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Fox News "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" - Transcript

Interview

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, it's not what it looks like. The GOP may look like a two-man fight in Florida, but not so fast. You have to see the results of the latest poll. It pits each candidate against President Obama. Right now in Florida in a head-to-head match-up, Governor Romney is tied with President Obama at 45 percent. But President Obama leads former speaker Newt Gingrich by 11 points.

But here are the surprises. President Obama leads Senator Rick Santorum by a smaller margin than Speaker Gingrich, just 9 points, and the president leads Congressman Ron Paul by an even smaller gap, 8 points.

Senator Rick Santorum joins us. Good evening, sir.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How're you doing, Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. I should tell you that Dick Morris and Brit Hume were just here, and they said that you did very well tonight. That's good news. Now I'm going to hit you with a little bit of the bad news, is that while you were debating at 9:12, we all got in the media got a press release from the Mitt Romney campaign, and in the campaign, they cite your February 1st, 2008, endorsement of Governor Romney, in which you said he's the candidate who would stand up for conservative principles that we hold dear, that he is the clear conservative. Now you're saying that's you. What happened since 2008?

SANTORUM: Well, what happened since 2008 is Governor Romney, who was supposed to be this conservative who believed in free markets, came out and endorsed the health -- the Wall Street bailout.

He came in -- this was the man who sold himself as being the person who understood business, who understood free markets. But just in the last few months he's talked about the importance of destructive capitalism, like constructive capitalism.

But when push came to shove, he was for the government injecting itself in and taking over banks, and injecting itself into the private sector like we have never seen in the history -- the biggest bailout in the history of the country. He betrayed -- you know, I supported Mitt Romney because he said he changed his stripes.

And it turned out not only didn't he change his stripes on that, but now that we find out, that, you know, I find out a lot more details as RomneyCare has been implemented, he hasn't even backed away from that. He stood by it again tonight.

So, you know, Governor Romney is not the right guy for this race, and that's why I am standing here and hopefully will be the nominee.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So all the things that preceded 2008, the difference is when, you know, the way he voted in other things or his views, things he said, preceding 2008, you let go. And then you endorsed him on 2008, and now it's the bailouts has suddenly -- has changed your view of him?

SANTORUM: Well, it's the bailouts, it's standing by RomneyCare, when it is in fact, the basis for ObamaCare. It's in New Hampshire, standing up and saying that he believes in man-made global warming and that we need to do something about it.

I mean, this is a -- this is a tiger that didn't change his stripes. He went out and said, I'll be different. You know, he was running against John McCain at the time, and who was obviously a moderate. And he says, no, I will be more conservative. And what it turned out to me is that he wasn't.

And he wasn't sincere in the real changes, how he sees government interacting with business and people's lives.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So health care is a -- is one -- at least I've heard you say it is one of his biggest vulnerabilities because of what happened in Massachusetts.

I am curious, if the Supreme Court should declare the health care law unconstitutional, in whole or in part, by the end of June, when the term ends, and so by the time the general election comes along, that's not an issue, does that change his vulnerability, vis-a-vis a race against President Obama, in your mind?

SANTORUM: Well, we are not going to know, in all likelihood, whether -- what that decision is before the people here in Florida and everyone else make their decision. It is an incredible vulnerability. And you know, they may -- there's all sorts of things the Supreme Court could do. They could leave the rest of the bill in place.

The fact of the matter is, Governor Romney sided with top-down government control of a sector of the economy, instead of believing in free markets and free people. He did so with the Wall Street bailout. He did so with cap and trade.

This is just a pattern of a recent pattern, since he was governor that we shouldn't have as our nominee for this party, particularly given the fact, Greta, that the Tea Party started because of those three issues. Here's the conservative base of our party that's going to be completely deflated if he or Speaker Gingrich, who has similar positions of Governor Romney, are the nominee of the party.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You -- I watched you -- you watched the fight that is going on tonight in the debate between Speaker Gingrich and Governor Romney. And it's sort of like, then you got to be, sort of, quote, for lack of better words, you got to be the Boy Scout and say stop with the petty personal politics. You sort of sat back and I think waited for the good opportunity to do that.

I am curious -- to what extent does this fact that these two are going at each other so aggressively help you, or help your strategy towards winning the nomination?

SANTORUM: Well, what it points out is that on the real big, substantive issues, there is not really much difference between the two of them on really the important issues. When it comes to, as I mentioned before, health care, cap and trade, Wall Street bailouts, when you look at the immigration -- all -- a whole host of things, these two have had very inconsistent records.

They don't attack each other on substance, they're sort of resorting to attacking each other on personal things because on substance, they are very -- they're actually pretty inconsistent and pretty moderate on a lot of those issues.

That's why we need someone like me, who has been a conservative and, unlike these other two, run as a conservative and win and get Democrat votes, those Reagan Democrats I was talking about. That's the base that I have been able to (inaudible)

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Can you get the independents?

SANTORUM: -- my elections and --

VAN SUSTEREN: Could you get -- do think --

SANTORUM: Well, yes, of course.

VAN SUSTEREN: -- do you think you could get independents, come general election? And now I got 30 seconds, sorry, answer that.

SANTORUM: The answer is yes. Independents are looking for someone who has a clear vision for the country. They vote more on leadership and they vote more on someone who is -- they vote more on the person than they do on issues.

And we think we will provide that strong, encouraging, enthusiastic, uplifting vision for America that will contrast with the president, who's managing the decline of our economy and our military.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

SANTORUM: Thanks, Greta.


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