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Rick Santorum On The President’s Address, His Worldview, The GOP’s Foreign Policy Direction, And One Generation Away

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HH: Late last night in the east, I invited former United States Seantor Rick Santorum to join me for a quick reaction to the President’s speech. And he was so good and on point that he’s come back today also to talk about his brand new movie, One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty. Senator Santorum, welcome back to the program.

RS: Well, thank you very much, Hugh, I appreciate it. And thanks for giving me the opportunity to comment on the continuing failure of the Obama presidency.

HH: Did it get any better after you slept on it? Because last night, neither you nor I were impressed, and so it’s been almost 24 hours, what do you think now?

RS: Well, it’s just, you know, you sit here and you watch the media spin. And it’s sort of, you know, you see one thing, and you hear what’s reported as something completely different than what you experienced. And at some point, that becomes dangerous, Hugh. I mean, it just becomes dangerous that the media is just so skewed, and that you don’t really get a real sense of reality of what’s going on in America. But that’s why you’re here, and that’s why people listen to you to get the real truth.

HH: Arthur Brooks said in the first hour the President’s policy is to look busy. And coming up next hour, Ravij Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post will be on. He quotes General James Mattis, a true war fighter, as saying look, this is very dangerous. If you don’t kill them, they take advantage of every vacuum. And I think even though the media is spinning wildly, the President’s attempt to muffle the criticism didn’t work, Rick Santorum.

RS: Well, the bottom line is that this, you saw the CIA reporting today that the numbers are growing, that the recruitment is growing, and their recruitment isn’t growing because we’re in the Middle East and we’re causing problems, right? ISIS grew as we withdrew. ISIS didn’t grow because we were an irritant. ISIS didn’t grow because we were engaged and fomenting opposition to United States policies. In fact, ISIS grew because we allowed them the opportunity to grow. Why? It’s not because ISIS, because they hate what we’re doing. They hate who we are. And they want to destroy who we are because of who we are. And that’s what the President doesn’t understand. He doesn’t grasp the rationale behind their existence. And it has nothing to do with our policies. It has to do with our identity.

HH: I agree with that 100%. I had my law students read The Looming Tower. Many of them had never ever undertaken any kind of systematic study of where al Qaeda came from. But in their reaction, I sense that the President hasn’t, either. I honestly, I don’t think he’s done the work, Senator. Do you?

RS: Well, I think he comes from a perspective. This is someone who, I mean, you’ve had Dinesh D’Souza on your program, so I think, you know, I won’t go over all that’s been said. But this is a man of the left. This is the man who believes that Western Civilization is foundationally flawed, and that it needs to be transformed, and particularly America, that particular breed of Western Civilization that believes in God-given rights is highly problematic in its moral codes and its role of government in people’s lives. And so you know, I think he just sort of sees things differently than we do, and I respect that. He’s allowed to have those differences. But I think it’s becoming clearer and clearer that there’s dangers associated to that to the United States.

HH: Now Rick Santorum, I’ve got to ask this question. Four years ago, I don’t think anyone really gave you a hair of a chance of really getting the nomination. It was remarkable that you won Iowa, that you stayed in the game as long. But this time around, you did win Iowa. And in the Republican system, you’re almost automatically guaranteed the nomination, because you were second last time around. As a candidate, if you are a candidate again, do you want foreign policy to dominate these debates? Do you think they will dominate these debates?

RS: I think they’re going to be an important part of the debate, only because I don’t see, as we saw from last night’s speech, I don’t see the President changing his tune. And as a result, I think the United States will continue to be weak. And when the United States is weak, others will try to gain and strengthen their position. And I think that’s going to continue to occur in Russia. It will occur in China. China hasn’t even been on the newspapers, but what China’s doing is equally threatening to our allies in South Korea and Japan and Taiwan, and so there is a growing presence of folks who do not have America’s interest in mind, and dominating the world community right now. And I don’t think that’s going to change. And so there’s no doubt it will be. And as someone who’s looking at the 2016 presidential race, I’m looking at the field and seeing really no one there that has any kind of national security experience. It certainly encourages me to take a more serious look at that, as someone who’s been engaged in this field, and very active from both the standpoint of the Armed Services Committee when I served eight years there, and been very active on national security matters for the better part of 20 years.

