OTR Interviews

Santorum keeping his options open for 2016?

Former presidential candidate on another possible White House run, whether Americans are too dependent on government, GOP losing to pop culture and Obama's upcoming bus tour

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 12, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Are Americans becoming too dependent on the government?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The question is, are Americans too dependent on government?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So a point they do. I believe not enough people go out and earn their way and they depend on the government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People should go out and work and make their own living and not depend on the government per se for everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't say so. I think the American people on the whole are very independent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're dependent on government, but mostly independent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say 50/50. I mean, you've got people that need government and then other people that don't need it as much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I guess Americans -- some are more dependent than others, I guess. It really depends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A strong government is critical to our country. I think the framers felt that way, too, way back when.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was raised to go out and get your own. My dad said sometimes you're going to make mistakes, but (INAUDIBLE) you grew up on your own. You'll make your own -- own way. And to me, that seems like the best way to do it. Work hard, earn what you get, quit depending on somebody else to help you out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: So who is to blame for Americans depending so much on the government? Former senator Rick Santorum joins us. Good evening, sir.

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER SENATOR/FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, Greta. How are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: Good. So what do you make of this, 74 percent in this poll say Americans are too dependent on government? What does that mean to you?

SANTORUM: It doesn't surprise me at all. I think, you know, we all - - we all know that people all across this country are hurting for one reason or another. We know people that are receiving benefits, and we know people in some cases are receiving a lot of benefits.

And I think, you know, most Americans, as you heard from the conversation, believe the American way is, you know, to go out there and to try to do it yourself. And we have a president who's out there expanding these programs, food stamps, Medicaid, all these other programs. And that's not popular in America.

I know people think it is, but it's not popular. What's popular is for -- is to get the economy growing so we aren't having to be dependent on these programs.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I see lots of times people on TV saying, you know -- you know, someone will stick a camera in someone's face and so, yes, you know, let me have all the food stamps or give me some program. But my experience over the years -- and I've worked in a lot of these communities -- people really -- they -- they want -- they want to get out and work. They want opportunity. they want their kids to have everything else. They want a chance.

And so, you know, we -- those don't -- for some reason don't make TV, but -- you know, at all. I mean, like, you know, it's sort of -- you know, it's really tragic if -- if we can't at least, you know, afford that opportunity so people can achieve dreams.

SANTORUM: Look, I campaigned in over 30 states last year, and I can tell you that there's still a tremendous amount of pride out there in America. There's people, you know, want -- it's not, you know, just provide for yourself. They want to provide for themselves and their families. And we understand we're all interconnected in a community and a family.

But the idea of the federal government coming in and doing all these things for people -- I tell you, it's not popular. Even in tough times, it's not popular. I -- they -- they very much are looking for someone who cares about them and cares about the problems they have. And they're serious problems. People are in many cases on the border of poverty or slipping back in standard of living. But what they're looking for is opportunities to help themselves more than they are for the government to help them.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, President Obama is going to do a swing through your former state -- or not your former (INAUDIBLE) is your state, Pennsylvania, next week, talking about the middle class -- his plan for the middle class. Your thoughts on that.

SANTORUM: Well, he's going to Pennsylvania and New York, and he's going to go to areas in upstate New York -- and I was reading a lot of articles about this -- that are really struggling economically in the upstate. And it's interesting because if he went to the places right across the border in Pennsylvania, those places aren't struggling, and the reason is, again, the president giving people the opportunity to provide for themselves.

In Pennsylvania, there is a -- there is a -- we're allowed to drill for oil and gas in Pennsylvania, and the economy in these rural areas for the state, which for a long time in Pennsylvania were struggling, were the highest rates of unemployment in the state, are now booming and providing clean gas and oil into the economy.

In New York, Governor Cuomo has a moratorium, and the economy is in the doldrums. People are -- people are hurting. And guess what? Big government is there to bail them out. That's not what they want. They want the jobs like we have in Pennsylvania.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, I know that you talk about the social conservatives and the discussion -- are they losing to -- are social conservatives losing to pop culture or not?

SANTORUM: Well, I think the answer is clearly yes. I mean, the popular culture, as you know, Greta, I mean, is very powerful. Politics is downstream from culture. And what we see going on -- and all of the votes and the wringing of hands that you see among Republicans about, you know, Gee, we have to change our position on all these moral culture issues, is a result of a lot of very -- very hard and arduous work by -- by those who have a very different value structure, all being supported by Hollywood and the mainstream media.

And what my call was in Iowa over the weekend is we've got to engage in that. We've got to go out and fight back and make good cultural contact and make a difference.

VAN SUSTEREN: You talk about Iowa, so let me ask you about this quote that's in Time magazine in reference to Iowa and you running for president. Here's your quote, and tell me if it's correct. "I'm not doing anything inconsistent with running. How's that?"

Now, that was what you said. Does that mean -- is that a yes to running in 2016, or is that, like, certainly moving more into the yes category?

SANTORUM: Well, I think what it says is if you're going to -- if you're -- you know, at some point down the road, going to make a decision, then you have to -- you have to put yourself in a position where you have a choice to make. I mean, and if you're -- if you're just sitting back, and you know, not paying any attention or not doing anything to put yourself in a position where you have a viable opportunity, then you sort of foreclose that -- that decision. That's all I was saying.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it 50/50, 51/49? Or where do you put yourself on this?

SANTORUM: You know, like I said, I -- right now, I'm just, you know, making sure that I'm staying out there and staying engaged. I'm involved in a -- as I think I announced the other day, with a movie company that's going to be traveling around the country, trying to develop this positive content and rally folks to get involved in the popular culture. So I've got a lot of things that I'm going to stay busy with between now and having to make that decision.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you. It's always nice to see you, sir.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Greta.