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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: Good morning again. And welcome to FACE THE NATION.

Vice President Dick Cheney remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit of a Washington area hospital after undergoing successful heart transplant surgery yesterday. Cheney suffered from congestive heart failure and has had five heart attacks since the age of thirty-seven. He's been waiting for a heart since his last heart attack. The former vice president is seventy-one years old. And there's no word yet about when he will be released.

We turn now to our other top story, Campaign 2012. Rick Santorum had a big win in the state of Louisiana yesterday, picking up forty-nine percent of the vote. Mitt Romney finished in a distant second with twenty-seven percent of the vote. Santorum won ten delegates in Louisiana, which brings his delegate count to two hundred and forty-one. He is still about three hundred delegates behind Mitt Romney. And Rick Santorum joins us now from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Senator, good to see you. Thank you so much for joining. Congratulations on your win.

RICK SANTORUM: Well, thank you very much. I just want to thank all the folks in Louisiana. We had a-- we had a wonderful time down there and it was just so reassuring to go down and, you know, even though a-- a lot of folks who are saying this race is over, people in Louisiana said, no-- no, it's not. That they still want to see someone who they can trust, someone who's not running an Etch A Sketch campaign but one that, you know, has their principles written on their heart, not on a-- on an erasable tablet and I think that's what-- that's what helped us deliver the win in-- in Louisiana. And I think we're going to do very well up here in Wisconsin, too.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Well, Senator, let me ask you though. You're going to need to win about seventy percent of the remaining delegates in those future primary contests. What credible path do you have to the nomination given that?

RICK SANTORUM: Well, first of, I don't agree with the delegate math that the Romney campaign is putting out there. For example, Florida and-- and Arizona, they have it as a winner-or-take all state. And it's-- they're not winner-take-all. We-- we saw an-- an article written by the head of the Rules Committee on the RNC, one of the guys on the Rules Committee of the RNC and-- and before April 1st, no state can be a winner-take-all. So, you're looking at, you know, probably fifty or more delegates that Governor Romney has-- is going to be taken away from-- it is going to be proportioned between me and mostly congressman Gingrich and-- a-- a lot of caucus states, again, the numbers are wrong. I mean, Iowa is a good example. They're twenty-eight delegates. We expect to get the vast majority of them probably up to twenty delegates. We don't think Governor Romney will get more than one or two. Yet they're divided almost equally right now. So, there's a lot of bad math there that doesn't reflect the reality of--

NORAH O'DONNELL (voice overlapping): All right.

RICK SANTORUM: --what's going on, on the ground. And so, I-- I think-- I think we're in much, much better shape than what the numbers that are out there suggest.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Let me ask you about something that a Romney spokesman said about your victory last night. They said, quote, "Rick Santorum is like a football team celebrating a field goal when they are losing by seven touchdowns with less than a minute left in the game. His attempts to distract from his listless campaign and the conservative backlash caused by his suggestion that keeping President Obama would be better than electing a Republican are becoming sadder and more pathetic by the day." What do you have to say to that? I mean, sadder and more pathetic?

RICK SANTORUM: Oh, that's-- well, you know, that's just a desperate campaign that has no message. You know, I've-- I've said from the very beginning, I've said in every interview that's I've ever been asked. I'm-- look, I'm going to support whoever the Republican nominee is. And I'm-- I'm running this campaign because I think Barack Obama's re-election would-- would be the end of freedom as we know it here in America. You know, we're-- we're going to support whoever it is. But we want someone who can win, someone who can go up against Barack Obama and actually draw contrast on the big issues of the day like health care and on energy. Well, Governor Romney has just been dead wrong on those issues for years and years and years. And-- and it would be probably the worst candidate for us to nominate to-- to go after Barack Obama on-- on gas prices and on-- on government takeover of health care. Heck, he was-- he created the blueprint for the government takeover of health care that President Obama followed. That's what the people in Louisiana see. And I think that's what the people of Wisconsin are going to see. They're-- they're looking for someone who's going to win the election because they-- they have better ideas not because they've been able to pound their opponent into the ground with overwhelming negative ads. Governor Romney is not going to be able to pound Barack Obama into the ground by outspending them twenty to one. We're going to have someone who has can-- who can beat him on the issues who can connect with voters. And that's why we won Louisiana last night. I think that's why we're going to do well here in Wisconsin.

NORAH O'DONNELL: But, Senator you did get in a bit of hot water by suggesting it might be better to keep Obama than elect Mitt Romney.

