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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY

Interview with Kevin McCarthy; Interview With Chris Van Hollen; Interview With Rick Santorum; Interview With Charles Bolden

Aired July 10, 2011 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CROWLEY: Speaker Boehner balks as a big deal, but tonight's White House meeting is still on. Today, the debt deal in peril, with Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy and Democratic leader Chris Van Hollen.

Then, the economy in 2012 with presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: We have a president who is in denial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: And after the space shuttle, with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

I am Candy Crowley, and this is STATE OF THE UNION.

Hopes for a grand debt deal between the speaker and the president got buried last night in a blizzard of status quo rhetoric. Speaker Boehner writing: "The White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes. I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure."

Out of the White House, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer responded: "We cannot ask the middle class and seniors to bear all the burden of higher costs and budget cuts. We need a balanced approach that asks the very wealthiest and special interests to pay their fair share as well."

CROWLEY: Joining me now to try to make sense of where things stand, House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.

I just feel like we are -- if I am out there listening to this, I want to strangle all of you. Why can you not get this deal? This looks to me like a strategic bargaining ploy rather than where we're actually going to end up, from Speaker Boehner.

MCCARTHY: Oh, I don't see that at all. Boehner has been very clear that there is no votes for a tax increase. And you look at the jobs data, it was only 18,000 jobs, Canada has fewer people than live in California, created more jobs than America.

You would not increase taxes on the small business, which is what the president wants to do. All that Boehner said was, you've had a negotiation with Cantor, with Kyl, with Biden. They've gotten $2.4 trillion in cuts.

So what he's saying is, let's go there, there's no taxes, there are cuts right there, but why don't you also get a balanced budget?

CROWLEY: But you could also being looking at trying to help with Medicare, which you all -- the Republicans say they want to do. Take a look at Medicaid. Even take a look at Social Security. In exchange, it seems to me what has occurred is -- or what has reported to have occurred is that Speaker Boehner went along with the idea that maybe you would end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, in exchange for a decrease in tax rates, an overhaul of tax reform.

What is wrong with that?

MCCARTHY: No, no, no, no. Well, there is a lot of things are wrong with it. For one, is, who you are going to tax is small business. And think for one moment -- no, no, no, no...

CROWLEY: These are individual tax rates. And yes, some small businesses, but only a small portion of small businesses file under individual tax rates.

MCCARTHY: OK. Look at the data. If you look at the data, from the end of the last recession to this current one, 2001 to 2007, companies with 500 employees or less added 7 million jobs, companies with 500 employees or more cut a million. All the job growth starts with small business. Well, look at the policy...

CROWLEY: But how many of those file individually?

MCCARTHY: Well, wait, look at the data, the majority. Look at the data here.

CROWLEY: Minority (ph).

MCCARTHY: Because if you look at the data that you have, small business creates the job. You go those 200,000 over, those are from S-corps and others files individually. They put their money back in, you're taxing them.

Job growth in America today, start-ups is lower than it has been in 17 years from the policies of this president and this administration. He created a stimulus plan that created more than a -- spent more than a trillion dollars, it cost $278,000 for every single job. I think we have to do a new direction.

CROWLEY: OK. Just the stimulus plan was about $800 billion...

MCCARTHY: No, with interest, 1.1.

CROWLEY: OK. You know, the problem here, I guess, and if we step back away from the numbers, which, as you know, get disputed a lot, and we have to say that those -- we're talking about individual tax rates, not small business rates, right? MCCARTHY: What does a small business person do? They take their money, get taxed upon it, and they reinvest it in. That is worth 70 percent of all jobs that are created. And you are going to punish them.

Look from the standpoint of start-ups, the lowest it has been in 17 years, because of the uncertainty out there. Why, if America could only create 18,000 jobs last month, would they go and raise the tax now, when you've had discretionary...

CROWLEY: So what would you give up? Let's put it that way. It looks as though -- I mean, I think when you're looking at this, it looks as though -- at least we are led to believe, the president has said, fine, I will put in entitlements, Medicare, Social Security on the table, and you all have said no to anything on the revenue side, sort of consistently.

So what are you willing to do that will get these things back on track?

MCCARTHY: Well, you want to know what we're willing to do? We're willing to set out a framework that puts America back on a real track, where it has tax reform, where it reforms the process. Then you close the loopholes.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: ... taxes between now and the 2nd of August when this debt ceiling thing blows up?

