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Rick Santorum’s concerns with a John McCain presidency.

Thursday, March 1, 2007
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HH: We go to Rick Santorum, great Senator from the State of Pennsylvania, now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, opening his own PR firm as well. Senator Santorum, good to talk to you again.

RS: Hey, how are you doing, Hugh?

HH: Great, great. I caught a Politico story this afternoon, in which you say the only one I wouldn’t support is McCain, Santorum said during an interview in his office at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “I don’t agree with him on hardly any issues, I don’t think he has the temperament and the leadership ability to move the country in the right direction.” That’s going to leave a mark, Senator. Have you been hearing from people already?

RS: No, as a matter of fact, I haven’t, but I don’t know. I’ve been sort of busy all day. I just sort of came up for air, and your crack producer, Duane, grabbed me, and so you’re the first person I’ve talked to about it.

HH: Well, this will have a lot of reverberations, because there are very few people among the conservative movement with the standing that you have. Any elaboration on this?

RS: Well, I mean, if you go through the important policy differences that I think are central, I mean, Senator McCain and I, I think, share pretty much a common vision on the war, although we’ve had some differences in the past. And I respect him on that. I think on national security, John is solid, and that’s an important thing. So I don’t minimize that in any way. But on just about every other issue out there that’s important to me, you know, we’ve seen differences. On taxes, John was never a vote that we could count on to reduce taxes, and I just fundamentally believe that that’s what Republicans are all about, and he was one of the few, less than a handful, that repeatedly voted against reducing taxes and keeping tax rates down. He’s, on an issue that I think is essential for a republic, which is campaign finance and the freedom of speech, I think he’s done great damage to our republic in the way campaigns are run and financed. And it’s this misguided notion that government should control speech, and that we should limit speech as a way of improving the discourse in this country, and I think it’s wrongheaded, and I think it’s dangerous, and he has been the outright leader. I think he’s wrong on immigration. He’s been the leader on that issue, too, which he’s been wrong on the issue of the environment and our energy security. And I think it’s…talking what he’s talking about with the issue of accepting at face value and beyond the issue of what we need to do to control emissions, and having government controls of those emissions and not do it through technology, but do it through imposed government solutions, I think, is certainly from my state, Pennsylvania, devastating to a manufacturing state, and devastating to our economy, and I think will make us more energy dependent, and as a result, will decrease our security in this country. And I can go on with other issues, but those are pretty major issues in my book.

HH: Yup.

RS: And I just don’t think he’s been there, and on the social issues that I care a lot about, look, I’ve been out there for twelve years leading in the United States Senate. I challenge you to find John McCain standing up one time when I was on the floor of the Senate fighting for the lives of the unborn, or fighting for the defense of marriage, standing up there and fighting with me. He just hasn’t been there.

HH: What about today, Politico also runs a story on Rudy Giuliani’s judges, the 75 judges he appointed when he was mayor of New York.

RS: Yeah.

HH: They were pretty liberal in the estimate of Politico. I talked to Ted Olson just before you came on, and he said oh, that’s New York, that’s muni judges, you can’t get much, it’s a political system. Does that unnerve you? And can you get behind Rudy Giuliani?

RS: What…I’ve been very clear. I’m not getting behind anybody right now. I mean, I’ve got concerns with every one of the candidates out there. And I think the media is artificially imposing a decision on a lot of people that’s not real. I have no idea what kind of candidates these folks are going to be, and whether…I’m interested in someone that can…shares the values as much as I can, as much as possible, and someone who can win, because no matter who it is, even John McCain, given the Democratic array, I’ll be for John McCain if John McCain wins the primary, given the options on the other side. So we’ve got to find someone who can run an effective campaign, and I’m not sure that John is going to be able to do that, either. So I mean, I’m open to other folks, but I have questions about every one of them. That’s why I’m not getting involved.

HH: Can Rudy Giuliani actually bring around Rick Santorum with the right kind of statements and campaign?

RS: No, probably not with statements. I mean, one of the things that I really do believe is that it’s…he’s got nine or ten months before I’m going to make…he does, and everybody else has nine or ten months before I make any decisions, and from my perspective, I want to see what kind of…how they hold up under the scrutiny when things get tough, and the campaign road gets hard. You know, things come out of your mouth that aren’t pre-programmed, and those are the kind of moments you want to see how they react to the tough ups and downs of a campaign, and what’s really in their heart. And you can’t tell that in the opening rounds of a political contest.

HH: How important is the judges issue?

RS: It’s crucial. You know, and every one of the candidates has given the right answer, as far as I can see, on judges. So that’s great. But again, we’ve got a long way to go, I think this is an important thing. I haven’t seen the list. I’ve had a couple of people call me just in the last hour or so about it, and I’ll take a look at it, and I think he has to answer the questions on that. He got…why did he put these people in? What does that mean? I think it’s a very legitimate thing to pursue, and this is exactly the kind of thing that’s going to happen over the next nine months, that I think a lot of people, conservatives and moderate Republicans alike, should sit back and say well, let’s just see how these guys, how do they react to this? What’s their answers? Is this…are they up to it or aren’t they up to it? Or can be believe them? Or can we trust them or can’t we?

HH: Now he also endorsed Cuomo over Pataki in 1984. Does that matter to you in 2007 and 2008, Rick Santorum?

RS: Well, it doesn’t make me feel good, let’s just put it that way. But again, I’d like to hear the answer to that. I mean, one thing I do know about New York politics, it can be pretty down and dirty, and it can be very…I know he was the incumbent governor, and there may be things that the governor did when he was an incumbent to help the city that he felt an obligation to help him. And that I understand. I mean, maybe he felt like that was something he needed to do at the time. I don’t know.

HH: All right, a minute and a half, the South Carolina Spartanburg Republicans are having a straw poll tonight, and anti-Mormon literature is flying around down there, anonymous, directed at Mitt Romney. I haven’t asked you this question. I just finished writing a book about it, but I’m curious. What do you make of that sort of an attack, and the statements by some conservatives or Evangelicals…you’re a Mass attending Catholic, very orthodox, that they would never vote for a Mormon, and these sorts of attacks?

RS: You know, I look at this religion, and any person’s religion, and I saw well first off, is this someone who believes what the religious tenets are, and if you look at from a public policy point of view, and I don’t know that much about Mormonism, but I do know a lot of Mormons who were in office, and I know how they apply their Mormon religion…again, I don’t know that much about it, but I know how they apply their Mormon religion with respect to how it affects public policy in the United States. And by and large, I find myself that if you are really a true believer, and you follow the dictates of your faith from the standpoint of how you live your life, and how public policy should be directed, I don’t find a whole lot of disagreement in the public policy outcomes of the Mormon religion, if you will. And so that, to me, really should be the issue, not whether you agree theologically with the precepts of the faith.

HH: That’s what I thought. Rick Santorum, always a pleasure to talk to you, Senator. Look forward to talking to you often and seeing you on Fox News, where you’ve just signed up as an analyst.

End of interview.

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