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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Rick Santorum

Aired January 20, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, on the eve of the South Carolina primary, Rick Santorum as you have never seen him before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love before you met Karen?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Never.

MORGAN: Never?

R. SANTORUM: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Does he have a prayer of being president? He says he's the only candidate who stands up for values no matter what.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. SANTORUM: I'm the guy that's going to be there every day, fighting for the convictions that I have deeply held.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Tonight, Rick Santorum on Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. SANTORUM: Romney and Gingrich were on the wrong side of the issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And how he plans to beat Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. SANTORUM: Make the election about Barack Obama and his policy. It's about him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Plus, for the first time, Rick Santorum's wife Karen and four of his children join us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN SANTORUM, RICK SANTORUM'S WIFE: My two younger boys, they said, "Dad, you cannot run because you won't be able to coach little league baseball."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Santorum family exclusive. The Piers Morgan interview starts now.

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: Good evening.

I'm in Charleston, South Carolina.

There's 24 hours to go until the crucial South Carolina primary.

And who better to talk to than Rick Santorum, a man who has discovered that he won the Iowa caucuses when everybody thought Mitt Romney had.

But he's edging third in South Carolina. To his advantage, or maybe disadvantage, Rick Perry has now pulled out, leaving four contenders left.

Mr. Santorum, welcome.

SANTORUM: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: Senator Santorum, I should say.

R. SANTORUM: Rick

MORGAN: Rick.

R. SANTORUM: Rick.

MORGAN: Let's just make it chummy, aren't we?

R. SANTORUM: Yes. Yes, I'm no longer in the Senate. So Rick --

MORGAN: Now tell us what (INAUDIBLE) if you should be thrilled with life, concerned with life or ready to throw the towel in, because any one of these things that's happened --

R. SANTORUM: In the last 24 hours.

MORGAN: Yes.

R. SANTORUM: Right?

MORGAN: It seems like a crazy period as this election really hits off. How do you feel?

R. SANTORUM: You know, I'm a slow and steady kind of guy. I just don't try to get too high, don't try to get too low and -- and stay focused on why you're here. And why you're here is because you believe that you can bring something that the country is in need of. And you go out there and deliver that message and try to make the case that you're the right alternative to Barack Obama, and, of course, the right person to -- to lead this country, which is -- which is enough to worry about, to be honest with you.

MORGAN: I mean, it looks like now like you won in Iowa.

If I were you, I'd be pretty peeved about this, because all these things are about momentum.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: It would have made a big difference, I don't care what anybody says, if you had been declared the winner, it would have definitely given you more momentum, perhaps more money coming in. These things make a difference.

R. SANTORUM: Oh, no question about it. It would have been great had, it been eight votes the other way and then been confirmed.

But look, when the -- when an election is that close, the Iowa -- the Republican Party of Iowa did a good job. They -- they got the election certified and, really, the vote change was only about 40 votes. So it's not like there was a -- a whole lot of discrepancies in the totals. But when the election is that close, it -- these things can happen.

I'm just happy that before South Carolina and before Florida, more importantly, that we have this announcement that we have won and that now it's, you know, one for Rick Santorum, you know, a huge upset, coming from behind with no money and just grassroots and a good positive message and -- and, you know, a vision for our country.

And then, you know, Mitt Romney, who won a race, if I might say so, where 53 percent of the people who voted in that primary weren't Republicans, in New Hampshire.

So, I feel like we're coming down here to South Carolina and Florida for the next two contests. And we have a chance to sort of make the case, now that the field is narrowed and eventually end up as, which I hope, which is a one-on-one contest with Mitt Romney.

MORGAN: Rick Perry pulled out on Thursday. Clearly, not unexpected, entirely, and the same with Jon Huntsman. His retirement wasn't really unexpected.

But I would imagine in those moments, there's a mad dash to the phones to get hold of Governor Perry and try and get him to endorse you.

What happened? I mean, obviously, he went to Newt Gingrich.

R. SANTORUM: No, there was no mad dash. I --

MORGAN: Really?

R. SANTORUM: No. I never called him. My feeling is that's a decision that he's going to make. And I would have absolutely appreciated his endorsement. I like Rick Perry. I have a great amount of respect for him as a person.

And I got to know his -- Karen and I got to know his wife, Anita, and his -- I know his son Griffin pretty well. I don't know the rest of his kids.

But he made the decision on a personal level as to who he felt comfortable with. And I -- you know, I'm sure other people in the state will do the same thing. And hopefully they'll make a different decision.

MORGAN: Has Mitt Romney called you and congratulated you about winning Iowa?

R. SANTORUM: As a matter of fact he did, you know, shortly -- shortly afterwards, yesterday afternoon. And it was a -- it was a nice call. He was very -- as I did. I called him when he won New Hampshire. And he was kind enough to do so here.

