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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 right now, Republican candidate for president, Senator Rick Santorum, joins us by phone. Good evening, Senator. And we have not yet called Alabama. We're very close to it. But tell me your thoughts as these votes are being counted in both -- both those states, Alabama and Mississippi.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (Via Telephone): Well, I just want to thank the voters -- there were just tremendous results tonight. You know, being -- being sort of the David and Goliath figure here, going out here and going up against the big guys with the big money.

And we have the best organization. We have the best volunteers. We have the -- we have the best message to contrast with -- with Barack Obama, and I think that's what people are looking at.

They're looking for someone who can go out there and reflect the values that made this country great and take it to Barack Obama and his failed policies, which are outside. They're top-down government-run, not bottom-up, is how America became the greatest country in the history of the world.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you find -- I mean, I suppose there's some significance that you're leading in both those states. And Speaker Gingrich, who is thought to sort of split the vote with you -- I've noted that you have asked him to get out of the race, or made comments about it.

But tell me your thoughts after tonight for him, if he doesn't come in second -- second or even first in these states.

SANTORUM: Well, we had a big win in Kansas this weekend. We thought that was a huge bump for us. I have no doubt the fact that we got over 50 percent of the vote in Kansas had a big -- big effect on the vote here Tuesday. It's very, very clear that outside of, you know, Speaker Gingrich's backyard, if you will, we're the candidate that's taking it to Mitt Romney. We're winning -- we're winning states all over the country.

And I think the folks here in Alabama and Mississippi, you know, are seeing that. And they want a conservative nominee. I think that's what it's really coming down to. They want a conservative nominee, and the best way to get that is for us to have, you know, a one-on-one opportunity with Governor Romney.

We'll wait and see what happens. I can't control that. What I can control is going out and delivering that strong, positive message about securing our energy future. I'm here in Lafayette, Louisiana, tonight, the heart of the oil patch here in Louisiana, on the Gulf Coast.

And you know, we're going to talk about the importance of -- of making sure that we drill offshore, and that we have a president who is doing everything he can to stop energy development in this country and see those prices go higher.

And we're going to talk about government control of people's lives. I mean, that's the message we've been delivering from Iowa through every one of these states. And I feel very confident that that message and the fact that we can contrast ourself on the big issues of the day of energy and health care and -- and bail-outs much -- far superior to Governor Romney.

They just -- the voters out here know he's not a -- he's not a conservative that you can trust and -- and frankly, wasn't a conservative when he was governing. And they're looking for someone that will take it to Barack Obama, and we can do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he came -- he -- at least his super PAC has come after you for a Planned Parenthood vote. So he's claiming that you're not the conservative that you allege to be.

SANTORUM: That's funny. This was -- this was someone who gave money to Planned Parenthood. I mean, that's -- that's pretty funny that Governor Romney would be attacking me and as someone who filled out Planned Parenthood surveys with 100 percent rating.

You know, when you vote for a large budget and it's got a lot of things in there, there's things in there you don't -- you like and you don't like. If he can attack me, he can attack Henry Hyde, the father of pro-life movement, because he voted for these bills, too.Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/on-the-record/2012/03/14/santorum-voters-want-conservative-gop-candidate-notion-romney-conservative-rings-hollow?page=2#ixzz1pb78HDnC

So this is -- this is the kind of pettiness -- I mean, this is -- these are -- these are minutiae. These aren't big issues like instituting "RomneyCare," a government-run health care system and a mandated system and then going out and advocating it for the federal government to adopt and then going around and denying he did it.

Governor Romney has a problem not only with his policies, but telling the truth about what his policies did and what positions he held. And I can understand. He changes his positions a lot, so it's hard to keep track.

But you know, for me, I know what my positions are. I've had them and I've stood by them. And that's what -- that's what the people in Alabama and Mississippi like.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the Alabama/Mississippi population, probably a little different than what's coming up with Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland. It's a much -- at least, typically thought of as a more moderate voter than down South.

How do you expect to get those votes there? Because it may be a little bit an easier sell for you with the evangelical vote in the South, and going to those sort of more moderate states, you might have a bigger problem.

SANTORUM: Well, we won Minnesota. We won Colorado. We won Missouri. And we're doing very well up in Missouri right now. They have their caucuses. We won the primary, but they have their caucuses coming up on the weekend. And we feel very good in those states.

And all the polls I've seen in Wisconsin have had us leading consistently. We're in a dead heat in Illinois. We feel like -- like I said, go in every state in this country and take it to Governor Romney on the issues. We're not going to go do personal, petty attacks. We're not going to talk about things that are -- that aren't important to the people of this country.

What's important is having a leader who can put a team together and can put a campaign together that can take it to Barack Obama on the issues and show his policies to be a failure for this country both here at home and overseas. We draw that stark contrast.

That's what we needed in 1980 to defeat a Jimmy Carter and the malaise that he was causing the economy and the degradation of our military that was happening in the late '70s. We need that same type of contrast for this election against Barack Obama, and I'm the one that provides it. And I think that's why you're seeing the results you're seeing tonight.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about money? After the Kansas -- did you see a bump in money coming in after the Kansas victory? Because I'm sure that people are watching tonight to see who wins tonight.

SANTORUM: Well, are money is coming in well. I mean, as you know, the money that's being spent down here in Alabama and Mississippi, very little of it's campaign money.

Almost all of Governor Romney's money is coming from billionaires who are giving his money to the super PAC. That's the ones who are outspending us 10-to-1. It's not Governor Romney's campaign. Governor Romney's campaign is, I'm sure, not much healthier than mine, and he's spent through perhaps $60 million, $70 million.

