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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

An Interview with Rick Santorum

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The former PA senator refuses to pander to the Cleveland Browns’ vote while talking about child tax credit and Marco Rubio among other things:

HH: And whether you’re in Florence, South Carolina, or Greenville, South Carolina, or in between, give a listen, or in Florida beyond that, because we’re starting with one of the people who want your vote next week, and that is United States Senator Rick Santorum. Former Senator Santorum, welcome back, congratulations on your great showing in Iowa.

RS: Well, thanks a lot, Hugh. Appreciate the opportunity to be back on your show. And we’re feeling good. We’ve been working the polls here, and, well, actually, I’m in Bedford right now. I just left Merrimack, and been getting some good response for people. So we’ll see how things turn out today.

HH: Now over at www.ricksantorum.com, you’re now making available to contributors of $100 bucks the beautiful sweater vest. I’m wondering, do they come in Cleveland Browns orange and brown?

RS: Boy, I think that would certainly be against my founding principles of our country. [# More #]

HH: (laughing) You know, you do need Ohio, Senator. You can’t just keep the Steelers happy.

RS: Oh, okay, all right. Look, then we’ll do it in Bengal tiger stripes, too.

HH: Oh, no, not that. www.ricksantorum.com. One of the big objections, I want to go through this with you, Senator, to your candidacy, is that you can’t raise the money. But you’ve raise an extraordinary amount of money in the last…

RS: Yeah, we have a money bomb going right now for the last little over a couple of days, and we’ve raised, I think, I just looked online, we’re about a little over $400,000 dollars raised. We’re trying to raise a million dollars here in the next few days leading into South Carolina. And we’ve raised over $3 million dollars in a week. So…and that’s $3 million dollars online in a week. So we feel very good that now that we’ve gotten our opportunity to be in the midst of this fray, that the money is going to start coming, and it is coming. And while we didn’t really spend any money up here in New Hampshire, because we just didn’t have the ability to put it on the air in any kind of way. We are spending in South Carolina, and we feel very good that the momentum hopefully will carry us up here, and we can do reasonably well here in New Hampshire, and then really pour it on in South Carolina.

HH: So www.ricksantorum.com if people want to help the Senator out. Second objection that’s been raised, Senator Santorum, is your advocacy of the child tax credit tripling. The Wall Street Journal ticked me off. They called this a hobby horse for the Christian right this week.

RS: Whoa.

HH: What’s your response to that?

RS: Well, tell them to look at Europe, and look at the tax rates in Europe, and look at the welfare state in Europe. And you go talk to Europeans, one of the principal reasons that Europeans don’t have kids is because the welfare state is so expensive, that they can’t afford to have children. And so they have one child. And you have a demographic winter occurring in Europe. We have to make sure that we support families who are taking the responsibility of raising the next generation of Americans. My goodness, I mean, how short-sided is this that the children don’t matter? We cannot grow a society, you cannot grow an economy unless you have hope and optimism for the future, and you have a younger generation coming up to continue to expand our horizons. And this is, you know, I love the Wall Street Journal, but this was about as short-sided as anything I’ve ever seen written in the Journal.

HH: All right, the third objection, subtle. Nine out of ten conservatives that I talk to, Rick Santorum, want Marco Rubio to be the vice presidential nominee. Would your having been a Senator for 12 years preclude you from having Rubio on the ticket with you?

RS: Well, no one’s going to be precluded because of my tenure in the Senate, or anybody else. We’re going to find the person who best reflects the values and can do the job and continue on during what I promise the American people I would do if I’m elected. That’s the criteria that they have the skills necessary to make that happen. And we’re going to look at a lot of people if we ever are so blessed to be in that position. But frankly, that’s the last thing I’m thinking of right now.

HH: Well, I’ve got to press, though, because it really does come up a lot, and I know it, if you’re the nominee, someone’s going to sit across from you in a hotel room and say you can’t have another Senator on a ticket with a former Senator.

RS: Oh, that’s just silly. No, we’re going to get the best person. We’re going to get the person who can, who will make the best team. And obviously experience will matter, and we’ll look at their experience, and their ability to manage and to do the things that are necessary for a president to communicate, have those strong, core convictions. All those things are going to be important.

HH: Now you will know the significance of the name Richard Schweikert in this conversation. Ronald Reagan promised to name your predecessor in the United States Senate from Pennsylvania.

RS: Yeah. How did that work out for him?

HH: Well, it didn’t work, but it was too late. And it was too late when he did that. Do you think that it’s a possibility you would embrace a similar strategy of naming key people, including the vice president you would select before these primaries are over?