And, you know, we said, you know, we -- well, you know, we just -- let's keep going and I look forward to the -- to the debate that night and look forward to Saturday and look forward to working and -- wrestling and fighting each other in Florida.

MORGAN: I mean, a lot of people say it's insignificant, really, that the Iowa result changing. In fact, I don't think it is, because Mitt Romney was able to claim two for two.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: If he won in South Carolina, three for three.

Say, for argument's sake, Newt Gingrich wins in South Carolina, as all the polls are beginning to suggest he had a good chance of doing. That means a different candidate has won in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: As far as I'm aware, that's never happened before in a Republican race.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: So this gets interesting, doesn't it?

R. SANTORUM: It's as -- as I said in New Hampshire, and -- and also in Iowa, game on. I mean this is -- this is a, you know, a two person or a three person race at this point. And going into Florida, it -- you know, it -- I'm probably up against a little bigger odds, because of my advantage of both Gingrich and Romney.

But we're raising a lot of money right now. We've -- we've done a great job. We've started our ad buy in Florida. Now, that's two weeks after Governor Romney started, but nevertheless, we've -- we're there, we're competing.

And, again, we think we can compete in this -- in Florida and -- then we have sort of a gap between that and -- and the Super Tuesday primaries. And that will be an opportunity for us to retool and go at them again.

MORGAN: Who would you rather be up against, nice Newt Gingrich or the new nasty Newt?

R. SANTORUM: Well, that's sort of the issue, isn't it? Is what -- what are you going to get?

That's what a lot of folks who have -- who have worked and served with Newt, as I have for, you know, 20 years -- and Newt is a friend. But it's, you know, what day is -- what day is it?

And what's going to -- what sort of new idea or new attack or new retreat that we're going to see?

And that's really what I sort of sell myself and -- as a, you know, a differentiation between the two of us. That is, you know, I'm not the guy that you're necessarily going to be wowed with any one day. But I'm the steady guy. I'm the guy that's going to be there every day saying the same thing, going out there and fighting for the convictions that I've deeply held, that I -- that I practice in my life and that I practice in what I preach and what I do in public life.

MORGAN: If I was to categorize your opponents now for you -- and correct me if any of this is wrong -- Mitt Romney, the flip-flopper; Newt Gingrich, temperamentally unstable; Ron Paul, a bit barky. Enter Rick Santorum, Mr. Reliable.

R. SANTORUM: Steady Eddie.

MORGAN: Mr. Dependable.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: Steady Eddie, the real conservative.

Have I mischaracterized --

R. SANTORUM: I think that's a --

MORGAN: -- the race?

R. SANTORUM: -- I think that's a pretty good analysis of the race. And the interesting thing is, is that ultimately, you want a candidate who is not just Steady Eddie but Steady Eddie who has a real vision for the country. And one that's deeply held and that can be articulated.

And when the other side comes after us, which, of course, they will -- they'll come after all of us. I mean, they'll paint whoever the nominee is, they will be the most conservative person ever to run for the presidency after President Obama and his people go into it.

Well, wouldn't it be nice if you had someone who felt comfortable at the --

MORGAN: Rupert Murdoch tweeted --

R. SANTORUM: Yes?

MORGAN: -- that you were the guy with the big ideas. I mean, it was bordering on an endorsement. And that was before the Iowa results came in.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: And before we now know you probably won it.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: So quite a significant moment there, I would say, that the man who owns Fox News almost put his hand on your shoulder.

R. SANTORUM: Well, I think if you look at our record and you look at our plans, number one, they're consistent. It wasn't for something, you know, one -- and then changed my mind and for something else. I have a very under -- I think, very solid understanding of American first principles and how America works well and what -- what -- how to solve our problems from the bottom up.

And I've put forward plans and ideas that -- that are based on that. And I continue to articulate those things.

And I would say it would be refreshing to have someone who actually can stand up and -- and without equivocation, full-throatedly voice those convictions, contrary to Barack Obama.

And I think a -- whether Rick Santorum is the nominee, you have a clear contrast. But you also make the election about Barack Obama and his policies and not about my inconsistencies or my personal problems or my statements of this and that. It's about him.

And that's where I think Republicans want to be, when it's all said and done, a referendum on the president. I think I have the best opportunity to do that.

MORGAN: What is interesting to the neutral observer is the way the Tea Party faction of this whole race has all but disappeared now. I mean, you're the last man standing that would even be in their wavelength, I would argue.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: Why has that happened?

Why has such an incredibly aggressive, fast-moving, seemingly formidable movement dissipated to the extent that it has?

R. SANTORUM: It is a little bit confounding that here's a group that was this -- the -- the key -- absolutely the key for the Republicans to win in 2008. And -- and the -- the Tea Party seems to be scattered all over the place at this point with respect to candidates, which I find a little stunning in the sense that if you look at the two leading candidates, Gingrich and Romney, there are three issues that started the Tea Party: ObamaCare, the government takeover of, you know, with cap and trade, and the global warming issue and, of course, the Wall Street bailouts in 2008. Those are the three things that got conservatives concerned about the encroachment of government into the lives of people in such a major and forceful way.

