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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Rick Santorum On Mike Pence, The Iran Deal, The New York Bomb Plot and Al Shabab Attack in Kenya

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Former United States Senator Rick Santorum joined me today to discuss all of the headlines in a wolrd on fire:

Audio:

04-02hhs-santorum

Transcript:

HH: I begin this hour with my friend, Rick Santorum, former United States senator from the great state of Pennsylvania. Senator, I’d compliment you on Penn State having someone in the Final Four, but that would be Wisconsin and Michigan State, and Ohio State won, you know, why is that Penn State is the weak sister of the Big Ten?

RS: You know, it’s been a pathetic basketball program for a long time. I wish we could solve that riddle. I don’t know why. We’ve gone through a bunch of coaches, and we’ve got a first-rate facility, but have never been able to attract the talent there. It’s very frustrating as an alum, I’ve got to tell you.

HH: Now I’ve got to tell you something as well. I was recently profiled by the National Journal, and nice, young reporter, Shane Goldmacher, and he said well, whose politics are most like yours, and I said you’re not going to believe this, but if it weren’t for Rick Santorum’s sports, I’m like a carbon copy of his politics. And his jaw dropped. But I actually think, I also finished writing a piece recently that whatever you have to say in the primaries is going to be watched by Hillary very closely as a critique of the modern Republican Party. Do you think I’m on to something there?

RS: Well, I mean, obviously I’m out with a very different message than other Republicans, and it’s a message that is an important one for the country. But it’s important for the Republican Party to recognize that if we’re going to be successful going forward in a national election, that we have to be able to reach voters that don’t think that we really talk about them much or care about them very much. And those are voters right now who are disillusioned with the Democrats, too. They’re disillusioned with both parties. So I think you’re right. I think Hillary Clinton probably wait and see whether the Republican Party gets it right and nominates somebody who has a message that is a little bit broader than what we’ve been dealing with, particularly on the economy.

HH: Okay, given that context, is Governor Mike Pence of Indiana backpedaling right now?

RS: Mike’s a dear friend, and I really mean that. He is a dear friend. I’m disappointed to see that the corporate community has just launched on him and has created an atmosphere that he has backpedaled a little bit, and it’s unfortunate. There’s nothing wrong with the Indiana law. If you look at Asa Hutchinson, I mean, Asa made a very minor tweak to the bill in Arkansas and signed it today. I congratulate him on that. He just simply copied the federal law, which is a pretty safe place to be. Mike could do the same thing, and this issue hopefully would be behind him. And I hope that at a maximum, he does that.

HH: So if he were in fact just to adopt the federal RFRA, which has existed for 22 years as the law of the District of Columbia, federal city, without one instance of the discrimination cited by Tim Cook and others…

RS: Right.

HH: …that would not be backpedaling, but it would be acceptable to you?

RS: Well, I think at this point, clearly he’s made the commitment to change the law, and this would be a change that would be in keeping with protecting religious liberties of Kosher delis who aren’t going to be forced to serve ham sandwiches, or Sikhs who aren’t going to be forced to shave their beard because the employer doesn’t like it. I mean, that’s what this law has been used, is to protect people from religious discrimination, not to allow people to discriminate.

HH: Now the famous cases are the baker, the photographer and the florist. And I have told everyone, in Hewitt’s world, the baker should sell the cake, the photographer should definitely not have to be forced to photograph the wedding, and I’m not sure about the florist because of facts and circumstances. That’s how RFRA works. That’s how the compelling state interest works. That’s what happens here. What, in Rick Santorum’s world, on the baker, the photographer and the florist, what do you think?

RS: Well, here’s what I think. I think that people should have, it’s the old test that we’ve used in the past. If they’re the only baker in town, they should bake the cake. If there’s someone, if they have a, if someone has a ferry service onto an island, and that’s where the wedding is, and you’re the only way to get to that island, there’s no road to the island, well, you’ve got to provide the service. But if the person has other opportunities to go other places, my feeling is that people shouldn’t be forced to participate in a ceremony that violates their religious tenets and teachings. Now you’re right. The cake baker is the most attenuated, and probably has the hardest argument to make. The photographer has the easiest argument to make. But I think in a world where have true tolerance, and we allow people to live their faith in their jobs, then I think we allow space for everybody unless there’s a compelling interest not to.

HH: Yeah, but in this world, we had two hotels, and of course, the advocates of same sex marriage argue that we had two hotels during the era of Jim Crow, and that didn’t hold up. So two bakers, they both ought to be obliged to bake.

RS: Well, I don’t know, it’s a different story. I mean, the baker, in my opinion, should absolutely serve anybody who comes into their hotel or restaurant or bakery, irrespective of what the color of their skin or their sexual orientation. That’s different than participating in a ceremony where you have a religious objection to it. So it’s not the who that you’re serving, it’s what you’re serving, what you’re serving for.

HH: Okay, so you’re in the photographer. You and I agree on the photographer case. And if the photographer gets hauled in before a human rights commission, I believe RFRA will protect them and ought to protect them.

