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Interview with Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

Interview with Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

By John King, USA - February 6, 2012

KING: Rick Santorum won the first contest of the 2012 presidential sweepstakes, but he's fared poorly in the four states since Iowa, insisting, though, all along, he would get a chance to prove he, not Newt Gingrich, is the better conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.

Well, tomorrow night might be his last best chance. Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado are voting. And while no delegates are immediately at stake, all three states offer Senator Santorum an opportunity to prove his argument.

Senator Santorum with us live tonight from Golden in Colorado. And let's just get straight to that question, Senator.

Is the next 24 hours, are they the most critical in your campaign, as you try to bring in more money and sustain it, to prove your point?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, actually, we are beginning a lot more money. We've -- we've done very, very well over the last couple of weeks. And our campaign feels great.

As you saw, some national polls have us running ahead of the field on head-to-head match-ups against Barack Obama. In fact, one poll, we were the only one that actually defeats Barack Obama.

I think people are beginning to realize that the -- the contrast between Obama and Romney is just not going to work for us and that we need somebody who can make Barack Obama the issue in the campaign, not the -- the irresponsible policies of our nominee.

KING: But do you need a win to prove the point -- I was on TV when we were counting the votes in Nevada Saturday night saying my Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl. Tonight, I'm standing to you in front of you congratulating the New York Giants.

At some point, do you need a win...

SANTORUM: Right.

KING: -- to prove your point, that you're the strongest?

SANTORUM: Well, I think we're -- you know, we're -- we need to win in the sense that we need to perform very well. I think we're going to run ahead of Speaker Gingrich, at least -- obviously, Missouri is not on the ballot. We feel very comfortable that we can run ahead of him in -- in one, in fact, maybe both the other states and -- and even potentially win one of those states.

So, yes, you know, winning -- winning -- winning would be great, but doing well and showing that we're a strong -- we still have a strong base of support out there is -- is going to be good enough for us.

KING: You've been making the case that Governor Romney would be a disaster to send into the fall campaign, if conservatives want to make the case that you have to repeal President Obama's health care law.

Here's a little bit of how you put it earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: How are we going to fix this problem?

The only way to fix this problem, there's two ways. Governor Romney has chosen one path, along with President Obama, and that is, he believes the government should control everything. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, political fact checking groups have said government doesn't control everything in the Massachusetts plan.

But I want to ask you this -- I want to ask you this. If you go back to 1994, when you win a primary for the Senate seat and you read the Allentown paper, "The Morning Call," it says, quote, "Santorum and Watkins" -- your opponent -- "would both require individuals to buy health insurance rather than forcing employers to pay for employee benefits."

In 1994, Senator, were you for an individual mandate?

SANTORUM: No. That's -- that's just flat-out wrong. What they got confused was that I was for a plan that Phil Gramm offered that said if an employer provided health insurance, that they would have to offer a medical savings accounts, that are now called health savings account program. And they just simply got it wrong.

But, no, I -- I don't think you'll find anything else or anyway else that I advocated it. In fact, during the campaign in 1994, you'll find that I made -- made the whole point that I was against government-mandated health care. I ran against Harris Wofford, who was the author of Hillarycare.

So my record is pretty clean on this one. I think, you know, one reporter got it wrong and misunderstood what -- what one bill was about.

KING: The Romney campaign is clearly worried about you. They put on a conference call today, including the Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty, who was once a candidate. They're trying to peel away your Tea Party support by raising your support of earmarks in Congress.

And Governor Pawlenty said this on the call. He said, Santorum, quote, "wants Minnesota conservatives to believe he's as conservative as they are, but he's not."

And you responded on the earmark question, hitting back at Governor Romney.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: I understand that Governor Romney is having -- having a little fun time attacking me on earmarks?

And I just want to say that, for the record, as you know, Governor Romney had -- was an advocate of earmarks, number one.

But number two, this is typical Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: As you know, Tea Party voters care a lot about earmarks.

So are you making the case that they shouldn't vote for either you or Governor Romney because you both supported earmarks?

SANTORUM: Well, Jim DeMint, who was a favorite of the Tea Party, supported earmarks the same time I did. And just like I did, I now oppose earmarks because they were abused.

But during the time that I was supporting them, so was Jim DeMint. So was just about every other member of Congress. It was abused and -- and it should be banned and I have taken the position of banning them.

But at the time that I was supporting them, so was Governor Romney and so was just about everybody else. And the, you know, that was -- that was something that I think we all saw the error of our ways and -- and have -- have changed our position.

KING: We're almost out of time, Senator.

Let's end with setting your standard for tomorrow night.

Do you think -- do you -- do you believe in your heart -- I know you have to be careful -- but do you believe in your heart you can win at least one of these states tomorrow, maybe more?

SANTORUM: I think we can do very well there. Yes, I -- I think we certainly have a chance of winning one or -- or more of those states tomorrow. But, you know, a strong showing is a strong showing. And, you know, we're -- we're very encouraged that we're going to have a strong showing in all three states. And we'll -- we'll go from there.

KING: I'm very jealous of Senator Santorum tonight. I have been looking for the snow this whole primary season and he's found it in Golden, Colorado.

Senator, best of luck tomorrow.

We'll talk later down the road and see how things work out in Missouri...

SANTORUM: Thanks, John.

KING: -- Minnesota and Colorado. Rick Santorum tonight from Colorado.

Thank you, sir. 

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