And yet, the three candidates -- the two candidates, Romney and Gingrich, all were on the wrong side of that issue. You know, for individual mandates and RomneyCare, for the -- for the Wall Street bailout, you know, sitting on the -- on the couch with Nancy Pelosi on global warming and supporting cap and trade with Mitt Romney.

And so, it is a little bit, you know, you query whether this movement is going to stay alive and stand by their principles. And if they do, they have one choice, in my opinion, and --

MORGAN: Do you think your trump card is that you have flip- flopped the least and that you are -- you are -- whether people agree with you or not, you've been the most true to your principles?

R. SANTORUM: I certainly make that case, that they're borne out of real convictions and I've tried to reflect those convictions in every aspect of my life. And I've been unabashed and -- and, if I can say so, courageous in going out and fighting for those convictions on a variety of fronts, everything from national security to -- to more culturally issues, to economic and to spending and the size and scale of government. I've been passionate and been -- and been a leader on all of these fronts for a long time.

And, you know, I'm hopeful that -- that, again, as people continue to look at this race and start to really focus on the candidates and maybe not on some of the glib lines or some of the nasty commercials and actually look about who's -- who's the best person, from a character point of view and a policy point of view, that they'll come in our direction.

MORGAN: Well, let's take a little break and come back and talk about your character, your personality, where you came from.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: I want to get deep down and personal --

R. SANTORUM: OK.

MORGAN: -- with you, Senator Santorum.

R. SANTORUM: And you can do that.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. SANTORUM: I'll never forget the first time I saw someone who had died. It was my grandfather. And I knelt next to his coffin. And all I could do was eye level was look at his hands. They were enormous hands.

And all I could think was those hands dug freedom for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Back with my special guest, Senator Rick Santorum.

An incredibly powerful speech you made that night in Iowa. And as it turned out, it was supposed to be the -- the loser's speech. It's now been posthumously awarded --

R. SANTORUM: The winner.

MORGAN: The winner's speech.

R. SANTORUM: The winner's speech.

MORGAN: But tell me about your grandfather, because I was moved, never having known the man.

R. SANTORUM: He was the pioneer. You know, every family has a patriarch or a matriarch that is -- that you look back to and has sort of blazed the trail. And my grandfather is the guy that blazed the trail, very different from me politically. He was a union member, very progressive, I would suggest, Democrat, was the head of -- was the treasurer of the union, fought for workers' rights and -- because when he came to this country, he came here in 1925, worked in the auto factories for a couple of years and then ended up, as he lost his job in the factories, ended up in the coal mines of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

And he dug coal until he was 72 years old. He retired. He left the mines when I was born, in 1958.

And he always, you know, he always talked about the importance of that freedom that he -- that he wanted to come to America for. He we are virulently anti-fascist when he left Mussolini's Italy. And came here for the opportunity to believe what he wanted to believe and fight for -- for those values.

He served -- I didn't tell this story. He actually served -- that part of Italy was part of Austria. And the emperor, the Austrian emperor, he fought on the Russian front --

MORGAN: Really.

R. SANTORUM: -- in World War I.

I'll never get this story that -- it was at my 40th birthday party, which, when you're in politics is, of course, a wonderful opportunity for a fundraiser. And so, we had a -- we had a fundraiser on my 40th birthday party.

And a gentleman walked in the door, he looked at me and he said his name to me. And I said -- and, you know, you get this all the time, and he looks at you like, oh, you should know me. And, of course I didn't know the name.

He says you don't know that name?

And I said, no, I'm sorry, sir, I -- I, you know, where did I meet you before? He says, you've never met me.

And I said, well -- and he said what's the name again?

And he said the name. I said, I don't know. He said -- he says, is your dad here? I said, yes, he's here.

So we walked on over and he said -- and he said his name. And immediately, my dad lights up. And gives -- gets up, gives him a big hug and, you know, says -- and he tells me this story that I've never been told before. And that is that this man's father was my father's -- my grandfather's best friend, who went off to war with him.

And one day, they came out of the trenches on the Russian front and advanced across the trench lines. And when this man's father came back, my grandfather didn't. And he sat there until it got dark and crawled out to where they were and found my grandfather half dead, with a huge chest wound, and dragged him back into the foxhole --

MORGAN: Wow!

R. SANTORUM: -- and saved his life.

MORGAN: What an amazing story.

R. SANTORUM: Yes, pretty cool.

MORGAN: They were an extraordinary generation --

R. SANTORUM: They were.

MORGAN: -- the war generation, weren't they?

R. SANTORUM: Yes, I mean it inspires you to realize the sacrifice that people make and make today. That's why when I -- I think of that story and I think about, you know, the men and women today out there fighting. And the sacrifices people make every single day for their country. In this case, my grandfather made it for an emperor. He never wanted to be ruled by an emperor again. It wasn't worth the sacrifice.

