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Rick Santorum On 2016, The Debates –And Pope Francis

Tuesday, January 20, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Once and future presidential candidate Rick Santorum joined me on the program Tuesday, and we covered Pope Francis’ comments on the Catholic birth rate as well as the early line on 2016:

Audio:

01-20hhs-santorum

Transcript:

HH: So pleased to welcome back former United States Senator Rick Santorum to the program. Senator Santorum, Happy New Year to you.

RS: Well, and I know it’s a very happy New Year for you. And I just want you to know I tweeted out a congratulations to the Buckeyes on national championship night. I just want you to know that.

HH: I noted that, and I was going to, I didn’t even prompt you. I knew you would start by recognizing that The Ohio State University Buckeyes have won the first ever national championship.

RS: I wanted to preempt any gloating. So…

HH: Okay, now I’ve got to preempt the obvious question. I’ve got to ask you this, because you’re like me, Roman Catholic, Pope Francis flying back from the Philippines today said, “some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits, but no.” People Magazine has run this as Pope – Catholics shouldn’t breed like rabbits. He didn’t actually say breed like rabbits, but he said like rabbits. What do you make of this, Rick Santorum?

RS: Well, I mean, it’s sometimes very difficult to listen to the Pope and some of the things he says off the cuff, and this is one of them. And I just, I keep coming back to the Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church, and when he speaks as the leader of the Catholic Church, I’ll certainly pay attention. But when he speaks in interviews, he’s giving his own opinions, which I certainly will listen to, but from my perspective, that doesn’t reflect the idea that people shouldn’t be fruitful and multiply, and that people should be open to life as something that is a core value of the faith and of the Catholic Church. And I don’t know what the Pope was referring to there. Maybe he’s speaking to people in the third world, but the problem certainly in most of the Catholic world is not procreation. I mean, in Europe in particular, you have birth rates that are only over, just a little over one for every two people. So this isn’t a global problem, and I don’t know what the Pope was referring to.

HH: And the timing is unfortunate. Tomorrow is the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

RS: Yeah.

HH: And so I just, I don’t know what he was trying to spark, but it certainly does add to a lot of controversy and confusion. And I know what the left will say. They will say that he is about to lead the Church in a different direction on contraception.

RS: No, well look, the bottom line is that’s not going to happen. I don’t think anyone who seriously looks at this believes that it’s not possible to happen. I mean, the Pope is the Pope, but the Pope has a lot of other people around him who advise him. And you know, the most important thing is that as a Catholic, I believe he has the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit isn’t going to let him make that kind of mistake.

HH: All right, now the second big story of the day concerns your friend, Bobby Jindal, who got ambushed by CNN talking after his speech yesterday. Let me play a little clip so the audience can hear this. This is Bobby Jindal talking about alleged no-go zones in London.

BJ: Look, I’ve heard it from folks here. There are neighborhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going on without veils. That’s wrong. We all know there are neighborhoods where police are less likely to go into those neighborhoods.

MF: You need to have proper sort of facts to back that up. I’ve lived here a long time. I don’t know of any no-go zones for non-Muslims.

BJ: Well, I did say so-called no-go zones, and I think the radical left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem’s not here. Pretending it’s not here won’t make it go away.

MF: But exaggerating it into a no-go zone is also going to…

BJ: Look, there are people here in London that will tell you there are neighborhoods where the women don’t feel safe walking through those neighborhoods without veils. There are neighborhoods where the police are less likely to go. That’s a dangerous thing.

MF: But you need to give me, to make an assertation like that, you need to give me the area so we can look at it, because I haven’t heard of one.

BJ: Oh, well look, I think your viewers know absolutely there are places where the police are less likely to go. They absolutely know there are neighborhoods where they wouldn’t feel comfortable, they wouldn’t feel comfortable with their wives, their daughters, their sisters…

MF: Well, those are high crime rates. They accept that they feel uncomfortable. It’s not because there are too many Muslims there.

BJ: We’re not saying that, look, this isn’t a question. I know the left wants to make this into an attack on religion, and that’s not what this is. What we’re saying is that…

HH: So Rick Santorum, this is Max Foster from CNN. This is a preview of coming attractions. What do you make of that in particular, and generally what we’ve seen to be the reaction to this no-go zone comment eclipsing what is going on in the Arab world? I mean…

RS: Well, I think that’s the point. I mean, the issue is very serious. The issue is have radicals taken over and imposed their will on Muslim society? And I think the answer is yes, they have, in many places. I mean, you look at what’s going on in Yemen here tonight, and you look at what’s going on in lots of places in the Middle East. Look at what’s going on in areas of France and other places in Europe where you’re seeing radicalization happen. Are there no-go areas? Are there areas where women are not safe? That’s, to me, a peripheral issue of the fact, is there is a radical element within Islam that is not being dealt with by the Muslim community, and we are not doing any favors over now two administrations of not pointing out the fact that Islam has a problem, and it’s a problem that if they don’t solve, is going to fester and make things a lot worse around the world, not just in Islamic territory.

