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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript


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CROWLEY: Joining me now, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who is out in California, where my best guess is you're collecting some money out there. So thank you for joining us at a very early hour, I know.

SANTORUM: You bet.

CROWLEY: You know, you had a great first of the week with that sweep of three states and not such a great Saturday. I found it surprising that, in CPAC, this collection of basically your base that has fueled your campaign, a collection of conservative groups, had a straw poll and they voted for Mitt Romney, 38 percent to 31 percent. What happened?

SANTORUM: Well, you know, those straw polls at CPAC, as you know, for years, Ron Paul's won those because he just trucks in a lot of people, pays for their ticket, and they come in and vote and then they leave. And I'm not -- you know, we didn't do that. We don't do that. I don't -- I don't try to rig straw polls.

CROWLEY: Do you think...

SANTORUM: I know that there was some...

CROWLEY: Do you think Governor Romney rigged it?

SANTORUM: ... unhappiness at the announcement.

Well, you have to talk to the Romney campaign and how many tickets they bought. We've heard all sorts of things.

But, you know what, those straw polls -- in my mind, you know, they were important last year when we weren't voting, but states are voting right now.

And we had a great week where you had thousands of people voting, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousand voting, and we defeated Governor Romney by 30 points in the state of Missouri, almost 30 points in Minnesota. And in a state where no one -- the most recent poll the day before the election had us down 14 in Colorado, and our people turned out. And we didn't pay them to turn out. They turned out because they were excited about our campaign, and we were able to defeat them in Colorado.

And we feel very, very good going into Michigan and Arizona. We're going to compete, obviously, heavily in Michigan. We're going to compete in Arizona. And we think this is a two-person race right now and we're just focused on -- on making sure that folks know we're the best alternative to Barack Obama and we have the best chance of beating him.

CROWLEY: OK. Before I leave the straw poll, we should first note that Mitt Romney also won the Maine caucuses, where I know you didn't compete heavily or at all. But you mentioned twice...

SANTORUM: Right, right.

CROWLEY: ... that you didn't pay for votes in these caucuses. So I have to go back to, do you have any -- someone clearly is telling you that they think Mitt Romney's team at least paid for folks to go and vote for him at the straw poll. Is that -- and that's what you're saying?

SANTORUM: That's -- that's -- that's standard procedure at all of these straw polls, that campaigns who want to win go out and recruit people and provide, you know, free tickets for them to come and vote. And there's nothing wrong with that. I mean, that's absolutely a strategy. We just don't think that's a good use of our resources. And -- but Governor Romney, obviously, you know, may have a different idea.

Look, the best use of our resources is to go to Michigan -- well, actually, we're going to be in Washington state on Monday. That's a Super Tuesday state. We're going to be in Idaho on Tuesday. We're going to be in North Dakota talking about energy and the importance of the Keystone Pipeline, the importance of that oil up in the Bakkens there, and what we can do to reduce the price of domestic fuels here in this country so we can be more energy independent.

And then we're going to Michigan, to speak at the Detroit Economic Club, and we're going to lay out our Made in the U.S. plan on how we're going to get manufacturing and energy going in this economy so we can create opportunities for everybody, from the bottom up, from the very poor to those who are already enjoying success in America. We want everybody to enjoy success.

CROWLEY: Let me take a trip down memory lane with you and play a 2006 ad that you ran in what was ultimately a losing battle to keep your Senate seat. Let me play it just a second.


SANTORUM: To get things done, you've got to work together. I teamed up with Joe Lieberman to make college more affordable for low- income families, and Barbara Boxer and I wrote a law protecting open space. I'm even working with Hillary Clinton to limit inappropriate material in children's video games.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: I want to pair that up with a statement from someone who was present at some kind of meeting with you at CPAC where you assured them that you would not move back to the center were you to become president of the United States.

So where is the Rick Santorum that paired up with Joe Lieberman, Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton? He just won't be there if he becomes president?

SANTORUM: Well, a lot of the things I was just talking about, I mean, protecting kids on the Internet is a conservative thing to do. I mean, Hillary Clinton came on our side on that. And the things I worked with Joe Lieberman, the same thing. You know, these are things that we worked on that we could find bipartisan accommodations. Open space was a very, very important issue in suburban Philadelphia, as it is out here in California. And this was an opportunity for -- to really work with local communities who wanted to preserve that space, particularly in urban areas.

So again, this is -- these are not big government programs. This is actually working with local communities, working with libraries, working with parents' groups to make sure that children aren't exposed to inappropriate material on the Internet and in schools. This is -- this is, again, consistent with the values that I hold.

CROWLEY: OK. And let me play you another that came from the same era, this 2006 campaign.


SANTORUM: This paper, they say "The real problem with Rick Santorum is he's too liberal." They didn't like my legislation calling for a raise in the minimum wage. And the White House probably called me a lot of things, but I fought their efforts to cut Amtrak funding.


CROWLEY: So if you should get to the White House, would you entertain raising the minimum wage? Would you continue to protect and raise funds for Amtrak?

SANTORUM: Well, on the issue of the minimum wage, if you go back and look at my record, I voted against the minimum wage increase many, many times, but when the minimum wage gets to the point where it truly needs to be raised because it's now -- you know, I think the number, historically, is below 7 percent of the workforce is now being paid the minimum wage, I do support a minimum wage.

I do not support what Governor Romney has suggested, which is indexing the minimum wage. That is a very bad idea that will lead to wage inflation. But when the minimum wage drops as the economy improves and inflation eventually creeps up, to set a basic minimum wage at the federal level, I have supported throughout my political career, yes. But I don't support anything in the minimum wage that would be an inflator of wages. And that's the real big difference between the two. And as far as Amtrak funding, you know, look, I represent Pennsylvania. That ad was run in Philadelphia. That's an important piece of --


CROWLEY: So an important Amtrak place.

SANTORUM: -- of the economic viability. Yes. The economic viability of that very busy and congested corridor. So what I have said is that, you know, that, look, we need to look at all things in government. Amtrak would be one. I'm convinced now that Amtrak is something that, you know, should not be funded by a federal level. We're in a very, very different time --


SANTORUM: -- now and the -- and the economy of this country and the budget deficits. and Amtrak funding would be one of those things that's just going to have to go.

CROWLEY: And yet Mitt Romney is criticized by you and others when he says, listen, I did what was best for my state when I went -- you know, signed health care into law for my state. It was not a federal thing. You know, I will repeal ObamaCare, but you all hit him, and he was representing his state at the time. What's the difference here?

SANTORUM: Well, I think there's a big difference between funding a program that's been funded a long time (ph) OK, Amtrak, which does -- you know, look, it's -- you make the argument, as I have, that funding Amtrak, which is a passenger rail service, is in many respects like funding a highway system.

That you know, that provides interstate transportation between the -- between the -- between the states and something the federal government does and really and it's in the Constitution to do so.

It's very different than having the government mandate that you buy health insurance, or the government pay and trade a right, as we've seen just this week, when the government creates a right to health insurance, they create the right to be able to tell you how to exercise the provision of that insurance, as we saw with the Catholic Church.

That's a very different thing than a transportation program. There are certainly legitimate arguments whether we should fund Amtrak or not, but that is a very different thing that a fundamental takeover of a sector of the economy.

CROWLEY: OK. Senator Santorum, I have got to leave it there. Thanks for joining us this morning.


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