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Fox News "Hannity" - Transcript

Interview

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SEAN HANNITY, HOST: What has already been one of the most unpredictable primary seasons in history did not disappoint on Tuesday. Voters in Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, they shook up the race for the Republican nomination yet again as former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, he walked with wins in each of those three states. And along with his victory in Iowa, that brings the senator win total to four states. And judging by his remarks last night, it certainly sounds like he is feeling the big momentum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternatives to Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, freedom is at stake in this election. We need to be the voice for freedom.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And joining me tonight from the campaign trail is presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

All right. You got the hat track last night, Senator?

SANTORUM: Yes. We had a great night. And I just want to thank all the people, not just the folks in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, they were awesome. But to all the people that have been supporting us through what seemed to be a pretty tough time for us in Nevada and Florida. Yet people continue to contribute and help with us out and really gave us the resources so we could compete in Missouri, in Colorado and Minnesota. And, you know, we just feel very, very blessed to have the opportunity to get out there and get or message across and the people of those three states really responded and I just want to thank them all.

HANNITY: All right. So, the big thing here is, there were no delegates really and you've got to go back in and they have their caucuses et cetera. And I know you're going to be competing, but the big issue I see it is momentum. And now, you have won four states. Mitt Romney has won three and Newt Gingrich has won South Carolina. That seems to be your biggest advantage in this. How do you keep this momentum going?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, if you look at the State of Missouri, I mean, that's a bellwether, it's a big state, an important state and state Republicans have to have. And you have to have enthusiasm in the Republican ranks, 55 percent of the vote. Nobody in this primary season has cracked 50 percent and we got 55 percent to beat Mitt Romney, the next highest person, by 30 points, beat him by almost 30 points again in Minnesota. And in a state where he got 61 percent of the vote in Colorado, we were able to --and he spent money, time and treasure there. I mean, this was -- we beat him by five points. And, you know, look, this was a real great night for the voices of freedom who want a real conservative who can go up against Barack Obama and take him on, on the issues. That is really the key here. I mean, this race has always been about Mitt Romney and his money beating up whoever got in his way. Well, you know, what you saw here was in a sense a fair fight which is what is going to be like in the fall. He's not going to have a five to one advantage over Barack Obama going into the fall election. At best, it will be a fair fight, in a fair fight he can't win a fair fight. He got trumped in a fair fight.

HANNITY: But you really have stayed out of sort of the nasty back and forth that has been characterized by Governor Romney and former Speaker Gingrich. I suspect from after the results right now, that I'm not sure it's going to be as easy for you to do this time and I would, I already am seeing the attacks against you building, the two biggest issues that I hear are earmarks, your support Arlen Specter. How do you going to plan to deal with those attacks now coming your way, predictable attacks?

SANTORUM: Yes. You know, look, I say with Arlen Specter, I'm very proud of the fact that we have Justice Alito and Justice Roberts on the Supreme Court because Senator Specter was there to provide the majority and provide the leadership as a moderate Republican getting key Democrats and swing Republicans to vote for those two very conservative justices. That is what Arlen Specter said he was going to do if we supported him for re- election and he did, he delivered. And we got 30 years of those two guys, hopefully more on that court, and that is the greatest contribution, I think one of the greatest contributions I made in the United States Senate was to make sure those two justices and hopefully more will be on that court.

HANNITY: What do you think it is, the back and forth? You know, if we go through this entire race, you were in single digits, you won in Iowa, you came out of nowhere. That's a week before the Iowa caucus. New Hampshire, we kind of all expected that Governor Romney would win there and he did and he won by a good margin. He comes out with a double-digit lead, he loses to Newt Gingrich by double digits. He's leading going into Florida by double digits -- or Newt Gingrich is, and Mitt Romney comes back. And now, we have what happened last night. I mean, how do you assess this? What do you think we're seeing here? Is this Romney and non-Romney as some people are suggesting?

SANTORUM: I think people are, you know, we're still searching. And they're still trying -- you saw the Florida turnout was down. The Nevada turnout was down.

HANNITY: Why do think that is?

SANTORUM: Well, I think people were not satisfied with the choices or the tenure of the campaign. And I think what you saw these three states is they were pretty excited about going out there and voting for someone. These are huge margins. And, you know, the Colorado, I mean, you know, as you know, nobody saw that one coming. We did though. We felt the energy enthusiasm out there. We had huge crowds in Colorado. We felt very good that, you know, not just conservatives were lined up but folks who want to win. They're starting to realize that are best chance to win is to have someone who can make Barack Obama the issue in this race and not someone, you know, whose positions and policies actually mirror President Obama on some of the most important issues of the day.

HANNITY: How do you answer the earmark issue?

SANTORUM: Well, look, you know, Jim DeMint earmarked when Jim DeMint was in the United States Senate. And, you know, the Congress has a role to play in allocating resources and it was abused. And when that abuse came about, Jim DeMint changed his position and you know, eventually I changed my position, too.

But, you know, earmarks aren't the issue. Earmarks, you know, it's less than one percent of the budget. You talk to someone who's actually going out there and done the tough stuff, going out there and talked about reforming entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, which I did, that's the big money, that's the big problem, that is that hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities that has -- you have to take political heat to go out and take on Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and reform the welfare system. There is nobody in the 12 years I was in the Senate who did more to reform and help reform those systems --

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you did.

SANTORUM: -- than I did and I'll match up my spending record with anybody.

HANNITY: There's been questions about whether or not you have the money, the strength and the infrastructure. For example, to battle heading into Super Tuesday. Do you have enough money to see this to the end? Do you have enough infrastructures in Super Tuesday states to be able to compete everywhere?

SANTORUM: Well, I came to Dallas for a reason. There is a lot of great folks, conservative folks down here who have resources. And we've had a very, very good day here in Texas. We're going to have a lot more good days in Texas and other places around this country. On the Internet just alone today we did almost a million dollars in the last 24 hours. I mean, this has been a huge day for us on the Internet and direct mail. I mean, this has been a huge day and we believe it's going to continue. This is something that is real out there. And we're going to have the infrastructure. We're going to have the resources. This race is going a long, long time.

HANNITY: And Senator, your daughter is feeling better, I hope?

SANTORUM: She is doing just great. I said hi to her last night in my speech and she got a big smile on her face, I was told by her brothers and sisters. And I'm going to see her tomorrow night and I can't wait.

HANNITY: All right. Good to see you. Congratulations. You know, it's not -- I played a lot of hockey. And I got to tell you something, not easy to get the hat trick. Congratulations, Senator, thanks for being with us.

SANTORUM: Thank you.


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