OTR Interviews

Santorum Looks to Capitalize on Iowa Surge, but Do Early New Hampshire Polls Suggest He Has Peaked?

Rick Santorum looks to build on Iowa momentum in New Hampshire primary, but has he peaked?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 5, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Rick Santorum made all the political pundits wrong, and now he's really making them wrong. He has just taken over the number two spot in a national poll. Governor Romney leads with 29 percent. Senator Rick Santorum comes in now second with 21 percent, and former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is third with 16 percent.

But of course, national polls don't win you the nomination. Only the state primaries do. So how is Senator Santorum doing in New Hampshire polls? Well, not so hot. In the latest poll of New Hampshire voters, Governor Mitt Romney leads with 41 percent. Congressman Ron Paul comes in second with 18 percent, and Senator Santorum is pulling up the rear with only 8 percent. Are the New Hampshire polls as mixed up, though. as the Iowa polls?

Senator Rick Santorum joins us from Manchester. Good evening, sir. And I'm a little reluctant to see that New Hampshire poll as a particularly bad sign in light of the polls that we watched in Iowa over the last few months. I assume you agree.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I'm not worried about it. A lot of those polls were taken before Iowa. And I don't think they have any kind of real credibility to them. And we just came from Windham, where we had about 1,000 people at town hall meeting. So I'm feeling pretty good that our numbers are going to be better than that here, with a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm. And we're having a great time going around Iowa -- oh! Going around Iowa! That did it!

I'm not working -- I'm working on little less sleep than I normally do, so I please apologize for that.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I'm sure the people of New Hampshire forgive you for that. All right, a couple bookkeeping questions. Then I want to talk strategy and then I want to talk some issues with you.

First of all, some bookkeeping. It's being reported tonight that since your victory in Iowa, as it was -- you were eight -- eight votes shy of the victory -- that you have brought in $2 million to your campaign warchest in 48 hours alone. That's being reported by ABC. Is that true? And number two, if you put it in perspective in terms of, you know, how much has the money been coming in in the months previously?

SANTORUM: Yes. All I know is on line that we've -- we've gotten about $1.5 million. So I don't know what we've been able to pick up in other places, and you know, checks delivered in the mail and things like that. But I know we've had a very robust couple of days.

And I'm feeling -- just to understand, if we did, in fact, raise $2 million, and I'm -- as I said, I've been just running from place to place and haven't really been talking to folks in the campaign -- we -- I think we're going to report somewhere in the neighborhood of the first three quarters of the campaign roughly $2 million. In the last two days, $2 million. Give you an idea.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so it -- that does give me an idea. All right, another bookkeeping matter. It's being reported a couple places, unconfirmed at this point, but everybody's talking and chatting about it, so I want to ask you, that there may have been a vote count problem in Iowa, and that perhaps it was not an eight-vote loss for you but that you may have come out number one. I'm not so sure how significant it is, but I'm curious what your reaction -- if, indeed, it does turn out to be true that you won by a handful of votes.

SANTORUM: Well, here's what I know. Having talked to the chairman of the -- Matt Strawn, who's the chairman of the Iowa -- Republican Party of Iowa, that all these counties are going to be reporting in. They're going to be certifying them, that there was one county where there was a 20-vote mistake in my favor, but there was a 21-vote mistake vote in Romney's favor. So it actually netted out to what I understand is a one-vote difference.

But there will be, without question, given the lateness of the hour and the hectic-ness that comes with turning in these -- these numbers, there will be different -- there will be changes. And with eight votes, or now nine votes difference, there may be some.

But that doesn't really matter to me. I mean, we -- you know, we -- this was a tie. And we came from, you know, 4 or 5 points two weeks before the election and ended up with 25 points. And the most recent poll, which was published four days -- three days before the -- excuse me, four days before the caucus, we were at 15 and we ended up with 25.

So I look at it this way. You know, let's see what the polls look like in New Hampshire here and -- by the end of the week. And if you can see an upward surge -- I know my -- the poll that came out the day after the Iowa caucuses, that was taken before Iowa, we were at about 4 percent here or something like that.

So you know, we're going to move up and we're going to do very, very well here. I have no doubt that when it's all said and done, we're going to be -- we're going to be competing here at least in the top tier.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, from the bookkeeping to the strategy. Speaker Newt Gingrich said to Laura Ingraham on her radio show -- and it's got a lot of buzz -- something about wanting to sort of align with you. Have you had any conversation with him? Do you have any sort of thought or reflection on his statements to Laura Ingraham?

SANTORUM: No, I haven't talked to Newt -- I mean, I haven't talked to Newt since -- well, I guess since the last debate. My feeling is, look, I'm going to go out and talk about, you know, what I'm going to do to get this economy going, what I'm going to do to reduce the federal deficit, what I'm going to do to strengthen the family, which will, of course, strengthen our economy, I'm going to do to make sure that we have a strong presence around the world to make sure that we are safe and secure in this country. Those are the issues I'm talking about on the campaign.

