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Rick Santorum Still Fighting for GOP Presidential Nomination Despite Low Polling

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 9, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: With the Iowa caucuses less than two months away, the Hawkeye State is becoming a bigger focus for some of the Republican candidates. Today, Texas Governor Rick Perry released this ad in Iowa highlighting his values.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As the son of tenant farmers from the west Texas town of Paint Creek, I learned the values of hard work, faith and family. I took those values with me when I served our country as a pilot in the Air Force. I returned home to farm and ranch with my father and married my high school sweetheart. The values I learned served me well as governor of Texas and will continue to guide me as president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: And according to the national and the latest Gallup poll, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are tied now for the lead at 21 percent. Gingrich is third with 12 percent. Perry comes in at about 11, and Rick Santorum is at about 2 percent.

Joining us now from Detroit, Rick Santorum, who is fighting away in Iowa and beyond for the nomination. Senator Santorum, it's great to see you, as always.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Laura. Great to be on the show.

INGRAHAM: So tell us now, given what you're seeing out there, your connection with the Iowa voters, what you've -- everywhere you've been, how do you lay out a path for victory given the reality of the political landscape today?

SANTORUM: Yes, well, as you know, the reality of the political landscape is a national poll. If you look at the national polls from four years ago, they had Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson as 1 and 2. And everyone was deciding, you know, who was going to -- you know, how many delegates they were going to win. They ended up, I don't think, winning a delegate between the two of them. And folks who are well back in the pack focused on where the election is.

The election isn't a national election. It's a state-by-state election. The first one is Iowa. And I'm the only candidate that's really, you know, spent the kind of time and developed the relationships there, and I've been to all 99 counties of Iowa. I accomplished that last week. And we have several hundred county caucus chairs right now that we've -- we've developed. And we've got some -- we've got some big endorsements from some conservative leaders just over the weekend. And we're building momentum there. And we're going to come out of that pack, and we're going to be very, very strong. We're going to do very well. I think we have an excellent chance of winning Iowa and really getting this race turned around on its head right off the bat.

INGRAHAM: And you win Iowa and that is going to be an unbelievable story the next day, no doubt. I know Steve King, I believe, has endorsed you. And that's a big -- that's a big win in your camp for this state.

SANTORUM: Well, no, not -- not Steve. His -- his campaign person has endorsed. Steve hasn't endorsed anyone yet. But we're certainly in conversations with Steve and other folks in the state. And we certainly would welcome their endorsement. That's for sure.

INGRAHAM: I think he likes you. That's all I'm saying. OK.

SANTORUM: OK. Good.

INGRAHAM: You stand firm as the -- as the stalwart social conservative in this race. There's no doubt about it. No one can question your conservative bone fides on social issues. Given that, I'm curious about your perspective on how this Cain controversy, distraction, whatever you want to call it, scandal, has affected the Republican message, the overall conservative message. What's the effect?

SANTORUM: Well, you mentioned distraction. It certainly is that and then some. And it obviously is something that I had hoped would be cleared away by this time and, you know, the matter would be behind us. It continues to hang out there, and it is a great distraction. It does take us off message. And we should be focusing on Barack Obama and the terrible job he's doing in -- in creating jobs in this country and getting this country feeling good about itself and moving in the right direction, defending our country from threats abroad. And that's not the -- that's not been the conversation. And that's not a good thing for Republicans right now.

INGRAHAM: And do you think he took a big step in putting this all behind him yesterday, or did he raise more questions than he answered?

SANTORUM: You know, I've been on the road, and I've only seen bits and pieces. I can't answer that question, other than the fact that it's obvious that this continues to be a distraction, and I'm hopeful that, at some point, he can do what's necessary in laying out the information to make sure that, you know, people know his side of the story completely.

INGRAHAM: Do you believe him, Rick? What's your gut check on this?

SANTORUM: I don't know. I mean, you know, I've seen -- I've seen lots of these situations of "he said, she said." It's hard to tell. And, you know, it's one of those things that everybody is going to have to make a decision.

I've already made a decision who I'm for, for president. I'm for me. And that's -- that's what I'm hopeful, that everyone will look at that and look at who's got the best, as you mentioned, the best, most consistent conservative record not just on moral cultural issues but on economic issues, on national security. And I think once people start taking a close look, we're going to do very, very well.

INGRAHAM: And when you -- when you think about these debates -- and there are so many of them, and they come one after the other after the other, do you think so far these debates have really been a platform for the discussion of the really serious issues facing the country? America in decline, the rise of China, the burgeoning threat in the Middle East posed by nuclear Iran. Have these -- have these issues been really discussed in a substantive manner, Senator, or has this been a nitpicky HPV one day, then the next day it's, you know, something you said to the Heritage Foundation. To me, a lot of the big stuff is not been discussed.

SANTORUM: I would agree a lot of the big stuff has not been discussed. I think some has. Look, some of these issues are important issues. We've had extensive discussions about health care. We've had discussions about economic plans. But it's been pretty narrow. And that's one of the things that I've been concerned about.

I was one of the ones advocating for national security debates. We're going to have two of those this month, and I'm really looking forward to digging down on that. I'm hopeful that this economic debate will not be about, you know, just economic plans but talking about what we're going to do on entitlement reform; what we're going to do to get this -- this country going on in the litigation regulatory environment.

There's a lot of things that we need to talk about. And one of them is how we're going to talk about getting folks who are not college-educated jobs and good paying jobs. They're the ones who are really suffering in this economy. And 'm talking about it, but not too many other folks are.

INGRAHAM: No, we need a substantive, serious discussion of complicated issues. And I certainly hope that happens. Senator, best of luck to you. Thanks so much.

SANTORUM: Thanks so much.

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