Why Sen. Clinton Would Want to Be Secretary of State

Published November 18, 2008

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," November 17, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Why would Senator Hillary Clinton want to be secretary of state? Well, let's ask former United States Senator Rick Santorum. Why?

RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FORMER SENATOR: Oh, it's a great platform. I mean, it's, you know, the most important cabinet position, probably. Maybe secretary of the treasury in these days would be considered maybe equal. But it's a great platform. She is -- you know, she is, as all the Democrats are these days, loved abroad, so it's a place for her to get the adulation that she probably would be missing being -- sort of playing second fiddle to Chuck Schumer in the United States, which she would be in some respects.

VAN SUSTEREN: But she's second fiddle to the president-elect.

SANTORUM: Well, yes, but she has -- as you can see with Condi Rice and other secretaries of state, Colin Powell -- I mean, you cut your own swathe. You are the voice and the representation of America across the world, and you have that cachet outside of Washington. Yes, you're another cabinet person here, but outside of Washington, around the world, which is a pretty big oyster, you are the voice of America. You are the voice of the Obama administration. And unless the president's going to be traveling a lot, which I suspect, at least in the short term, you're going to be the face of America. And that's a pretty cool thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, you're obviously of the opposing party, but what's your impression of her it of -- can she -- how well would she do the job?

SANTORUM: Look, I mean, Hillary is competent. There's no question about it. She has experience. I mean, she's served I think eight years now on the Armed Services Committee, so that's -- that's certainly good foreign policy experience. She obviously was first lady and traveled with Bill. I don't think there's any question she has the experience to do it. I think she has the temperament to do it. From a -- I don't agree with any of their policies, but from the standpoint of, Does she have the skills to do the job, there's no question she has the skills to do this job. The big question mark on this whole thing is Bill, and that is, are you going to be able to control this guy, who at least in recent...

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you mean by control?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, what he says, who he works with, what business deals he's going to be doing, because he does a lot of work overseas, he does a lot of speeches overseas. He does business deals overseas. And that's going to be a very, very hard thing for -- to rein him in to -- you know, to the satisfaction of the Obama campaign.

VAN SUSTEREN: Like, but what, though? I mean, what could he possibly do? I mean -- and give me a hypothetical?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, working with governments that are not necessarily friendly to ours. You know, you mentioned the Kazakhstan situation with some -- with some rights (ph) in that country, or you know, deals with -- with...

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it that is that, that it would look like -- I mean, that she -- I mean, she would sort of be -- he would sort of undermine her, in the sense of -- if on the one hand, he's cozy with a country that we're trying to draw a hard line with? Is that essentially what we're talking about?

SANTORUM: I think we're talking about -- yes. Your -- well, it's not even countries that we're having a hard line with, is what messages are we sending. Our -- is what Bill's doing somehow related to what the official policy of the United States is, or -- and of course, it would be seen that way. Whether he's doing something on his own or not, it doesn't really matter. I mean, he's the wife of the secretary -- he's the husband of the secretary of state, and he's going to be seen as somehow or another tacitly having the approval or -- or support of this administration, which would be, I think, a dangerous thing.

Watch Greta's interview with former Sen. Santorum

VAN SUSTEREN: How much is the kind of secretary of state sort of freelance, and how much does the secretary of state have to take direct orders from a president? Or does it depend?

SANTORUM: I think, by and large, on the big things, you get a lot of instruction from the president. But on certainly a lot of -- a lot of issues, you know, you have a framework by which to work from, and then you work within that framework on a lot of those policy issues, and particularly when you're traveling around and your negotiating, you're given broad instructions and you work within those instructions. But you still have a lot of leeway and a lot of flexibility, particularly on a lot of the small matters, which is, as we know, in most people's jobs, there's a lot of small issues out there and yet very important to countries. So you can make real impacts on countries around the world on huge problems around the world that are not big, marquee issues here in the United States. You know, the president will give you sort of broad instructions on it and you're able to carry off something -- for example, you know, humanitarian efforts in Africa or economic, you know, issues in South Asia. All of those things, you have a tremendous ability to -- again, to create, you know, a pretty good -- a pretty good resume in your time as secretary of state.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it's a better job than being a senator.

SANTORUM: Oh, well, yes, no, her going back to the United States Senate -- you know, she's not -- she's not in a leadership position. Yes, she has cachet, but she's not a leader. She's not someone -- she's -- the reason that -- that the Democrats, I think, would like her to stay there is because she's a great fundraising apparatus to the Democratic Party. She'll be -- she's a great help. I mean, I can tell you, the reason she was able to advance and get the kind of profile that she had is because she was a fund-raising machine for the Democrats. They will miss that if she goes to the secretary of state's office.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you.

SANTORUM: My pleasure.


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