Transactions Interview with Rick Santorum

Transactions Interview with Rick Santorum

This summer, Rick and Karen Santorum camped out in the Hawkeye State to chase one of the four tickets to the next level of the presidential sweepstakes.  A convincingly strong fourth place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll and the exit of former governor Tim Pawlenty gave Team Santorum a needed second look from national pundits and for now, hold his place in line.  Pennsylvania’s former junior senator says it’s all part of the plan – an operation that’s lean, low to the ground and ready for the moment when Republican voters tire of top tier options.  In this exclusive Transactions interview, Rick Santorum assesses his campaign, the national issues, and offers a thought or two about community banks.

Transactions Magazine (TM):  Senator, the decision to run for President of the United
States is an ambitious goal.  What motivates you to make this run?
Rick Santorum (RS): I have children ages 20 to 3; so to say this is the best time in my life to be traveling the country campaigning for president is simply not true.  But when President Obama rammed through ObamaCare, alarms went off for me.  That law was antithetical to everything I believe America is intended to be.  It infringes on freedom, it infringes on liberty, and it infringes on the founding principles our Founders
intended.  It will hook an IV-Line into every American and make them dependent on government for the most important issue each of us faces – our health.  So I look at my children and I had to ask if I could honestly sit by and not fight this, and my wife and I just came to the decision that we could not just sit idly by and let this country be stripped of all she stands for.

TM:   The journey to the White House begins in the state caucuses. History demonstrates that many frontrunners in the early caucus states fizzle by the time the party conventions roll around in the summer of
2012.  What’s your strategy to remain relevant throughout the entire process?
RS: Yes, we have been very focused on the early caucus state of Iowa, but we’ve also made a concerted effort to lay the groundwork in the other early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.  No other Republican presidential candidate has visited those early states more than me, and we’ve been rewarded by  winning the only statewide straw poll in South Carolina and shattering expectations in Iowa.  By the time next year rolls around, we anticipate having a stronger campaign ready to compete across the country.
TM:    Rick, in 2006, you faced some very vocal critics and a nasty campaign for reelection.  Many believe that 2006 was not so much a Casey win but a very tactical effort to defeat you.  How challenging will it be for you to reestablish yourself in on home turf, Pennsylvania?
RS: 2012 will be a lot different than 2006.  Just look at this past mid-term election.  In 2006, our  gubernatorial candidate lost by 22 points, while Governor Corbett just won by 10.  Pendulums swing, and as  we just saw with the recently released Quinnipiac Poll, I am running neck and neck with President Obama here in Pennsylvania.  I am the only candidate in this field to have beaten a Democrat incumbent, and have in fact beaten three.  And while people focus on 2006, I did win statewide in Pennsylvania twice – a state no Republican presidential candidate has done since 1988.  I feel very confident that we have a great chance of winning not just Pennsylvania, but other industrial rustbelt states like Ohio and Michigan that are critical winning the presidency.  We can do this because we are offering specific solutions to solving our nation’s problems.

TM:      Turning to issues, America’s community banking industry is facing unprecedented regulatory challenge.  We’re losing community banks at an alarming rate.  Understanding the genesis of Dodd/Frank was Wall Street “reform,” the reality is that the collateral damage is dramatically impacting Main Street.  How important do you believe community banks to be to our national economy?

RS: First and foremost, I would work to repeal Dodd-Frank.  I understand that law had good intentions, but the fact is that it simply enshrined “too big to fail” and did very little to help rebuild and reform financial markets.  We need to work to address the root causes of the financial crisis, while at the same time not hindering institutions like community banks that have such a positive impact on small business owners and local communities themselves.

TM:    What will a Santorum Administration do to keep America’s community banks and Main Street businesses strong and thriving?

RS: A Santorum Administration will work to relieve community bankers of the burdensome regulations that are hindering their ability to work. We need to enact policies that allow markets to work and ones that allow credit to flow freely.  The Obama Administration is not doing that, and we need to end this crony capitalism that has emerged out of Washington.  We need to let businesses rise, and yes fall, based on their merits and market forces.  That is how the American economy became great, and that is how we can become prosperous again.

TM:   Over the past month there has been much debate over how we move forward and get America’s financial house in order.  Nobody wants to put their fingerprints on a plan to resolve our spending addiction and our debt crisis.  Where can America’s leaders find places to reduce spending?  How can we right America’s financial ship?
RS: Fifteen years ago, we came within one vote of passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.  We need to reorganize the effort and pass one now.  I supported the Cut-Cap-Balance Plan, but if I had my choice, I would have gone with Balance-Balance-Balance.  It accomplishes the two goals I believe most Americans want, to limit the size of government to our historical level of 18% of GDP and to balance the budget within a decade.  We can talk all we want about spending cuts, but unless and until we pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, we can never have long-term certainty – both for the federal budget and for financial markets – that we are on a path to fiscal stability.
TM:     America’s energy independence is often talked about, but little is done to curtail our need for foreign energy.  Marcellus natural gas is changing the economic landscape in Pennsylvania. Reports show that America’s natural gas reserves rival the oil reserves in the Middle East.  What policy steps need to be taken to ensure that America gets the biggest economic boom from our energy reserves?
RS:  The biggest thing the government can do is get out of the way. Efforts in Washington right now to enact new regulations against the natural gas industry are detrimental to our energy security and energy independence.  The idea that we should enact new regulations for appearance’s sake and political posturing is preposterous.  The market wants this natural gas, and we’ve seen it in the plummeting price of natural gas over the past few years.  We need to cultivate this industry for the sake of our economy and our national security.
TM:      What issues are most important to Rick Santorum?
RS:  The most important “issue” to me right now is returning our nation to our founding principles, and the rest will take care of itself.  I meet a lot of folks along the campaign trail who want to return to our  Constitutional principles.  That is great, and I would argue we need to return to the roots found in our Declaration of Independence.  The Constitution is the “how,” but the Declaration is the “why.”  The Declaration is what sets us apart from every other country in the history of the world because it put its faith in the people, not the government.   Each and every one of us was endowed with certain rights – rights were not given to government.  I am afraid we are slowly creeping away from this, and our leaders need to return to a faith in the people again.  If we do that, I believe our economy will thrive because they will be able to grow and prosper, our families will thrive, and our nation will be secure.
TM: Finally Senator Santorum, community bankers across the country will read this article.  What is your message to Main Street, community leaders?
RS: My biggest message to Main Street and community bankers is that under a Santorum Administration, help is on the way.  Not help in the terms of bailouts and handouts, but help in the sense that you will be free to grow without the threat of unnecessary government regulations and taxes that are currently holding you back.

– Transactions Magazine, September 2011