OTR Interviews

Santorum: Voters Are Tired of the 'Mitt and Rick Show'

GOP 2012 hopeful on his latest campaign strategy and why he opposes Florida possibly moving up the date of its primary

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 29, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Slow and steady wins the race. At least that's what former senator Rick Santorum seems to be saying his strategy is to win the GOP nomination. But is it working?

Presidential candidate, former senator Rick Santorum, is here. Good evening, sir.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: So I guess -- I understand that you think the American people, Republican voters, want to shake things up a little bit with the front-runner.

SANTORUM: Yes. There's no question. I heard it in Florida. I've heard it in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, where I'm spending a lot of time, is that they're tired of the Mitt and Rick show, that they want to hear from the other candidates.

I think that's why you've seen Herman getting a bump. We've gotten a bump in -- you know, obviously, we finished fourth in the straw poll in Florida, which was a big help to us. Our fund-raising has jumped up in the last couple of weeks as a result of the debate.

The most constant thing I hear is, I wish they'd ask you more questions. I wish I'd hear from some of the other candidates. And so I think there's a dissatisfaction with the choices that have been presented to the American public, which all the papers, everybody's saying it's just this two-candidate race. And I think you're seeing -- you're starting to see a rebound -- a response to that.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you think that's the reason -- or not the only reason, but...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... a big reason behind the surge for Herman Cain, and you're gotten a bump up.

SANTORUM: Yes, we feel like we've gotten a bump. Herman certainly has. And that's -- you know, obviously, when people are looking at other places than the top two, that's an opportunity for us. And we're going to exploit that. We're going to spend a lot of time in those early primaries.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, big controversy right now over the primary schedule. You like the primary schedule, the caucus in Iowa followed by New Hampshire and South Carolina.

SANTORUM: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: And Florida -- Florida's sort of stirring up trouble. What's the problem with Florida doing that?

SANTORUM: For the life of me, I don't understand what Florida is trying to accomplish because whatever they're going to accomplish, they're going to fail. You know, they're going to move their primary up -- it's talked about moving up to January. All these four primary -- early primary states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, will move ahead of them. And all you've effectively done is cut off one month of the lead-up time to this primary process.

VAN SUSTEREN: And they're going to lose half their delegates.

SANTORUM: And they're going to lose half their delegates.

VAN SUSTEREN: Supposedly. Will that really be imposed upon them?

SANTORUM: Well, the RNC -- here's the way I look at this. The RNC, it's their nomination. It's the nomination of the Republican Party, the national Republican Party. And they should be able to set the rules. And they set the rules that these four states are going first.

And some states don't like it and want to jump ahead. Well, they're not going to jump ahead. All you're going to do is move up the process. What I believe is going on is somebody in Florida is shilling for Mitt Romney and probably Rick Perry. They want to shorten the playing field now that these guys are ahead, so what -- we'd rather have this election -- I'm sure that they'd like to have the election tomorrow.

So by moving up the calendar, you help the favorites. And there's somebody in Florida who wants to help the favorite. They certainly don't want to help the people of Florida because they're going to be denied their delegates and they're going to -- they're going to run afoul of the RNC, who was kind enough to pick them as the host state.

So I didn't really see a whole lot of advantage to the people of Florida doing it. I'm very disappointed they're doing it. I've heard if from a lot of people in Florida that they're not happy to do it. Their national committee people aren't happy they're doing it. But I suspect the Romney and Perry camps are very happy they're doing it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, who -- who in Florida -- who's the in the Perry, Romney, to take your -- your thought...

SANTORUM: Well, the chairman or the person -- the chairman or the person who's organizing this is a Perry supporter, so you can just sort of take it from there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why would he want to help Romney, though? Why would a Perry supporter want to help Romney now?

SANTORUM: Well, he's helping -- he's helping the favorite candidates. Again, if you -- if you shave off a month and you're looking at the top two candidates, you want this election to be as quickly as possible.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's going to -- I mean, they -- they can't both win, though.

SANTORUM: Well, no, they can't both win, but you're advantaging -- you're advantaging the candidates who are at the top of the polls right now by having the election sooner, rather than later. That's really what's happening.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why -- why should Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and whatever other next state's going to...

SANTORUM: Nevada.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why should -- why should -- and Nevada -- why should they pick the nominee for the Republican Party?

SANTORUM: Well, first off, they don't.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they do!

SANTORUM: They -- they...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they -- actually, they do!

SANTORUM: They do a very good job. First off, there's two reasons. Number one is the obvious reason, which is the RNC says they're first.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, of course, but why is the RNC doing it for these states, you know, every four years?

SANTORUM: And that's the second reason. The second reason is, is because these states have a tradition of doing that. They've been doing this for a long time, and they've had pretty good track record of actually taking the responsibility very seriously.

VAN SUSTEREN: The other states would, too! And the other...

SANTORUM: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, I imagine that the Republicans in Illinois, Republicans or Wisconsin -- I imagine they would like a say in who the nominee of their party was!

SANTORUM: Well, they do have a say, number one. And they're part of the primary process. But I would say two things. Number one, these states are smaller states. It's manageable for them to actually meet the candidates, be able to kick the tires, to find out who these people really are, as opposed to if the first state's California, it's whoever raises the most money is going to win California. You really want to have smaller states at the beginning of this process so you can actually vet candidates...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, then throw in Rhode Island!

SANTORUM: ... with real people.

VAN SUSTEREN: Throw in Rhode Island and make it...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Rhode Island's smaller than Florida (INAUDIBLE) smaller than Nevada (INAUDIBLE)

SANTORUM: Well, that's first off one of the reasons Nevada was thrown in there is because it's a small state that represents a Western constituency. But the other point is -- and this is the second point -- is that both Iowa -- all three, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- Nevada not so much -- but the first three have a history of actually taking this responsibility seriously and actually doing a good job.

VAN SUSTEREN: You don't think the other states would take it seriously if they -- nobody -- they've been iced out! I mean, they haven't had a chance in decades!

SANTORUM: Well, from what I see, there's not a whole lot of people clamoring for this. I mean, it's -- it actually is a fairly significant responsibility for the party, as well as for the people in those states to go out and meet candidates. I mean, and they take it as a very serious responsibility. That's why -- I mean, you see a real vetting process going on in these early primary states, and to their credit that they -- they do a -- I would argue, a good job. And I'm certainly counting on them to do a good job in Iowa, in particular, starting out.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me throw a foreign policy question at you very quickly. We only have 30 seconds. Syria -- they pelted eggs today at our ambassador.

SANTORUM: Well, why do we have an ambassador there in the first place? I mean, this is a country that is a rogue nation that we have not had an ambassador there for a long time because of the -- of the antics of their president and the domination of Lebanon, the hostility toward Israel.

And we've placed an ambassador there, and what we've gotten is a president who's killing his people in record numbers and thumbing his nose at the international community and still being a thorn in the side of both Lebanon and Israel. So why are we there? We should have pulled our ambassador long ago!

VAN SUSTEREN: And why would I ask you a foreign policy question with only 30 seconds left on something so important as Syria.

SANTORUM: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... saw that I was running out of time. I'm terribly sorry. That's impossible to answer. But anyway, thank you, sir.

SANTORUM: My pleasure.