HH: Now Senator Santorum, I just had on last hour Mike Huckabee. He won the Iowa Caucuses in 2008. You won the Iowa Caucuses in 2012. I asked the governor who are these Iowa voters going to choose between you and he and Ben Carson and Ted Cruz and Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal? He said he wins, because he’s been governor longer than all of you guys combined, or something like that. I’m joking. That’s a paraphrase. What is going to be the deciding factor if for Iowa Evangelicals, people of faith, and traditional conservatives?

RS: Well, you know, one of the things I found out the last time around, Hugh, is that campaigns actually matter. And people of Iowa are really good and decent people. And they take their responsibility very seriously, that they have to look at the candidates and make a decision of what they think, who they think is the best person to lead the country, and to first, to win the election, and then to lead the country. And I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that depending on who runs, I have a lot of faith in the people of Iowa that when they go out as they do, meet the candidates, get a chance to really get a good flavor of what they have in mind, what their message is, and what their background is, I’m very confident that they’ll make the right decision.

HH: Now there are reports that you met with Foster Friess yesterday, who was very supportive of your candidacy four years ago. Are those reports correct? Do you expect Foster to be back behind a Santorum presidential campaign again?

RS: If we decide to go, I have no doubt that Foster will be very, very supportive of us. He’s been very vocal about that in the press. It’s not my comments. It’s his comments. And you know, obviously that’s very important to us as we prepare to make a decision here in the next few months as to whether to go or not. And having Foster encouraging is certainly an encouragement to us. But look, Foster’s a great man and a great friend. But there are a lot of other folks that we’re talking to. We were in South Carolina yesterday in Myrtle Beach, and we’re heading to Iowa for five days. And we’re going to be up in New Hampshire, and we’re going to be in, frankly, a lot of other places around the country, talking to people, sharing the message, and trying to get some feedback as to what they think of the message and the messenger, and whether this is a winning combination for a general election, which is the most important thing.

HH: Now Senator Santorum, I had Reince Priebus on yesterday. I said as a prospective debate moderator, I don’t know what you do with 20 candidates. He said oh, we won’t get that high. People will have to get over a threshold to get into the nine debates. What do you make of the nine debate format, and what do you make about a 1% or a 2% threshold? It’s still going to be double digit candidates.

RS: Well, yeah, there was a threshold last time. And I think 1% is probably a reasonable threshold for a national race, and for a race in Iowa. I think that’s what he was referring to. You have to be 1% in Iowa, I think he said. That’s fine. That’s reasonable. You have to beat some threshold, clearly. Second, as far as the number of debates, I’ve put out a statement saying nine is the minimum. There were several others that were there that were conditional, and I said if those other debates come forward, and we have, I think, a total of 12, that would make me feel a little better than just the nine.

HH: Now let me ask you about the State of the Union. The President is actually going to be tearing pages out of Blue Collar Conservatives, your book, tonight. He’s going to be talking about the middle class.

RS: Yeah.

HH: Do you believe him? And do you think Republicans should listen closely, or just dismiss the fellow as stale bread, past its sell-date?

RS: Where has he been? That’s my question. I mean, it’s six years into his term, and all of a sudden, he’s discovered there’s a problem. This is a problem that you know, four years ago, I was running around campaigning on this, and talking about how wages were stagnating, and income was going down, and the middle of America was being hollowed out. And the President went and ran a campaign to the hard left, and you know, stuck with Obamacare to punish workers, particularly lower income and middle income workers who are finding themselves with much, much higher health care bills. They’re losing their insurance. So this is a little bit too little, too late, number one. And number two, just looking at the specifics, it’s more class warfare than it is trying to really do something important for middle income workers. And you know, punishing high income people, punishing the small businessperson, as if that’s going to help create jobs, as if that’s going to help workers, no, I just think that he’s not really focused on helping people who are in need and who are hurting, truly hurting in society. He’s back to his old us versus them, rich versus poor game.

HH: Rick Santorum, it’s always a pleasure, Senator. Talk to you early and often throughout 2015, and I’m glad you’ve come around to recognizing The Ohio State Buckeyes as the football force and first in the country like Iowa. It’s long overdue, but it’s welcome.

End of interview.

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