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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Rick Santorum On The Pope’s Visit, The 2016 Campaign

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Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum joined me today:

Audio:

09-25hhs-santorum

Transcript:

HH: I’m joined now by Rick Santorum, himself quite the devout Catholic. I’m wondering, Senator Santorum, before we turn to politics, your reaction to the Pope’s visit yesterday, today, and you know, what’s coming in your home state of Pennsylvania tomorrow.

RS: Well, I’m excited. My wife and kids are all going to have an opportunity to be there with the Pope in Philadelphia, and so very excited for them, and even our daughter, Bella, is going to get a chance to see him. So…

HH: Oh, how terrific.

RS: You can see it’s very emotional. Sorry about that. Anyway, so we’re excited about that for the family. So as you can tell, you know, I’m a fan. And I think it’s beautiful what he’s done, is reach out and reached out to people on, frankly, on messages that are not traditional messages that you might hear from a pope, but I think he did so in context of that we have to be good stewards of our creation, of God’s creation, I should say, and we have to care for the poor and care for those who are the stranger if you will, the immigrant, and reached out in a beautiful way to people who I don’t think necessarily listen to people of faith or popes or anybody else who come from a more faith perspective. And I think the exciting thing is that he’s, throughout, even though he focused on these things, he always was very careful to connect it into a broader mosaic, and that this is a piece of a narrative, of a holistic view of how the world is supposed to function, how God has put His people here to steward this Earth. And it includes the dignity of life. It includes the centrality of the family. It includes the institution of marriage. It includes all of those things that you hear the Church talk about a lot, but it’s now woven into a much more broader mosaic. And I think you’re going to see, you saw it at the U.N. as well as you’re going to hear in Philadelphia, a lot more emphasis on some of those other things. But now, he’s sort of opened the door to let people to come in and listen. And now, hopefully, they will have an opportunity to see how this all weaves together as a whole. And that’s a beautiful thing that I think he’s done, and opened the ears of a lot of people who weren’t listening.

HH: Senator Santorum, I have a take on this. Yesterday, Governor Kasich, one of your rivals for the nomination, also joy-filled over the Pope, Speaker Boehner obviously impacted by him, as are you, as am I.

RS: Yeah.

HH: We all, the four of us, you know, John Boehner is a little bit older than me, and you’re a little bit younger, and John Kasich is a little bit older than me, but we all came out of the middle of the country where the Catholic Church actually formed a community for a lot of years, which was all-embracing.

RS: Yeah.

HH: And Francis is kind of that throwback, actually.

RS: Yeah, he is. Yeah, it really is. He’s a pastor. I mean, that’s really true. And he really sees his role as trying to open up to people who are suffering, because you see it. And certainly, you see it in his area of the world, whether it’s Argentina, and certainly in Europe, where he is now, it’s very much a post-Christian world. And the plight of that world is not a very pretty one. And I think he really sees his central mission is to bring the Gospel. And he has to meet people where they are. I think that’s really what’s important. Christ met people where they were, and then brought them along to tell them the rest of the story. And I think that’s what Francis is doing.

HH: I couldn’t agree more, and it’s a wonderful pastoral event, and I’m so glad that your entire family, including Bella, gets a chance to meet the Holy Father in Philadelphia. My guess is that Archbishop Chaput may have had something to do with that, am I right?

RS: He is a dear, dear friend, but I give, where as you can imagine, we have a lot of friends in Philadelphia, so that was, instead of fighting the politicians down in Washington, or the big players up in New York, we went home to Pennsylvania and to Philadelphia where we have a lot of dear friends. And unfortunately, I can’t be there. I wish I was, but I can’t be there. But you know, we only had so many tickets, and I wanted to give them to the kid and Karen. They carry the burden in this campaign, so they should get the benefits.

HH: You know, John Boehner spoke today, and he didn’t tear up until he mentioned his daughters and his wife, Rick Santorum. Did you watch the Speaker announce his departure?

RS: I did not. I spoke at the Values Voters Summit today, and then you know, obviously had a lot of media and other types of events to do. And I just really have been sort of coming up for air right now, to be honest with you.

HH: Well, he did. He teared up when he talked, as you just did, about his wife and his daughters are the ones who bear the burden. And so often in American politics, people forget that families do get both the joys of victory and the sorrows of defeat.

