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STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to Rick Santorum, who shook up the presidential race again with his clean sweep across Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota Tuesday night. That earned him front-page headlines, millions in new campaign funds, and a shoutout on "Saturday Night Live."
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(UNKNOWN): I'll tell you this. I sure wouldn't want to be Rick Santorum right now, with all that pressure and the expectations and the attention and so on, being more popular with the party's base than the other candidates, et cetera. No thank you. Ha-ha.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: And Rick Santorum joins us now. Senator, good morning, and congratulations on those wins Tuesday.
SANTORUM: Thank you very much, George. I'd thank the folks in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. That was quite a shot in the arm.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I guess it's three steps forward, a couple back. Yesterday, Mitt Romney took the straw poll at the CPAC conservative conference in Washington. He beat out Ron Paul in the main caucuses. You were back in third. Disappointed?
SANTORUM: Oh, no. I mean, we didn't really participate in Maine at all. I think Governor Romney went up there, Ron Paul. Obviously, this was the state he thought he could win, and at least when you talk to the Paul people, they still think they can win. There's a big caucus yet to vote next week, and they actually think they can still win it. But that was not a place we were going to compete. We've been -- well, you know, I'm out here in California, and we'll be in Washington, and Idaho, North Dakota, Michigan. We're going to spend a lot of time in Michigan and Arizona, and those are up next. And that's where we're really been focusing on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Michigan the next one? Is that your must win?
SANTORUM: Oh, you know, I think we can do well there. I mean, the early polls have us in pretty good shape. I think we can do reasonably well in Arizona and, you know, really make this, you know, a two-person race. And we saw that in Maine. You know, we ended up with 18 percent, really having not appeared up there or done anything in Maine, which was three times, you know, where the speaker was, and we feel like we can do exceptionally well again in Michigan and Arizona and, again, compete with Governor Romney in both those states.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned the possibility of a two-person race. Mitt Romney is still tying you together with Newt Gingrich coming out of those caucuses on Tuesday night. Here's what he said.
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ROMNEY: Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich, they are the very Republicans who acted like Democrats, and when Republicans act like Democrats, they lose. And -- and in Newt Gingrich's case, he had to resign. In Rick Santorum's case, he lost by the biggest margin of any Senate incumbent since 1980.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: You're smiling right there, but every time the Romney campaign has turned its guns on a candidate, they go down.
SANTORUM: Well, that's pretty funny for Mitt Romney saying I'm acting like a Democrat. You know, the question I get most often from the national media, are you too conservative...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why is it funny?
SANTORUM: ... to be elected president? Well, because, I mean, you know, Mitt Romney is the author of Romneycare, which is the biggest government expansion in the history of the state of Massachusetts and was the template for Obamacare. He's supported cap-and-trade and the -- in Massachusetts. He was for the Wall Street bailouts. He ran as to the left of Ted Kennedy in 1994.
I mean, for him to suggest that I'm not the conservative in this race -- you know, there's -- you reach a point where desperate people do desperate things. And I think Governor Romney now, as, you know, another candidate has come up to challenge him, and this time he's having trouble finding out how to -- how to go after someone who is a solid conservative, who's got a great track record of attracting independents and Democrats and winning states as a conservative. You know, Governor Romney, when he ran his race, ran as a moderate in Massachusetts. And that's fine. And it's a tough state. And, you know, the people have to do what they have to do to win.
Well, I stood up and was for what I was for, and I won four races, I lost one. That's pretty good.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But back in 2006, you in some ways rejected the label of conservative in your own campaign ads. And we want to show part of it right here in 2006.
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SANTORUM: I just love reading the newspapers. This paper, they say the real problem with Rick Santorum is he's too liberal. They didn't like my legislation calling for a raise in the minimum wage, and the White House probably called me a lot of things when I fought their efforts to cut Amtrak funding.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: So you look at the spending on Amtrak funding, the raising of the minimum wage, and some are also starting to point out your vote to raise Judge Sotomayor, Sonia Sotomayor, President Clinton's pick to the circuit court. Of course, she ended up on the Supreme Court.
SANTORUM: Yeah, well, of course, you know, that was an ad we ran in Philadelphia. Amtrak funding is important to Philadelphia. And, you know, you -- look, you do things for your state that are important. And that corridor, Amtrak was very important, the same thing, minimum wage. As you know, I voted against minimum wage increases repeatedly, but there was -- there was a minimum wage increase when the minimum wage got way below what the normal is. I'm not against the minimum wage, although I haven't done what Governor Romney's done, which is to go out and index the minimum wage...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're against that?