MCCARTHY: Well, you know what, we produced a budget in four months. You know this Democrat-controlled Senate, it has been more than 100 days. You go back to 2009. They never produced a budget. We laid out a reform to Social Security and Medicare to save them. The president has not.

So from the premise that where Republicans have been in the short time they have been in the majority, we've laid out a framework to put us on a new path. Energy policy reform, where we spend the money and create jobs here.

We've passed nine bills that would create more than half a million jobs that have been lingering in the Senate. So I don't think the premise of where we have been has always been out in front. There are not enough -- there are no votes on the Republican side. But even when the Democrats...

CROWLEY: So the speaker has -- the speaker could not -- even if he wanted to and we're led to believe he was willing, the speaker cannot let go of, for instance, the Bush tax hikes for the wealthy because you don't have the votes for it to back that up, is that correct?

MCCARTHY: Speaker Pelosi did not have the votes for it when they were in the majority.

CROWLEY: So you don't have the votes for it, either.

MCCARTHY: Speaker Pelosi did not have the votes when they controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House. Why didn't they raise them then? Because they know it is bad policy, especially in a down economy.

CROWLEY: So I guess the problem remains -- regardless of what has happened in the past 18 months, the problem remains, it's June -- I'm sorry, July 10th, you have until August 3rd, and there doesn't seem to be any middle ground here. How far are you willing to walk from your current position to get Democrats on board so you can pass something? MCCARTHY: Look, when we have laid out from the very beginning. this is not a revenue problem, it's a spending problem. Discretionary spending has gone up 73 percent in the last three years. You tell me the small business there.

Economists will tell you if you raise taxes on small businesses, which are not growing right now, you only harm the economy more. So let's end the uncertainty.

CROWLEY: So is the answer nothing, pretty much, that you have laid out...

MCCARTHY: No.

CROWLEY: ... what you will agree to and that's it?

MCCARTHY: No. The answer is, we have sat in a room with the vice president, with the Democratic leaders, and they have agreed to $2.4 trillion in cuts. The speaker laid out at the beginning of this negotiation, if you want to raise the debt ceiling you have to cut as much as you are willing to raise the debt ceiling, at least.

We have a format to get there. The other thing you have to do, that's short term. What about long term? If we are serious about doing something long term, and the president is too, why don't we pass a balanced budget amendment?

Sixteen years ago we came one vote short of doing that in the Senate. We had the opportunity to actually do something right for this country.

CROWLEY: You also have the opportunity, a golden opportunity, perhaps, to look at Medicare, which you all have said is going to go -- is going to bankrupt the country, to look at Social Security, and you are going to pass that up at this point?

MCCARTHY: We're not passing it up. We put it in our budget. You've got the Senate Democrats...

CROWLEY: But you are going to pass it up in these negotiations because the speaker said, we're not going to do this big old deal, we have to do a much smaller deal. And by the way, you all -- at least Eric Cantor walked out of the Biden talks, saying that they were insisting on tax cuts. So I am not altogether certain that that's even a done deal, is it? MCCARTHY: Look, they can -- the Democrats know nothing else than wanting to spend more. The policies of the American public that have seen, this has failed the last two years. This Keynesian view that government spending is going to get the economy back on track, we've gone through it.

You know, Winston Churchill said you could always count on Americans to do what's right after they exhausted every other option. Well, the last two years, we've exhausted a lot of wrong options. So I think this president and his administration needs to change course. We need to grow the private sector. And that's not punishing them. It doesn't mean you're going to be able to grow them. We have found that if we cut spending, if we give enhancements, we move back the regulations that have been holding them back, unshackle those, incite the employer to actually go and hire people so you have more people working, it creates more revenue.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you a couple of quick questions, the first is, you only -- Republicans only run one House in Congress.

MCCARTHY: Yes.

CROWLEY: So...

MCCARTHY: But we take all the blame.

CROWLEY: Well, you take all the blame. But the thing is, there just seems to me that there has to be some willingness to give, and I have not heard anything from you about, yes, you know what, I would go -- if we could get a deal that would cut 2.5 trillion in savings, I would agree to this on the revenue side. There's nothing on the revenue side you will agree to?

MCCARTHY: Well, you know, Candy, I've never found one tax increase that created a job. I have watched our economy sputter downward. I've been out across the American public, they want to go back to work. And I know those policies will fail. So in principle, no, we're not going to go there.

