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Rick Santorum From Iowa on what separates him from his competitors

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
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HH: We begin today’s program with former United States Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum. Senator, welcome back. A lot of people thought on Saturday night you had a pretty good debate, that there might be a little wind in your sails. What do you feel in Iowa?

RS: I feel great. We’ve just picked up another couple of key endorsements over the weekend, Secretary of State Matt Schultz, the only statewide elected official in the state that’s stepped forward. He was a Romney guy four years ago. And he came forward and with a very strong endorsement for us. We picked up a key pastor who was one of the keys to Huckabee’s win here in the Des Moines area, and as well as a city councilman here in Des Moines. And we’ve got some other folks in the pipeline coming forward as people are coming our way, and we feel very excited that Iowa is going to provide the spark to this campaign. And it’s a real spark. It’s real voters. It’s not folks that are looking at polls and media coverage. It’s folks who are looking at the candidates and they’re making the choice that we provide the best, clearest contrast to Barack Obama, and that’s the best chance of winning this race.

HH: Now I’m, because of your campaign, I am aware that there are 99 counties in Iowa. Am I correct that you have been to all of them?

RS: That’s true. Not only that, this is important. I’ve not only been to all of them, but I’ve had at least an hour long town hall meeting in each one of those, where I’ve given a short presentation, and then taking questions from people in all 99 counties. They’ve had the chance to meet me, to look me in the eye, to ask me the tough questions. And that’s why we have literally hundreds and hundreds of folks who are going to go on caucus night, and this is how a caucus works, Hugh. You know this, your listeners may not. But when you go to the caucuses, it’s about an hour, hour and a half long process. And if you have someone who wants to speak up on behalf of the candidate, you can do that. Each campaign can have someone that’s willing to speak. Well, we’ll have folks in the vast majority of the caucus locations in the state who have met me personally, who are going to go there, who are going to speak on my behalf. And a lot of folks come to these caucuses undecided. And having a strong presence there, and having a presence of people who know you is really important when it comes down to how well you do in these caucuses.

HH: Now Senator Santorum, in the nearly decade that I’ve been interviewing you, so many times I can’t even count, I don’t think I’ve ever had a substantive disagreement with you until the Trump debate, which I really hated. I hated it. Now that’s collapsed today, because The Donald has pulled out.

RS: Yeah.

HH: Will you be going to whatever is the ersatz Trump debate, the substitute Trump debate?

RS: Yeah, look, my feeling is I’m going to give every opportunity to the people of Iowa and the people of America to hear what I believe, and why I believe it. So that’s why I do town hall meetings. That’s why I do…I’ve done every debate. I think Ron Paul and I are the only two that have done every debate so far, and I feel very, very good about what’s going on.

HH: All right, now let’s talk a little bit about your opponents, because votes to Rick Santorum have to come from each place. So I want to go down the line and ask you to talk to the people who are supporting that candidate, and why they ought to be supporting you instead. And let’s start with the frontrunner, Newt Gingrich.

RS: Well, you’re looking at someone who, I’ll just give you one example. When Newt was in leadership three years into leadership as Speaker of the House, conservatives launched a coup against him, because he was not standing up for the conservative principles that he at least articulated when he ran for Speaker. When I was in the leadership of the United States Senate, any conservative leader in the country, any conservative group, if they wanted something done in the United States Senate, and they were having trouble in leadership, there’s one person they went to. They went to me, because I was always the squeaky wheel. I was always the guy pushing the conservative agenda whether it was life issues, whether it was guns, whether it was national security, or whether it was economics. I was the key go-to guy for conservatives in the United States Senate. And that’s just a very clear contrast, when you’re in a position of leadership, when the pressure is on, who stands and fights for the conservative principles, and who bails out, and wimps under pressure. And you’ve got a very clear contrast between me and Newt on that front.

HH: What do you say to Romney supporters about coming over to Rick Santorum?

RS: Look, I was a Romney supporter four years ago. I endorsed him a few days before the Super Tuesday primaries. It’s a different election. The key in this election is to making sure you have a clear contrast with Barack Obama on the issues that are vitally important to our country. And that’s fundamentally economic freedom issues. And Romneycare, the TARP, the cap and trade, his positions on so many issues are so, just not the right position to have a clear contrast that we need to beat Barack Obama. And he will just be decimated by Obama by throwing, saying well, he was with me in the past. We just can’t have that. We just have to have someone who has a clear contrasting record as someone who has been a consistent conservative. And this is the key for both Newt and Romney, someone who makes Obama the issue in this campaign and his policies, not your record and not, whether political or personal record, that can’t be the issue. If it is, then Obama, with the media and the money, is going to destroy the Republican nominee. We need to have someone who makes him the issue.

HH: How do you get a Dr. Paul supporter, and you run into them everywhere, to reconsider what is in essence a wasted vote in the general election? He can’t be the nominee, Rick Santorum. How do you get them to come to you?

