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Rick Santorum on Refusing Federal Campaign Funds, Ex-Im, John King and Syria

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Rick Santorum was my guest today and pledged to refuse federal funding in the general election in order to keep pace with President Obama’s spending if he is the nominee, while also defending the Ex-Im Bank and arguing for arming the Syrian opposition despite concerns that the Christian minority in Syria would suffer if the Alawite regime was overthrown.

The transcript will be posted here later:

HH: Joined now by former United States Senator and presidential candidate, Rick Santorum. His website is www.ricksantorum.com. You can read there an op-ed on U.S. manufacturing that the Senator published in the Detroit News yesterday. Senator, welcome back and congratulations. You had quite the fundraising month in January, according to the numbers released today.

RS: We did very, very well. We’re very excited about that, and we’re having an even better February. So we’re even more excited about that.

HH: 80,000 small donors, Senator. Are they the sort that will come back again and again to keep you in this race?

RS: They are indeed coming back again and again and again. We’ve done, like I said, even better this month than we did last month. We’ve exceeded our numbers, our January numbers. And it’s all small donors. We’re not doing any major fundraising from the standpoint of fundraisers. I’m out here on the road. I’m here in Arizona heading to a rally right now that we’re going to be doing. And I spoke to a couple of other groups earlier today. This is the campaign. It’s a campaign that’s on the road, and we’re counting on sort of living off the land of the folks who support our vision for our country and defeating this president. [# More #]

HH: Now this raises a general election issue, which is important, Senator. The President destroyed the public financing system of presidential elections four years ago when he blew off, as promised, to stay within those limits. Will you commit to matching him in rejecting public finance? In other words, will you raise as much as you need to raise and forego the McCain option of being overspent two, three to one?

RS: Yeah, no, we’re not going to unilaterally disarm in this race. We believe we can raise an incredible amount of money. And I think the concern about the future of our country and the loss of freedom as we’ve seen in the past few weeks, this administration is willing to run roughshod over anybody or anything that gets in its way in its radical ideology. And we’re going to go out and rally the forces of what made this country great, and believers in that, and we’ll take Barack Obama on, and we will beat him.

HH: So you will blow off the federal offer of funding?

RS: I don’t think there’s any way that any candidate going into the fall election can limit themselves to that amount of money when Obama’s going to have two, three times that amount. We’ve got to go forward and do what’s necessary to compete against him.

HH: Was it a bad thing that he destroyed the system four years ago, Senator Santorum, despite his pledge not to do so?

RS: Look, Barack Obama plays by his own rules. He always does. He sets up rules for everybody else, and then when it doesn’t fit his desires, then he goes and does thing rather the way we do things in America. We believe in freedom, and we believe in going out and taking on. So here’s a president who preaches a statist model, and the government should control thing, unless of course it gets in his way. And if it gets in his way, he goes back to how America works, which is you go out and take on that responsibility, and you do it yourself, and you raise the money, and you make it happen. So I give the President credit for how he ran his campaign last year, excuse me, four years ago. He just isn’t running the government based on that model.

HH: All right, Senator, I want to turn to your manufacturing piece in the Detroit News. It talked about a zero tax rate for manufacturing. I support that. I’m not one of these Wall Street Journal folks who thinks that that’s crazy to use the tax code to advance manufacturing. But a lot of conservatives in Washington, D.C. right now have opened up a war on the Export Import Bank of all things. You were in the Senate for 12 years. You know the Ex-Im. Do you think it’s a good idea for it to exist to assist American manufacturers in the sale of their goods and products to developing nations around the globe?

RS: It has been beneficial. You know, I understand that people are looking at ways in which we can shrink the size of government. I would say this, that that certainly wouldn’t be the first place I would look, that we need to understand that competing, and particularly in some of these smaller countries, is very, very difficult, and particularly for some of our smaller manufacturers, and that the Ex-Im Bank can be very helpful in that regard. Again, I think it’s, you know, let’s go out and take on everything. I think there are smarter way to go about it, and so no, the Ex-Im Bank would not be the first place I would go. That’s not to say that we can’t, that we couldn’t create a better and more expansive playing field for American manufacturers to compete, for example, to our tax plan of getting rid of the corporate tax on manufacturing. It may create a platform for our folks that we don’t need that kind of support from the Ex-Im Bank, and that’s something I might look at in that context. But as it currently sits, that’s not where I would go.

HH: All right, now I want to turn to the debate tomorrow night. John King is moderating, incredibly, and I like John King. He’s a fair guy, he’s very experienced. But he’s moderating his third Republican debate. How in the world does that happen, that not one debate has been moderated by, for example, a Mark Levin or a Laura Ingraham or a Dennis Prager, or a Bill Bennett, and yet John King has had three of them?

RS: Well, this is the power of the cable networks. They have the ability, because they can guarantee eyeballs to attract candidates to say yeah, well, since you can guarantee that you’re going to run this on prime time, and you’re going to get millions of people to watch, we’ll give you the authority to select the moderator. And that’s the power of the media. The sad part is that you’ve got the same situation on Fox, and you could have had Fox put someone out there that would be a conservative that might ask questions that conservatives would want to ask as opposed to the media, which is in a continual gotcha mode, and trying to create antipathy between the candidates.

HH: I want to turn to one of those questions that I just haven’t heard asked. I hope John King asks it tomorrow night. Syria is engaged in the slaughter of its citizens, Rick Santorum. You know that region very well. What could the President have done, and what would Rick Santorum do, if you were the president, to stop that slaughter?

RS: We’d be aiding the rebels. We’d be aiding the Syrian, the new Syrian army, the opposition Syrian army with whatever weapons that we could get into that country through a variety of different avenues. And we’d be supporting them, and not in any kind of direct military way, but directly through, as I said, supporting them with arms, ammunition and other kind of support.

HH: There are concerns that the Allawites protect the Christians, and that therefore, we ought to be slow to see the Allawite region of Assad overthrown, because Islamists will come in his wake and murder Christians, as is happening in Egypt. How do you respond to that, Rick Santorum?

RS: Well, you know, this is a regime that supports, that is a puppet regime of Iran. And Iran is a much greater threat not just to the Christian community, but to the entire region of the world and our national security. And that relationship trumps any concern that I would have that this new regime, which will essentially be an anti-Iranian regime. It will have to be, because they know that the Iranians are the ones that are killing them, indirectly, through Assad. So I think you create at least an opportunity for a much friendlier or more pro-Western group that’s in Syria than what we have today. And that gives me some hope that the Christian population there will be safe.

HH: Senator Rick Santorum, always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you, Senator. www.ricksantorum.com, America, if you want to help the Senator out.

End of interview.

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