But I also do know that government has spent too much. They have increased spending 73 percent in discretionary in the last three years. I don't know any American household that has done that. So, you know what, this government needs to live like those American households.

I'm tired of the gimmicks, I'm tired of the budget tricks and the accounting tricks that goes forward. This has to be an honest approach. We are at a threshold that we need to change. We are not losing jobs because our credit card didn't have a higher limit.

We are losing our jobs because we are spending too much. It's not that difficult to do. We have sat in the room honestly with the Democrats, we have moved forward with them all the way. But they keep saying one thing, they want to raise more taxes.

CROWLEY: And you keep saying no, but I have to leave it there. MCCARTHY: Even when they were the majority, they said no because it is bad policy for the American public.

CROWLEY: Congressman Kevin McCarthy, whip over on the House side. You've got your work cut out for you. Thank you so much for joining us.

MCCARTHY: Thanks for having me.

CROWLEY: Up next, Congressman Chris Van Hollen on what his fellow Democrats want from a debt deal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now, the top Democrat on House budget committee, Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

So the Speaker of the House says I don't think we can do this deal, let's go back to the Biden talks. You were in the Biden talks, everyone says that's about a little over $2 trillion in savings, let's do that. Is that a done deal?

VAN HOLLEN: Not a done deal at all, Candy. In fact, the vice president has said that we identified about trillion in savings. We're nowhere close to $2.4 trillion. So to go back to that process, I think is -- it's sets in motion all over again.

CROWLEY: How long have you been negotiating for that trillion?

VAN HOLLEN: We've had at least ten sessions. And let me say this, even that trillion was contingent on an overall agreement which meant the Republicans had to agree to some revenue component.

Let me go to the failure of these big talks. Here's the issue, at the end of the day what we're seeing is the priority of our Republican colleagues is not to get a deficit reduction deal, it's to protect special interest tax breaks for big corporations. We had the corporate jet loophole, we have big oil and gas companies, and then we have folks at the very top of the income ladder.

Now I listened to my friend Kevin say they were all small businesses, and as you pointed out, it just isn't true. The joint tax committee has said about 3% of businesses fall in the top category that we're talking about, and those businesses include things -- companies like KKR, Pricewaterhouse, Fortune 100 companies, anyone that files as an S Corporation, so those are good businesses, but these are not mom and pops.

CROWLEY: Let me just in fairness point out, because I looked into this, they are the businesses, those 3 percent that are in there that we're talking about are the ones that create the most jobs, but carry on.

VAN HOLLEN: But what we're talking about here are big businesses. We're talking about any business that files as an S corporation. We're talking about big Washington law firms, we're talking about lobbying firms, and we're talking about things like Pricewaterhouse.

Now good companies, but to say that you're protecting small businesses and mom and pops is just dead wrong, it's counter factual. And I think we should put an end to the myth right now. What they're protecting are big gas companies and corporate jets.

CROWLEY: Their argument is, look, we -- a lot of Republicans say, fine, we think some of these loopholes ought to go but in order to do that we have to have tax reform which we can't get between now and August 2nd. So, if they would agree to that in exchange for some sort of deal that would say we have to have tax reform by date certain, would you go for that?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, we're all for tax reform. We think we should bring down the corporate rate, expand the base. But we think part of that...

CROWLEY: It's part of the price for getting them to agree to do something.

VAN HOLLEN: Sure, but part of that could go to debt reduction. Here's the Republican position, not one penny of closing tax loopholes for special interests can go to deficit reduction, every penny has to go to reducing the rate. Now we saw some hope a little while ago into ethanol rates.

CROWLEY: Do you want to raise taxes? I mean, given, look you know what a lousy jobs report we just got. Do you think it's a good idea to raise taxes on anybody when the jobless rate is 9.2%?

VAN HOLLEN: All the proposals we're talking about would kick in after 2012, number one. Number two, yes, I think it's a good idea to close corporate tax loopholes as part of a deficit reduction plan, because we have got to reduce our deficit to insure long-term economic growth.

We all, I thought, recognize that that's a big, big problem.

CROWLEY: But can you have growth if no jobs are being produced I guess is.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, of course you can't. And we're not proposing that these changes go into effect immediately. We're talking about phased in over a ten-year period, number one. Number two, we all know that during the Clinton administration when you add higher tax rates for the folks at the top, we had a booming economy, 20 million jobs were created, and the rub is this, the most important factor for economic growth are not small changes in the top tax rate. There are many other factors in the economy.

