The Rick Santorum Interview
June 8, 2011
RUSH: We'd like to welcome to the program Rick Santorum, who is one of the Republicans seeking the presidential nomination of the Republican Party. Senator... How do you prefer to be referred to these days? You were last a Senator. How are you anyway?
SANTORUM: Well, Rush, thank you so much for having me on, and Rick works just fine. That's what... I was just in a diner in Nashua, and young lady asked me the same question. I said, "Rick works well," and so we're not in office anymore. I'm just out there trying to -- as a private citizen trying to -- make a difference in our country.
RUSH: Well, I was gonna ask you: Why now? Why? It's a crowded Republican field. There are a lot of candidates. You know, Republican Party is at war with itself in addition to being at war with Democrats and Obama. What is it about now that made you decide to toss your hat into all this?
SANTORUM: Well, I said this yesterday. The reason I went to Somerset County -- actually two days ago -- to announce was that's where my grandfather came to this country. He left fascist Italy, Mussolini's Italy in 1927 because he didn't want his family growing up with the government telling them what to think and how to do things. He had a good job, he lived in a beautiful little town in northern Italy on a lake. He left his eight brothers and sisters and came to this country and worked in the coal mines and ended up 'til he was 72 years old, and he used to tell me when I was a kid that the most important thing was freedom. I just believe with what we've seen in this administration over the past two years that we are at risk of losing our Founders' freedom.
We're at risk of losing what this country has fought for for 200 years, and I believe the linchpin in losing that is Obamacare. You know, Rush, that Lady Thatcher said after she left office and reflected on her career, that she was never able to accomplish in England what Ronald Reagan did in America, and she said that she blamed the British national health care system. What I said yesterday, or two days ago, was that once the government has an ID line to you, and they can withhold nutrition and withhold care, they can get anything out of America. They can grow bigger and bigger and more powerful. I just feel like we have to stop Obamacare, and I think we need a candidate who can be crystal clear on that and has a strong record on not just health care but on limited government and I believe that I can bring that to the table and someone who's been a very strong, consistent conservative over the years.
RUSH: Now, you've been doing some radio hosting.
SANTORUM: I have!
RUSH: You have. You have guest hosted for Bill Bennett on his show. So since you've done that you ought to be do just about anything now, including be president. What did that teach you? I mean, you'd never done it before as a host. Did that have any factor here in you wanting to get back into your political career?
SANTORUM: Well, it was actually a really great way to stay, you know, in tune with what people are thinking, and it was very, very clear to me -- and I'm I listener to talk radio. I've been listening to you for 20 years, and, you know, really believe in the dialogue and interaction that goes into trying to understand where America is and I think talk radio is a great place for that and I certainly heard from listeners and in travel can you understand because after I started to do talk radio I started to do a lot more traveling because I was really concerned about Obama and Obamacare, and cap and trade and card check and all those things that were floating back at those times. I don't claim to be a Tea Party person because obviously I've been involved in politics for quite some time, but for really for the same reasons the Tea Party people decided to come out of the woodwork. I really decided to come out of my wood works and get back involved in this because I have seven children, Rush, and I think my duty to them is the same duty that my grandfather was to me which is creating -- to make sure that we pass on -- a country that's free and I really do believe that's at risk in America. I think this election is the most important one since the election of 1860.
I really can't stress enough how I believe that Obama's view of America... I always use this quote that said in response to the Ryan budget. He was talking about Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and he said that, you know, America's a better country because of these programs then he went on and said, "I'll go one step further: America would not be a great country without those programs." That man does not understand what makes America great. What makes America great was a government that was founded to be limited to doing one thing. I really believe the whole purpose of America, the aspirational value -- why everybody who wants to come to this country wants to come here -- was because we respected the dignity of every living person. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. It is to protect life and liberty. That is what America is all about. It's not to take care of people, but it's a belief that free people -- if given the opportunity to provide for themselves -- collectively we can build a much greater society. We can build a society that's a good and decent society, if government just stays out of the way and creates an atmosphere for opportunity, protects us from outside fources and creates a level playing field for all of us to be able to achieve in our lives.
RUSH: Now, Rick, in that answer -- which I liked -- I heard a lot of references to what some would call the "social issues." I remember you've said when you announced your candidacy -- and you've gotten close to it here, too -- you said you wanted to make sure that there is a conservative in the race who has a track record of leading on moral, cultural issues. Now, you know as well as I do that within the what I call the inside the Beltway elitist or ruling part of the Republican Party, they don't want any part of the "social issues," Rick. They don't want to go there. They don't want candidates who are gonna make a big deal out of the social issues 'cause they're afraid of abortion rearing its head and becoming an issue. Does that present you a problem? 'Cause this is one of the areas where the Republican Party is in a war with itself. You know, what I call the -- for lack of a better term -- intelligentsia of our party just don't want to go there. They want to keep it supposedly strictly on the fiscal side, but you're fearless going after the moral and social issues as you've just done here.
