Your son Ben is a Congressman in Arizona in a nasty primary battle. You didn't advise him against going into politics?
No. When he decided to run, I said, It's your choice. We need good young men and women, of both parties, entering politics. There's a dearth of good folks in politics these days, unfortunately. His primary is Aug. 28, and it's a horse race, so I will watch the Republican Convention on TV.
Does he come to you for advice?
I'm probably more on the calling and giving advice than him soliciting it. He doesn't believe this, but I've told him it's much more difficult to be the parent than the candidate.
Have you advised Paul Ryan?
I've spoken to him. Obviously, he's young like I was. He's 42, and I was 41. He was probably put on the ticket because he's the next generation--his ideas, his energy--and so far he's living up to everybody's great expectations. We talked a little bit about what to expect from the handlers and from the media. His was the earliest announcement, I think, ever. It gave him plenty of time to build up to the convention. I told [Mitt] Romney to make sure not to [announce a running mate] the week of the convention. I'd like to have had a lot more time after I was chosen to get prepared for my introduction to the American people. I was formally asked on Tuesday of the convention. And two hours later I showed up. I really wish I had had more time.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Republican Party right now?
The biggest challenge is to tell a compelling story to the American people on why Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan should be the next President and Vice President. Simple terms sometimes win elections: "It's the economy, stupid." "Hope and change." Theirs should be one of opportunity. That's what they should focus on, how they're going to create opportunities, grow the pie.
You endorsed Romney. You're a committed Christian. How do you get around the problem that the Book of Mormon seems to add on to the Bible?
Faith is important in my life. It's important to a lot of people's lives, and I think it's important to keep that more private than public.
Would you like to be in office now?
I miss it. It's tough, and it can be very unfair at times, but you're there, making decisions, working hard, serving people--it's very fulfilling. But both my son and I think it's different now. Clearly the 24/7 news cycle is not necessarily helpful. When I was in office, we had one or two stories a day. I also think part of it is, the members of Congress don't live in Washington anymore. When you're there, you get to know both Republicans and Democrats.
If you were Todd Akin, whose comments about rape are drawing a lot of criticism, what would you do?
I would heed the call of the three Senators who have indicated there should be somebody else [running for that seat].
You're currently chairman of Cerberus Global Investments. What does that entail?
I've spent a lot of time these past 13 years in Japan. We have significant investments over there. That's how I got started with them back in late 1999, and I've been with them ever since.