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OTR Interviews

Santorum: Why I'm ending my presidential campaign and am endorsing 'born leader' Marco Rubio

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 3, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Breaking 2016 news, GOP presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is about to make two big announcements, Right here only "On the Record".

Senator, let's start with the first announcement, the one more personal to you. What is that?

RICK SANTORUN, FORMER SENATOR: Yeah. Well, Karen and I just have decided on family and our friends, we've decided that the best way that I can do what I set out to do when we announced to run for president, to help working men and women in this country, get a better opportunity to defeat ISIS and stop Iran from getting nuclear weapon, take on the national security threats of our country, and really try to help foster and support stronger families in America can be done by not furthering our campaign, by not continuing our campaign.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does that mean you are suspending your campaign?

SANTORUM: We are suspending our campaign as of this moment.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. This is the official announcement?

SANTORUM: Yeah. I mean, there are all sorts of reports out there, unconfirmed by the way, reports, because nobody in our place confirmed it. But, yeah, we decided that I think we could be better advocates for that in supporting someone who shared those values better position to do well in this race.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it is so interesting because four years ago you got robbed. You won Iowa four years, and I tool, what, 12 days before they recounted them?

SANTORUM: 18 but who is counting.

VAN SUSTEREN: 18 but who is counting. OK. Well, anyway, you're still a young man. All right, let me go to the second announcement that do you have a second announcement. What is that?

SANTORUM: Yeah. As I said, you know, we decided that we want to define a candidate that really espoused the values that he we believed in, someone who really had focused their campaign on trying to help.

I always talk about the 74 percent of Americans who don't have a college degree, those who are struggling on the margins, the middle of America hollowing out. And understanding the central role of the family in supporting that opportunity, that family breakdown is one of the key reasons that middle is hollowing out. It's not just the lack opportunities and talk about manufacturing, and that important thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: You're killing all the political people out there. They are waiting for the names.

SANTORUM: And then the final thing, someone that has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalists Islam and has experience. I mean, one of the things I wanted just met someone who has experience in this area and that's why we decide to do support Marco Rubio.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you spoken to him?

SANTORUM: Not recently -- but I spoke to him yesterday.

VAN SUSTEREN: How long did you talk to him?

SANTORUM: A while.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's a while?

SANTORUM: Let's say more than an hour. And we have talked -- look, one of the -- I don't endorse lightly. This is as many people know I have been at these 25 years. That say, unfortunately, not an asset in this election cycle to have invested your life in trying to, you know, shape the future of our country.

And I see a lot, just tremendous -- he's a tremendously gifted young man and he is a leader. Is he is a born leader and someone I just feel a lot of confidence in that he is -- the new generation, and someone that can bring this country together, not just, you know, moderates and conservatives but young and old.

I mean the ability to track younger people to have that optimistic message and just it took -- if you say, in a sense taking the wine that I've been trying to sell and put it in new wine skins. And that's say ...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's Marco Rubio.

SANTORUM: That could be a powerful, powerful thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's quick question, what's the first place you're going to go to campaign for him, what state?

SANTORUM: We haven't really had any discussions because I said I talked with him yesterday and said, "I really just want to pray about this and I will make my decision and announce it today".

VAN SUSTEREN: And here we go.

SANTORUM: And then, and he respected that. And then, we said we'd, you know, we'd call him and let him know after we made the decision. So we tried to keep this on a close hold as possible.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you sure did. You drove everybody nuts all day. I got so many e-mails.

SANTORUM: If I did anything, if I antagonized the media today, it's a great way to go.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you very much and good luck, sir.