So no, we wouldn't put these changes in place right away. But you have to reduce the deficit. This has got to be part of it.

CROWLEY: What in 2012 the unemployment rate is still high, then would you still want to do it? VAN HOLLEN: Well, I, again, I would close the loopholes for corporate jets sooner rather than later. But in terms of the overall approach, we should also look at the spending side of the equation. In other words, our first principle in all of these talks should be do no harm to the economy. And what's worrisome, is that the Republicans are saying if you don't give us deficit reduction our way, end the Medicare guarantee and slash Medicaid benefits and protect corporate interests, then we're going to allow the United States to...

CROWLEY: Well, that's not in the Biden... VAN HOLLEN: No, but that's in their budget. You heard Kevin McCarthy said they had an answer to this problem. Their answer...

CROWLEY: But in terms of the debt reduction package, they're not asking for that?

VAN HOLLEN: They have never taken that off the table. Let me be very clear, they've never taken that off the table. That is their position. You just heard it from Kevin again. That is their approach to this program. We've said we're not ending the Medicare guarantee. We are willing to have a balanced approach like the bipartisan commission recommended in terms of framework, not every detail. That has to be the way we go forward.

And it's very disappointing that we may lose this opportunity to do something significant on deficit reduction because of this priority of protecting special interest tax breaks.

CROWLEY: If you have to, will you go to the medium deal, as they say, the Biden talks. And if you do, if you can find 2 trillion in tax cuts, will you pass that without anything on the revenue side in order to meet that August 2nd deadline? Do you have to have something on the revenue side?

VAN HOLLEN: We've made it clear as part of the Biden discussions that you have to have a balanced approach to this. And that means ending -- we don't think the oil and gas companies should be getting big subsidies while we're making deep cuts in parts of the budget.

The Republican budget says slash Medicare, end the Medicare guarantee and yet their budget would provide a 30 percent tax break in the rate for the guys at the top.

CROWLEY: But again back to the debt deal here which is the most urgent thing that needs to be done, you all -- meaning Democrats, you think, would allow the August 2nd deadline to pass without a deal if it meant that you had to do only budget cuts?

VAN HOLLEN: Oh, let me be clear, we never said we will hold the United States full faith and credit hostage in the discussions. The president said that's a priority. We need to move forward. If you don't lift the debt ceiling, every economists out there said the economy will tank.

And what is really appalling is to see our Republican colleagues essentially providing a form of extortion, if you don't agree to deficit reduction the way we want it, we're going to put all these jobs at risk because we're going to allow the United States to default on its debt. That's irresponsible.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: You won't let that happen? So in other words, you would pass just cuts, just spending cuts in order to get a deficit -- VAN HOLLEN: No, no, that's not what I am saying. What I am saying is that we want to do deficit reduction, but we also recognize we have a responsibility to prevent the economy from tanking.

CROWLEY: Meaning raise the debt ceiling?

VAN HOLLEN: I would personally support raising the debt ceiling if we're not able to reach an agreement, I would prefer to reach an agreement, but unlike our Republican colleagues, we're not saying that if we don't get deficit reduction in these talks our way, we're prepared to let the whole economy go down.

CROWLEY: But that won't pass the House as far as we can tell.

VAN HOLLEN: But that's because that's their position. In other words, we're not the party saying that we're going to put the economy and jobs at risk by allowing the United States for the first time in its history not to pay its bills if you don't do deficit reduction our way. We're not taking that position. They are, and their way is, again, slashing Medicare and Medicaid to protect corporate tax breaks.

CROWLEY: But again, not on the debt talks. But let me ask you this as a bottom line question in about half of a minute, how is this going to end?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, we'll have to find out tonight whether the Republicans will reconsider their position. This is a huge missed opportunity for the country to get a significant deficit reduction package in a balanced way. And if they refuse to do that, then we're really back -- not at square one, but we're really -- it's a major setback. Because while we made some progress in the Biden talks, our Republican colleagues are -- they're dreaming if they think we had $2.4 trillion in cuts. We were nowhere close to that. And again, they walked out, because they did not want to take away the tax breaks for corporate jets for the purpose of deficit reduction, oil and gas companies, and folks at the very top.

CROWLEY: But you are willing to go back to the Biden talks if that is where it goes?

VAN HOLLEN: We're willing to solve this problem, but we are not taking the position that we are going to allow the economy to go down the tank and put jobs at risk if we don't get it done our way.