HH: Now I have a piece coming out in Politico tomorrow, co-authored with Robert O’Brien, that talks about whether or not Romney will get in. But if he doesn’t, it seems to me that Iowa is a three-way scrum between you, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. I don’t know that anyone, I know that Governor Perry has been up there, but I don’t know that he has a great deal of roots. He didn’t do very well there the last time. Do you welcome a debate with Ted Cruz and Rand Paul about American foreign policy? And how do you see that debate, you know, Rand Paul, I don’t call him isolationist. That’s pejorative. I call him non-interventionist. And I don’t, Senator Cruz last night got booed off the stage for saying a good word about Israel, God bless him. But it’s a weird time in the Republican Party right now.

RS: It is a strange time, and there is, for the last couple of years, there’s been a, the last two years, thanks to Rand Paul’s father, there’s been a burgeoning debate in the Republican Party about the role of how we should be, whether we should be involved and engaged in international affairs, or whether we should just try to recede and allow the world to do its thing, and just only get involved where it directly affects us. And I think we’ve seen President Obama take a very similar approach to that, and now we’re seeing the consequences of it. I wrote an article earlier this week citing Rand Paul and some of the positions he’s taken, which he’s now trying to backtrack on. And I admire him in a sense for taking those positions, for trying to move the Republican Party in a direction he thinks is best. But now that things have heated up, he’s trying to put the genie back in the bottle. And I think the bottom line is, and this goes for President Obama, too, that just because a war isn’t hot doesn’t mean it’s not still percolating. And while radical Islam seemed to take a respite there for a while, I think people who look at the 1,300 year history of radical Islam knows that respites only last a bit of time and then they do come back. And this is a continuing struggle and threat. And until Islam begins to address its own internal problems, and deal with its own radical fringe, then this problem is going to continue to be one that the West has to attend to.

HH: I also want to spend some time on this new film, One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty, because we do treasure our religious liberty. But there is a problem, and I teach a 1st Amendment seminar, I taught it today. If you have, for example, a Muslim Brotherhood that is covert, that organizes in order to destroy the religious freedom that allows it to prosper, and does not declare its agenda, how do you balance that wonderful commitment we have had to tolerance of all views, Rick Santorum, with the takfiri ideology, which is a small slice of Islam, but it’s the radical, dangerous element?

RS: Yeah, and look, I mean, every freedom, religious freedom, freedom of speech, you know, you teach a 1st Amendment class, there are limits to every freedom. And the government has the responsibility of assessing that. And you know, you have the compelling state interest test. And I don’t want to get into the legal speak here, because I’m a lawyer, but I’m not a particularly good Constitutional lawyer, but the idea that the state has a right to protect its citizens even with those who are claiming religious rights, but if they endanger the public, and certainly radical Islamists who want to use violence to either overthrow the government or to harm people cannot be protected by a religious shield.

HH: How is One Generation Away resonating with the audiences that have seen it?

RS: Just great. I’m here in Phoenix today, and last night had a group at the Arizona Christian University see it. And it really enthralled the young people, because the thing that struck me the most was, their comment was wow, I didn’t know any of this stuff. I’ve never heard any of the responses to all of these claims by those who are the separation of Church and state folks. I really didn’t know where that came from. We didn’t know what the historical basis of it. We don’t know how to respond to someone who says that well, why shouldn’t someone make a cake for someone at a gay wedding? What’s wrong with that? And the question isn’t whether someone should make a cake or not. You could make the argument that if you’re a good Christian, you should, or if you’re a good Christian, you shouldn’t. The point is should the government force you to do it? And that’s really the question here, is that what are we doing to do, and that’s what this movie does, to inform those about what real, honest religious liberty is in this country, and why it’s important for everyone, not just believers, but for everyone to have a good, decent and moral framework for our country.

HH: Rick Santorum, where do they get more information on the film? And how do they possibly get it in their church?

RS: Yeah, it’s www.onegenerationawaymovie.com. You can go on there and sign up. If you’re a pastor, you can sign up in your church. If you’re someone who’s a dean or a president of a school, you can get your college to sign up. We show it at both colleges and churches. And if you’re just ordinary folk like me, then you should bring that to the attention of your pastor, and say we need to educate our people on this. We need to be able to respond. We need to be able to carry the argument in the public square. And the church needs to rise up and protect its liberty before it’s taken from them.

HH: Rick Santorum, always a pleasure, Senator, www.onegenerationawaymovie.com.

End of interview.

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