Q: Do you ever regret the decision to take the company public?
A: No. I've thought about that a lot. We would not have been able to grow the company if we had kept it private. The family just couldn't have tolerated the amount of debt that would take.
Q: Today, the company has $2.2 billion in debt. Does that ever worry you?
A: No, because we get over $1 billion a year in cash. If the economy tanked, (the) cash flow is pretty stable. Most of it's coming from management fees and that comes off the top.Q: Republican presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney was named after your father, J. Willard Marriott. He sat twice on the Marriott board and your family has made significant contributions to his campaign. What's his biggest obstacle to becoming president? A: His message is too complicated. He says: I have a 59-point economic policy. My response: People aren't going to listen to 59 points. They want 9-9-9. And he says: Well, I don't want 9-9-9. I said: I know but you really need to simplify your message and repeat it, repeat it, repeat it and don't wander off. Q: How important should a candidate's religion be? A: It's important that the candidate be a person of strong moral character. They should be true to their beliefs, whether it's Protestant, born-again, Mormon, Jewish. There should be separation from church and state. When Kennedy was running, they didn't want the pope to tell Jack Kennedy what to do. We don't want the president of the Mormon church telling Mitt Romney what to do. If he's president, he won't. The Church is totally hands-off, politically. We want the country to understand that a Mormon in the White House is going to be just as effective as anybody else.
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