CROWLEY: Chris Van Hollen, congressman, thank you so much.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.

CROWLEY: Appreciate your time. Up next, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum tells us how important social issues will be this election cycle, and his reaction to a controversial new pledge on marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: When I first read it, I was taken back, but I can't argue that I wasn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now, Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania. Senator, thanks so much for being here.

SANTORUM: It's great to be here. Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: If you were the president of the United States right now, dealing with the debt limit issue, what concession would you make to Democrats to entice them into a package with major spending cuts?

SANTORUM: You know, I would be making the case that is not being made right now by this president, that we're in a severe crisis, and it's a crisis of spending. When you see spending at almost 50 percent more than what it normally is and since the Second World War, and you see taxes down only slightly, and the reason they're down slightly is simply because we're not creating jobs and our economy is slowing, so the problem is not a tax problem. The problem is a spending problem.

And so I guess I would say that -- that the place where most people would be if we had a leader who was out telling the American public the truth as to what the nature of the problem is, we could get Democrats to go along with bigger spending cuts than they are now. We have a president who is in denial. He's in denial that we have got entitlements that are out of control, that we have spending that's dramatically increased. We've got government that has grown too big.

CROWLEY: But you know, he's out there saying, I mean, he has been saying or at least intimating that yes, we put Medicare -- we can look at Social Security. But the fact is, he has got to bring his Democrats with him. And when you look at what they are asking, they are asking for something on the revenue side. What would you do? Is there anything you would give up? Because while the polls show a number of things, they also show they want Washington to work.

SANTORUM: Yes.

CROWLEY: And the only way Washington works, you know, you have been in the Senate, is compromise. So where would you compromise with Democrats?

SANTORUM: My sense is, I would be willing to do less spending cuts now in exchange for a balanced budget amendment in the future. I think that's really what we need as a backstop. And that's what I hope Republicans will stand firm on.

You know, Candy, you have been around long enough to know that nothing gets done in Washington unless there's a crisis, unless their backs are to the wall. No bill passes in the Senate hardly until Friday on the weekend. Right?

CROWLEY: Everybody wants to go home. SANTORUM: When everybody wants to go home. You have to have that wall. We need a wall in Washington, D.C. We need to have Democrats and Republicans have that wall in place, seven, eight years down the line, which is what implementation ultimately will be on a balanced budget amendment, and then the whole dynamic in Washington changes. Then you have a dynamic that everybody is running for office knowing you've got to get to balance. That's how Washington will change, not really before that.

CROWLEY: So on specifics, no way no how would you agree that oil companies who are looking at some record profits and have in the past should let go of their subsidies, U.S. taxpayer money. You would not agree to that?

SANTORUM: No, I would say if we're looking at subsidies for industries, I have already proposed a phasing out of energy subsidies and would continue to propose a phasing out of some of those subsidies.

CROWLEY: So would you agree to that as part of a debt ceiling package?

SANTORUM: I would say that I could put on the table certain incentives, tax incentives, but I would absolutely not put any rates on the table, and in fact, anything I would do with respect to incentives, I would try to lower rates in commensurate with that.

CROWLEY: Would you agree, looking at this presidential race coming up, we have now had a pretty dismal jobs report, would you agree that--

SANTORUM: Pretty dismal?

CROWLEY: OK, whatever adjective you want to put there. We've had a dismal jobs report. Would you agree that with the economy and two wars, and Libya, issues like abortion, issues like stem cell research, those sort of classics that Republicans tend to run on, those take back seats now when you look at a country in this much trouble?

SANTORUM: I would say certainly when -- I go out across the country, I talk about jobs, I talk about the economy. There's no question that's the highest order of business, but I talk about all of the issues. I think it's important we talk about national security. If there is any place the president has authority, it's in foreign policy and our national security. And I think this president has done a woefully poor job, even worse than he's done on the economy, he's done it on keeping America safe and keeping our country strong around the world. So I'm going to talk about all those issues. Do they take -- are they the preeminent issues? No, but they are important issues. They're issues people want to hear about.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about -- there is a group called The Family Leader out of Iowa that is asking candidates to sign a pro marriage pledge. It includes a lot of things we're familiar with that you would only appoint conservative judges, that you would remove what they see as anti-marriage provisions in the tax code. But the CEO of The Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats had this to say about the pledge.