RS: You know, I hate to do anything for political reasons. I really do when you’re talking about, you know, someone who could be the successor to the president of the United States. I just don’t want to, if I felt that comfortable that this is, you know, we’ve done an adequate search, yeah. But I just don’t…want people to vote because they believe that we’re the best person to be the president of the United States, not because I’ve got some sort of team. I think it’s a, you’ve got to trust us that we’ll put together the team, and we’ll get the best possible person. But to play politics with that? It sounds, it didn’t work for Reagan. Excuse me, yeah, it didn’t work for Reagan. Don’t try things that don’t work for the guy that’s the best ever.

HH: Now there is both Romney and Gingrich have said John Bolton is prominent in their plan for a foreign policy should they become the president. Would you agree with that assessment?

RS: Oh, yeah, John’s a good friend, and someone who I actually consult with and talk to on a fairly regular basis, and someone who would be someone I would without question have in that circle of advisors.

HH: All right, you’ve refused to join in the attacks on Romney for his work at Bain. Pretty tough stuff out there. What is your advice going forward to Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry on this nature of attack?

RS: You know, as far as I can see, you’re sort of feeding it. I’ve not been someone who has said we shouldn’t go after people on their record. But this just feeds into the ‘capitalism is bad’, and that somehow or another, when businesses fail, it’s greedy people that cause it to fail. And that may be the case in some cases, certainly if people don’t wisely manage their business. But the idea that businesses failing was something that they intentionally tried to do? I don’t know too many companies that buy other companies with the intent of losing money and losing that company. And that’s why I’m a little hesitant to jump in front, given Bain’s record of actually turning a lot of those companies around. That seems to me to be, to make more sense that that was their objective in the first place.

HH: Well, it seems that a lot of the pushback from people like James Taranto over at the Wall Street Journal, whose piece is entitled Barack Hussein Gingrich – he’s desperate, he’s angry, and he’s doing Romney a favor, it seems that there’s going to be a backlash against the former Speaker and the Governor [Perry] because of this, and that might set up the two person race. Is that what you think is happening?

RS: Well, I think it’s happening period. I really feel very good that we’re, Iowa showed when all the candidates were out there campaigning, as all of them did, that when people take a real serious look at the candidates, that we did well. And I’m hopeful of the same thing here. You know, we were running, tied with Governor Perry. Governor Perry spent a lot of money here in New Hampshire, and then in the last ten days, decided to bail out and stop those commercials. But I was tied with Governor Perry after, during the Iowa Caucuses. And after the Iowa Caucuses, now we’re up in range of actually coming close to Speaker Gingrich, who’s got the Manchester Union Leader endorsement, has spent a lot of money here on television. We haven’t spent a penny on broadcast television here in New Hampshire. We’ve been running basically a grassroots campaign. We don’t have any, I don’t even know if we’ve done a mailing here. We really haven’t had the resources, because it was so soon after we got the money that we really couldn’t turn much around. So we’ve just got to, in a sense, run on fumes here in New Hampshire. And the fact that we’re even in the mix with some of these other candidates right now is a real testament to the energy that’s behind this campaign.

HH: And I want to get at least a minute’s worth from you. Everyone always talks about your 2006 loss, but they don’t talk about you winning in Pennsylvania in ’94 against Bill Clinton’s favorite Senator, Harris Wofford, or in 2000 against Ron Klink, who’s a very popular Congressman. That was a tough year. So in terms of understanding your campaigning abilities, Rick Santorum, which part of the media missing in those races?

RS: Well, you’ve got two others, two. I mean, I’ve run five times, and in a 60% Democratic district against a 14 year incumbent, when I was outspent three to one, and I ran in a 71% Democratic district in the old steel valley of Pittsburgh, and got 60% of the vote when George Bush, running for reelection, got 29%. And then I defeated, as you mentioned, a Democratic incumbent to win the United States Senate, which over half a million more Democrats than Republicans in the state, almost a million more Democrats than Republicans. George Bush lost the state by five, I won it by six. In the worst election year in Pennsylvania history for Republicans, I lost. Well, so did five Congressman, our Governor candidate who lost by more than we did. So you’ve got to look at our record when we were up in chances to win. And the year of 2006, I didn’t blink. I didn’t run to the center and try to be something I wasn’t. And I was willing to stand up for what I believed in, and I look back at that and say you know what, it’s probably the best thing that happened to me. Okay, it got me out of Washington, got me to look at perspective on what we were doing and how things were being done, and I think it’s made me a better presidential candidate. And I always say the fine people of Pennsylvania didn’t always give me what I wanted, but they gave me what I needed, and I needed a break. And it was a good thing for me, and hopefully for the country.

HH: And I suppose, as we’re out of time, you need people to go to www.ricksantorum.com as well. Senator Rick Santorum, thank you. www.ricksantorum.com.

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