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Monday, March 12, 2012  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

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I will be broadcasting from New York’s AM 970 “The Answer” today before heading over to join Sean Hannity’s Great American Panel tonight. Jason Mattera and Michael Brown are my panel colleagues tonight.

Co-hosting with me as she does on those days when I have to bolt early for the Fox News studios is Carol Platt Liebau. Our first guest is Rick Santorum, and we will be sure to ask him about his big haul in Texas this past weekend, as well as fundraising at RickSantorum.com and the races he must win to defeat Mitt Romney’s apparently insurmountable math.

The transcript of my conversation with Senator Santorum is below.

HH: To start off the program, we begin with former United States Senator, Rick Santorum. Senator, welcome back, always a pleasure to talk to you.

RS: Well, thank you. And beat Kentucky, that’s pretty impressive.

HH: Well, I was looking for Penn State, Senator. I don’t think they made the Tourney this year.

RS: Oh, man, no, no. Last place in the Big Ten. Not good. Not a good year.

HH: Just checking. You had a very good weekend in Texas, though. I saw that you raised $1.7 million dollars from a gathering of Texas conservatives. So they clearly do not believe that the race is over there. [# More #]

RS: This race isn’t even close to over, and everybody knows it, including Mitt Romney. And he’s trying to go out there and you know, if you can’t win on the issues, if you can’t provide a vision, you just try to win it every way you can, you try to beat up people and outspend them, and if you can’t do that, if that isn’t working, then you try silly theories that are not based in reality. And this race is a long way from being over. This is a convention that we may end up going to, I don’t know. But either way, conservatives are going to nominate a conservative. I’m convinced of that. And the more this race goes on, the more that will become evident.

HH: Now Senator, I’m a skeptic, and I’m always honest with you. I think it is inevitable, the math that’s on Romney’s side. I’ll come back and talk about that in a little bit, though. I wanted to always start with you with substance. Today in the New York Times, there is a lengthy story on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and I think we should write down March 12, 2012, when the New York Times finally leveled with America what’s going to happen there. And the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood intends to be the leader of Egypt, and he intends to impose Shariah law, and say goodbye to the rights of women as we know them, and of Christian minorities in that country as well as others. Does the United States have an obligation, Rick Santorum, to do everything that it can to prevent such a regime from coming to power?

RS: Well, we had an opportunity to do the things we could, and everything we could have, before this all started. That’s what many of us said, we shouldn’t have gotten involved in Egypt, that we should have stood by Mubarak. And we understood who was out there on the ground, and who had planted seeds for generations as the opposition party to Mubarak. This president should have, and probably did know that. But I don’t think this president sees the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islam as a problem. I think you see it repeatedly. Look at what he’s done in Iran. We have radical Islamists who are in charge of Iran, and the same thing. He had an opportunity to support the Persian people, you know, this great and ancient civilization that wanted to get their country back. And he chose the radical Islamists. So I’m not surprised that we see this happening. I’m not surprised the president will do nothing. We have to do something to stop Iran and go out and support true democrats in this region, and that’s not what this president has done.

HH: But Senator Santorum, before I turn it over to Carol to ask a question or two, I wanted to find out if you think that the United States ought to be encouraging the Egyptian military to prevent the coming to power, even though they won the democratic election, of the Brotherhood.

RS: I think we should be using all levers to try to make sure that radical Islamists do not take over Egypt.

HH: Could you tell me, Senator, if you win, if you don’t win Mississippi or Alabama tomorrow, where would you have to win to prove that you could get to the number of delegates necessary for a nomination?

RS: Well, if you look at the map going forward, it actually favors us a lot more than the map of the past. And that’s what people aren’t writing about. The New England states are by and large in. The Mountain West states and Hawaii, which as you know are heavily populated, disproportionately populated with the Mormon population, which is favorable to Governor Romney, those states are now by and large in. And now you’re going to look at the areas of the country where we can do well. And we’re going to do well there. We’re going to win a lot of those primaries. We saw it in Kansas, where we got over 50% of the vote. We’re going to see it in Missouri next week. We’re going to win, I’m confident we’re going to win Missouri. And I think we’re going to do reasonably well in Illinois, particularly where the delegates are outside of the city of Chicago, which is where the Republicans are in the state of Illinois. So you keep looking around, the really interesting thing is that the case can be made as convincingly, in my mind, maybe even more convincingly, that Governor Romney can’t get to where he needs to go. And that’s why I keep saying that eventually, a conservative’s going to be nominated, because at a convention, the delegates are going to be overwhelmingly conservative, and they’re not going to take what the establishment is trying to shove down their throat, which is a moderate who would be probably the worst possible candidate for us to nominate in the general election, who presents the worst contrast with Barack Obama, and does not provide us with the excitement and the vision that our people need if they’re going to go out and win this election.