And I don't want to be ruled by an emperor. And whether an emperor in name or an emperor in deed, we need to have people who want to fight for our country because we're fighting for them and their families.

MORGAN: If you'd been president after 9/11, would you have gone to war in Iraq, knowing everything you know now?

R. SANTORUM: It would have been a very hard decision. You know, I've -- I said at the time, and -- that my greater concern was what was going on in Iran, not Iraq. Iran was -- is a radical militant theocracy like al Qaeda was.

Saddam Hussein was not an Islamist. He's not a radical jihadist. He's not a radical Muslim. I mean, he was a -- he was a Baathist. He was a secular -- even though he professed to be a good and devout Muslim.

And that while there were certainly threats from Iraq, they were threats not from the same philosophical or ideological basis.

MORGAN: So what's the answer?

R. SANTORUM: Based on the information I had at the time, I think we made the right decision.

MORGAN: But what about everything you know now?

R. SANTORUM: Yes, it's hard to -- it's hard to go back and Monday morning quarterbacking.

MORGAN: I'm going to keep pushing.

R. SANTORUM: OK.

MORGAN: I want to get a yes or no out of you.

R. SANTORUM: All right. Good.

MORGAN: I think we're heading toward a no.

R. SANTORUM: All right. Let's -- let's try.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with Senator Rick Santorum.

We left on a cliffhanger there, where you were mulling over the nuances of, with all the evidence we now have, would you have gone to war in Iraq? R. SANTORUM: There's no question that knowing what we know, I think I did the right thing. And so I'm not rethinking. And I think it's clear -- I want to make that clear -- that I'm not rethinking --

MORGAN: No.

R. SANTORUM: -- my vote on Iraq, that -- that I stand by that vote. I think it was the right thing to do at the time.

MORGAN: But knowing what we know now, you wouldn't -- you wouldn't --

R. SANTORUM: My concern -- my concern is now is the rule of Iran in Iraq.

MORGAN: Barack Obama pulled the troops out of Iraq. Presumably you agree with pulling the troops out of Iraq.

R. SANTORUM: No, well, you have to -- you have to finish a mission to success. And --

MORGAN: Do you think the mission was finished?

R. SANTORUM: The mission was partially finished.

MORGAN: If you become president in November, would you put American troops back into Iraq?

R. SANTORUM: No. You can't reintroduce troops into a country that -- where the country -- where you've left and abandoned that mission. I'm not going to invade Iraq again with American troops. No. You --

MORGAN: So, the genie is out of the bottle?

R. SANTORUM: The genie is out of the bottle and you have to deal with the situation as it is.

MORGAN: Would you be prepared to put boots on the ground in Iran?

SANTORUM: No.

MORGAN: How you would you do it?

SANTORUM: In fact, I've laid out a pretty clear road map, if you will, as to the things that I think we need to do, and I have stopped short of saying we need to put boots on the ground. I don't think that's appropriate. I don't think that would be wise move for the United States to even put that on the table.

MORGAN: You wouldn't hesitate to bomb Iran if you had to?

SANTORUM: Absolutely not hesitate to do --

MORGAN: What would it take to trigger that, do you think? SANTORUM: That I felt that they were on the precipice of, you know, actually being in a position to produce that nuclear weapon. And --

MORGAN: And just being on the cusp of being able to produce it, you think would be enough to trigger an attack?

SANTORUM: It would because once that weapon is weaponized and completed and exploded, then we have a situation where the world has changed. And Iran is now --

MORGAN: That would be a preemptive strike.

SANTORUM: It would be indeed. In this case, with a country that is a radical theocracy, that has repeatedly attacked the United States. In fact, they have attacked our embassies. They have attacked our ships. They have attacked -- tried to plan an attack here in this country with -- on the Saudi ambassador. And the list is long.

MORGAN: I have heard you be scathing about Barack Obama's foreign policy. I wanted to throw quick yes or no's to you about what he's done.

Killing bin Laden.

SANTORUM: I would have approved the mission.

MORGAN: Gadhafi taken out with allied help?

SANTORUM: You know, again, my feeling on that is that we, number one, acted indecisively, we acted unwisely, we acted at the behest of international bodies without a national security interest in our -- and I would not engaged.

MORGAN: It worked, didn't it?

SANTORUM: Well, did it?

MORGAN: Didn't it?

SANTORUM: Well, let's find -- well, certainly Gadhafi is gone. But Mubarak is gone. Are we happy with what's in Egypt right now? Are we going to be happy with now the imposition already in Libya of Sharia law and potentially a Muslim Brotherhood-type operation in Libya which would be more openly even hostile to the United States than Gadhafi?