SANTORUM: Yeah. Look, I believe as you heard, "We're endowed by our Creator with certain rights: Life, liberty..." I mean, America is a moral enterprise, Rush. The idea that Republicans can win elections if he go up there and just say, "All we care about is money..." People don't care... Of course we care about our jobs, we care about money, but we care about our families. We care about our communities. We care about, you know, the dignity of life; we care about living good lives that add to the greatness of this country, and the idea that we can have limited government, Rush, without strong families?
The family is the first economy. If the family breaks down, well, government gets bigger because of the consequences of family breakdown. We see in the neighborhoods where there are no marriages and there are no two-parent families. You can't ignore the reality that faith and family. Those two things are integral parts of having limited government, lower taxes, and free societies. We are either gonna be constrained by internal controls, internal restraint on our behavior or we're gonna be restrained by external restraints -- and when people say, "We can live free and people can do whatever they want to do," show me an example of that in human history. It doesn't work.
So I am gonna talk about it. Look, I understand, you heard me say, Rush: The most important issue is obviously freedom and repealing Obamacare and getting government out of people's lives, lowering taxes and creating growth -- and you know that I was a leader on welfare reform. I was the guy that led the charge in the US Senate and actually wrote the bill when I was in the House. I was the guy that actually helped end the federal entitlement. I embraced the Ryan plan and said it's a good first step and frankly I would go even farther than that, and I'm out talking about all the important issues of the day, but you can't ignore the entire picture, and I don't think Americans want to us ignore the entire picture either.
RUSH: We're talking with former Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Now, you are obviously -- in addition to being self-described people just heard it -- a social, fiscal conservative. You first won a House seat -- you're from western Pennsylvania -- in a heavily Democrat district.
SANTORUM: Thank your old radio station KQV where you were a disc jockey.
RUSH: (laughing) Yeah, that's right.
SANTORUM: As you know, they turned into a news format. They were the only station in the area that actually covered me, but I beat a 14-year incumbent after I was not given any chance. Six months before the election, I had 6% name recognition. So we go about it the old-fashioned way. This is my 18th visit to New Hampshire. We're working hard.
RUSH: That what I was gonna ask you.
RUSH: You won your House seat in that district, you then went to win the Senate twice in a state that most people would not consider to be majority in support of you.
RUSH: So you can tell us how a social conservative can win in a blue state like Pennsylvania or in several blue states. How would you do it today versus what you did then -- and why do you think you lost the last time you sought the Senate?
SANTORUM: Sure. Well, I think you're right. I won my first four races. I'm four out of five -- not bad -- and three of the first four races I ran twice for the House, once against this incumbent Democrat. The second time I got redistricted into a 71% Democratic district against another incumbent Democrat. I won that seat. The third time I ran for the Senate in Pennsylvania with 600,000 more registered Democrats Republicans, against another Democratic incumbents, I won that -- and then in 2000 when George Bush lost the state by four points I won it by five. In 2006 it was a horrible election year, and, you know, I lost. But I lost because I continued to be a constant conservative and the last six years I was someone who was a national figure in the sense that I was the third ranking Republican in leadership and I had just run President Bush's campaign in Pennsylvania.
The reason I was able to win before is because people, while they didn't always agree with me, they knew where I stood and they knew that I did what I believed was right and that I stood for what I believe in, and they could trust me even though they didn't necessarily agree. I think for a president, there are very few people who believe or vote for somebody because they agree with them on everything. Most people don't agree with everybody on everything, but they want to believe that that person is trustworthy. They want to believe that they're authentic. They want to believe that they're gonna actually do what they say they're gonna do and can be trusted and for a long time in Pennsylvania that was enough for me to get a lot of moderate and conservative Democrats to join Republicans and win. In 2006 it was just a meltdown year. I still led the ticket in Pennsylvania, but our gubernatorial candidate lost by 22 points, and it was just a bad year.
RUSH: We are talking to Rick Santorum.
RUSH: And we're back, Rush Limbaugh here with Rick Santorum, Republican seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Mitt Romney in his announcement earlier this week in New Hampshire said yes, he believes there is global warming, and, yes, he thinks human beings are contributing to it. Do you?
SANTORUM: I believe the earth gets warmer, and I also believe the earth gets cooler, and I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man through the production of CO2 which is a trace gas in the atmosphere and the manmade part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all of the other factors, El Nino, La Nina, sunspots, you know, moisture in the air. There's a variety of factors that contribute to the earth warming and cooling, and to me this is an opportunity for the left to create -- it's a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm. It's been on a warming trend so they said, "Oh, let's take advantage of that and say that we need the government to come in and regulate your life some more because it's getting warmer," just like they did in the seventies when it was getting cool, they needed the government to come in and regulate your life because it's getting cooler. It's just an excuse for more government control of your life, and I've never been for any scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative.