RS: I don’t know whether it will. It hasn’t so far in any case that I’m aware of.

HH: Well, at least we agree on this, and I think every major Republican is agreed on this. Are you surprised by that, Rick Santorum?

RS: I’m encouraged by it. I’m concerned that we see a lot of folks who seem to be very nervous about this issue, but I always tell people this is not, in my opinion, a gay community issue. This is a left issue. This is the hard left using this issue to try to drive a wedge. I know many, and have heard of many in the gay community who are appalled when the Mozilla man, the guy who was the head of Mozilla was fired, they want, they believe in real tolerance. They believe in people being able to live their lives. They don’t want to force people to do things that are against their religious teachings. At the same time, they don’t want to be discriminated against because of who they are. And I would agree with that. I think it’s, that nobody should discriminate against somebody because of who they are. But they shouldn’t be forced to participate in things that they disagree with.

HH: Does Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, have a consistency problem? I invited him on the show. His PR people turned me down. He’s opening stores in Saudi Arabia.

RS: Of course.

HH: And he’s blasting Indiana.

RS: That was one of the most outrageous columns I think I’ve ever read in my life. I mean, Mr. Cook should get up and give an apology to the people who he offended, and there many, and particularly in the state of Indiana, and recognize that the little splinter in their eye is nothing compared to the log in his.

HH: Speaking of Saudi Arabia, I now switch over to Islam and the problem, not in Saudi Arabia today, but in Kenya, where 147 people are dead in a massacre that lasted for hours Thursday carried out by al-Shabaab. This is in Eastern Kenya. Clearly, we have a metastasizing problem about which we shouldn’t be arguing about bakeries, in my opinion, Rick Santorum. This is the problem.

RS: Yeah, Hugh, you look at what’s going on, and you just mentioned there, Boko Haram, you look at ISIS, and you look at what the potential is with Iran with a nuclear weapon, and this is a very serious security threat that is going to metastasize as long as we not cut the head off of ISIS, as an example, but most importantly, and we stop placating Iran, which is as equally radical Islamic regime.

HH: Two women were arrested in New York City today for allegedly plotting a bomb attack. They were aficionados not of Shia radicalism, but of Sunni radicalism. They’ve got Osama bin Laden pictures on their cell phone.

RS: Yeah.

HH: Clearly, the lone wolf problem, and we still don’t know what happened at NSA. Do you know what happened at NSA yesterday, or two days ago, Rick Santorum?

RS: All I know is what’s been reported, which is, you know, a couple of guys on a bender. And whether that’s true or not, I have no idea. I’ve heard nothing more than that. All I can suggest is that they may be “:lone wolves,” but these are lone wolves inspired by organizations and leaders in the jihadist movement that are encouraging them to act in this way. So they are technically lone wolves, but they are following the edicts of the radical Islamists in the Middle East.

HH: All right, now I want to turn to some politics, and then I’m going to do Iran. When are you going to announce, if you’re going to announce for president?

RS: Right now, I’ve been saying pretty consistently we’re looking at the end of summer, beginning of, end of spring, beginning of summer. And we really haven’t seen any reason to change that. We’re getting around, and trying to assess whether this is a viable path for us, and I can tell you, at least at this point, we’re being encouraged by the things we talked about at the beginning of the interview. The message is really resonating out there. And I’m encouraged by that.

HH: Are you willing to play by the 12 debate rules laid down by Reince Priebus?

RS: I have told Reince that I think that’s a good start, that nine, I think, is the number that he originally came forward with. 12 is better, and going past, particularly if this race lasts longer, having more would be a good idea as the race goes on.

HH: All right, so I’m certain you’re applauding the first selection of a conservative participant on the panel.

RS: Wonderful choice. Excellent choice.

HH: Okay, I had to get that in. We’ll be asking you about the Browns.

RS: Other than some infirmities with respect to who you root for in sports.

— – — –

HH: Rick Santorum, what’s the best website for people to reach and find out and support your exploratory efforts?

RS: Well, it’s www.patriotvoices.com.

HH: www.patriotvoices.com. First question on politics, then to Iran. Hillary erased her server. This is, first of all, in your estimate, is it an actionable federal offense?

RS: If she erased it in response to a subpoena for the information, I think it’s pretty clearly an actionable offense.

HH: If she had not yet received the subpoena, but there were emails on there that ought to have been covered by the Federal Records Act, is it an offense?

RS: Again, I’m not as familiar with how the Federal Records Act works, so I can’t, I won’t comment directly. But clearly in the one case, it is. It may be in the other. I’m not, I just don’t know.

HH: Gawker has been reported that Sidney Blumenthal, a fairly infamous figure in Washington, D.C. was running a private intelligence network and sending her emails on this unsecured file having to do with foreign governments and reports of foreign agents. This raises questions of the Foreign Agent Registration Act and many other things. But mostly, it raises security questions, Rick Santorum.

RS: Yeah.

HH: You were in the United States Senate. Every foreign intelligence service in the world wants to penetrate the Secretary of State’s server.

