OTR Interviews

Santorum: The Iowa caucuses' real winner?

GOP presidential candidate sounds off on a confusing Iowa caucuses 'split decision ' - even though he got more votes than Romney

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 19, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Rick Santorum gets big news from Iowa. State party officials now say Senator Santorum, not Governor Mitt Romney, won the Iowa caucus. The finally tally puts Senator Santorum ahead by 34 votes. And Senator Santorum joins us from South Carolina. Good evening, sir.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you doing, Greta? Good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Good to have you. Well, you came out swinging tonight, taking a couple swings at, for instance, Speaker Gingrich, calling him grandiose, saying he had big ideas but he didn't carry through. I guess the strategy is to go after him from your perspective and not Governor Romney and not even so much President Obama?

SANTORUM: I sort of go after everybody, if you want to know the truth. They have been beating us up pretty bad hear in South Carolina, and we decided if they are going to try to beat us up on television then we are going to take our opportunity on television to lay out the case for us versus the case for them.

And what I said with respect to his ability to execute that plan as speaker is something that I think if you go and talk to a lot of folks who served as I did with him during that time, that they would back me up. And we are looking for a leader who not just can have good ideas and big ideas, and it's great, and Newt has been a big idea guy. I'll give him that 100 times over. The question is, are you disciplined enough to be able to focus and accomplish those ideas in a way that's going to move this country forward? And after three years conservatives decided no. And they tried to actually move him out of the speakership after three years of him being speaker.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there all that information that you are talking about happened almost 15 years ago. Do you agree? I mean, the whole idea, the things that you are pointing out tonight. Am I right, it happened in the mid-90s?

SANTORUM: Late 90s, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, does that make any difference in your thinking? Are you looking more as a tactical thinking what president Obama in his campaign will have to go after him? Are you thinking elect ability or are you thinking generally that's the way he is today?

SANTORUM: I think you are looking at a pattern that has actually continued. I mean, the reason of I talk about this is Speaker Gingrich came out and said that I should get out of the race. After I won Iowa and finished ahead of him in New Hampshire, he said my acts are not as grand and my capabilities are not as vast as his in order to win the kind of national race. I mean, he just lost two elections to me.

And those are the kinds of things that, again, I just -- you have to take into consideration when you are looking at someone day in and day out that's going to be covered and managed under a microscope by the media. And you want someone who is solid, someone who is going to go out there and be disciplined in their message and be able to execute that on the campaign trail, as well as to be able to execute that when you are president of the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you mentioned Iowa. First of all, I neglected to congratulate you are the winner in the Iowa caucus.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: A little bit late. But there was a phone call today between you and Governor Perry. I must confess it sounded a little bit like sort of the Bush-gore conversation --

SANTORUM: No, Governor Romney.

VAN SUSTEREN: What? With Governor Romney. I'm sorry, I misspoke, with Governor Romney. It sounded a little bit like the Gore-Bush series of conversations in 2000. Tell me, who placed the call to whom and tell me what happened. Was it a concession call, congratulations -- tell me what happened?

SANTORUM: Well, he actually left me a message. I have the message if people want to hear it. But he also called me -- I called him back and missed him. He called me back. He called to congratulate me. And he said that on the message. He said it when he talked to me. He said you got more votes than me, congratulations. And I said well, one for you, one for me and see if we can settle the score here or in the next place. And he said I look forward to that, and I said I look forward to a good debate. We chatted about the Rick Perry situation and just had a nice little conversation and we moved on.

And then when I heard that he didn't call -- he didn't concede, I don't know what a concession call is other than -- why would he call me to congratulate me if that wasn't a concession? I won.

And the interesting thing is not only did I win with the certified vote, but if you took the eight precincts that weren't counted because they couldn't certify them and you took the votes that were reported in that night that actually caused him to win by eight votes, we actually won by more votes than 34. So our count was a heck of a lot better than his count when he was claiming victory for eight votes in an uncertified count.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, your tax returns you say you do them yourself and it's on your computer at home when asked if you can produce it.

SANTORUM: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's pretty easy to produce them. Do you intend to produce your tax returns when? And for how many years?

SANTORUM: You know, I don't know. I guess I can produce them for a few years. You know, I can go back, I'll see what I have on my computer. I switched computers so I don't know what I have. I probably do have -- I know you have to keep them for three years, and so I probably have them back for three years. I'll take a look.

But I don't think, you know, my tax return isn't going to look anything like Mitt Romney's tax return. I wish it did look like Mitt Romney's tax return. The question for me is when I'm going to get home, because, you know, we got the whole family down here. And we are actually thinking of taking the whole family to Florida. So I don't plan on making a special trip to my house to go on my computer and print out something to take my time away from campaigning. But if that happens I'm happy to do it and produce it when I get back there.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's sort of interesting. All of you are probably in the same place on healthcare and President Obama's healthcare. You agree with that, right? You all want to get rid of it.

SANTORUM: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: But where you differ is sort of the history. I see that you sort of go after your opponents. And although they agree with you today, you are punching at them for some of their personal history. Is that an electability issue or you don't agree with them today what they think, right?

SANTORUM: I think they are legitimate in saying -- they realize how bad this bill is and every Republican up there and every Republican that's been up there wants to repeal Obamacare. The question is winning the election on this issue, which is if not the central issue in this campaign, certainly one of the top two or three. And we have someone who is badly compromised by having put a plan together that was the model for Obamacare, and another who is badly compromised, Speaker Gingrich, who supported the core feature of Obamacare, which was an individual mandate and that makes it problematic when election time comes around for that clear contrast that's necessary.

VAN SUSTEREN: The reason I raise it because it's sort of interesting. In a primary, because everybody sort of agrees ultimately on the issues in any particular party that it oftentimes comes down to a gut thing, who do you like? And it's sort offing because --

SANTORUM: I would say it's electability. I don't think it's who you like. I think who is the best match-up. Who is the person that can draw the contrast, that can go out there and make the case convincingly of a different vision for healthcare? And if you have had a vision that's inconsistent with that, it's harder to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I have to cut you off because I have to go. Senator Santorum, thank you. And we'll be watching on Saturday. Good luck, sir.

SANTORUM: Thanks, Greta.