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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: And next stop, the caucus in Nevada. It is this Saturday and that is where we already find Senator Rick Santorum. He joins us from Las Vegas. Good evening, sir.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: Doing well. I've heard you answer this question in a number of people at a number of places last time. But our audience might not know this. So, I'm going to ask you again. How is your daughter Bella? You and I have spoken often here at Fox News about her. So, tell our audience how is she doing?

SANTORUM: She's doing just great. I want to thank you and everybody out there for all the prayers. She had a very rough go of it and she has got great care at the hospital able to get turned around and we're hoping she'll leave the hospital as soon as tomorrow so we're very optimistic and we love having our cheerful little girl back with us.

VAN SUSTEREN: I knew that good news. But, I wanted to make sure the audience here, our Fox News audience did.

Alright, now to the campaign. You're already in Nevada. In fact, if you are looking at Las Vegas Sun, the front page already talked about you being there. And you say that Newt became the issue in Florida. I'm curious is it really the -- did, was it Newt became the issue or negative ads? Just trying to tear each other apart?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean -- Newt became the issue in the sense that, you know, there was a lot of negative ad but a lot of negative ads about Newt history and Newt's position on issues and frankly, Newt's misbehavior. And that to me is not the kind of candidate we need to win as a conservative in Republican primary against the -- and I agree with Newt on this, that we have a moderate Massachusetts governor. We need a strong principled conservative who doesn't have that baggage, doesn't have the ability to self-destruct and someone who can go out there and articulate of strong force or message to beat Mitt Romney and most importantly be able to defeat Barack Obama at the general election where he is the issue. Not our candidates.

VAN SUSTEREN: There was the issue because he was the main challenger at the time to Governor Romney? When you look at the vying of spending, as Steve here 13,000 ads run in 200 ads by Gingrich campaign, 13000 by the Romney campaign. If you're pounding someone negatively that much money, is it really about the person or is it really about the ads that you poisoned the voters?

SANTORUM: Well, clearly governor Romney has, you know had an advantage on the ads. I'm not sure if that includes the Super PAC ads that Newt Gingrich's Super PAC was running which I think they prefer to spend $5 million down there. So, I'm sure that appear number of ads more than 200.

So, Gingrich can beat it. And he can beat it. He won in there with the big lead, went in there with big bucks in state of South Carolina. And he wasn't able to hold that lead. In fact, he lost it, lost it badly. And that is, you know, he had an opportunity. He had his opportunity to make the point that he was the guy.

We didn't feel that we can compete and given the size of the state and really the nation's state of our campaign from the standpoint of money. But we raised almost as much money. We raised about $4.5 million in the month of January which matches Newt Gingrich. And you know, obviously, he had a much bigger bump coming out of South Carolina than we did with the sort of a disputed delayed victory in Iowa.

So, we - and our date today for example, we raised more money today than any other day but one online. So, we're getting a sense and a feeling out here in Nevada and Colorado and Missouri and Minnesota. I've been to four states already in last two days. We're getting a sense that conservatives there are looking elsewhere to find someone who can better match up against Mitt Romney and can be that principled conservative and draw a much better contract with Barack Obama in the general election.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you talked about conservatives, and going back to Las Vagas Sun, they said today, they made reference to campaign, they said according to Republicans of Las Vegas where will be far more challenging task for you than in Iowa meaning that Iowa Republicans and the Nevada Republicans are very different.

That's the first question. How do you meet that challenge if you think that could be true? Secondly, tomorrow you intend, I assume to go after Governor Romney because you have a speech about health care about President Obama's and Governor Romney so that you focused, so, two part question.

SANTORUM: Yes. Well, look. You saw the state of Florida we had highest favorable ratings of any person in the race but weren't spending money down there. We weren't spending the time everybody else was. The people liked us and if you look again at polls almost every Gingrich voter, if they didn't vote for Newt, it was going to vote for me. That was not case with our voters. They weren't going to go with him. They didn't see him as a conservative alternative.

But we believe that there is a large block of votes out there here in Nevada and here in Colorado and out west and across the country. They are going to start to see the legitimate conservative, someone who can articulate a vision. That can win in the general election. I mean, that is really what we're focused on.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it's not so. It's not though. I mean, Newt is winning general election you've got to get the nomination first. If you don't organization, the money, you don't have the money to clobber the other person in the ads. Because we've seen that for better or for worse, I would admit, the negative ads really, really work. So you need money you and need to win nomination before focusing on the general.

SANTORUM: Well, Greta, that is true but look at this, I mean, if the case for Mitt Romney is I've got the most money and I can beat up anybody who comes along to get in my way, that is not a particularly strong argument to make because guess what? Barack Obama is going to have way more money than Mitt Romney is going to have. He is also going to have the national media on his side. Beat the living day lights out of him.

So, if the answer is whoever wins the -- has most money wins Republican nomination. That isn't going to be. You need someone who is going to have the best record and the best message to be able to go out and take on Barack Obama knowing that you're going to be outspent and be beat up, but having the portal that you stand all and being able to have that principle distinction.

Mitt Romney does not provide that. And that is the problem here. He's not going to be able to bully and beat up Obama senseless like he did Newt Gingrich in Florida. He's not going to have that money advantage. He is not going to have the organizational advantage. He needs to have ideas and track record advantage and he doesn't.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm curious, candidates for Senate, U.S. Sharron Angle and the tea party out there. To what extent had you have any contact with them? Are you looking for their support? Is she still a factor in terms of generating enthusiasm there?

SANTORUM: Well, we welcome everybody's support. And I actually spoke at a tea party event this afternoon. And with a lot of folks who's did support Sharon Angle. And Sharon is still an activist down here. She is still involved in politics and someone who you know we supported when she won the primary. She was running here in the general against Harry Reid. We contributed to her campaign and supported her. Ha her - when I was doing a radio show, I had her in the radio show. So, I'd be would be delighted with her endorsement and frankly, anybody else out here in Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Minnesota, these next few states we'd love their help and support here in the next few days.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir. And once again, we're pulling for Bella and we look forward to hear being discharge in the hospital and we hope to talk to you again, soon, sir.

SANTORUM: Thanks Greta, God bless. Bye-bye.


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