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Fox News "Hannity" - Transcript


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SEAN HANNITY, HOST: In just three short days, voters will head to the polls in Florida to select the man that they want to see face off with President Obama in the general election. And as Frank Luntz explained in our last segment, Thursday's debate in Florida is likely to have a big impact on that result. And in just a moment, I will be joined by former Pennsylvania Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum. He had a very strong performance in Jacksonville last night. And he wasn't shy about going after the two men currently leading the field. Watch this.


RICK SANTORUM, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These two gentlemen who are out distracting from the most important issues we have, by playing petty personal politics. Can we set aside that Newt was a member of Congress and used the skills that he developed as a member of Congress to go out and advise companies, and that's not the worst thing in the world. And that Mitt Romney is a wealthy guy because he worked hard and he's going out and working hard, and you guys leave that alone and focus on the issues.


HANNITY: Now the senator's impressive showing comes just days after reports circulated that he was considering dropping out of the race. But here to clear the air, the man himself, presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Senator, welcome back.

SANTORUM: Thanks, Sean. It's good to be with you. You know, I know where that's coming from. We've actually traced it. It's coming from the White House. They are afraid that we are the one that is going to come out of this race, and if you looked at the president's State of the Union Address, he led with a pathetic program, but at least he led with the idea of trying to revitalize manufacturing and doing something about the Reagan Democrats that are leaving him in droves and they will, based on the track record I have in the policy that I put out, our made-in the-USA plan, we have a tailor-made message for where Obama's Achilles heel is in those states that you just mentioned, Indiana, and North Carolina and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan. We are very excited about the Obama administration being worried about our campaign.

HANNITY: All right. Well, now that you traced it all back, I am glad that you were able to shed some light on it, and it's not true. You are not getting out of the race. All right. First of all --

SANTORUM: Just so you know, Sean, I mean, tonight after this program, I am going to be doing a tele-town hall meeting in Missouri and another one in Colorado and another one after midnight in Nevada. So, we are -- we are focused on not just Florida but the rest of the states. We're hiring staff. We just today alone, we've raised almost a quarter of a million dollars. We are doing great and we feel very, very good about how this campaign's going.

HANNITY: I thought there were three, it's very interesting. Going back to Iowa, I spoke to you and I remember asking you, Senator, I thought you had really great appearances in the polls, I'm sorry in the debates, why haven't your poll numbers come up? And you said to me, you said, Sean, I'm steady eddy, eventually people will come back to me. And you turned out winning Iowa. Took a little time to find out the results, but you didn't win Iowa.

I thought you had three really good moments last night, one is that one we just played, you had a very interesting exchange I thought with Mitt Romney. And I thought you gave one of the best answers about the fundamental documents and principles of this country and our founders and our framers that this is basically that we are created by God, that rights are come from God. I thought that was really a powerful answer last night. You explained it as well as anybody, my thought.

SANTORUM: Well, thank you. You know, that's something that, people always talk about, you know, Rick, you are the social conservative candidate. Well, you know, because you talk about faith and family. But as you heard last night, when I talk about faith as I talk about America, the faith that America is a moral enterprise because, you know, as I said, the Declaration of Independence is our founding document. It is what America is all about. What the Constitution was created to do was one thing, really, which is to protect the rights that are declaration recognized come from our creator and that the role of the government is to protect those rights and the family and their ability to live their rights in conformity with God and God's will. And that's the greatness of America.

And, you know, you want to ask how we are going to bring America together, Sean? We are going to bring America together by reminding us who we are, what we can agree on, when we can find some sort of foundation that we can agree on, then we can start to build a consensus again in America and that's what I was trying to lay out last night.

HANNITY: I don't think you can find a better articulation than the American creed than that answer that you gave last night. And Kudos to you and Frank Luntz just said, he thought you actually and his focus group thought you won the debate last night.

Let me ask you this -- Governor Palin has put up on her Facebook, cannibals and GOP establishment employ tactics of the left. That's the title of it. And she says, we have watched something very disturbing this week, that is the Republican establishment, which fought Ronald Reagan in the 1970s and is fighting the grassroots Tea Party Movement today, has adopted the tactics of the left in using the media and the politics of personal destruction to attack an opponent. She was speaking very specifically about Newt. And she says she doubts that they would use such harsh tactics against Barack Obama. Do you think there is some truth in what she is saying?

SANTORUM: Well, there is no doubt that this has been a very nasty campaign, between Governor Romney and Congressman Gingrich. And there is no doubt also that Governor Romney, you know, threw the first blow. And it's now been a back and forth. And I don't think it's reflected well frankly on either one of them. You know, one of the things that I mentioned last night is here they are, back and forth throughout the last several debates, just throwing personal charges at each other. And the more I look at it, it just shows to me that unfortunately, a lot of the most important issues that we are dealing with, and you mentioned health care, they are really not that different. And maybe one of the reasons we're seeing so many personal attacks is there aren't big differences between them when it comes to the issues.

HANNITY: Do you agree with her, she says, this isn't really about Newt and Governor Romney, she says, it's more about the GOP establishment and the Tea Party grassroots, independent Americans who are sick of the politics of personal destruction. Now it's interesting because you tapped into that last night. And I thought that was one of the best applause lines, if you will. And I don't think you intended it to be -- maybe you did. I don't know, but it got the biggest applause. So, there is something going on here. You are on the ground, you are meeting people, you're in these debates, you're seeing these ads. Give us your best insight.

SANTORUM: I guess I would just say that I think the problem here is that both sides have been sort of going at each other. You know, Newt's going after, you know, Bain Capital and, you know, his income tax and the like. So, if it was just one sided, I think you might want to make that case. But I think, unfortunately for both those candidate, they have both gotten down and gotten muddy and gotten dirty. And I don't think either of them are the better for it. I really believe that what we need is to get back to talking about the substance. And when we did last night, you know, when I talked about substance with Newt and when I talked about substance with Mitt Romney, you know, I think we cleaned their clocks on health care and on -- on TARP and some other things that we have some very serious disagreements. And where I create a better contrast with a private-sector model and a bottom-up approach like I talked about our founders' approach, and how we are going to build a great country again.

HANNITY: All right. It's -- you know what? I have a funny feeling this is going to go on for quite a while. Thank you, Senator for being with us. I appreciate your time tonight.

SANTORUM: Well, you can count on me. I am going to be there for a long time. We are playing it for way, way, way in advance. We feel great about this campaign. And we are going to do very well.

HANNITY: All right, Senator Santorum, presidential candidate. Thanks for being with us.

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