Bloomberg News

Santorum Predicts 2-Man Race After Southern Races (Transcript)

March 09, 2012

Rick Santorum said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that the Republican presidential primary may soon become a two-man race where he will measure up well against front-runner Mitt Romney.

(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)

AL HUNT: We begin the show with an interview with a leading Republican presidential candidate and former senator, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who is on the USS Alabama in Mobile.

Senator, thank you for being with us. And let’s start with the jobless report.

RICK SANTORUM: Thanks, Al.

HUNT: It came out this morning, 227,000 jobs were added last month. It’s the fastest six-month growth since 2006. Do you think we can now say the economy is on the way back?

SANTORUM: Well, let’s hope so. I mean, it’s certainly had a lot of headwinds that it’s had to confront, I would argue most of them self-inflicted on the part of this administration.

HUNT: This is a good jobs report, then?

SANTORUM: Well, again, you know, I haven’t - I haven’t seen all the details, but certainly a quarter of a million jobs, roughly, being added is a positive step forward. And hopefully that trend continues and we can - we can see this economy on the rebound.

But I - again, you have an administration that - that has consistently seen, you know, bad job reports because of bad policies that have led to those job reports.

HUNT: Let’s turn to your tax proposals and Governor Romney’s. I read them both. There are differences. You go to zero for manufacturing. But when you look at them both, you both want to slash taxes on income and investment. You both pledged not to raise taxes. When it comes to fiscal policy, it appears there really isn’t a dime’s or at least a quarter’s worth of difference between you and Mitt Romney.

SANTORUM: Well, yeah, I would disagree with that. First off, you know, we - he keeps six or eight. I go to two. He basically keeps the Internal Revenue Code for individuals the same. I don’t. I change it. We simplify the code to five deductions when it comes to the deduction part of the tax code. Pretty much everything else, you know, is swept away, and we have a very simple corporate tax. We eliminate basically the corporate tax and replace it with a single rate, 17.5 percent, which is half the current corporate tax, and make it basically a net profits tax with one tax credit, which is for research and development at 20 percent.

But it’s a very, very simple code, unlike Governor Romney’s, which is timid, very small changes in the code. I think, you know, 59 different little tinkers here and there, but we have real fundamental changes -

HUNT: Do you think as president Mitt Romney would keep his pledge not to raise taxes?

SANTORUM: Well, I don’t know whether he pledged as governor of Massachusetts not to raise taxes, but he did. He raised it by, you know, close to a billion dollars. You look at my - you know, my 16 years in the House and the Senate, never once voted to raise taxes and made a very strong commitment that that’s not something that’s the problem in America. The problem is spending when it comes to the fiscal problems of this country.

And, again, Governor Romney’s proposed about a half a trillion dollars in cuts over - over the next 10 years, and we’ve proposed $5 trillion over five. So I think we have a much, much more - much more bold plan, much more oriented toward growth, and much more oriented towards shrinking the size of government, something that Governor Romney didn’t do, nor, as he said, did he do anything about job creation.

He talks about his job-creation credentials when he’s in the private sector, but he never seems to mention the fact that in the public sector, as governor, he was 47th out of 50 in states in job creation in the state of Massachusetts, so -

HUNT: You - you mentioned you want to eliminate all taxes on manufacturing. Ronald Reagan proposed to lower tax rates, broaden the base, and said government should not pick winners and losers, yet you do. Why was Governor Reagan - why was President Reagan wrong?

SANTORUM: Well, I think, actually, by keeping the tax rates the same on manufacturing as we do on other businesses here in the country, we are picking winners and losers, because manufacturers have to do something that most other businesses in this country don’t have to do. They have to compete directly with foreign entities for jobs being - being in this country.

And as you know, because of the government policies, our competitive posture is simply not that strong vis-a-vis our nine top trading partners. We’re 20 percent more expensive, excluding labor costs, with our - compared to our nine top trading partners, one of the reasons we find it hard to keep jobs here in this country, you know, manufacturing jobs here.

