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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Mitt Romney Begins General Elections Campaign; Obama Campaign Weighs in on Romney's Speech; Santorum Reacts to Romney Speech

Aired April 24, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Looking at live pictures of Mitt Romney tonight, calling the beginning of the end. Big speech in New Hampshire. One that signals the unofficial start of the general election. And although he won't actually clinch the nomination for at least a month, the race is, for all intents and purposes, on. Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer is here with more on our "Big Story."

Wolf, so what about you? I thought that was a pretty good speech by Mitt Romney. Sounding very presidential. And, you know, I think the overriding theme, game on.

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Yes. It was absolutely an excellent speech from -- from his perspective because it looked -- it looked like sort of an unofficial acceptance speech of the Republican presidential nomination. We all know it's over. Ron Paul is not going to get the Republican nomination. Newt Gingrich is not going to get it.

Mitt Romney has the Republican nomination all but sewn up right now. He had to deliver an important speech. And the line he delivered, the words his wife Ann Romney ended with, a better America begins tonight. The general election campaign. Absolutely, it's on right now. Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama. And let -- let the games begin.

MORGAN: Yes. It seemed a much more personal speech. And he certainly suggested he's going to be a lot more personal now, maybe more inclusive of the American people. A lot more about his vision for America. And basically saying, I think, look, America's got big problems right now. Barack Obama's failed you. I am the promised land. Is that how you read it?

BLITZER: Yes. And he also has to sort of reintroduce himself. As much as all of us, you and me, and all the political news junkies out there were obsessed over these past several months with what's going on, a lot of Americans weren't paying all that much attention. So right now he wants to reintroduce himself, and as much as he says -- his advisers say he's not going to do this Etch-A-Sketch pivot, if you will, to the center, he's going to have no choice.

He's going to have to not only appeal to the right of the Republican Party, but he's going to have to go out there and win independent, moderate Republican, moderate Democratic votes out there. So you're going to see a little pivot. It happens every time whenever a race like this goes forward. And I'm sure it's going to happen this time.

The Democrats, I will say this, and it's very interesting, they're going to try to paint him as an extreme conservative, if you will. They're going to make that case that he isn't going to be able to come across as a moderate. He'll try to present a more moderate image right now, now that he has the Republican nomination all but sewn up.

MORGAN: I've got reaction coming from Ben Labolt, he's a White House press secretary, after we finish, Wolf. But I think the interesting thing to me was, again, very little talk about social issues. In fact almost non-existent, and maybe the reason for that is just what you've been saying that he had to go much more right-wing than he would have liked to take on Rick Santorum who's also my guest tonight. Get his reaction later.

Tonight's speech was nothing to do with that. No social issue stuff.

BLITZER: Right.

MORGAN: It was much more about America, jobs, people suffering, and his record as a businessman and a man whose family had worked their way from nothing to run hugely successful businesses, that their track record is the right one to now lead America, Incorporated back into good times.

BLITZER: And that's precisely why this was an effective speech because he didn't deal with some of those other tangential, more tangential issues out there. He dealt with issue number one, the economy, and jobs, and trying to suggest to the American public out there, a lot of Americans very nervous. Either they've lost their job or they have a job but they're not sure they're going to have a job in six months. He was telling them, you know what, I've been successful, I know how to deal with the economy, I know how to deal with job creation, give me a chance because this president he says is doing a very effective job.

So that's why this was a much more effective speech than presumably would have had to give if he was only concerned about winning the Republican nomination. Now that he's achieved that goal, he can do exactly what he did tonight, speak about the economy and more mainstream issues, if you will.

MORGAN: Yes. Played to his strengths. I mean, right now, Wolf, who would you say is the most likely candidate to be his running mate? Because there've been all sorts of people suggested. Very, very different types of personalities. If you were Mitt Romney, who would you be looking to go for now, do you think?