RS: It’s ugly. Yeah, even during victory, it’s many times very ugly for families, because you have, with the advent of social media, anyone can say anything to anybody and be heard. And sometimes, it’s very painful just to turn on your Facebook page or you know, look up your Twitter account or other things that are happening in the world, people what they say on the radio and etc. So it is painful. It’s painful for them to see someone they love get beat up and feel somewhat powerless to do anything about it. I mean, your natural protection, whether it’s a husband to his wife and kids, or even the kids and a spouse to their loved one, is to protect them, is to be there for them. And in the world today, it’s brutal.

HH: It’s very brutal, and I’ll continue that conversation in just a moment.

— – – — –

HH: I last saw him a week, ten days ago, on the debate stage. Rick Santorum, how’d you think that went? I thought the undercard was actually easier on all the candidates because you got more time.

RS: Yeah, it was, I actually got a lot of positive comments. When I was in Iowa, you know, for the four or five days after the debate, what I, number one, a lot of people saw it. You know, caucus goers watched both debates, and I thought you’re right. Number one, they didn’t like the nastiness of the latter debate and the name calling and the personal attacks. And as you saw in the first debate, you know, I refused to get into it, and we did have differences between myself and Governor Pataki, myself and both Governor Jindal and Senator Graham. But you know, it was on substance. It was not on a personal level, and I think people really appreciated the substantive differences.

HH: And I appreciated, I think, both the first and the second debate combined for the largest extended discussion of national security issues in the history of debates, which I continue with you now. Today, amid all the noise and hoopla and the grace around the Pope, and the political shockwaves around the Speaker, the president of China went to the Rose Garden, and the president of the United States said you know, we’re going to keep an eye on you and we’re watching you. And it was impotent, Senator Santorum. It was absolutely impotent.

RS: Yeah, well, you know, this is a president who has now been marginalized on the world stage. I mean, he’s seen as someone who’s incredibly weak, indecisive, makes statements that he doesn’t stand behind, enters into negotiations where he capitulates on every front, and is in a word, feckless. And so you have the president of China who comes in who looks like the dominant figure, and is certainly, there’s no doubt, he’s feeling it. You can see, I’ve seen some of the pictures. You can see the guy that seems like the confident one, the one that is in control of the situation, and it’s a very sad, it’s a very sad time for America to see a president who has given away so much of America’s prestige and America’s strength around the world. And that’s why it’s so important to have someone moving into office in 2017 who our enemies know and respect, and our allies know that they can trust. And one of the things I talk about on the campaign trail a lot, there a lot of good men and women running. You’re looking at we need someone who has a strong track record of standing up and opposing radical Islam and has actually led the fight on it, which I have for a dozen years, particularly on Iran, someone who has a strong relationship with our allies. Those are the things that we need to look for, and really, I would argue that we’re in a stronger position than anybody else to take that helm and lead this country.

HH: Were you surprised by Governor Walker’s exit and the message that he gave at the end of his exit, which seemed to be if you can’t win, get off? Did you take that as a message to you? And, or was it more rightly directed at other governors?

RS: Look, you know, Scott Walker is from Wisconsin, and where the chairman of the RNC is from, and I recollect back four years ago that as soon as Mitt Romney won New Hampshire, there was a call from the establishment, of course a lot of it coming through the RNC, which is you know, we’ve got to get this over. In fact, they’ve now structured this entire primary to try to force an establishment candidate with the most money to have the best chance of winning, and trying to force out all of the conservative challengers. That’s been the design from this from the very beginning. It’s the reason they went with national debates and tried to limit the number of people in those debates. There’s no question that Scott Walker was parroting what the RNC was asking him to do, and look, I get that. I mean, they tried to get me out of the race four years ago, and when I was at one or two percent in the polls, and I remind everybody I was at two percent in the national polls before I won the state of Iowa in a caucus a week later. And we then catapulted to the top, and had an opportunity to win this nomination. So there’s a long, long way between now and the first of February when Iowa starts to vote. And all of these national polls, as you know, Hugh, don’t mean a thing. What matters is when they vote in Iowa, and I feel very confident we’re going to do exceptionally well.

HH: Have you got the money to keep going and live off the land, because Scott Walker obviously did not want to run a Rick Santorum-style 2012 campaign?

RS: Well, yeah, if you look at the numbers…

HH: Is Rick Santorum willing to do that?

