OTR Interviews

Santorum: Gov. Romney's record in Massachusetts 'deplorable ... not a conservative record'

Rick Santorum seeks some southern hospitality as he tries to win over South Carolina voters in primary

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 11, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Rick Santorum is in a tight battle with Speaker Gingrich. They finished almost in a virtual tie, but there's news tonight from The Union Leader. It's no longer a tie, and so we're going to talk with Senator Santorum about that. He joins us. And of course, he is now, at least as far as we can figure out, trying to emerge as the conservative alternative to Governor Romney.

Good evening, Senator. And big news in The Union Leader. It's no longer a tie in New Hampshire.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, we just got word that with the count, that we're now in fourth place, which we're very excited about. You know, we went into New Hampshire with five days to campaign. We didn't run a single ad on broadcast television. We, frankly, spent very little money and went out there and just tried to communicate to the voters and did town hall meetings. We had a couple of very good debates, I think.

And for us to come from 1 or 2 percent about seven or eight days before the primary and finish at 10 percent and get ahead of Speaker Gingrich, who was endorsed by the most influential paper in the state, The Manchester Union Leader, and who spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in Iowa -- excuse me in New Hampshire -- When we were focused on Iowa, that -- that's good news for us. We felt very good about that fourth place.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, although I don't know how much these paper endorsements do. The Boston Globe, which is essentially the New Hampshire newspaper, as well, endorsed Governor Huntsman over Governor Romney. The Union Leader endorsed Governor -- I mean, Speaker Gingrich over Governor Romney, and Governor Romney still claimed -- he got the endorsement of the people.

All right, in terms of this current battle that's going on between Governor Romney -- or Speaker Gingrich and Governor Romney, Speaker Gingrich has now said that he's going to fight back. And I understand you're going to try to stay out of the fray and let those two duke it out.

But I'm curious whether you think it's politically fair or right that Speaker Gingrich fight back?

SANTORUM: Oh, look, I think what Newt just talked about with going after Governor Romney's record in Massachusetts is absolutely dead-on. Governor Romney's record in Massachusetts is deplorable. It's not a conservative record. It's tax increases, as he mentioned, $50 a taxpayer-funded abortions in "RomneyCare." There are a whole host of fees and things that the governor put in place that, actually, he even proposed and a Democratic legislature wouldn't go along with some of his tax increases.

So you have a -- that's why I've been somewhat, you know, hesitant to go after his Bain Capital record. I don't want to divert attention away from his horrible record as governor and being a moderate to liberal governor in Massachusetts. That's the record I want -- as Newt said, gun control, abortion, and a very bad record on taxes and spending. Those are the kind of things that I want to talk about here in South Carolina.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, explain your strategy from here to -- I mean, for South Carolina on to Florida. Explain to me, you know, what you intend to do -- I mean, your organization, the amount of money you have, and how you plan to seize the momentum.

SANTORUM: Well, we had a money bomb that's finishing up here in the next day or so that we've already exceeded our goal of a million dollars on Rick Santorum.com. And we, I think, from the -- the date of the Iowa caucuses, we've now raised well over $3 million, which has been just a fabulous boost. We've raised more money this week than we did by far in the nine months prior to the Iowa caucuses.

So we feel like we've got a real shot in the arm, some wind at our back. We're able to run a full boat of campaign ads down here, which is really the first time we've really run a real campaign, if you will, with both radio and TV ads, as well as the work that I'm doing. We had a great event in Lexington County here in -- just outside of Columbia. We had 300 or 400 people jammed into a facility outside of town.

It's been a -- it's been that kind of energy and enthusiasm ever since we've gotten to South Carolina, and we're hoping for a good day again in the low country, and then, you know, finishing, hopefully -- you know, we'd love to win here. We think we have a shot at winning here. But you know, a top two finish would be absolutely super.

We need to show that we're the candidate that is the best one to take on Mitt Romney, and eventually Barack Obama. We finished basically in a tie with Governor Romney in Iowa, having spent virtually spent no money. We've now finished ahead of Speaker Gingrich in New Hampshire, spending no money. Well, now we have an opportunity to get a full -- a full -- a full- fledged effort here in South Carolina, and we hope to do very well.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, is making a Latin American tour. He's in Cuba. We've got problems -- there was a nuclear scientist who was killed in Iran. Iran says it was the United States who did it. The United States has condemned it. Britain has condemned it. Israel has said nothing, so there's a lot of suspicion that Israel was responsible for his death.

But things have certainly heated up. If you're president of the United States, with Ahmadinejad visiting just down the road a little bit in Cuba, and all that going on in Tehran, what would you be doing differently tonight than President Obama is doing?

SANTORUM: Well, I would have -- I've already made a public statement that any nuclear scientist, particularly any foreign nuclear scientist, who's cooperating with the Iranians in developing a nuclear weapon program would be considered an enemy combatant. And I wouldn't -- I would be doing what Israel was -- would be doing tonight, which is saying nothing. That to me is...

VAN SUSTEREN: Would you have been -- would you have participated in trying to eliminate him?

SANTORUM: I'd be saying nothing right now. This is...

VAN SUSTEREN: But would you have been -- would you have been behind his elimination? Would you have -- I mean, would you...

SANTORUM: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, there are different ways to go after their program. One is to take out their plants, another is to take out their people who are involved in them.

SANTORUM: I think that this is a -- this is the most serious threat to the security and stability of the world that we have today, and we should be using all types of methodologies to stop that, including taking out people -- and I've said specifically foreign scientists who come into Iran for the purposes of helping them to develop a nuclear weapons program. These are people who should be treated like enemy combatants, period.

VAN SUSTEREN: On a lighter topic, the sweater vest. I understand that they're for sale?

SANTORUM: They are, actually. Believe it or not, we've already sold almost 500 of them on line. So I feel sort of bad I don't have my sweater vest on today. The weather was sort of nice here in South Carolina. But we'll have one on this week. And they're trying to -- we're -- they're going to be made in America, by the way. And we're trying to get distribution out here very soon. And we're -- I understand that even the - - some of the clothing stores are selling brisk numbers of sweater vests these days. So I'm feeling -- I don't know if that's necessarily what I want to set a fashion trend, but it's working for me.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it feels a little O'Reilly-ish, you know, selling the sweater vests.

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you like that (INAUDIBLE)?

SANTORUM: No, we're -- because they're embroidered, and they have our name so people can advertise. That's why we're doing it. I mean, we want to get our name out there and promote the cause. So anything that you can get people to wear that promotes your brand is a good thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, good for you. All right. Whatever. All right.

SANTORUM: Greta -- I'll send you one, Greta. Don't worry about it. We'll take care of you.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think I'd be in big trouble if I wore one of your sweater vests, but I would -- I would like to see one in person. Senator, though, thank you very much, and good luck on the campaign trail. And I hope you'll come back.

SANTORUM: Thank you very much, Greta. Appreciate the time.