MORGAN: Isn't it hard to criticize an American president who didn't lose any American military lives and got rid of Gadhafi, by common consent one of the worst dictators of 40 years? Maybe this has to be a good play for the American --

SANTORUM: Well, no, no, no. Absolutely not. I mean, there are a lot of horrible dictators around the world. We could go to Myanmar. We could go to, you know, central Africa. There's lots of horrible dictators --

MORGAN: Am I right in saying --

SANTORUM: And we shouldn't be participating in military actions to get rid of dictators unless there is a national security interest of the United States at stake. I don't believe there was at the time a national security interest.

MORGAN: So, you -- by the process of elimination, you would have kept Gadhafi in power?

SANTORUM: I would only act using the American military if there is a national security interest to our country was threatened. And I don't believe in the case of Libya or in the case of a whole host of other dictators. As horrible as dictators they are, I mean, you know, Fidel Castro is a horrible dictator. But I'm not getting involved in a military mission to take him out even though I'd like to see him go.

MORGAN: The role of America has become the global policeman. Clearly --

R. SANTORUM: I don't see it that way.

MORGAN: But it's always been seen that way.

R. SANTORUM: Well, it's not that --

MORGAN: And it hasn't always been to America's benefit. I mean, it's been great that, you know, if you're British, you look at the Americans and say thank God the Americans are there many, many times.

R. SANTORUM: No one else is going to do it.

MORGAN: Having said that, that role is clearly changing, as other superpowers emerge.

Would you like to see America become more insular generally, stop, as some people would argue, interfering in lots of other people's --

R. SANTORUM: Well, I --

MORGAN: -- business? That --

R. SANTORUM: I just -- I just suggested I wouldn't interfere in a lot of other people's business.

MORGAN: That's what I mean. So would be happy to say China, as its military power increases, to start doing some of the dirty work, perhaps, at being the global police force?

R. SANTORUM: I'm not sure the dirty work wouldn't be rather dirty as opposed to what we do, which is not dirty work, which is stand up and -- for human rights and stand up for liberty and for the opportunity of people to have political and economic freedom.

MORGAN: Do you like Barack Obama --

R. SANTORUM: I have --

MORGAN: -- personally?

R. SANTORUM: I've -- I served with him for two years. We had a cordial relationship. We actually worked on a project together. When I was in the -- in the Senate, we worked on an ethics reform measure.

I can't say that I was particularly pleased with the way he conducted himself during that, but I --

MORGAN: Why?

R. SANTORUM: -- from a professional point of view. Personally, he was always very cordial and still is very cordial when I've had a chance to see him.

MORGAN: What's your main criticism of him as president?

R. SANTORUM: Well, I think he has a fundamental different view of what -- what makes America a great country.

MORGAN: What do you think his view is?

R. SANTORUM: His view is that the stronger the government is and the more things that I can do for its people, the better this country is going to be.

MORGAN: And what's your view?

R. SANTORUM: My view is the less the government can do and the more freedom and opportunity you give people, that trusting people and free people and free enterprise -- that America has built the greatest country in the history of the world.

MORGAN: Let's take another break and come back and imagine a life under President Santorum, because it sounds interesting.

R. SANTORUM: I hope so. Hope -- promising.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with GOP candidate, Senator Rick Santorum. Wonderful attack ad there. I was in my hotel room last night here in South Carolina, it was just relentless wall-to-wall abuse, everybody approving all sorts of attacks on everybody else.

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, it's just the rough-and-tumble of politics. I don't have a problem with contrasting your opponent's positions with your own, or with the president, or -- as long as they're accurate, as long as they are factual. If they're factual, then have at it. MORGAN: If you become president, the world will be looking to you for an idea of what the new America will be like under this new president, Rick Santorum. and one of the more divisive issues is your view on social issues, socially conservative issues, I would say.

Given your stance on gay marriage, for example, could you see any circumstances where you might change that in a way that you hardened your position on an issue like abortion, could you see yourself potentially softening your position on gay marriage?

SANTORUM: No, you know, marriage is an institution that existed before governments existed. It's something that reflects nature and reflects God and God's will for us. And both from the standpoint of faith and reason it makes all the sense in the world. And it's beneficial for society.

And that's -- having said that, I think it's important to understand that you respect everyone. And you respect their rights and their rights to live their life in the way they want to live. And they -- if people want to live together and have benefits and have the rights to visitation or to property or to houses or whatever it is.

MORGAN: So when you say you respect their rights, isn't their legal right in New York now to get married?

SANTORUM: Well, it's a law. But it's not a natural right. I mean, it's a law. There are lots of laws that are not rights.

MORGAN: So would you --

SANTORUM: I would say it's a privilege.

MORGAN: Would you change the law?

SANTORUM: I would change the law to make a uniform definition of marriage in this country, because I think -- like the uniform definition for life --

MORGAN: If you were president you would try and outlaw gay marriage? You would make it illegal to get married?

SANTORUM: Well, again, I would reinstitute the traditional marriage as the best --

MORGAN: I mean, you're talking --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: , Well, no, it's not a new idea at all. I'm being direct.

