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ABC "This Week with Christiane Amanpour" - Transcript


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AMANPOUR: Thank you, Jon.

And a big question this morning, where will all those Herman Cain voters go? Our headliner today hopes they flock straight to him. He's former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. He has spent more time in Iowa than any other candidate, visiting all 99 counties. And he joins me now.

Senator, thank you for being here.


AMANPOUR: Talking about Iowa, you're staking your campaign on that. But you must have seen the latest, The Des Moines Register poll. It's not encouraging, 6 percent. Tied for last.

SANTORUM: That's -- well, it's better than it was before. I mean, if you look at every poll, we keep moving up, moving up slowly. But we're within the margin of error of both Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, both of whom have had enormous attention by the national media, and have had money and resources.

Rick Perry is running literally million of dollars of ads in Iowa, and he is right next to me in the polls. So I'm actually encouraged that the people of Iowa, as they go down to the end here, start looking at all the candidates.

We think we're going to do very, very well. We have a very strong, consistent conservative message that matches up better with Iowans than anybody else. And we think we're going to surprise a lot of people.

AMANPOUR: You talk about a strong, consistent conservative message. And a lot of people do say, yes, he does, however, we are very concerned. He lost his election in Pennsylvania by a landslide, 20 points. He is not electable.

Everybody has had a bit of a boomlet, but not you.

SANTORUM: Well, that's a good thing. That's a great thing not to have had it. We still have almost -- we have a month to go before the election. And as you know, Christiane, that's a lifetime in politics.

So if you look at all of these little boomlets, they last about four to six weeks. Newt is in about week three. So we feel pretty good that, you know, come the middle of December and toward the end of December, as candidates are looking for a candidate they can trust, someone that is authentic, someone who knows what they believe in and why they believe it, and has a record to back up the rhetoric as to what they want to do to change this country, because we do need big changes, well, who has been doing that?

Who has been out there? Who has been, you know, fighting city hall, if you will, and having success at doing it? We've got the good track record and I think that's going to pay off in the end.

AMANPOUR: Where do you have to be after January 3rd? What is a good showing for you, a threshold?

SANTORUM: Well, given everybody is sitting here predicting me to finish last or next to last, obviously...

AMANPOUR: Yes, but to stay in the race?

SANTORUM: Well, I think we need a surprise. I mean, we need to finish ahead of several candidates. And, look, I think we have a very good chance of winning Iowa. I know people...


SANTORUM: Yes, I do. I really do. We...

AMANPOUR: Kind of, you would say that, wouldn't you, though?

SANTORUM: No. I believe it. I really do. I know when we -- we're doing all sorts of phone calls in our office, and what we're hearing is that, still, 60, 70 percent of the people in Iowa are still undecided.

You can read these polls, but that's who they're for in the moment, and...

AMANPOUR: The latest poll says 11 percent undecided.

SANTORUM: Yes, but if you talk to people and they say, you know, who -- are you really committed? And they say, well, no, I mean, we're still open to other candidates.

And, again, the calls we're making, we're still hearing a high percentage of undecideds, people still trying to find out more about the candidates. And remember, this is a caucus, not a primary.

You're talking about activists who are going to go out. And we've spent the time in the state, we've talked to the activists. We've got people lined up to be our caucus captains at all of these little caucus locations.

About a third of the people that come to the caucuses come there undecided. That's what the polls have said. And we'll have people at those caucuses advocating for us because I've been in their county. They know my message. They know what I want to accomplish.

It has been strong message of pro-growth, family values, strong national security. And I think it's going to do well. AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about your family.


AMANPOUR: You are very public about your seven children. You've been very public and have been very emotional, of course, talking about your young daughter, Bella, you, you've said, has basically a life that's measured in days and weeks.

SANTORUM: Well, it certainly is according to the medical statistics. But we've been very blessed. I mean, she is three-and-a- half years of age, you know, I was with her last night, got a chance to spend some time with her.

SANTORUM: She's an absolute joy. She's really the center of our lives. And we feel so blessed to have her.

AMANPOUR: And as a mother, I just wonder how you can keep going and how you justify this with so much personal toll at home?

SANTORUM: Yeah, well, as we all know...

AMANPOUR: Given the polls.

SANTORUM: Yeah, no, I understand. Well, I don't worry about the -- again I don't worry about the polls, I worry about what I'm trying to do to be the best father and husband I can be. And obviously a big part of that is making sure that we have a country that respects her life and a country that is free and safe and prosperous for all of my children.

And I just felt like given this is really I believe the most critical election in the history of the country that I had to step up and make sacrifices, like everybody does, to make our country a better country.

AMANPOUR: You're obviously very committed to the conservative principals that you talk about, however it looks like -- you at who's at the top here, they're not the most conservative. The most conservatives are at the bottom in Iowa. Is there something different about this election cycle? I mean, these conservative issues are not gaining the kind of traction that one might expect.

SANTORUM: I think people are suaded more by people who is getting attention than necessarily the specific issues. I think people want someone who can beat Barack Obama. And that's the focus.

So when people talk about winnability, really you have to look at the other candidates. I mean, Newt Gingrich is always running a heavily Republican congressional district in Georgia and struggled at times to win that. So if you're looking for someone who can pull together people and still be a conservative, I've got the record to do that. AMANPOUR: So let me ask you about Newt Gingrich who is at the top, a breakaway, some 25 percent according to the Des Moines Register poll. But in terms of social issues, he, you know, has been married three times, he has two divorces. He's admitted to infidelity, should voters hold him against him? Is that relevant? SANTORUM: Oh, I think character is definitely an issue. You know, I think they have to make a decision based upon the person's entire record. And certainly character counts.

And I think they look at -- you know, I have been married 21 years. I have 7 children, that's a factor that people are going to look at and should look at when it comes to the person you're going to have to lead the country. This is not someone who just...

AMANPOUR: Is he a real conservative with the social values that...

SANTORUM: I think Newt has consistently put those in the back of the bus. He has never really been an advocate of pushing those issues. Newt is someone who likes to get issues that are 80 to 90 percent of the polls. And 80 percent of the polls are generally not necessarily conservative, strong conservative issues. But that's how Newt has always tried to govern. And I respect that, that's certainly a way to do so. I tend to take the position that it's important to lead with what you believe is right for America and try to bring the American public along instead of trying to find where everybody is and then try to do that. AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about Herman Cain who obviously has dropped out. And you hope to be the beneficiary, I'm sure all the candidates do. Was it inevitable, did he have to drop out after all these women came out of the woodwork?

SANTORUM: My heart went out -- goes out to all of the candidates for what they have to go through and Herman has gone through a very, very difficult time for himself and his family. And I think he made the right decision to leave for his family and for the country. It was clearly a distraction that was not going to go away. And again I feel bad for Herman, I really do and his family in particular. And I hope that they can get well.

AMANPOUR: Mitt Romney who is the putative front-runner, and certainly in polls, it shows that in a national election, he would have the most electability. And yet a lot of writers are saying that he's moved consistently conservative now. And on some issues, more than previous...

SANTORUM: No, no. There's no question that Mitt has moved. The question is, you know, what's the sincerity of the move and whether he can be trusted? And that's one of the reasons I talk so much about looking at the candidate's record in determining what the best indication of what someone is going to do in the future is what they've done in the past.

AMANPOUR: Senator Santorum, thank you very much for being here.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Christiane.


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