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Mitt Romney, a Republican who actually likes granola!

January 18, 2008 |  9:05 pm

Would-be-president  Mitt Romney starts every morning with a bowl of granola with oats, honey, sesame seeds and almonds. Every other morning he jogs three miles. "And then at the end of the day," Romney tells Jay Leno on tonight's "Tonight Show" on NBC, "just to really relax, I take off a dark suit like this and put on a light one."

(Laughter)

Fresh off his Michigan GOP primary victory and on the eve of the South Carolina Republican primary and the Nevada caucuses, Romney was making fun of his own stiff image. The other day on the stump Romney asked his wife Ann to muss up his famously-perfect hair. But she wouldn't.

As usual, Leno asks a wide range of topical questions. Romney said his confrontation with an AP reporter Thursday was "a normal thing. These guys have a responsibility to be adversarial, and, you know, we don't treat them real well.  The guys that follow us in the presidential race come in a whole group.  We put them ...

in the back of the aircraft.  We feed them lousy food.  We wake them up early in the morning to go to events, and then as you'll see in this clip, I think, we don't give them chairs to sit on either.  So they have a tough go of it, but they're doing their job.

"I respect the fact they've got to ask me tough questions and get in my face, but if I don't agree, I'm going to come back hard as well.  That's just the nature of the way it ought to be."

Romney said his "Washington is broken" theme came from numerous conversations with Michigan voters. He said you compete for jobs globally by "taking the anvil off the necks of our employers. Taxes are too high on our companies. We put a lot of regulations on them. Around the world the playing field that we compete on is not level."

He told Leno, an inveterate car collector, that if he just bought a few more each year, the Michigan economy would come back. "Last year," Romney said, "American corporations ‑‑ this is a startling statistic, I think ‑‑ spent more money defending tort lawsuits than they spent on research and development."

Romney said he agreed on the need for an economic stimulus package, and that he thought too many corporate executives are paid too much without delivering and that conventional political wisdom is out the window this year. He said the Democratic field had narrowed to two candidates -- Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton -- while five Republicans were about even.

Leno asked if Romney thought Fred Thompson would be back on "Law & Order" by the end of this year. "I hope so," said Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor said the U.S. maintained the world's strongest military, but its economy had weakened somewhat in recent years competing against Asian nations that don't always follow the rules. But he said he was always optimistic.

"We can do it," he said. "America can compete anywhere in the world.  We can win.  We have won.  We will always be the leader as long as we make sure that the government finally gets off its duff and finally fixes what's wrong in Washington."

Romney also said if the president thing didn't work out, he would like to have Leno's job. "But I'm not good enough for it," he admitted.

A complete transcript of tonight's Leno-Romney interview is available here.

--Andrew Malcolm

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