And we're -- you know, we're -- we're raising money at a great clip right now, but it's the super PACs that are running the negative ads, you know, and really dominating the airwaves. That's -- that's fine. And what I think -- what I think happened is you reach a saturation point. I think that's what happened in Alabama and Mississippi. We took a little dip in those states as the barrage started. But I think it just gets -- it rings hollow that Mitt Romney is the conservative in this race.

I mean, it's laughable to any conservative that followed what's going on in this country over the past, you know, 20 years and who's been out there leading the charge on conservative issues like Welfare reform and health savings accounts and reform of our entitlement programs.

You know, that's been Rick Santorum, not Mitt Romney. He's been adding entitlement programs.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, we're watching the races, see -- we're waiting to call both those races. But let me go to the other question beyond the horse race. Let me go to the question -- if you were president tonight, one of the big issues on your plate would be what's going on in Afghanistan, especially after what happened this weekend. If you're president, what would you be thinking in terms of your plan for Afghanistan after what happened this weekend?

SANTORUM: My plan for Afghanistan would be fundamentally different than President Obama's. President Obama's is a political plan. It's a plan that's based on a timeline and limited allocation of resources of what is necessary to be able to achieve success. So the president's plan is not geared toward success, it's geared toward withdrawal.

And when you do that, you give the enemy something that you can't give the enemy in this situation, and that's hope. And he's given the Taliban and those who are working with the Taliban hope that the United States is going to leave.

And when they do leave, that means that they'll be there and -- and those in the region, where it's the Pakistanis or whether it's others in Afghanistan, recognize that America has not committed itself to being successful. And so they're hedging their bets, which makes it almost impossible for our men and women in uniform.

And that's why I've said I would have a different -- completely different strategy in Afghanistan and would be successful in executing that plan. The president's plan is doomed to failure. That's -- I've said that from the beginning because he's given a timeline that gives hope and...

VAN SUSTEREN: How about...

SANTORUM: ... and I think we're seeing -- go ahead.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about handling -- how about handling the immediate crisis, though, over the weekend? Is there anything you would do?

SANTORUM: Well, again, I think it's -- you know, this was a madman who went out and did horrible things. And it's -- I'm not too sure there's -- which other you can do to fully investigate and prosecute that -- that individual to the fullest extent of the law, and obviously, express our condolences to those who were affected.

This was not a military action. This was a -- this was a very disturbed individual. And unfortunately, those things can happen, and they happened. ...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now let me give you a good-hearted jab about something you said today about Fox News Channel, saying that we here at Fox are shilling for Governor Romney. And on behalf of my staff that's been calling Governor Romney every single day to get him to come back on our air since our last interview was South Carolina -- they -- you know, they want to know if you can help them a little bit because they don't feel like they're shilling. He won't even do our show!

SANTORUM: No, Greta -- Greta, you've been awesome. And Sean has been awesome. I -- I -- you know, when I was talking Fox News, I wasn't talking your show or Sean's show. You guys (INAUDIBLE) giving me availability to get on. Your two shows have been exemplar. And I appreciate that. And some -- and even some of the afternoon shows.

Look, I'm just looking at the news coverage that goes on in that network and the amount of domination of time that Governor Romney and his surrogates get on the air. And fact is, I mean, we've had -- you know, we -- you guys are great at putting me on the air, but I'm talking about your news shows. It's -- it's -- look, I'm not complaining. I'm not going to be whining about this. That's the reality. We've had to deal with it.

And -- and our feeling is, we're just going to go out and -- and overcome this. We've overcome a lot in this race, and we're doing great and we're on our way to victory and we're on our way to victory tonight. I think we're on our way to victory in this -- in this election, and hopefully, you know, once -- once other folks begin to realize that, we'll get the coverage that -- that we deserve.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if it's any consolation, every single day I get an e-mail saying that -- that we're in favor of Governor Romney, that we're in favor of you, we're in favor of Speaker Gingrich...

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... in favor of Ron Paul, and that we're also carrying the water for President Obama. And we all sort of just -- you know, we look at all these emails...

SANTORUM: Greta...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and they say, Well, it can't be all of them, but we get...

SANTORUM: No, Greta...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... we get them about all of them!

SANTORUM: You are fair and balanced, absolutely. And I'd say the same thing about Sean. He's been terrific. But you know, we're just -- we're calling them as we see them because that's what I do. I call them like I see them.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And I imagine tonight the family's happy watching these returns. It must be sort of exciting. Give me a little bit -- give me some behind the scenes on this.

SANTORUM: We're sitting in a hotel room right now in Lafayette, Louisiana. I've got Karen and five of the kids here. And we're going to go out pretty soon and make a few comments, and then we're going to head to Puerto Rico tonight and will campaigning there for the next few days.

And we're looking forward to -- they got a ton of delegates down there, and we're -- we're making the first stop to Puerto Rico as a -- for the presidential campaign. And you know, we worked -- we've done -- we do a lot of work, you know, actually for the -- for the (INAUDIBLE).

When I was in the United States Senate, they had some problems down there, the hurricane problems and other things that we were going to be helpful with when I was in the Senate. And we're looking forward to go down there and remind them of the work we did and the times I've visited there when they were in trouble.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you. And we'll be watching as these returns come in. I'm sure we're going to be calling these races very soon. And good luck to you, sir.

SANTORUM: I look forward to it. Thanks so much for the opportunity, Greta.


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