RS: What the former Secretary of State Clinton did was reprehensible. It definitely threatened the security of our country. it was typical, unfortunately, of the kind of behavior that we’ve come to expect from her, that she believes that she’s above the law. And I’m hopeful that there is a real investigation, not some papered-over investigation, but a real investigation by the Justice Department to determine whether there were laws broken. And she shouldn’t be held to a different standard than anybody else.

HH: All right, now let’s go to Iran. Here is what the President said about the framework, which isn’t a deal, which wasn’t on time, which isn’t done, and which hasn’t been signed onto, earlier today.

BO: And should negotiations collapse because we, the United States, rejected what the majority of the world considers a fair deal, what our scientists and nuclear experts suggest would give us confidence that they are not developing nuclear weapons. It’s doubtful that we can even keep our current international sanctions in place. So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question. Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East? Is it worse than doing what we’ve done for almost two decades with Iran moving forward with its nuclear program and without robust inspections? I think the answer will be clear.

HH: I think I’ve got an inevitable critic here in the form of Rick Santorum. So how do you answer his question?

RS: Well, I would say first off, the reason the sanctions regime wouldn’t be holding up is because this president pulled them back and created doubt within the world whether these should continue. So I think he’s created the uncertainty in that case. So it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Number two, you know, if this is such a good deal, and so much commends it, then bring it to the Congress for ratification. That is the true test as to whether this is a good deal. Make it available to the American public, make it available to the Congress, let us take, let everybody take a look at it, let the United States Senate make a determination whether this treaty is a valid treaty that will in fact do what the President says it’s going to do. So all of those things could be wonderful, that he could be exactly right on all those things, and allow him to take it to the Congress and decide. Here’s my point of view, and I’ve said this from the beginning, Hugh. Iran is not a country that you can negotiate with. They have never kept a single treaty. In fact, my understanding is with respect to the weaponization part of the interim agreement, they have violated that agreement, that they have not kept 11 of the 12 conditions that were in place for this interim agreement. And now we expect them to keep a permanent agreement. Again, it’s sort of, you scratch your head and you wonder what the President is thinking when he believes someone who has never kept a deal, who has always had secret facilities that have not, the world has not known about, that somehow or another they’re going to transform itself because Barack Obama is the one negotiating across the table from them.

HH: Here’s one more thing the President said in the Rose Garden today, cut number 11:

RS: This is not simply a deal between my administration and Iran. This is a deal between Iran, the United States of America, and the major powers in the world, including some of our closest allies. If Congress kills this deal not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse. And the path to conflict will widen. The American people understand this, which is why solid majorities support a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue. They understand instinctively the words of President Kennedy, who faced won the far greater threat of communism and said let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. The American people remember that at the height of the Cold War. Presidents like Nixon and Reagan struck historic arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous adversary.

HH: So Rick Santorum, it’s already our fault, and he’s citing Nixon and Reagan, both of whom submitted their deals to the Congress.

RS: Right. They submitted their deals to the Congress, and what defeated the Soviet Union was not arms control. What defeated the Soviet Union was in fact a strong America that the Soviets could not keep up with. Secondly, I would argue that Iran with a nuclear weapon is more dangerous than the Soviet Union. Iran is a theocracy that believes, as you know, Hugh, the return of their 12th imam, that wants to bring about some sort of cataclysmic event in order for it to prosper, unlike the Soviet Union which was an atheistic regime that didn’t want to die. This regime in Iran sees death as a gateway to Heaven. That is a very different and much more dangerous enemy with a nuclear weapon.

HH: Last cut from the President, cut number five:

BO: In return for Iran’s actions, the international community has agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions – our own sanctions and international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. This relief will be phased as Iran takes steps to adhere to the deal. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place. Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.

HH: What do you think, Rick Santorum? Is it snappable back into place? And do you have faith that the other sanctions will remain in force?

RS: Well, that the President even raised that, which he doesn’t know, given what’s happened here, whether we would be able to maintain sanctions. Obviously, if we relieved them, the controversy, knowing that at least two of the members of the five plus one on the Iranian side of the deal. We’re not really concerned about Iran getting a nuclear weapon. I think it would be hard to say that we’re going to be able to put things back as they were if the Iranians do what inevitably they will do, which is cheat their way to a nuke. Look, we shouldn’t be having this discussion. The Iranians wouldn’t be going through the hoops that they’re going through if they didn’t intend to get a nuclear weapon. That’s what the President seems to fail to understand, that this is an untrustworthy adversary. And making a deal with them to give them some space to develop this weapon is not in the interest of the United States.

HH: Last question, can you and the other Republican would-be presidents persuade the American people of this?

RS: Let’s look at the deal. And I certainly am going to do my best to persuade them. The evidence is pretty convincing that Iran has never kept a deal. And why would we believe after all of these negotiations that they would keep this deal? And so that would be primary. But then let’s look at the specifics and analyze that as they appear.

HH: Rick Santorum, thank you. www.patriotvoices.com. I assume you’re on tonight with Sean Hannity, my pal? Say hello to Sean and continue to carry forward the good message, and someday, Penn State will have a basketball program.

End of interview.

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