RICK SANTORUM: No.

NORAH O'DONNELL: So-- so to be clear let's just play for our viewers--

RICK SANTORUM (overlapping): I did.

NORAH O'DONNELL: --exactly what you said in San Antonio--

RICK SANTORUM (overlapping): Sure.

NORAH O'DONNELL: --let's listen.

RICK SANTORUM: You win by giving people the choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who is just going to be a little different than the person in there. If they're going to be a little different we may as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch-A-Sketch candidate for the future.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Well, what did you mean when you said stay with what we have? What we have now is President Obama.

RICK SANTORUM: Yeah I said we and I was talking collectively as the voters would-- would decide to stay with what they have not-- not me. Obviously, I'm running for President as I said before. Because I believe Barack Obama must be defeated, period. And-- but I was saying we as in the voters might decide that. And that's-- so I said we need to give them a choice as not someone who is just a little different on the biggest issues of the day. And that to me is-- is as what this race is really all about, is-- is making sure that we have a candidate that can defeat a Democratic incumbent.

You know, there's only one Democratic incumbent that has ever been defeated in the last hundred years in American politics. And that was Jimmy Carter by Ronald Reagan. We have tried before, nominating moderates, someone who can appeal, you know, to-- to-- to, you know, to folks in-- in the big cities on the East Coast and West Coast, but that's not what will win the elections. If you look at a Rasmussen poll was out last-- a couple of weeks ago in the swing states I lead Barack Obama by four points and Governor Romney loses by four points. That's where you have to look at. Not that he's going to do better in New York. Well, we are not going to win New York. But, you know, and him doing, you know, ten points better and still losing New York by twenty points doesn't matter. What matters is that you can win Indiana. That you can win Ohio, that you can win Pennsylvania and-- and North Carolina and-- and Wisconsin and-- and those are the States--

NORAH O'DONNELL (voice overlapping): Well, let me--

RICK SANTORUM: --that we-- we do and are doing very well in.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Let me ask you quickly then about Wisconsin. Do you have to win Wisconsin to change the momentum in this race?

RICK SANTORUM: We just, you know, did, laid on a pretty good one in Louisiana. And, you know, it's a primary state not a caucus, is not one you can say, oh, it's just a few people voting. It was a primary state. So there was a broad turnout down there. And-- and, you know, we're going to come here to Wisconsin, you know, we're trailing in most-- in the most recent polls right now. We're being outspent about sixty to one here in Wisconsin. But, you know what, the reaction I got yesterday in traveling around in Bellevue and in Sheboygan and up here in-- in Green Bay was, you know, great outpouring of support.

You know what, yesterday, I don't know if you saw this but actually it was bowling in Sheboygan yesterday with-- with a bunch of folks at a-- at a tournament. And throw-- throw three strikes in a row, that's a-- that's a turkey that tells you that you've got someone here who can relate to the voters in Wisconsin just like those of us in western Pennsylvania who grew up in the bowling lanes.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Okay, there you go. Let's move on to a very serious subject. And, of course that is the national uproar that is going on after the death of that seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. The President made a very personal statement about this. Let's listen.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. My main message is-- is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son he would look like Trayvon.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Senator, the President did not use the word race, but do you think race played a role here?

RICK SANTORUM: Well, I mean, I obviously I'm not privy to what's going on in someone's mind. Obviously in my opinion someone who had a very sick mind who would-- who would pursue someone like this. This is clearly a heinous act. And, you know, there are a lot of people who have a lot of distorted views of reality. And, it's-- it's a tragic, tragic case. And my heart goes out to the parents, too. I can't imagine what they're suffering losing their son in-- in such a horrific way. All I would say is that whatever the motive is, it was a malicious one and a very, very tragic one.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Well, Newt Gingrich said that what the President said in a sense is disgraceful because it is not a question of who that man looked like. Any young man of any ethnic background should be safe. Was Newt Gingrich wrong to make those comments?

RICK SANTORUM: Well, all I can say is that, you know, again, there are a lot of people who have very-- very perverted views of reality and-- and obviously have, as we see, people who-- who do horrible things for seemingly senseless reasons. And I-- I think it's hard to generalize from one heinous act something that is, you know, try to-- try to make a bigger point out of it. And I think that's probably what Newt was getting at. And I would just say to the President and to everybody that, you know, we need to focus on being there to be supportive and-- and, for the family that's going through this tragedy.

NORAH O'DONNELL: All right. Senator Rick Santorum, thank you for joining us.

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