BLITZER: I think Rob Portman, he's not very well known outside of Ohio. He's the Republican senator from Ohio. A lot of Romney's top people, people close to him have suggested here's a guy who served as the budget director in the Bush administration, the special trade representative of former congressmen. He's well liked out there. He's not necessarily all that dynamic, but he's extremely intelligent.

There you see him. He introduced Romney when Romney was out there campaigning in Ohio.

Ohio is a key battle ground state. No Republican in modern times has won the presidency without carrying Ohio. So I think he's got a good chance.

Now if you want to go to Florida, I don't think Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, by Romney's definition is necessarily ready to be number two, vice president of the United States, and obviously has to be ready to be president god forbid in an emergency.

I do think, though, and others disagree with me, I think the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, who's very popular in Florida, Florida, a key battle ground state, obviously someone who speaks Spanish could appeal to the Latino vote out there. I think he would have a shot. But we'll see if the Romney folks decide that he wants -- he's going to be vetted thoroughly.

I would say those two guys have a very good chance of being at the top of the list.

MORGAN: You know, I think Jeb Bush is a good -- is a good choice there. I think one thing's for sure, they won't be taking any risks after what happened with Sarah Palin.

BLITZER: That's right.

MORGAN: So then we can say that is right.

Wolf, thanks for now.

When we come back, the Obama campaign fires back at candidate Romney in the form of Ben Labolt. I promoted him there. He's not the White House press secretary, of course. He's the campaign secretary for President Obama. And he'll be here after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We paid more in student loans than we paid on our mortgage when we finally did buy a condo for the first eight years of our marriage. We were paying more in student loans than what we're paying for our mortgage.

ROMNEY: The number of college graduates that can't find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level. I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama versus Mitt Romney on student loans. Now more on our "Big Story," the Obama campaign reacts to Romney's speech tonight. Joining me now is campaign spokesman, Ben Labolt.

Mr. Labolt, what's your reaction to Mitt Romney's speech? In particularly, his claim that because the president has failed America, he will run a campaign, and you are effectively running the press for that campaign, full of diversions, distractions, and distortions.

BEN LABOLT, OBAMA 2012 PRESS SECRETARY: There he goes again. The fact, as the Governor Romney knows, that this election will be like any other. It will be a choice between two candidates, two records and two visions for the country. He's had a monologue over the court of the past year, tearing down the president in the campaign trail. But ultimately this will be a choice between a president who brought us back from the brink of another depression, who bet on American workers to revive our auto -- the auto companies. To revive our manufacturing sector.

We've created 400,000 manufacturing jobs in this economy when we've been slipping for years. And a governor --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: But tell me -- but tell me this.

LABOLT: And --

MORGAN: What happens -- what happens if a large number of Americans do exactly what Mitt Romney said tonight. They ask themselves, is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell my home or buy a new one? Have I saved enough for retirement? Am I making more at my job? Do I have a better chance to get a job? Do I pay less at the pump?

What happens if a large number of Americans come November conclude that actually most of the answers to that are no?

LABOLT: Well, the fact is a better title for Governor Romney's speech tonight than "A Better America" should have been "Back to the Future." Because he's proposing the same economic policies that got us into the economic crisis in the first place. More tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, letting Wall Street write its own rules again.

You know we've tried those same policies before. We passed those tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. They were supposed to unleash growth. They were supposed to unleash job creation and they didn't. He praised the recovery during that period but it was much more tepid than the sort of job creation we're experiencing now. The number of exports that our economy is producing right now. The number of small businesses that are opening right now.

And Governor Romney made a series of promises in Massachusetts that he didn't keep. Similar promises to those that he's making today. He said that he'd make the government smaller. It expanded under his watch in Massachusetts. He said that he'd keep taxes low. They went up by $750 million a year in Massachusetts.

He said that he'd create job. Massachusetts slipped to 47th out of 50th in job creation under Governor Romney.

MORGAN: Let's look at the interesting strategic move by the campaign today which was the president's appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show where he slow-jammed the news. Let's watch about of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": Do you know Mitt Romney?