MORGAN: But, you'll see -- you'll know why I'm asking this. People will be watching this, looking at you as a potential president.

SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: Are you going to try to make it illegal for gay people to get married?

SANTORUM: All I would say is that marriage has been voted on 32 times in this country in 32 states, from Maine to California and 32 times the people of this country have said that marriage is between a man and a woman and the public should have a say about this.

MORGAN: On abortion, you did harden your position on that as you got older. Why was that?

SANTORUM: Life. You know, when I decided to run for public life, I was informed very quickly people wanted to know what my position on that was. So I went through the process of trying to better understand the facts.

It became very clear to me that life begins at conception and persons are covered by the Constitution and since life -- people, a human life is the same as a person, to me it was a pretty simple deduction to make. That's what the Constitution clearly intended to protect.

MORGAN: But do you really -- do you really -- let me ask you this. Do you really believe, in every case, it should be totally wrong, in the sense that -- I know that you believe, even in cases of rape and incest -- and you've got two daughters. You know, if you have a daughter that came to you who had been raped.

SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: And was pregnant and was begging you to let her have an abortion, would you really be able to look her in the eye and say, no, as her father?

SANTORUM: I would do what every father must do, is to try to counsel your daughter to do the right thing.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: It's an almost impossibly hypothetical thing to ask you, but there will be people in that position, and they will share your religious values.

SANTORUM: It's not a matter of religious values.

MORGAN: And they are looking at their daughter ,saying, how can I deal with this, because if I make her have this baby, isn't it going to just ruin her life?

SANTORUM: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn't have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn't, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I've always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created -- in the sense of rape -- but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.

As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can't think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: How do you equate -- because I know that your position, I think -- and correct me if I'm wrong, is that you just believe in the sanctity of the innocence of life. How do you equate that with supporting the death penalty, given there are so many people who actually are completely innocent?

SANTORUM: Yes. I have supported mandatory DNA testing, and we have to be certain. I mean, if there's --

MORGAN: But we can't be, can we?

SANTORUM: Well, you can --

MORGAN: You can't be certain, as a commander in chief again, as the president, if you can't be certain and, in fact ,you know for a fact, many innocent people are being killed under this system, and you believe in the innocence of life and the sanctity and protection of life, isn't the right, consistent thing for you to be, to say, enough.

SANTORUM: Yes, I would say when there is certainty then -- and there are occasions when there is certainty. When there is certainty, that's the case that capital punishment can be used. If there is not certainty, under the law it shouldn't be used. If you do not have certainty, then capital punishment should not be available, period.

MORGAN: I'm going to bring in various members of your family now, which is probably a TV first for you on this campaign.

SANTORUM: It is a TV first.

MORGAN: And I'm very excited about this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with Senator Rick Santorum but, more importantly, with his wife, Karen, who's joined us. Welcome.

KAREN SANTORUM, WIFE OF SENATOR RICK SANTORUM: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Now I know you didn't hear this, but he was paying this extraordinary tribute to you before the break, in which he said you were his hero, he said that you were a blessing and one that he didn't deserve. K. SANTORUM: Well, that was very nice. Thank you.

SANTORUM: (Inaudible), it's very true. It is.

MORGAN: I mean, he also said an interesting thing, I think, which is very true, is that as a couple, you have been through a hell of a lot. This has not been an easy ride as a family. You know, you lost a child, every parent's nightmare.

You have a young child now who has a disability, again, every parent's nightmare. You have had to deal with these two huge things and the other travails of life. How have you managed to do this, and stay so united, so close?

K. SANTORUM: I think a lot of it is just a real focus on faith and family. I'm blessed. I have a big family. I'm one of 12 kids. I've got a great mom and dad. They have been married 65 years. They're rock solid.

Rick's parents were married 50-some years before his dad just passed away. So they were great role models on all the ups and downs of life. You know, whenever you go through a rough patch, I think a lot of us look to our parents or our friends, and for guidance and support. And there is no doubt that my faith in our Lord really helped a lot during those times.

MORGAN: You have had to fight this campaign with the backdrop of your little girl, Isabella, who is -- she's very sick. There's no --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: She's disabled, she's not sick. I mean, she has -- she has a condition like Down's syndrome, if you will.

K. SANTORUM: But much more severe.

SANTORUM: Much more severe.

MORGAN: Right.

K. SANTORUM: When we got the diagnosis they labeled it incompatible with life, lethal diagnosis. We were led to believe that there were no other children out there with Trisomy 18 and there are a lot of families out there with these amazing kids.

And she is so joyful. And she goes to the heart -- she is very much at the heart of our family life.

(CROSSTALK)

K. SANTORUM: When we're in the kitchen cook she's in there with us. The kids are at the piano with her, playing board games she's right in the middle of the board game. And she just smiles all day.

