OTR Interviews

Santorum: I suspect Romney hasn't really 'changed his stripes,' it's important our country know the difference between good and evil going forward

GOP presidential candidate rates his performance in the latest GOP debate, looks ahead to primaries in Michigan and Arizona

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, let's not forget that four years ago, well after "RomneyCare" was put in place -- four years ago, you not only endorsed me, you went on Laura Ingraham and said, And this is a guy who is really conservative and we can trust him. Let's not forget you said that, number one.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Number two, under the 10th Amendment, states have the right to do thing is that they think are in their best interests. I know you agree with that. But let's -- let's point this our. Our bill was 70 pages. His bill is 2,700 pages. There's a lot in those 2,700 pages I don't agree with. And let me tell you, if I'm president of the United States, I will repeal "Obama care" for a lot of reasons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Fireworks in Arizona, and a critical night for Senator Rick Santorum. He and Governor Mitt Romney are in a knock-down, drag-out battle for Arizona and Michigan. Senator Rick Santorum joins us.

Good evening, sir.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How're you doing, Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm doing very well. Did you hear that soundbite coming in? It was the exchange over Governor Romney asking you about endorsing him in 2008.

Let me ask you a question. And by the way, it wasn't $400 million that Massachusetts got, it was about $530 million. We had Secretary of HHS...

SANTORUM: OK.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... Tommy Thompson on. So it was a bit more. But why -- I mean, the things you criticized him for, getting money in the Olympics and for getting the federal money to start up health care in Massachusetts, preceded the 2008 endorsement. So why was he good enough in 2008 and now you want to beat him?

SANTORUM: Yes. Well, first off, after the 2008 election, where he told me that he had changed his stripes, that he was going to be a conservative, he went out and supported the Wall Street bailouts, a big, huge intrusion of government. And he has now repeatedly supported and stood by "RomneyCare."

In 2008, "RomneyCare" was just getting started, and it frankly wasn't the big issue it is today. I mean, health care has become the central issue in this election because of what President Obama did was to use "Romney care" and impose a federal mandate on -- on people. And Governor Romney's right. The state mandate is -- is certainly lawful. It's just not the right way to fix the problem.

And so I saw -- what I saw from Governor Romney was a continuation of going to big government solutions after the 2008 elections, which leads me to suspicion, number one, that he really hasn't changed his stripes, and number two, the issue of Obamacare is the issue in this race. It wasn't in 2008, and it's about government control of healthcare. And Governor Romney is uniquely unqualified to take that battle to the president of the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, another comment that came up today, and it's been in sound bites and I read about it on the Internet a number of times in the last couple of weeks. I'm trying to understand it and I want you to explain it to me. The dangers of contraception, what did you mean by that? And does the government have any role at all in contraception? I understand the freedom of religion dispute last week, but what is this discussion of the dangers of contraception? Are you in any way if you become president going to interfere with a couple's right to contraception?

SANTORUM: No, of course not. I haven't in all my years. It's a legal product. It's remained a legal product. I have no problems with that.

The bottom line when I talked about during the debate is what is happening in our culture with the breakdown of the family and children having children out of wedlock and unwed births. We had a front page "New York Times" story just two days ago about what is going on with over 40 percent of American children now being born out of wedlock because of the amount of acute sexual activity outside of marriage. And so I saw this as part of a whole series of issues related to the breakdown of the family, and that is what I said I would talk about and I have talked about in the course of this campaign.

VAN SUSTEREN: They are talking about these issues and there is the government actually getting into them. And I'm trying to understand, are you saying were with contraception there is more sexual activity. You think that young people would be less sexually active without contraception?

SANTORUM: Well, you know, that certainly was the case in the past. And you have sexually transmitted diseases, you have not just out of wedlock births but sexually transmitted diseases and a whole series of issues related to that that I think we as a public health issue need to be concerned about. And more importantly, as I mentioned before with respect to families and having children -- having children out of wedlock, this is serious break down of the family in America. And the idea of being limited government and lower taxes and seeing families continue to be formed outside of wedlock is a serious problem frankly being recognized now, thankfully, both on the left and right.