RS: Well, you look at the numbers he was spending per month, that is what I’ll spend in a half a year. I mean, that’s, we run a grassroots, people-oriented campaign. I mean, I fly middle seats on commercial airlines. We drive where we can. We stay at places that value people’s contribution to my campaign. I know the people who contribute to my campaign. They can’t, many of them can’t afford it. But they give because they know I’m out there standing for working men and women, and trying to provide an opportunity to stand for the dignity of human life. And so it’s important that they know that I value their money, and am going to use it judiciously, and so that’s what I do.

HH: I think you just stepped on the dog’s tail, though. I don’t know what you…

RS: No, that’s our dog, Darcy, and she’s a puppy. And so she’s not quite figured out, you know, how to keep her radio voice down.

HH: All right, so tell me about, you just mentioned the establishment. John Boehner represented to many people the establishment. Very classy exit today, you know, hard job.

RS: Yeah.

HH: Kevin McCarthy, almost certainly going to replace him as Speaker. Does that provide some of the change that you’re hearing demanded on the campaign trail?

RS: Well, it certainly will. Look, I came into Congress with John Boehner, and we were part of the Gang of Seven together. And I know John Boehner’s heart. I know he’s a conservative guy, he’s a fighter. And so that’s the reason he became Speaker, because he was a conservative and a fighter. It’s a thankless, brutal job. And did he do a perfect job? Obviously not. And you know, I was critical of him on many occasions, but look, John’s a good man, and I really do wish him the very, very best. But sometimes, even good people who try their best need to move aside for a breath of fresh air and a new chance to make a new impression. On a lot of voters in the Republican Party, you’re pretty ticked off about the lack of willingness to fight in Washington, and just as importantly, the inability to win. And hopefully, and I don’t know Kevin that well, I certainly know him, but don’t know him well. Hopefully, he can be the face of the Republican Party in the Congress that’s more dynamic, more personable, better able to communicate our vision and take on this administration in Washington, D.C., and hopefully successfully.

HH: 30 seconds, Senator Santorum, the President wants a shutdown. Should the Republicans cooperate in that? Or should they avoid that fight right now?

RS: Well, the problem with the shutdown right now is that we know we can’t win, because the Senate leader has said we’re not going to shut down the government.

HH: Hold it. In fact, hold on for a second.

RS: When your general refuses to fight, it’s hard for the army to win.

HH: If I can keep you over, I want to get a longer answer from you on that, Senator Santorum. Stick with me for the short segment coming up right after the break on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

— – – – –

HH: Right now, former United States Senator Rick Santorum, candidate for the president, the man who won the Iowa Caucuses four years ago, is on the phone with me, and we were talking before the break about the President clearly wants a shutdown, and you began to talk about why it won’t work for Republicans, Rick Santorum. Would you explain? We’ve got two minutes. What is the reality right now, and how to avoid going over a cliff?

RS: Well, the reality is that your general has said, announced that he’s not going to assemble the army to fight. I mean, the majority leader has already told President Obama he’s going to win. You know, the problem, and this is what makes people so upset is that we aren’t even willing to engage the fight to see how or whether we can win it or not. We’ve already signaled we’re going to surrender, and so how do you martial the forces? How do you get people to go along and engage the fight when your own generals are not, are saying we concede, we give up? And that’s the frustration. So should we fight? Of course, we should fight. Should we make this a central part? Of course, we should. To make the Planned Parenthood videos out there, put them out there and have a debate as to why the President wants to shut down the government because of this is, to me, is an opportunity that we should not pass. But we can’t, because we have a Senate that simply will not go along with it.

HH: It would require, at a minimum, breaking the filibuster rules, and I’ve talked with you about this many, many times.

RS: Yeah, that’s not in the cards for me. It’s, as we’ve seen, even in this administration, the filibuster rules have prevented a lot of bad things from this president to do. Now he’s gone ahead and done many of them through executive order and regulation, but as you know, Hugh, the next president can change those. So it’s different if you actually pass a law. It’s a lot harder to put the genie back in the bottle.

HH: We’ll continue the conversation in the weeks and months ahead, Rick Santorum. Thank you for joining me on short notice on a very big news day. I appreciate it. Good luck over the weekend, and to your family, blessings as they see the Holy Father in Philadelphia.

End of interview.

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