She's a great little girl. She's really joyful. She is amazing. She has exceeded every expectations and what I wish is that physicians -- and there are so many great ones out there -- would just take one issue at a time, not write a child off or someone with disabilities, just write them off and give them no hope, but just see what the issues are and take it one at a time. And --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: How did you two meet?

SANTORUM: At the law firm. Karen's a -- was a neonatal intensive care nurse and then a lawyer. And she was being recruited. She had been offered a job as a summer associate. And she was being recruited, because she hadn't accepted the offer.

And so they organized a little recruiting trip of some of the junior associates, of which I was one. And long story short , I wasn't supposed to be in town. You talk about an absolutely improbable sequence of events, which I ended up on the recruiting trip. And I recruited her.

(LAUGHTER)

K. SANTORUM: He was hilarious.

MORGAN: You certainly did. What was it you saw in Rick?

K. SANTORUM: He was so funny the night we met.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: It couldn't have been the sweater?

SANTORUM: I didn't have --

MORGAN: It couldn't have been the fashion.

SANTORUM: It was certainly fashion.

K. SANTORUM: He said -- we didn't talk about the law all night.

SANTORUM: It was fun, light and --

K. SANTORUM: We poured our hearts out to each other.

SANTORUM: Yes, we did.

K. SANTORUM: That was it.

MORGAN: And, Karen, what do you think is the biggest misconception about your husband?

K. SANTORUM: That he's not nice. He's just the nicest guy.

(CROSSTALK)

K. SANTORUM: I have known and loved Rick for 23 years. He walks through the door and he's a husband, he's a father. He's on the floor playing with the kids. He's helping in the kitchen, making a meal. He loves to cook.

SANTORUM: You know, I was raised in a home where my mom made more money than my dad. That was unusual in the 1960s. And, you know having two professional people working in the home, and you had to do a lot of things. My dad cooked and cleaned. My mother could make soup out of a can. I mean, that's just the way she was.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Tell me this about relationships. You have this amazingly happy marriage in many ways, despite tragedy. But you have dealt with it as a couple, and I can see how happy you are. Everyone can see this.

When you look at one of your competitors -- I'm sorry to bring this up, but you know where I'm going to go with this -- when Newt Gingrich and all his previous marriage problems and so on, people now going after him, his ex-wife coming on television, all that kind of stuff. I saw Rick Perry say an interesting thing, which is, I just believe in redemption and the ability for people to change.

Do you both -- I mean, whilst it's tempting for me to let Newt wallow in his marital hell and the problems, as a competitor, on a human level do you subscribe to that? Do you believe people should be allowed to --

K. SANTORUM: Absolutely.

MORGAN: -- become something different?

K. SANTORUM: Absolutely. That's a core part of our faith.

(CROSSTALK)

K. SANTORUM: -- infinite love and his mercy.

SANTORUM: Yes.

K. SANTORUM: That's one of the most beautiful things of our faith. People always -- we all fall. We all make mistakes.

MORGAN: But you think people should lay off him on this one?

K. SANTORUM: I think, yes, that's my personal belief.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich is watching this, and he probably is, would that he feel better having you condemn him or actually forgiving him?

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: It's not my role to forgive. I mean, it's --

MORGAN: I'm just kidding.

SANTORUM: It's my role to, you know, try to respect and understand what he's done. But I -- he didn't do anything against me.

MORGAN: Let's take a final break and bring in probably the most important people in your lives, your children -- or some of them.

SANTORUM: Some of them. Yes, we don't have the whole crew here.

MORGAN: The ones you trusted to be on television.

SANTORUM: We'll see about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with what has now become the ever-expanding Santorum family. So, let me get this right, Sarah has joined us, Daniel has joined us, John and Elizabeth. And the reason you're at the front is apparently you're the one that talks the most.

ELIZABETH SANTORUM, DAUGHTER OF RICK SANTORUM: I'm the oldest.

MORGAN: Exactly. Exactly. Now you were just telling me a fantastic story about your parents and about how your father -- this may be a sign of how he perceives things, like the presidency. How did he woo your mother? Tell me that story.

E. SANTORUM: I remember when we were little, they always used to tell me how my mom is -- can be pretty feisty. So she was mad at my dad, I guess one time when they were dating. And so he went over to where she was living and threw rocks at her window (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

E. SANTORUM: Well, OK, not rocks, but then -- and then, what did he -- he sang to you?

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: What was he singing?

E. SANTORUM: And he said -- he said, I'm not going away. I'm not going away until you come down.

MORGAN: He was singing (inaudible).

E. SANTORUM: Louder and louder.

MORGAN: What were you singing, do you remember?

SANTORUM: Well, yes, I was. I was singing "On the Street Where You Live."

MORGAN: Really?

SANTORUM: (Inaudible).

E. SANTORUM: Sometimes I wonder how they ended up together.

MORGAN: Really, you're romantic.

SANTORUM: I -- well, I

MORGAN: That's (inaudible) movie.

