated women in America....PLEASE GOD find an honest Democrate to run and make ths next one a good race!!!!

    July 3, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Pat Vancuver WA

    Boy this guy is not smart and he thinks your stupid. His logic is flawed and his facts are wrong.

    July 3, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. Mike, HI

    This must be the first time I've read something from Romney that I like.

    For those saying other presidents pardoned even more than Clinton, that's not the issue. Clinton pardoned people, and as far as I know, Mrs. Clinton never spoke out. He's right that it looks "silly" to be so enraged at Bush's almost-pardon but fine with her husband's pardons. He was quite careful with his words, and not as hostile as he could have been.

    July 3, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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