Mitt Romney on Crime
South Carolina Fox News GOP Debate
In January of 2012, Governor Romney participated in the GOP debate in South Carolina. He was asked by Senator Santorum if supported returning voting rights to felons after their sentence and parole was complete. A Super PAC supporting Governor Romney had run an ad critical of Senator Santorum. Governor Romney responds that he does not support returning those rights.
SANTORUM: I — look, I have run a very strong and positive campaign. My ads have been positive. The only ad that I’ve ever put up that has contrasted myself with the other candidates, and does so in a way talking about issues.
Governor Romney’s super PAC has put an ad out there suggesting that I voted to allow felons to be able to vote from prison, because they said I’m allowing felons to vote, and they put a prisoner — a person in a prison jumpsuit.
I would ask Governor Romney, do you believe people who have — who were felons, who served their time, who have extended — exhausted their parole and probation, should they be given the right to vote?
WILLIAMS: Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: First of all, as you know, the PACs that run ads on various candidates, as we unfortunately know in this –
SANTORUM: I’m looking for a question — an answer to the question first.
ROMNEY: We have plenty of time. I’ll get there. I’ll do it in the order I want to do. I believe that, as you realize that the Super PACs run ads. And if they ever run an ad or say something that is not accurate, I hope they either take off the ad or make it — or make it correct. I guess that you said that they — they said that you voted to make felons vote? Is that it?
SANTORUM: That’s correct. That’s what the ad says.
ROMNEY: And you’re saying that you didn’t?
SANTORUM: Well, first, I’m asking you to answer the question, because that’s how you got the time. It’s actually my time. So if you can answer the question, do you believe, do you believe that felons who have served their time, gone through probation and parole, exhausted their entire sentence, should they be given the right to have a vote?
This is Martin Luther King Day. This is a huge deal in the African-American community, because we have very high rates of incarceration, disproportionately high rates, particularly with drug crimes, in the African-American community.
The bill I voted on was the Martin Luther King Voting Rights bill. And this was a provision that said, particularly targeted African-Americans. And I voted to allow — to allow them to have their voting rights back once they completed their sentence.
QUESTION: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond.
ROMNEY: Yes. I don’t think people who have committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote again. That’s my own view.