OBAMA: I've met him. But we're not friends.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: He didn't mention the slow-jam bit there. We did see him denying being friends with Mitt Romney. Would you say that's an accurate assessment? The president and Mitt Romney are not friends?

LABOLT: Well, I think they've met one or two times, they met along the campaign trail during the primaries the last time around. I'm sure they'll be seeing more of each other face to face. But I don't think there's any doubt on the policy front that we're facing some stark differences here. A return to the same policies that caused the economic crisis and the president's vision which is building an economy that lasts. Where hard work and responsibility are rewarded and everybody plays by the same set of rules and everybody does their fair share.

MORGAN: But the president also in Jimmy Fallon said that some of the U.S. Secret Service have been knuckleheads. His description for them. If a large number of the Secret Service are knuckleheads, is it time for the chief knucklehead who runs the Secret Service to step down?

LABOLT: Well, I think that anybody who's been following the news in the past week about a very small group of individuals in Colombia would draw that same conclusion about those individuals. But the president has expressed his full confidence in Director Sullivan to get to the bottom of this. Many of us have had the pleasure of working with Secret Service agents in the White House who have put their lives on the line for the president of the United States. And he has confidence that Director Sullivan will ensure that the agency can get back on track.

MORGAN: The big battle between President Obama and Mitt Romney may well turn out to be one not just about the economy, but about charisma. Do you back your man to out-charisma Governor Romney?

LABOLT: Well, I don't think that ultimately that will be the final test. But what's incredible is that after these three years in office, the president has remained the normal guy that he was when he got there in the first place. You know, he talked today about the fact that he and the first lady just paid off their student loans not too long ago. But what's more out of touch about Mitt Romney than his statements joking about being unemployed, saying he feared getting a pink slip, are his policies and the fact they stack the deck against the middle class.

They stack the deck against seniors. And they're under the false assumption that if we just keep showering giveaways amongst millionaires and billionaires and the folks at the top that that will restore economic security for the middle class. And that's a flawed premise. We've tried that before. It didn't work. Those are "Back to the Future" economic policies and we just can't afford them.

MORGAN: Many people are predicting this to be the nastiest, most brutal presidential battle in history of planet earth. Can you reassure me that it's going to be a genteel little romp in the park or is it going to get nasty now that we know it's Mitt Romney?

LABOLT: Well, I'm not sure that -- you may have oversold it a little there bit at the top. But look, I think there are -- I do think that there are stark differences here. This will be a critically important election about the direction of our country. Either we can pursue race to the bottom economics, that are under the false assumption that we can just cut our way to prosperity, that we should base our economy on outsourcing and loopholes and risky financial deals, or we can invest in the middle class and build an economy that lasts.

Where we're out-innovating and out-educating the rest of the world. And that's what the president is fighting for every day.

MORGAN: Ben Labolt, thank you very much for your time.

LABOLT: Thanks for having me, Piers.

MORGAN: Coming up, Rick Santorum. Will he endorse Mitt Romney? Can he stay relevant in the Republican Party? My exclusive live interview with Rick and his wife Karen who are entering the studio as I speak. First time they've ever come into my lair from what I can remember.

Welcome to you both. This could be great. After the break.

How lovely to see you. Nice to see you.

KAREN SANTORUM, RICK SANTORUM'S WIFE: Congratulations.

MORGAN: Thank you.

(END)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We made the decision to get in this race at our kitchen table against all the odds. And we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Rick Santorum on April 10th announcing the end to his race for the White House. And Rick and Karen Santorum joining me now exclusively.

Welcome to your both.

R. SANTORUM: Thank you very much.

K. SANTORUM: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: So there's a mixture here, I should think, of disappointment that it's had to end. And yet I can see on Karen's beaming smile, thank god, I've got my husband back. I mean it must be a bit of that, isn't there?

K. SANTORUM: Absolutely. It's great to have him back. It's nice to be shifting gears and get family life back and have some more perspective with the way things should be.