SANTORUM: That is a very bad idea. Oh, absolutely. You can't do that. You want to talk about driving wage inflation? That's a very bad idea. When -- when the minimum wage drops below a certain level -- and it's usually a floor of about 7 percent of wages at minimum wage, I've supported, you know, increasing it back up to make sure that it stays above that level, so there is, in fact, a minimum wage. But when you index it, you're not talking about a minimum wage. You're talking about an index that's going to drive wage inflation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why did you vote to bring Judge Sotomayor to the circuit court? That was a big fight back in 1998, and a majority of Republicans were against that.
SANTORUM: Yeah, what -- my feeling was, when it comes to anything, really, but Supreme Court justices, unless this candidate is a -- is really out of the mainstream, completely out of the mainstream on district courts and circuit courts, I give great deference to the president. The Supreme Court, why? Because, you know, the Supreme Court can overturn what happens at a circuit court, what happens at a district court, and so I take advise and consent looser when it comes to those nominations.
Obviously, the Supreme Court -- there's nobody that really did a better job in highlighting the importance of these nominees, worked harder for it, and even in circuit courts, I think you go back and look at -- you know, I fought for President Bush's nominees under the same grounds as I voted for President Clinton's nominees for the circuit court, which is that the president should have broad discretion when it comes to these lower courts. You know, the president won the election. He gets the chance to nominate people. If you want -- if you want different people on the court, elect a different president.
The Supreme Court's a different matter. That's -- that's the final arbiter, and that's where you draw the line.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You've raised a lot of eyebrows with some of your comments about women, those comments the other day about women in combat, where you suggested that shouldn't happen because of the types of emotions involved. I know you were talking about the emotions of men who are -- who are alongside the women, but also in your book, "It Takes a Family," where you seem to suggest that a lot of women feel pressure to work outside the home because of radical feminism.
And what do you say to those who worry -- believe that those kind of comments are going to alienate women, make you an easier candidate to beat in a general election?
SANTORUM: Well, that section of the book was co-written, if you want to be honest about it, by my wife, who is a nurse and a lawyer. And when she gave up that practice and she gave up, you know, nursing to raise a family, I mean, she felt very much that society was sort of -- in many cases, looked down their nose at that decision. And all I've said is -- and in talking with my wife and others like her -- who've given up their careers that they should be affirmed in their decision like everybody else and that these are choices, and they're tough choices.
You know, I grew up in a home where my mom and dad both worked. This was back in the '50s and '60s, and -- which was very unusual. My mom actually made more money than my dad. So I grew up in a home where that was something that -- that was a given, women in the workplace, and something that I obviously accepted.
But I think it's important that women both outside the home and inside the home are affirmed for their choices they make, that they are, in fact, choices, and society, you know, treats them in a sense equally for whatever decision they make that's best for them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say that now, but you also wrote in the book that radical feminists have been making the pitch that justice demands that men and women be given an equal opportunity to make it to the top in the workplace. Isn't that something that everyone should value?
SANTORUM: Yeah, I have no problem -- I don't know -- that's a new quote for me. I don't know what context that was given. But the bottom line is that people should have equal opportunity to rise in the workforce. And, again, if you read the entire section, I don't think anyone will have a problem with the fact that what I was calling for -- very clearly calling for is the treatment of an affirmation of whatever decision women decide to make.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you in the end convince skeptics -- the one place where you've been falling behind Mitt Romney pretty consistently in this campaign is that measure of how to beat President Obama. What is your case right there?
SANTORUM: Well, you know, Mitt Romney's case is, "I've got the most money." Well, of course, in the fall, he's not going to have the most money. And he's been able to win in these early primary states by, you know, beating the tar out of his opponents by four- and five-to-one on television. Well, that's not going to be the case.
The person who's going to be the best opportunity to beat Barack Obama is someone who's got the best record, someone who has the best plan, and someone who can make Barack Obama the issue in this election and his policies, everything from foreign policy to what he's done to this economy.
And that's really why I think we're in the best position. If you look at the national polls now, they actually have me running ahead of Governor Romney, with respect to how -- who can do better against Barack Obama. And I think the more people see us and see our record, you know, take the distortions that are out there and give us the opportunity to sort of say, OK, now look at what the truth really is, we're going to do just fine.
And I feel very confident that we're going to win this race and that we're going to go on to defeat Barack Obama and have someone in place who's going to be able to do the things that are necessary to bring this country together, get this country working again, and make sure that we're safe and our allies are folks that can depend on us, and stand -- and we will stand with them to make the world a safer place.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final quick question. You said a few weeks back that you were going to release your tax returns after you got a chance to go home and review them. Are they coming out this week?
SANTORUM: Yeah, they are coming out this week. You know, I apologize for that. We had a little bobble with my daughter going in the hospital, and we didn't quite get the things done that I wanted to because she was sick that weekend that I was supposed to go home and take care of my taxes, but we've subsequently done that, and we're just running them through the traps to make sure I've got all the right papers at the right time, and they'll come out maybe even tomorrow, but certainly in the next couple of days.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Santorum, thanks very much for your time this morning.
SANTORUM: Thank you, George.
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