"If you are looking at being a leader of our great country, we would like to have you pledge personal fidelity to your own spouse and a respect for the marital bonds of others." First, would you sign this pledge?

SANTORUM: Well, the answer is yes. I mean, I certainly -- I had pledge personal fidelity to my wife when I was married to her, I pledged the same that I would not involve myself with any other relationships with anybody else who is married. So that's a pledge I've taken. And I take every single day as a married person and feel very comfortable making that public statement.

CROWLEY: And so this is a pledge you would sign?

SANTORUM: In fact I actually did sign, yes.

CROWLEY: You did sign it.

Do you find it intrusive?

SANTORUM: You know look, the answer to that question is when I first read it, i thought, well I can say that because it's true. Should politicians be held to that standard? If you look at the amount of disrespect or disregard members of Congress have because of some of the things just like that, the infidelity and not keeping your vows to people that you love, it undermines...

CROWLEY: It does. But doesn't that go a little over the top?

SANTORUM: Look, when I first read it I was taken aback, but I can't argue that I wasn't, but I understand why they are saying that. Because it does undermined peoples' respect for the institution, respect for the people governing this country. If you can't be faithful to the people that you are closest to, then how can we count on you to be faithful to those that you represent.

So, I understand why they are saying it. You know, would I preferred it in there or not? I was not expecting it to be in there, but I certainly felt comfortable saying it.

CROWLEY: Presidential candidate Rick Santorum I want you to stick with us. We'll be right back after this and talk a little politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back.

Our guest right now, presidential candidate Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania.

Let's take a look at some of the polling. You have been in Iowa more than anybody out there in the race.

SANTORUM: Starting to charge me income taxes.

CROWLEY: I bet they are.

Let me show you this new Iowa poll which basically shows Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann at the top and you at the very bottom at 4 percent. We see a similar result in New Hampshire, a place you're also familiar with, with Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann sort of at the top and Rick Santorum at 1 percent. Why haven't you caught fire?

SANTORUM: Well, I'm running a very campaign, we're running a -- I always say the little engine that could campaign, we're just out there meeting people, and meeting with activists, in people's homes, and building relationships, getting people interested in volunteering and helping.

CROWLEY: You better hurry, though, because that straw poll is coming up.

SANTORUM: The straw poll is about activists. And we'll see. We'll see how we do. I think that will be a test for us. I mean, obviously we're sitting at the bottom. Can we perform better than people above us? Are there going to be -- can we finish fifth or sixth or fourth or something like that and do better and make sure that we're making progress with the people who are -- remember, this is a caucus state.

Iowa is not everybody who normally shows up for an election shows up for a caucus, you have to devote an evening of your life to go and vote for president. So we think -- we think the strategy we have is a good one. I can tell you that the level of enthusiasm and energy out there in Iowa for us is very good. And we feel comfortable we're on a path to February.

Remember, February is a long way away. And you're looking at maybe 30,000, 35,000 people to vote for you in Iowa caucus and you win. We can do that in a very systematic grassroots way and that's what we're working on.

CROWLEY: Tell me about your fund raising after a report on the 15th, we have seen some people's numbers. Where are your numbers going to come out?

SANTORUM: They're going to come in very much at the low end. I mean, we just announced for president pretty much...

CROWLEY: Under a couple million.

SANTORUM: Yeah, we'll be under that. But our feeling is, I mean, I did not have my first fund-raiser until the last week of June. So we really didn't focus on raising money. I know people find this hard to believe, but I actually didn't make up my mind as to whether or not to pull the trigger on this thing until some time in the middle of May. And so we really didn't -- I didn't want to go out and ask people to raise money for me and ask people to do things if I wasn't committed to doing this yet.

And so we have enough money -- in fact, plenty of money to be able to execute our gameplan for the straw poll coming up in August. And like I said, we're running a low -- I'm running a conservative campaign, very low budget. We have got a good staff in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. We've got great folks...

CROWLEY: It has got to be frustrating, though, I would think a little bit, because you have been out there and you have been -- I mean, this is a retail state. We're looking at -- your talking about maybe a million or so in fund-raising, and you have Mitt Romney raising $18 million.

SANTORUM: Well, Mitt Romney has been running for president for four years and he's the favorite. I'm someone who -- you know most people, as you know, don't even -- ones in the report who is running for president I sort of occasionally get left on the list.

CROWLEY: Is there anything in the race right now that you know you couldn't support as Republican...

