House GOP retreating in slimdown showdown?

Rick Santorum sounds off


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 15, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: House Republicans at this point not looking like they will get -- be very -- getting very much out of this deal. Democrats today labeling them reckless, radical, appeasing the Tea Party.

How should Republicans respond to that?

Let's ask a former presidential candidate and Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum. Mr. Senator, sounds like the Republicans are in full retreat. Sounds like you got beat. What's your judgment?

RICK SANTORUM, R-FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, it certainly doesn't sound good, but what I see from the House Republicans is not a willingness to accept defeat, and their resolve to continue to fight for reasonable restraints on spending and reasonable changes to ObamaCare that benefit the American public.

And I think they have every right to stand firm on those things. They're not asking for anything radical or anything extreme. Quite the contrary. What they're asking for here is fairly minimal, compared to what was on the table just a couple of months ago.

VARNEY: Now, I understand this new plan that is just breaking now, they have retreated in one area. The original plan was that they were trying to suspend the medical device tax for two years. That demand has now been dropped. The medical device tax stands. That surely is a retreat.

SANTORUM: Well, like I said before, I don't think -- if I was the House Republicans, I would not be retreating from what I think are solid things that they can ask for in any negotiation, and be able to stand firm.

Look, they -- they have suffered all the hits they're going to suffer for -- quote -- "shutting down the government" or -- quote -- "creating the default." The polls are as bad as they're going to get. I think capitulation at this point would actually show that -- show to the American public that they were on the wrong side of this argument.

I don't think they are on the wrong side of this argument. ObamaCare is a disaster. It's hurting the economy. It's hurting average people out there right now, and we need to stand firm and continue to fight on -- on very practical things that they have put forward in these -- in these negotiations, and not let the -- the ridiculous comments of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, calling them extremists or being at the back pocket of the Tea Party -- that's just foolishness.

I mean, this is -- this is the rhetoric they use all the time. It's this extremist rhetoric that we should not be cowed by anymore. We need to stand up and fight them.


VARNEY: If you want to stand up and fight, who in the Republican Party in Congress stands up against the rhetoric of Harry Reid and former Speaker Pelosi? Who is there forcefully? Is it a question of personalities? Do you have the personality in Congress to stand up and fight?

SANTORUM: Well, there's certainly a lot of people out there who have been standing and fighting.

You know, they're -- the leaders, I think John Boehner certainly has made some fairly forceful comments. The Senate has been, well, say, less forceful and disappointing in that regard, but I think the ball game is in the House. The Senate Republicans are clearly not up for the fight anymore, which is unfortunate. But I think the House and the House Republicans should be.

I don't think there's anything to be gained at this point by capitulation, and we need to stand firm and continue to fight for reasonable changes to make sure that the American public is protected from this horrific law and any type of further expansion of government spending.

VARNEY: Have you ever thought that maybe it's a good idea to just let ObamaCare roll out and destroy itself?

SANTORUM: Well, look, what -- what the House Republicans are proposing right now is not stopping ObamaCare from rolling out. They have sort of abandoned that. What they're talking about is a couple of very minor things that would have -- that are having a devastating impact on workers right now and the economy.

And at least they can get rid of some things that even Democrats have voted for in the past, like getting rid of the medical device tax. That passed with almost half the Democrats in the Senate supporting it.

VARNEY: Senator Richard -- sorry -- Rick Santorum, we thank you very much indeed for joining us this afternoon, Rick. Thanks very much.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Stuart.

VARNEY: All right.

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