VAN SUSTEREN: We're pulling up every single videotape statement of everybody going back to practically high school if we had it. You said recently, and this is quote from you and I just want you to explain it. This is part of what you said. "Satan" had his sights on America." What exactly did you mean by that? And is there any way the comment would somehow manifest anything in terms of a Santorum presidency? Would we see it in any form?

SANTORUM: Greta, I believe in good and evil. I believe evil exists. I believe good exists. I think one of the great things about America is that we have a belief of good and evil. I think it's important as our country goes forward we are able to tell the difference and be able to identify the difference between good and evil.

And that is what I was talking about. And it's interesting that another guy was criticized for that. His name was Ronald Reagan when he called the Soviet Union the "Evil Empire." If you go back and read that speech he referred also to the evil that exists in this country and talked about almost the very same issues that I talked about in this speech. In fact it was a little bit of rip off of Reagan's "Evil Empire" speech.

So these are important issues in our country to understand that there is evil out there and that we need to confront that evil around the world and things that are going on in this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now to Iran, another discussion in tonight's debate. And I think you made the comment that Syria is a puppet of Iran, or somebody did. Obviously Iran is a very serious issue right now. And so far we haven't been very successful in persuading Iran not to go forward with its program, at least as far as we know. Even the intelligence we gather is not particularly good, I don't think. If you were president what would you be doing about Iran, beginning tonight?

SANTORUM: Well, you know, you can go back to look at my history. Eight years I suggested and actually pushed forward and passed a bill to fund and to impose very tough sanctions on the Iranian government, to use all sorts of covert and working with other interests in the region to try to dismantle and slow down the process of developing these weapons.

And the main thing that has to be done is we need to do what President Obama was very willing to do in Egypt and Libya but seems reticent to do in Syria and Iran, those two connected states, which is to support the pro- democracy movement in those countries. The president was ready to jump in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya and Egypt, but again has actually sided originally with Syria in this struggle by recognizing them as a government for first time in many years, put an embassy in place in Syria. And of course during the elections in 2009 when the green revolution was sparked in Iran, he sided with Ahmadinejad of the Mullahs.

Again, if you are an enemy of the United States, you probably -- you are going to get very nice treatment from Obama. But if you are a friend you will get thrown under the bus.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I think I heard Speaker Gingrich say something like that tonight. But I'm curious, take Egypt. Israel has been very worried about what would happen with so-called pro-democracy movement in Egypt. They almost now seem to have preferred Mubarak. It's like even the so- called pro-democracy movement has not been a sure thing for us at all or for the world.

SANTORUM: Well, the pro-democracy movement in this case was up against a, quote, and I'm putting quotes around "pro-democracy movement," was up against an ally of Israel, an ally of the United States, a friend for many years which we've had strong relations. Certainly there is no saint, but the "pro-democracy movement," quote, we knew that the strongest civil group, civil society group, if you will, in the country of Egypt was the Muslim Brotherhood. They were the main opponent to the regime in Egypt.

And there was certainly wide speculation that not only were they involved in the, quote, "pro-democracy movement," but they were certainly poised to benefit from a toppling of the regime because of the tremendous work that they had done in developing schools and educating the public. Egypt has become much more radicalized because of the Muslim Brotherhood over the years. And here we are, the president who should have known to what Egypt was really up to and what the Muslim Brotherhood and these, quote, "pro-democracy" forces were up to, he should have known what was coming in after Mubarak. And he still acted to throw Mubarak under the bus and take that risk. Now, we see the risk come to fruition, and not only with the Muslim Brotherhood and the hostility towards Israel, but the rampant persecution of Coptic Christian in Egypt.

VAN SUSTEREN: One last sort of behind-the-scenes -- when the debate ends, is everybody chummy on the stage, or is that sort of the phony friendliness you sometimes have to have in a social setting?

SANTORUM: I think -- look, this is a battle. We're all in it for the same reasons. We want to defeat Barack Obama. And, you know, look, I felt this debate was clearly a couple of guys up there were focused on double teaming me. That is what happens. They saw that as an opportunity to team up like they've done in Michigan and other states. And we have to stand strong and take it back to them and talk about our record what we want to do to make this country safe and prosperous.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

SANTORUM: Thank you very much, Greta.