I'm not looking to structure any kind of deals with anybody. I've run a campaign, as you know, Greta, that's been very positive. When I have contrasted myself, I've tried to do so respectfully. And I will contrast myself with the other candidates in the race, but I'll do it in a way that I think the people of New Hampshire and the people of South Carolina going forward would like to see me do it, which is respectfully but directly.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, that's -- that's -- that sort of strategy didn't do so well for Speaker Gingrich. When he surged ahead in Iowa, suddenly, that strategy about being Mr. Good Guy, being Mr. Nice Guy, and everybody lambasted him with negative ads. Now you're surging. Are you -- you know, are you expecting a target on your back? And if so, are you going to stay Mr. Nice Guy or are you going to run the risk? Because we do know, unfortunately, negative ads do have an impact.

SANTORUM: Well, to me, a negative ad is something that's characterizing somebody, as opposed to laying out their record. And I have no problem -- I've never had a problem in my campaign in contrasting my record with someone else. I'm perfectly happy to go out and talk about, you know, the Wall Street bail-out, for example, that -- that Governor Romney and Speaker Gingrich supported the Wall Street bail-out and I didn't.

That's a fact. I'll contrast myself with that. I'll say why I -- I didn't support that and why I thought it was injurious to the country to have the government intervene in such a major way. Even -- even if the economy might have taken a bigger dip, I think the consequences of having the government that involved in bailing out companies on Wall Street was a -- creates a moral hazard and a precedent that we shouldn't be -- have set.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me go to today's -- some issues of today, some substantive issues. Former CIA chief, director Michael Hayden, has told Fox News that he thinks Iran is the single greatest destabilizing force in 2012. And we're also hearing news that Iran is now clamping down on Internet expansion, which, of course, is one of the things that was the -- was -- sort of provoked the -- the Arab spring.

Tell me your thoughts on Iran because it does seem to be heating up today. What would -- if you were president tonight, tell me what you would be doing tonight.

SANTORUM: What I'd be doing -- I actually have been very specific about this and laid out a plan that I would be using -- covert activity to sanctions to laying out to scientists who want to participate in this Iranian nuclear program, who are not Iranian scientists but, in fact, from other countries, that I would treat them as enemy combatants, that we should be funding the pro-democracy movement there, that we should be doing everything we can to create agitation and problems within the government of Iran and -- for the purposes of making sure that that government does not - - does not remain in power.

And then finally, if all else fails and we're reaching a point where we believe that we're on the precipice of having Iran having a nuclear weapon, I would -- I would lay out an ultimatum. I would lay out an ultimatum and work...

VAN SUSTEREN: You know...

SANTORUM: ... either with Israel or by ourselves and say unless they open up and allow inspectors and allow -- and begin dismantling this capability, we will degrade that capability so they cannot produce this weapon.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's the big question is, how do we know when they're on the verge? I mean, I've heard so many estimates over the past couple years. Some say they're years off. Sometimes, they say they're close to a nuclear weapon. I mean, this -- and the whole idea of our intelligence has been so faulty going back to weapons of mass destruction - - I mean -- I mean, how is president -- I mean, how do we know what to trust? How do we know you can get the information? I mean, it really is a rather -- I mean, it's unfortunate that our intelligence has been so faulty.

SANTORUM: Well, they know what they -- what they tell us and what they profess to be able to demonstrate. And we can base upon there what the likelihood is and the timeframe is of sort of the next milestone or next development. That's part of it. But part of it is, obviously, relying upon a variety of different intelligence sources.

And you can't take the risk of not doing something before there's an - - it's -- clearly, this is different than Iraq. It's clearly different than Syria. It's clearly different than any other country that we've had this kind of dialogue -- or standoff with. There's no question that they have capability. There's no question that they're developing nuclear technology and that they are being successful in developing this technology. There's no question that they're headed in this direction. It's simply a matter of time.

That's not necessarily been the case with the Iraqis, as we found out, or with the Syrians, but it is the case here. So this is not a matter of if they're going to do this. They're doing it. And so from my perspective, I would probably be laying ultimatums sooner, rather than later, given you don't want to err on the side of the next thing you hear is an underground explosion of a nuclear weapon.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you. And we're going to be in New Hampshire next week, and perhaps we can catch up with you and do another interview before the vote.

SANTORUM: Thank you very much, Greta. I appreciate it.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's -- that's -- trying to book you on air when you have no choice but to be polite and say yes.

SANTORUM: I'm always happy to come on your program. You've been very, very welcoming in the past. I greatly appreciate it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

SANTORUM: Thank you.