Interview with Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

Interview with Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

By John King, USA - February 9, 2012

KING: Rick Santorum is riding high, raising a quick million dollars after his stunning Tuesday sweep of Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado and now setting his sights on proving those wins are no fluke.

Here's one sign the Mitt Romney campaign now takes Santorum more seriously. He has his own letterhead for Romney press releases questioning Santorum's past support of pork barrel spending and raising the government's debt ceiling.

Earlier today in Oklahoma, the former Pennsylvania senator took issue.


SANTORUM: Governor Romney's campaign has -- has been about serially tearing down opponents without offering any kind of vision for what he wants to do for this country.



KING: Senator Santorum now joining us from Tulsa.

Senator, it's good to see you.

I want to go through some of the things you said at your earlier event today.

At one point, you were criticizing the president's decision to oppose the Keystone Pipeline. You said that would make the United States more dependent on foreign oil and that the president, then, would have to get that oil from OPEC.

And then you went on, sir, and you said this.


SANTORUM: So what are we doing?

We're throwing Israel under the bus because we know we're going to be dependent upon OPEC. We're going to say oh, Iran, we don't want you to get a nuclear weapon, wink, wink, nod, nod, go ahead, just give us your oil.

Folks, the president of the United States is selling the economic security of this country down the river right now.


KING: Senator, you believe this president of the United States is picking Iran over Israel, that he is sacrificing a decades-long alliance with Israel to make friends with Iran?

Isn't that ludicrous?

SANTORUM: Well, no. Look at his actions, John.

Look at his actions, with -- the secretary of Defense comes out and says that it -- that Israel is planning a -- an attack on Iran, you know, this -- this is our closest ally in the region and the secretary of Defense goes out and -- and divulges information, sensitive information about what is -- what Israel's plans are then -- then reaps scorn on them and invites the -- scorn of the rest of the world, that that is somehow what a friend does. And then, at the same time, as I said before, the president, who fought tooth and nail against putting sanctions on Iran and only capitulated at -- at -- at the end.

This is a president who is -- who is not standing by our allies, is trying to appease, trying to find a way to -- to -- to allow Is -- clearly, to allow Iran to get this nuclear weapon. He's doing absolutely nothing, in a consequential way, to make sure that they do not get this weapon.

KING: It is a different thing to say I disagree with his policy, I don't think he's doing enough. If I read you correctly, what you just said, you think he doesn't care?

SANTORUM: I think he -- he is looking past Iran with a nuclear weapon. That's what I believe. I believe that he -- he is now -- and you hear it from voices within the administration, they -- the idea of -- of containment, you don't hear any of the real things that have to be put on the table that will stop Iran.

You have four -- almost 40 nuclear sites. The idea that Israel alone could actually take out those sites without any kind of carrier presence in the Gulf is simply, from a military standpoint, highly improbable.

And so you have a president who's now basically telling Israel, don't do this, we're not going to help you, we're not going to be a partner in this and we're going to have to live with containment. That's the -- that seems to be the clear policy of this administration, from its actions.

KING: I want to bring up another controversy that you've focused on a lot in recent days. That is the administration's decision to require Catholic institutions, other religious institutions, if they provide health insurance to their workers, to make sure that insurance includes contraceptive coverage.

You call that a violation of religious freedom, making institutions give coverage that is against their religious and their moral beliefs.

In raising that issue today, you talked about a former opponent, a former colleague in the United States Senate.

I want you to listen.


SANTORUM: Barbara Boxer sort of was a dog whistle for me when I came to the United States Senate. Any...


SANTORUM: Any time she'd get up on the floor of the Senate, I just felt this magnet to run and...


SANTORUM: -- she said women's rights trump religious rights.


SANTORUM: Maybe we need to look at that First Amendment again.



KING: I want you to address your response here to women who might disagree with you on this issue. It's a tough policy call and it becomes dicey politics. But to a woman who, say, favors abortion rights or a woman who says this is an access to health care issue, who disagrees with you on this issue, what would you say to her?

SANTORUM: I would say that you have the right to go out and purchase that product. No one is telling you that that product should be banned.

But you shouldn't be able to tell the Catholic Church that they have to pay for it. That's the issue here, is making someone pay for something using money from the church. It's the church's money -- and forcing them to do something that they think is a grievous moral wrong.

How can that be a right of a woman?

That's not -- it has nothing to do with the right of a woman. This has to do with the right of the church not to spend their resources in a way that's inconsistent with their faith. And this is not a casually held position. This is something that's real serious.

We're not talking about denying women the access to -- to contraception. They can go and get it. But we're talking about forcing a church, of which they happen to choose to work for, to -- and they know their positions in working for them, you're now forcing them, as a condition of -- of employing people, to pay for something that is -- that is, again, a grievous moral wrong.

No. The -- a woman's right to free contraceptive coverage being paid for by someone who believes it's a grievous moral wrong is not trumping that constitutional right of freedom of -- freedom of religion.


John King, USA

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