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Senator, welcome back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
SANTORUM: Thank you, Chris. Good to be with you.
WALLACE: First of all, and most importantly -- how is Bella, your precious little 3-year-old who just left the hospital after a bout with pneumonia?
SANTORUM: She's doing just great. I want to thank you and everybody there for praying for her and everybody across this country. She had a very rough time a week ago today. But thanks to the great work from doctors and the hospital, and a lot of prayer, she turned around amazingly quickly. And she is home and healthy and we are very, very pleased. Thank you.
WALLACE: I want ask you about your commitment to this campaign does on a human level, because I've got to think as she was going through this, part of you said, maybe I should get out of this race and focus on my family?
SANTORUM: Well, obviously, any time one of your children are sick -- I mean, you got to get home. And particularly in a case like this where she was seriously ill and required hospitalization, you know, family comes first. And I think where anybody in this race, much less myself.
But, you know, one of the things Karen and I talked about was being parents, and, you know, what your responsibility to be the best dad you can be, best husband you can be -- we really think that this country is in a critical juncture, and that, you know, we feel like that I can bring something to the table that make my children's lives substantially better as being president, even more so than being at home for, you know, these few months, rather than being out campaigning. But it would be better for me to devote that time to create a country which is going to be free and safe and prosperous for them in the future.
WALLACE: All right. Let's talk some practical politics, Senator. You finished third in South Carolina, you finished third in Florida and last night in Nevada as we mentioned, you finished last.
How are you going to turn that around and become more competitive?
SANTORUM: Well, I think you wait for Tuesday. I mean, the first five states were sort of cast in stone. They were the five states. The last time, they are the states that, you know, Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul who ran four years ago had an advantage because they have spent a lot of time and money not just in this year's campaign but for the last four years in working in those states.
Now, we're getting to the states where people don't have the natural advantage, don't have the time commitment, the staff commitment to really build out an organization like they did in these first five. I think we're going to do very well here in Minnesota. I think we're going to do very well in Colorado, and we've got a one-on- one match up against Mitt Romney in Missouri, while there's no delegates, it is a key state, it is a primary. And we think we can do exceptionally well in the state of Missouri.
So, we got three states coming up on Tuesday. I think we're going to show that this race is moving again in a very different direction. WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about that. As you say, Colorado, Minnesota are caucuses. Missouri is a primary, but it's basically a beauty contest. It doesn't choose any delegates.
Honestly, is Tuesday make-or-break for you, sir?
SANTORUM: Oh, no, not at all. I think we're going to show improvement. This race is a long, long way from being over.
We believe that if you look at the national polls, our numbers are moving up continually. As mentioned in your intro, we are the only candidate right now according to at least the Rasmussen poll that beats Barack Obama. Everybody else is behind. In fact, Newt Gingrich is way behind.
I think this race as people start seeing Mitt Romney doing well and Newt Gingrich really not up to the task with the money and the resources and the organization that he had in -- particularly in Florida, they are looking for somebody else who can take on Mitt Romney, more importantly, and this is important, take on Barack Obama. It's not about who can win the primary, who can win the general election.
And we have two candidates candidly that are flawed. If you look at Florida and Nevada, the results were down as far as participation is concerned. I mean, this is not a good sign when the two candidates that everybody is talking is not generating any energy in the Republican primary.
WALLACE: Well, let's talk about your two main rivals, and we got to say -- Ron Paul is in there and he's picking up delegates, too. But in Nevada, you ran a tough ad, not against Romney but against Gingrich. And let's play a clip from that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Rick Santorum for president. He doesn't just talk the conservative game, he lives it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: When you say that you live it -- you live a good conservative game and we see a picture of you and your beautiful family, is that a veiled reference to Newt Gingrich's personal problems?
SANTORUM: Well, I think if you look at the actual ad, the ad before that line talks about four issues, talks about immigration, talks about cap and trade. It talks about health care and it talks about the Wall Street bailouts.
So, it's very much an ad focused on the four issues that are very, very important to this campaign, where the four issues where Governor Romney and Speaker Gingrich simply are -- do not present a very good contrast with President Obama, do not reflect the conservative values that are going to be important for rallying our base and creating excitement across this country.
And on the issue of, you know, living it -- yes, I live it in both my professional and personal life. And that is -- that is a message that I think is important, you know, for a presidential candidate.
WALLACE: And do you think -- well, let me ask you that. Do you think that's a legitimate issue, the question of how you've lived your personal life?
SANTORUM: Well, I think it certainly is something that everybody should consider. I mean, these are -- I said the repeatedly in the debates that the issue of character is an important one. The issue of trustworthiness is important one, and authenticity, whether you've been flip flopping on positions in your career. All of those things are character issues when you're electing a leader are certainly important issues to consider.