RUSH: I see that you've signed the anti-tax pledge in New Hampshire. What are the specifics?
SANTORUM: I'm signing that today. That's right. It basically says that I believe in pro-growth policies, and the time I was in the United States Senate and the Congress I never voted for a tax increase, believed and voted for every tax cut that was made available to do, 'cause I believe that we need to have a situation our country where government is an incentivizer for business where by creating low rates and reforming our regulatory structure to make it more friendly to business and opportunity oriented, as well as I was a very strong supporter of litigation reform to get litigation costs down in our business. We can compete with anybody in the world if we're provided a playing field that isn't tilted against us, and that's what I think Obama and the Democrats and the left have been doing for a long time in America.
RUSH: Let's talk about Obama. I've talked to a couple, not a whole lot, but a couple of potential, some have announced, some haven't, Republican presidential nominees, and almost all of them, Rick, said to me, "Rush, we can't attack Obama. We can attack his policies, and we should, and we've gotta go after his policies, but we cannot be critical of Obama." What is your reaction to that thinking?
SANTORUM: Well, I don't know. I mean I'm going to attack the president when he's wrong and when he does things that I think are against the interests of our country. My feeling is we haven't talked about the national security. When the president of the United States goes out and apologizes for America, when he goes out and seems to embrace or even bow to foreign leaders, when he does things that I think make us weaker in the eyes of our enemies and make us unreliable in the eyes of our friends I'm gonna attack him and I'm gonna attack what he does. Look, I didn't defeat and knock out three Democratic incumbents by not going after my opponent and making sure that they knew that they were gonna be held accountable for everything they did and said.
RUSH: Well, what they mean is, he's the first black president, and they don't want to be called racist, and so they can't be seen as attacking Obama personally. Of course, I -- I'm going to inject myself in this, imagine that -- I don't know how you separate somebody from their policies.
RUSH: Obama is his policies. You are your policies. Mitch Daniels said that he would be reluctant to debate Obama. After we got Bin Laden, he said, "I don't know that I'm ready to debate Obama on foreign policy." You just said you're clearly willing to.
SANTORUM: Absolutely. Obama getting Osama Bin Laden was simply a tactical decision, that presidents, by the way, usually don't make. The only reason he had to make this tactical decision was because we're going into a foreign country to extract him and kill him, but other than that, you know, because he's such a high value target, yeah, he had to make a tactical decision to get Bin Laden. But what presidents are responsible for are not tactical decisions but higher level strategic decisions. In every contingency that's come up during the Obama administration President Obama has gotten it wrong and gotten it wrong badly, whether it is throwing Mubarak under the bus, whether it was not going after and supporting the green revolution in Iran, whether it's being on the wrong side of Hondurans who were trying to get rid of a Hugo Chavez puppet in their country and we're still on the wrong side of that whether we stiff-armed Colombia in their attempt to get closer to us to try to rebuff Chavez and the socialists in South America, whether it's the Poles and the Czechs that we abandoned to the Russians in pursuit of this utopian ridiculouslessness of a nuclear free world that the president is advocating, he has been on the wrong side of every national security issue since he's been president, and it's made us weaker abroad and it's made us less secure here home.
RUSH: I have a minute and a half. You ever ask yourself where the American people are politically? Do you ever fear the American people just maybe want a European socialist country, that they'd rather be dependent on government? Does that worry you?
SANTORUM: Does it worry me? Well, you know, Rush, 'cause you combat it every day with the popular culture and the media and academic institutions, that gets pounded away every day into the minds of our young people, and I don't know how many times I've listened on your show where people said, "You know, you opened, the scales fell from my eyes. It's finally making sense to me. I understand all of these lies I've been told." You tell people lies enough and you indoctrinate them enough, of course I've got grave concerns and that's one of the reasons I'm doing this is because I think we need -- look, the person who's been able to win the presidency since the age of television has had one thing in common. They've been the best communicator in the race. We need someone like a Rush Limbaugh who can communicate and can touch the soul of Americans and can reach out across the radio and television and paint a vision that helps drop those scales, that can remind people what a great country we are and that it's a great country because we believe in free people and the ability of free people to provide for themselves, their family, their community, and the God they love. That's what America is about, and we can with get back to that. We need to begin to believe in ourselves instead of the having someone tell us that they need to believe in him, the anointed one to provide for them.
RUSH: Rick, thanks for your time. Your passion is infectious. It really is.
SANTORUM: Thank you. My wife will kill me if I don't get my website in, Rick Santorum.com, if you can please go to that website and send even a small contribution to encourage us and help us along the way.
RUSH: All right, RickSantorum.com, right?
SANTORUM: Yes, that's it, Rush, thank you.
RUSH: You bet. Thank you very much. Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania, now seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
We've gotta brief time-out I've -- we've still got people on hold we'll get to your phone calls and a couple choice sound bites, Trump saying I'm right, which I mean that's not unique, everybody does, but it's nice to hear.