RS: Well, I mean, I talk to a lot of Ron Paul supporters. I’m constantly amazed when I hear from Ron Paul supporters that I’m their second choice. And I think they look at me as someone who has been a principled person. I mean, they may not agree with me on all the issues, but I think most of the folks look at me and say well, like Congressman Paul, I’ve got a lot of experience. Like Congressman Paul, I’ve stood up for what I believed in. And I think that’s what I would say to the Ron Paul people. If you want someone that you agree with on everything, well, fine. But he isn’t going to be elected. He’s not going to win the nomination, and he can’t win the presidency. If you want someone that you may not agree with on everything, but at least you trust him, you know they’re authentic, you know they’re going to fight and stand up for what they believe in and work as hard as anybody to do so, that’s what a lot of people admire about Ron Paul, that he hasn’t changed, that he’s stayed focused. We’ve done the same thing. We don’t necessarily agree on everything, but you can trust me.

HH: All right, and then let’s go to the last two conservatives. A lot of people think that Governor Perry and Congresswoman Bachmann and Rick Santorum are all fighting for the same universe of voters. How do you appeal to the folks who are sort of tentatively attached to either Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann to come to Team Santorum?

RS: Yeah, I would say with Michele Bachmann, again, I agree with you. I think she’s a principled conservative. I can’t argue with that. I would say three differences. Number one is a matter of leadership. I mean, I’ve been able to lead and get conservative things accomplished. That’s really important. We need someone who has shown a track record of bringing people together to get conservative things done. Michele has fought a lot. She hasn’t won. And I won even when I was in the minority. I was able to get things done and actually transform the House by exposing corruption and getting things, you know, upsetting the apple cart when I was in the House of Representatives. Second would be experience. I can tell you, I was not ready to be president of the United States after serving four years in the House of Representatives. That’s just not enough time in the minority, where you really didn’t have that much of an impact on policy, when you really didn’t understand the work isn’t how things done if you don’t have the depth of experience that are necessary to be the commander in chief. She didn’t serve on any relevant committees having to do with national security until just recently. And she’s now running for president. So experience is a big one. Third is, and this goes with frankly all the candidates, but specifically with her, which is I’ve been able to attract votes, bipartisan support. She represents a very heavily Republican district in Minnesota, and struggled every time to be able to win just the Republicans to hold on, to be able to win that seat. I’ve won two heavily Democratic Congressional districts, two statewide elections in Pennsylvania, with heavy Democratic voter registration edges, and done so in many cases in not particularly good election years. So that’s a big contrast between us. And Rick Perry, the same way. You know, winning in Texas is not like winning in Pennsylvania. Winning a swing state is important. And I think you’re seeing that people are looking for someone that they can trust who’s going to be able to stand up in the debates against Barack Obama, be able to stand up under the media pressure, and be able to convincingly and articulately make the case, and do so in a way that inspires confidence. And I think Rick is a good man, and I like him a lot. But I think he’s just shown that key aspect of being able to communicate and drive that message is really not there at this point.

HH: Now I want to go back to the frontrunner, Newt, and ask you specifically about Freddie Mac. You were a part of Washington. You could have signed one of those deals. Did you take any money from Freddie Mack, Rick Santorum?

RS: No, I didn’t, and I wouldn’t. The only person, the only company I ended up doing some work with after I left, and I did some strategic consulting with, I went to them, because I wanted to help them, because they were the ones out there fighting global warming. And it was a coal company in my hometown of Western Pennsylvania, Consol Energy. And I wanted to say look, I want to help you because you guys are on the front line out there, and I want to be part of this fight. I mean, this is sort of my little heritage. My grandfather was a coal miner, and coal is in my blood and in my history. And I know that cap and trade would be the end of the towns that I helped grow up in, and the people that I knew. And so I did it out of a passion for what I believe in, not for cashing in on where enormous amounts of money…I can tell you, because I was in the Senate at the time, and I was on the Banking Committee, and I was one of the guys who stood up and fought Freddie and Fannie, and pushed for more regulation.

HH: So Senator, 45 seconds…

RS: A Senate Republican pushing for more regulation, yes. Go ahead.

HH: 45 seconds, should Newt give the money back?

RS: Well you know, he earned the money. I’m not going to play that gotcha politics. I mean, that’s up to him to decide. All I can suggest is I wouldn’t have worked for Freddie and Fannie. I wouldn’t have advocated for things that I knew were not in the best interests of the housing market for the American public. And since I only have 45 seconds, please go to www.ricksantorum.com. We have a money bomb starting tomorrow. We could really use your help. We need to get on TV and radio here. We hope to soon, but we need your help to make that happen.

HH: www.ricksantorum.com. Go drop some dollars in the www.ricksantorum.com account.

End of interview.

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