SANTORUM: I can support any of the Republican candidates for president over who we have today.

CROWLEY: So, all of these guys are fine with you?

SANTORUM: Well, I can support them over who the -- what I -- would I prefer one over other? I can tell you one in particular I prefer, and that would be me, but...

CROWLEY: What changes if Texas governor Rick Perry, or former Alaska governor Sarah Palin get in this race?

SANTORUM: It takes that pie and divides it more. My sense is, the more the merrier.

CROWLEY: Do you have a got feeling about Governor Perry or Former Governor Palin, whether they will get in?

SANTORUM: Yeah, I really don't know. And again, from my perspective, the more the merrier. I mean, keep dividing up that pie, and I think we're, you know, we're going to be just fine.

CROWLEY: Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, thank you.

SANTORUM: You almost said...

CROWLEY: I almost said Perry.

SANTORUM: I saw the P come to you... CROWLEY: Yeah, but I caught myself you'll notice.

SANTORUM: I did. You did very well. Thank you.

CROWLEY: Rick Santorum thanks so much for joining us.

Up next, the end of a 30-year adventure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America's first space shuttle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The final liftoff of Atlantis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: We'll talk about the future of space exploration with NASA administration Charles Bolden.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: In just over an hour, the Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to dock at the International Space Station, delivering supplies and spare parts in what will be the program's final mission. Joining me now from the Kennedy Space Center, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who himself has traveled into orbit four times, commanding two of those missions.

Mr. Bolden, thank you so much for being here. I think we have all kind of enjoyed a nostalgic moment watching that last shuttle come up. I think there are more to come when we watch it return to Earth and land.

But I want to take you one step forward. Everybody says good-bye to the Atlantis, and it goes to the museum, and the next day you walk into your office, what are you going to be working on?

CHARLES BOLDEN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: Candy, first of all, let me thank you very much for allowing me to represent the people of NASA and our contractor team. And let me take an opportunity to thank the incredible shuttle team that has carried us for 30 years through the most awesome program that I think humankind has ever seen.

I'm going to walk into my office tomorrow and continue what has been going on for several years now, and that's our effort to develop -- put the final touches on the development of the next phase of exploration for the nation that will involve development of a heavy lift launch vehicle, a multipurpose crew vehicle.

And also to go to work as I usually do each week working with the commercial entities around the country, helping them to promote their capability, American industry's innovative capability to step in and replace the shuttle in delivering cargo to the International Space Station as early as next year.

CROWLEY: Let me let you make an educated guess, and that is, when do you think the U.S. will next send an American into space aboard a U.S. craft of some sort? What year will that be?

BOLDEN: Candy, American leadership will persist for the foreseeable future. I can guarantee you that. And with American innovation and American industry's capability, we are going to demonstrate the capability of taking cargo to orbit early in 2012. So we're months away from that. We're hopeful of starting to ask for proposals from industry in the early part of next year on a commercial crew vehicle, and I would say we're talking about anywhere from three years to five years after we let the first contract.

So between 2014 and 2015, I am very hopeful that you will see American astronauts climb back aboard American-produced spacecraft to go to the International Space Station, and not very long after that start flying some test hops on a NASA-led effort to explore beyond low Earth orbit, go to deep space.

CROWLEY: Let me read you two headlines that caught my eyes and have you comment on them. As you mention, it will be several years before a U.S. astronaut is on a U.S. vessel to even go to the space center.

And so we are going to be using basically Russians as the taxi, U.S. astronauts will be on Russian space ships to get there. So here is a headline from The Wall Street Journal. "Shuttle's last flight leaves Russia with space monopoly." And then The Daily Beast wrote: "Russians win the space race." What's your comment there?

BOLDEN: Candy, I don't think I could disagree more with the headlines. And I won't quibble, but there's no question about our leadership in exploration in space flight. We have been the leader for many years, many decades now, and that will -- we will maintain that leadership.

Again, Americans are on American-built spacecraft even as we speak. As Atlantis approaches the International Space Station, it has got a crew of six that includes Americans. And for the foreseeable future, at least through 2020, we are going to have American astronauts operating on the International Space Station.

You know, previously, the administration prior to this one had an opportunity to get us to where we're headed today, and we faltered. I am very confident that with the president's continued support and the support that I'm anticipating we'll get from Congress, we are going to be able to put Americans on American-built spacecraft, produced through American innovation, so that in the next five years or so American astronauts and our partner astronauts are venturing to the International Space Station on those American-built spacecraft.