MORGAN: How do you --

K. SANTORUM: But it was a great time. We had so much fun.

MORGAN: It was -- it was a fantastic campaign. I mean you came from the -- I remember in December all the talk -- every time I interviewed you, it was almost like --

R. SANTORUM: When are you getting out?

MORGAN: Huh?

R. SANTORUM: Why are you doing this? When are you getting out?

MORGAN: What are you doing?

R. SANTORUM: What are you doing? Yes.

MORGAN: You're a crazy man, you're at 2 percent.

R. SANTORUM: Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: And then Iowa happened, and boom. Suddenly it all changed. And for you an incredibly exciting run even though it came to an end on April 10th.

R. SANTORUM: Well, for us it wasn't suddenly. I mean we've been, you know, out there working in the vineyards for over a year and really just hitting the ground in three states primarily. Out in New Hampshire and South Carolina. And when it was said and done we've done 385 town hall meetings in the state of Iowa.

So when people say boom, you just arrived on the scene, well -- let me -- let me have you walk a few miles on my moccasins. I mean we will have to --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I remember you went to how many places in Iowa? Three hundred and --

R. SANTORUM: Eighty-five town hall meetings. All 99 counties.

MORGAN: Three hundred and eighty-five. And that was incredible.

R. SANTORUM: Yes. It was great.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I remember thinking this guy --

R. SANTORUM: It was great.

MORGAN: He's putting the yards in.

R. SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: You know, you can't deny it.

R. SANTORUM: And her, too. I mean we had the family out there for the Iowa straw poll. We -- they came out for about three weeks. And I did a little -- that's where our summer vacation was last year. We spent it at Steve and Jan Boender's farm in Oskaloosa, Iowa. And just had a wonderful time with just the great people there in the state of Iowa and we always have a -- a very, very soft place in our heart for them going forward.

MORGAN: How bittersweet was it for you to be in my green room here watching Mitt Romney making what was effectively the nominee acceptance speech for intents and purposes?

R. SANTORUM: Well, and I thought it was a good speech. He set the right tone. The tone was this race is about Barack Obama and his failures. This is he's got an optimistic vision for the country. And I'm very glad so see that. I think he painted a strong picture. And it's one that -- it's a very clear contrast to what this president brought this country.

MORGAN: I can't believe what I'm hearing here, Rick. I mean, for the last few months that I've interviewed you, Mitt Romney has been the biggest danger to the American civilization imaginable. What has happened to you?

SANTORUM: I think that's overstating the case a little bit. I think I've been pretty clear about who the greatest danger is.

MORGAN: How hard is it to segue from vicious opponent trying to win a race against him to somebody now sounding very supportive?

SANTORUM: Well, my feeling is that the objective is to get this country back on the right track on a variety of different fronts. That's what the race was about. It's always been about that. And we felt we were the best person to do that. And we went out and made the case, and talked about a lot of issues that weren't getting a lot of air time, and I think to the benefit. Hearing Governor Romney in some of the speeches -- I was at St. Louis at the NRA and I listened to his speech of freedom and I heard a lot of familiar refrains, which I was actually pleased to hear.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. So when I hear a familiar line coming from another candidate, that makes me feel like maybe we had an impact out there.

MORGAN: Everyone's watching tonight, once they knew you were appearing, wondering, come on then, if you like him so much suddenly, are you going to endorse him?

SANTORUM: Well, you know, we're going to be meeting with Governor Romney. Our staffs have been putting -- trying to put something together. I'm going to be meeting with some of his people actually tomorrow to talk about some things. Then Karen and I will have an opportunity to meet with the governor hopefully in the next week or two.

As you can imagine, the last couple weeks, we've been trying to decompress a bit, spend a little time with our family. I really haven't had a whole lot -- as you so, I haven't been out doing a lot of media, talking to a lot of folks. We've been trying just to get my bills paid, get my taxes filed.