SANTORUM: I love "My Fair Lady." I could be British for that matter.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: And it clearly worked.

SANTORUM: And it clearly worked.

MORGAN: The stone throwing and singing strategy.

SANTORUM: You know, she is -- she is -- she's very -- I love her spirit. She's got an amazing spirit, but she's strong. She's very strong, very feisty. And that's something that was very attractive to me, to have someone who could keep me in line.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: -- talk to the guys at the back there, be honest. When your dad said, I'm running for president, did your hearts going, oh, no, Dad, don't do that. This is going to ruin everything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit.

MORGAN: I think my sons would say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it was -- (inaudible) the family would be pretty awesome, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like busy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Busy and a little crazy.

MORGAN: Has it been awesome, busy, crazy? Has it been a positive thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, definitely.

MORGAN: How do you feel when the old man gets attacked?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We try not to read the news.

MORGAN: The barroom brawls, you know, if you hear someone dissing Santorum?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, just ignore it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ignore it?

MORGAN: Oh, you ignore it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MORGAN: Sarah, how do you feel?

S. SANTORUM: Well, it's been really busy, but it's been quite an experience. But when someone attacks my dad, what I do is I say a prayer for that person, to hope for a change of heart, to see what a great guy my dad is. And I just hope they see what I see, which is an amazing dad.

MORGAN: Karen --

SANTORUM: She was the biggest advocate for me to run.

MORGAN: Really?

K. SANTORUM: So cute, our two younger boys who are not here, they said, "Dad, you can't run for president because you won't be able to coach Little League baseball." They were (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Although Taj (ph) was excited to have an ice cream maker at the house.

MORGAN: Karen, I want to ask you about before we finish this interview, I want to ask you about the -- probably the worst time in your life.

And there's a reason I'm going to ask you about this, is when your son, Gabriel, died, and he died soon after birth. It was an awful time for the whole family, you did an extraordinary thing, one of the most courageous things I could ever imagine a parent in a situation doing.

You took his little body home to show all his siblings. And you had a sort of service at home, a funeral service in many ways. You got flack for this. People have criticized you for this, which I think is an offensive thing to do. Anyway, it's none of their business, but tell me about that decision and the affect that it had on you as a family.

K. SANTORUM: First of all, grief is a very personal thing, and we all grieve in different ways, and it's very important that we grieve. And I was a NICU nurse for many years, and I knew that, as a NICU nurse, I could only --

SANTORUM: Neonatal intensive care nurse.

K. SANTORUM: -- yes, that I can only draw from what I knew. And I know that the most important thing as a nurse, when a baby died, was for the parents to hold that baby, for the siblings and family members to hold the baby. We had a room in the NICU just for that, and parents would literally be there for hours, sometimes overnight, so we did. And, you know, we held Gabriel and grieved --

SANTORUM: He was born -- he was born in the middle of the night.

K. SANTORUM: And then we brought him home. But the reason we brought him home was for the mass. We had a mass, a funeral mass for him, and then a burial. And any parent would do that.

MORGAN: Well, Elizabeth, let me ask you, because you're the oldest child. You must remember this very keenly, I would imagine.

E. SANTORUM: I always say I'm unthinkable that my parents did that, because I remember him, and I was little at the time when this all happened, but I remember seeing him, and I know that I had a brother. Gabriel has a place in my life because I was able to see him and grieve for him, and he had a very real place in my heart and still does.

K. SANTORUM: And it brings closure.

SANTORUM: Karen wrote a book about it called "Letters to Gabriel," and it was so healing for so many people in this country, thousands of letters we've gotten, people who I know went through with difficult pregnancies because of it and now have little children and older children now as a result of that life that Karen shared, that experience we shared.

So while I'm miss him, I also know that his little life and short life, thanks to his mom and her courage, touched thousands and thousands of lives.

K. SANTORUM: And what I have to say to the people out there who have criticized us with how we dealt with that grief, I pray that they will never know the depth of the pain and the loss of a child.

SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: Well, I think that's very wise words. Let me finish with you, Karen, because it seems to me you're the secret trump card in all this. You should have been unleashed earlier. Maybe less Rick.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Let me -- let me ask this --

SANTORUM: I'm all for that, by the way.

MORGAN: As we reach the South Carolina vote tomorrow, this is obviously a big, big night for you guys as a family. In a simple, short way, why would your husband make a good president?

K. SANTORUM: For so many reasons. But the most persuasive is that he is -- he's brilliant, he's so good with so many of the issues, but he's a man of conviction and deep faith, and he's a man who has the courage to lead. MORGAN: Well, it's been a real pleasure meeting you and your lovely wife, Karen, and your family. Thank you all very much, and best of luck tomorrow.

K. SANTORUM: Thank you, Piers. (Inaudible).

SANTORUM: Thank you.

MORGAN: The Santorums. That's all we have time for tonight. AC360 starts now.