HUNT: You would cut taxes by a great deal, but there would be some offsets by eliminating some preferences. The Committee for a Responsible Budget said your campaign has identified some, that you would eliminate tax breaks for state and local and property and income taxes, for the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds, and tax breaks soldiers receive on benefits and allowances. Would you eliminate all those?

SANTORUM: No, I - well, no, I - you know, this is funny. I mean, I saw this report. They even mentioned about the build-up of interest, you know, of income within life insurance policies. This is just pulled out of the air by - by I don’t know who. I mean, I’ve talked to all of my economic team. They all said they’ve never had a conversation with anybody about this.

In fact, we sent out a statement yesterday that said - and I don’t know where these folks came up with - with some of these things that they’ve talked about. You know, we’ve provided a detailed answer to that, and, again, it’s - this is - I’m sure - you know, I’m sure I know where this is coming from, folks who are - who are, you know, trying to say, wow, he’s going to increase taxes here and increases taxes there.

No. We’re not going to increase taxes on any of those things.

HUNT: In Ohio, 54 percent of the voters said the economy was the important issue. Mitt Romney beat you by 10 points among those voters. He clearly says the economy and jobs are the dominant issue. Do you think you would do better if you said that was the dominant issue, rather than confusing it with social issues, too? Or do you think the social issues are as important as the economic issues?

SANTORUM: I don’t - well, again, it’s - the narrative the media is painting is not the narrative that’s out here on the campaign trail. I’m talking about, you know, fundamental freedoms in this country and that they’re at stake, that we have a government that’s overreaching, that is imposing its will on - on the American businessperson and the American people, and that government is - is at a critical tipping point, particularly with the implementation of Obamacare.

I’m saying the economy is struggling because it has a yoke of government, of regulation, of threatening to do more regulation, of increasing taxation under Obamacare, and more on the way being threatened by this president, and that’s the reason this economy is struggling. I think Governor Romney narrow-casts this issue. This is a broader issue than just the economy.

HUNT: How do you expect to do against Newt Gingrich in Mississippi and Alabama?

SANTORUM: Well, we feel good. I mean, we’ve got great reaction here in Mobile last night. We had about 600 people in event, and we’re doing a little event here that we threw together here this morning to - we were going to head straight out of town, but we decided to - we had a little extra cushion in the schedule, so put a little event here on the USS Alabama, talk a little bit more about national security, and now we’re down here in the gulf, a little bit more about energy, and so we hope to have a good day today, and feel good about what we’re feeling and hearing in both Alabama and Mississippi.

HUNT: Are you going to win both Alabama and Mississippi?

SANTORUM: Well, I was just going to say, this weekend we have Kansas, and we feel like we’re going to have a huge win there. And, in fact, I think the polling is so good that both Governor Romney and Newt Gingrich have decided not to campaign there. That’s a good sign.

And so with that wind coming up on Saturday going into Alabama and Mississippi on - on Tuesday, we think we’re going to have a little wind at our back. And, you know, our feeling is, we finish first or second here, that’s exactly what we hope to do. And hopefully after this Tuesday, this will be a two-person race, and we can get down to business of deciding whether we want a conservative or a moderate to go up against Barack Obama -

HUNT: So you think after Tuesday Newt Gingrich is likely to drop out?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, obviously, you know, we’ve got to hold up our end and do well here. And I think if we continue to show, as we did on Super Tuesday, where we finished, you know, first or second I think in almost every state, maybe one - I think we came very close with Congressman Paul on a second place in one of the states - but, you know, Congressman Gingrich finished first in one state, his home, and finished third or fourth everywhere else, which has been a consistent pattern. He’s finished third or fourth in almost every state since South Carolina - I mean, excuse me, since Florida.

So we feel pretty good that it’s now narrowing to a two- person race. We’ve been competitive. I think you’ve seen the reports that we’ve been outspent overall about 10 to 1, but, you know, that doesn’t matter. We’ve got the better message.

HUNT: OK.

SANTORUM: We’ve got the more - we’ve got the energy. We’ve got the vision. And I think that’s going to win in the end.

HUNT: All right. Senator Santorum, thank you so much for being with us.

***END OF TRANSCRIPT***

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