I am very confident in that.

CROWLEY: Well, what's -- but the space station is already there. We have obviously been there many times. We know that U.S. commercial entities will now build the next vehicle that will get us to that space station. But what is the next big mission?

I mean, for 50 years, I think, U.S. schoolchildren have sort of looked at, oh, and then we will go here, we'll go into orbit, and then we'll go to the moon, and then we'll go to the space station. Where are we going next?

BOLDEN: You know, I would encourage the American public to listen to the president. He has said it on any number of occasions. If you go all the way back to the 15th of April, two years ago -- a year ago when the president was here at the Kennedy Space Center, he talked about his desire to explore, to get beyond low Earth orbit.

Just this past Friday after the launch, he sent a message of congratulations to my NASA team and he reemphasized the fact that he wants us to be on -- have humans near an -- on or near an asteroid in 2025, and he wants us to be in Martian orbit with the intent of landing in the 2030s.

Those are two very well-defined destinations that we are really working hard on. We have got to -- though, Candy, we have got to make sure that everybody has the same sense of urgency that my NASA team has right now.

American contractors are anxious to get on with this and we're going to do that. So we're going to retain our leadership. We're going to facilitate the success of commercial entities to take our astronauts on American-built, American-designed vehicles that come from American innovation, so that we can explore deep space.

And the president has set the goals: an asteroid in 2025, Mars in 2030. I can't get any more definitive than that.

CROWLEY: We are in budget-cutting times, NASA certainly goes into a bit of a lull, even though you are working on the asteroid and the trip into deep space, why is it that you are not vulnerable to budget cuts? What would we lose if NASA's budget is cut further?

BOLDEN: Candy, there are three principles on which I have told my entire NASA team and my contractors that we'll always function. One is affordability, the other is sustainability, and the other one is reasonability, or does it make sense?

We have a plan for the future. We have a plan to explore. Should Congress decide and the president agree that we're going to cut back on our spending, it will extend the amount of time it takes us to realize the goals that the president has set for us. It will extend the amount of time that's necessary for me to close the gap between the last shuttle flight, this flight of Atlantis and the first time we are able to put American astronauts into orbit on American-built spacecraft.

But I am -- Candy, my team is dedicated. We're not backing down. It may take us a little bit longer if we get budget cuts, but I'm not anticipating that. I'm working on a 2010 authorization bill that set out a very clear path for me. It was supported by unanimous vote, bipartisan support in the congress, signed into law by the president, the 2011 continuing resolution under which we work right now will fund us.

So if we get funding cuts, you know where we are, but we'll make things happen.

CROWLEY: I do. NASA administrator Charles Bolden, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Good luck on this last mission. BOLDEN: Thank you very much, Candy and thanks for the support of the American public.

CROWLEY: Absolutely, thank you.

Up next, the latest on the earthquake in Japan. And then President Obama takes a second look at who should receive letters of condolence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories. Japan was hit by an earthquake this morning off its northern coast prompting tsunami advisories that have since been canceled. The 7.1 magnitude quake is believed to be an aftershock from March's devastating earthquake that killed thousands. So far, no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The top military officer in the U.S. told an audience in Beijing today that China has, quote, arrived as a world power. Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen was speaking at a Chinese university as part of a four-day trip intended to strengthen relations between the two countries.

Britain's best-selling newspaper released its final edition this morning amid phone bribery and hacking allegations. In the issue, News of the World apologized for its, quote, appalling wrongdoing. Police are conducting two separate investigations into the actions of the newspaper's former staffers. News of the World is owned by the News Corporation.

And those are today's top stories.

Up next, we return to a controversial issue Secretary Gates and I discussed a few weeks back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: An update on an issue we discussed a few weeks ago with outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, condolence letters from the president and secretary of Defense. They routinely go to the families of U.S. service men and women killed in combat zones, but not to the families for those who commit suicide in combat zones.

Secretary Gates said he thought the should be the policy revisited. And this week President Obama announced he is reversing policy. In a written statement he called the issue emotional, painful and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely. They didn't die because they were weak.

The Army vice chief of staff called the change a monumental step toward lessening the stigma in the military surrounding mental health therapy. The new policy took effect July 5th and applies only to combat zone suicides. The vast majority of military suicides outside those zones. Thank you so much for watching State of the Union. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington.

Up next for our viewers here in the U.S., Fareed Zakaria GPS.