HH: Rick Santorum, then, let’s turn to a couple of controversial stories that are dogging you. You appeared on Bryan Fischer’s American Family Association radio. He does have some very radical views. Why give him the platform that you bring?

RS: Well, American Family Radio is a staple of, you know, the Wildmon’s have been folks who have done tremendous work in the Evangelical community, and I’ve gone on several American Family Radio shows. And these are folks that again, are, you know, Tony Perkins co-hosts a show on that network. And so I appear on a variety of different shows on that network.

HH: What about Bryan Fischer, though? Obviously, Tony is a wonderful guy, and everyone should be on Tony’s show. But do you think it made sense to appear with Bryan?

RS: Again, I mean, you know, I look at it as appearing on the network. And they have different people on that network. And you know, American Family and Don Wildmon has been a staunch and wonderful conservative leader. Tim, his son, is the one that’s following up with American Family Radio, same thing. And this is out of respect for the Wildmon’s that I do the shows on their network.

HH: All right, now the Reverend O’Neal Dozier, who’s the senior pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, Florida, says he’s a Rick Santorum supporter, and he also calls on Mitt Romney to renounce his affiliation with the LDS Church. What do you make of that?

RS: Well, just because I have a supporter who’s saying things that I don’t agree with, doesn’t mean that I agree with him, obviously. You know, he’s entitled to his opinions. And I know he’s been outspoken on this issue, and I disagree with him. I don’t think anybody should renounce their faith, period.

HH: Do you think that that kind of politics, I’ve had you on, actually. I know what you think about this. Would you speak out against people using that kind of rhetoric in the presidential campaign?

RS: Absolutely. I mean, this is inappropriate. I mean, there is no religious test, nor should there be. It’s very clear in the Constitution what the role is of religion in public life. There should be no religious test. People should be able to practice their faith, whatever that faith is, and people should make judgments about them based on what their public policy pronouncements are, and who they are, and what they believe in, and what their record is.

HH: Now you have appeared with him before. Did you take the opportunity when you appeared with Dozier to say you’ve got to knock this stuff off?

RS: Again, I mean, I appeared with him way back in the Florida primaries. I wasn’t aware that he had said things like this to Governor Romney in the past. At least I wasn’t aware he had. I know that he is, has been very outspoken on a lot of issues, but to my knowledge, that was not something that I’d heard.

HH: Were you aware he was the honorary chairman of your Florida campaign?

RS: I think we had a lot of honorary chairmen of our Florida campaign.

HH: That’s what I thought, too. You know, I just think it’s…I know what you think about this, and you don’t have any truck with religious bigotry at all, but…

RS: Oh, my gosh. No, I mean, I wear a bracelet that talks, that the whole point of the bracelet is about religious liberty. I chaired a caucus in the United States Senate that talked about religious liberty, not just outside of America, which we worked on a lot with religious liberty issues all over the world, but also in this country to make sure that we were tolerant of all religions. And we had people showing up that were Zoroastrians to Scientologists to 7th Day Adventists to Catholics to you name it. You name any kind of religion, you know, mainline Protestant organizations, Evangelical groups, you name it. They were all there. And we accepted them, and wanted them to be there – Sikhs who were being persecuted in different aspects…a lot of obviously people from the Orthodox Jewish community and other Jewish groups. It was a broad-based coalition of folks saying we need to respect people’s right to practice their faith. Folks in the LDS community were, I don’t know, I’m trying to remember whether they were there. They certainly were invited. Everybody was invited to come. Every denomination that we could think of that was represented by people in town in Washington, D.C., and we asked them to participate and work with us to you know, to defend each other’s right to practice their faith.

HH: One minute left, and I’ll send everyone to www.ricksantorum.com. Senator, if you can’t pull off a win tomorrow in Alabama or Mississippi, which are primaries, or Maryland or Wisconsin or Hawaii, which are primaries, will you keep going if all you can win are caucus states?

RS: We’re not just winning caucus states. I won Oklahoma, I won Tennessee on Super Tuesday. And as you know, we came within an eyelash of winning the biggest prize on Super Tuesday. The vast majority of Governor Romney’s wins have been in states that he’s had a huge advantage. And so we’re out there, we’re going to fight, we’re going to win, we’re going to win a lot of primaries.

HH: www.ricksantorum.com, thank you, Senator, always a pleasure.

End of interview.

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