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Rick Santorum on the budget and how to deal, or not deal, with birtherism

Thursday, March 3, 2011
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HH: Joined now by former United States Senator Rick Santorum, who you can hear across the Salem Radio Network almost every Friday morning sitting in for Bill Bennett on Morning In America. Hello, Senator, welcome back, always good to talk to you.

RS: Well, thank you. In fact, I’ll be hosting tomorrow morning, so I’ll look forward to that.

HH: Go home and go to bed right now. How do you like getting up at 4:00 in the morning? I did morning drive for like a day. I hated it.

RS: It’s a little rough for me. I’m in Chicago today, and have a speech tonight in the Windy City, and yeah, I’ve got to get up at 3:00 in the morning Chicago time. So it’s a little shorter night here.

HH: Oh, that is brutal. Who are you talking to in Chicago?

RS: Yeah, I go on the air at 5:00AM.

HH: But which group are you talking to?

RS: It’s a group in support of Catholic schools in the city of Chicago.

HH: Oh, that is wonderful.

RS: Yeah.

HH: That is wonderful. Now Rick, last time we talked, and then I saw you at the Salem event in Washington, D.C., you created a lot of headlines by saying social issues have to be on the front page of any Republican debate. Now, you made a lot of headlines because Fox News said look, it looks like you’re running for president. I don’t think anything changed, actually, officially, from you in the last six months. But what were they talking about?

RS: Well, I don’t know. I mean, you’d need to ask them as to what’s the criteria they made. I mean, look, there are provisions in the contract that say that if you’re a candidate for public office, and they sort of triggered that, and sort of gave me a 60 day period of time to make a decision. And so they didn’t cancel my contract. They suspended it depending on whether I was going to run or not. And I don’t know, they have the right to do that, I guess. So how they came to that determination that I was someone that was looking to run, and that Newt was, and that others who are at Fox weren’t, you’d have to ask them. I don’t know. But look, it’s fine with me. I’ve got the opportunity now to go out and go on some other stations, and talk about, instead of the things that the producers want me to talk about, I get to go on and talk about things I want to talk about.

HH: Yeah, I saw you on with John King yesterday. I may be the only man in America that watches John King, but he was on in the studio at that time.

RS: (laughing)

HH: And so I saw that conversation and said well, that’s very liberating for someone who might run. What’s your timetable, Rick Santorum, for the formal declaration?

RS: You know, I’m still walking through that process. You know, I’m still trying to discern. And people ask me if I’m running, and I say no, I’m walking, and trying to take one step after another, discern whether this is what God’s calling me to do. And I think that’s how most people make decisions. You’ve just got to see whether this is really what your call is, and on such a big decision like this. And candidly, Hugh, I don’t feel any pressure to make the decision anytime soon. I mean, there’s nobody else really popping in the race. And I look at what I’m doing, I’m doing things that I would be doing whether I was a candidate…if I was going to be a candidate, I really wouldn’t be doing anything different than what I’m doing now, which is exploring whether this is real or not, and going out there and trying to put the teams together, putting your endorsements together, try to put your fundraising team together. And all of this is, to me, is how well you do there, is an indication as to whether you should run. But it’s also an indication, if you do well, that it’s time to move forward.

HH: Well, since we last spoke, both John Thune explicitly, and Mitch Daniels implicitly, indicated they’re not going to seek the presidential nomination. And we’ve had, I mean, I think Mike Huckabee may have taken himself out of the game a long time ago. But the birther comments this week didn’t help. What did you make of that, by the way, the Kenyan incident with Mike Huckabee?

RS: You know, it’s hard for me to say. I didn’t see it, and so it’s hard for me to comment. All I saw was the report of what he said, and I didn’t see how he said it or what went on. But look, as far as the Kenyan thing, I’m sure it’s just, you know, his father was from Kenya, and maybe that’s what triggered that in his mind. And you know, as you know, Hugh, when you get to talking, and sometimes, you get things a little confused, and you say things you shouldn’t have said. And he apologized. As far as the birther comments, you know, my feeling on that is that the President qualified on the ballot in 50 states, and they have the responsibility to determine whether he meets the requirements, and they did. And so it’s time to move.

HH: What are you going to do, Rick Santorum, on the trail? I call them nutters. I don’t even let birthers on the show. I don’t let people challenge the President’s Christianity. I don’t let them near that, because it’s so toxic, and it’s so wrong, and it’s so obviously false. But you’re going to run into that a lot. You’re going to, because I do all the time when I’m on the road. Someone from the back of the room will stand up and come out of nowhere with the, you know, the President was born on the Moon and he’s made of green cheese comment. And I know how to answer that. But when you’re running for president, have you got an answer yet ready on how to shut down the nutters?

RS: Well, I mean, as you know in politics, you get the flavor of the day, in many cases, of folks who come out with some pretty bizarre ideas, from both the left and the right. And my feeling is the President says who he is, I believe him, next question. I don’t know if you just shut it down. You just say I don’t agree with you, and there are certainly much more important issues for us to be dealing with, with respect to his policies and what it’s doing to America. And that’s what I’d like to stay focused on.

HH: Yeah, I hope that whenever you guys have your first debate, that somebody asks that question, and you all say the President was born in Hawaii, he is a Christian, we’ll move on. That would be the best thing, and we’re not going to answer these crazy questions. Rick Santorum, what about…

RS: Well…

HH: Go ahead.

RS: No, I was just saying, I did an interview with ABC News yesterday, and the interesting thing is this move by the media to say well, what are you going to do to dispel that, as if I have some special obligation to go out and make the case. I said what I’m doing to do to dispel that? I don’t believe it. I believe what he says. But what else are you going to do? Tell me, Hugh, what else can we do?

HH: That is a trap, and the mainstream media, that’s why I didn’t want anyone to go to the Reagan library and do that debate, because they will ask this forever. And that’s why Governor Huckabee should have had a better answer ready, I think. Before we run out of time, though, I’m going to talk with your old friend, Tom Coburn, next hour. Are the Republican House members, Rick Santorum, acting quickly enough on the FY 2012 budget?

RS: Well, what they’re doing…on the 2012 budget?

HH: On the 2012 budget, not the continuing resolution, but on the big deal.

RS: Look, they have, they’re going to put together, I hope and assume, they’re going to put together a comprehensive budget, and they’re going to float it out. Usually, April is when the budget comes out. I mean, they’ll have the opportunity to run it through the committee and do it. I would be stunned if Paul Ryan and the Budget committee does not produce a comprehensive budget that does, that puts a real dent into spending. And if they don’t, I think it’s going to do great damage to them. So if they’re not working quickly and promptly, and I just have to believe, given Paul’s single focus on this that they are, that they’ll have it done. And it may not be quite on time, but it’ll be out there, and it’ll be strong.

HH: I hope it’s soon. Rick Santorum, always a pleasure, www.ricksantorum.com to get the latest news on Rick’s possible campaign for the presidency, www.ricksantorum.com.

End of interview.

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