WALLACE: You have been very critical of Newt Gingrich, his leadership when he was speaker of the House, and you were in the House with him. Even in some of these debates, you've questioned his stability.
And I want to ask you: do you honestly think that Newt Gingrich is fit to be president of the United States?
SANTORUM: Newt Gingrich would be a much better president than Barack Obama.
SANTORUM: My concern is, with respect to a campaign. And, you know, some of the things that Newt is prone to do, which is to look to government to do a lot more things than you would think to believe when you listen to his rhetoric. A lot of ideas that Newt comes up with, whether it's a moon colony or whether it's, you know, personal accounts with Social Security in the fact of $1.2 trillion deficit, you know, are not connected to fiscal responsibility and limited government, and doing things from the bottom up, from a free market and free enterprise point of view.
I just want a candidate that we can go out there and rely upon to be authentically conservative, to stay disciplined, to stay focused on Barack Obama as the person that we should be highlighting in this race and not make you, the Republican candidate, the central issue in the campaign.
WALLACE: Now, let's talk about Romney. Obviously, we all know that the jobs numbers were pretty good, relatively speaking, on Friday that came out for the last month of January, 8.3 percent unemployment, quarter of a million jobs created. And you have said about Romney that if the economy keeps improving, then his candidacy is in question because he's going to have nothing to offer. What do you mean?
SANTORUM: Well, I mean, he's pretty much a uni-dimensional candidate. I mean, all he talks about is being the CEO, being the CEO, being the businessman. First of all, I'm not too sure that's the greatest qualification for being president of the United States. But if it is, the qualification is that, you know, I'm someone who can run the economy, even though I don't believe the president runs the economy. A president creates an environment, if he can work with Congress and the regulatory atmosphere to improve the atmosphere.
But the president of the United States is a commander-in-chief and president of the United States, you know, executes the laws and tries to motivate the American public to make changes that are necessary. It's not necessarily a CEO type of position.
And secondly, you know, Governor Mitt Romney, even more than Speaker Gingrich, doesn't create the contrast that we need to beat Barack Obama. I mean, we give away the health issue if Mitt Romney is the nominee. We give away cap and trade. We give away the Wall Street bailouts.
All of these government interventions in the private sector when you would think that a CEO businessman would oppose the government intervention at the obtrusive level that they are. And he sided with big government, not business. And again, he undermines his own credibility.
WALLACE: I have a couple of more issues I want to get into with you. A couple of health issues gone into the news this week and became political. First of all, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation first cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, which is the nation's biggest abortion provider, and then reversed that decision.
Your reaction, sir?
SANTORUM: Well, look, they are a private organization. They can fund whatever kind of effort they want. I have taken a position as a presidential candidate, as someone in Congress, that, you know, Planned Parenthood funds and does abortions, the leading abortion provider in the nation. And that we don't -- I don't believe federal funds should go there. They are a private organization. They should stand up and support whatever they want.
I don't believe that breast cancer research is advanced by funding an organization that does abortions, whether you've seen ties to cancer and abortion. So, I don't think it's a particularly healthy way of contributing money to further the cause of breast cancer. But that's what a private organization like Susan G. Komen to make that decision.
WALLACE: The Obama administration is coming under fire for a new decision that Catholic institutes, not churches, but charities, hospitals, schools, are going to have to offer health insurance that includes contraception. Now, the administration defends this and saying the vast majority of women, even Catholic women, use birth control. Your response?
SANTORUM: The Catholic Church specifically teaches that birth control pills, as well the morning-after pill which is not just a birth control pill but what clearly causes abortions, as well as sterilization, which is something that the church specifically teaches against. Here you have a situation where you have this tricky play, the government says that they can give you right. They'll give you the right to health care. Be careful, because then they can tell you how to exercise that right against your First Amendment rights, against you ability to practice your faith.
And even worse, we saw in the case of the Army, where the head of the chaplain of the Army wanted to issue a letter that was issued last week and all the other Catholic churches in this country, and the Army and Obama administration said they couldn't even issue a letter to complain about the Obama administration's plan on this policy.
So, now, not only violating the freedom of religion, now the freedom of speech, this is the problem when government tells you that they can give you things. They can take it away. But even worse, they can tell you how they're going to exercise this new right that they've given you, consistent with their values instead of the values guaranteed in our Constitution.
WALLACE: Senator Santorum, we want to thank you so much for coming in today and talking with us. Safe travels. We'll see how you do Tuesday. And we'll see you down on the campaign trail, sir.
SANTORUM: Thank you very much, Chris
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