MORGAN: When you see the governor -- I am assuming it works like this. Having scrapped away with him, you now sit down in a darkened room, get rid of the advisers, and say right, I need some cash to pay off my debts. I'd like a nice cabinet post. Isn't this how this works?

SANTORUM: No.

K. SANTORUM: We're not doing that.

SANTORUM: That's not what this is about. This is about winning the election, making sure we have the right person in the presidency and the House and the Senate.

MORGAN: You believe that Mitt Romney's the right guy?

SANTORUM: I believe he's the better -- obviously I believed I was the better choice. But I'm not in the race anymore.

MORGAN: He has won the race. Is he therefor the right guy?

SANTORUM: Absolutely. He is the person that is going to go up against Barack Obama. It's pretty clear. We need to win this race.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Unless I'm mishearing things, you just endorsed Mitt Romney. SANTORUM: If that's what you want to call it, you can call it whatever you want.

MORGAN: Am I wrong?

SANTORUM: Look. I believe --

MORGAN: Karen you know your husband. Has he just endorsed Mitt Romney?

K. SANTORUM: Not at this point, no. We're working through it. We're talking about it.

MORGAN: I may be naive to the American political system, but when somebody says yes, I think he's the right guy for the job, it sounds like an endorsement.

SANTORUM: It's very clear that he's going to be the Republican nominee. I'm going to be for the Republican nominee. We're going to do everything we can to defeat Barack Obama.

MORGAN: How much of a problem has it been for him that you've pushed him, whether he wanted to or not, to go much more right wing perhaps an social issues than he may have wished to, and now he's going to have to probably rein back in from some of those positions that he took to compete with you. Now he's competing with Barack Obama.

SANTORUM: I don't think the issues that I -- that we brought to the case -- to the race were right wing. We talked about the importance of family and the family unit and fathers being involved in raising their children and the integrity of that family unit being vitally important for our economy. That was really the -- if you want to talk about something new that we brought to the argument, we talked about the importance of two parent families in a strong and vibrant economy, that the poverty rate is five times higher among single parent families.

And that we have unfortunately government programs that create a dependency on government and in many cases undermine the American family.

MORGAN: Does part of you regret -- maybe both of you actually on this -- that the debate became very loudly about abortion, gay marriage, issues like that, contraception? That was all anybody was talking about. And you became that go to guy for the I hate this, I hate that, I hate this. You became Nanny Santorum.

Do you regret that that became the way you were perceived? Did it harm your chances of winning the nomination?

SANTORUM: It was so funny. I'd go out and give a talk, because I did town hall meetings. You know, 385 in Iowa, but I did them all over the country for a long time.

I'd ask -- I'd open up for questions. We didn't have -- as you know, we didn't do -- we didn't sort through the crowd. We were lucky if anybody showed up. So we'd get every question. And the reporters would always come back -- and I'd give a speech on freedom and opportunity and manufacturing jobs and balanced budget amendments and the integrity and importance of the American family.

And somebody would ask me a question about a variety of these issues, including the ones that you suggested. And the reporter would come back, oh, here's Santorum talking about these issues again. I talked about all the issues. Maybe that made me different than everybody, because I didn't have a structured forum.

I went out there and dealt with people as they came and listened to the voices of the American public and what they were concerned about. I felt an obligation to answer straight up. I know that sometimes gets you in trouble. A lot of folks in political life pivot when they get those questions.

I am not -- I was a center in basketball. That was the pivot position, but I wasn't very good at it. I went straight to the basket every time.

MORGAN: Your husband isn't a natural pivoter. I always gave him great credit, even when I didn't agree with some of the things he was saying -- and I'm a fellow Catholic. Even when I didn't, I respected the fact that they clearly were from a position of conviction and belief, which I didn't always feel about from the other candidates.

Are you proud of the way that he fought his campaign?

K. SANTORUM: I'm so proud of him. He did an amazing job. It was amazing what we did. And what I love is that Rick answers the questions. If you notice people in interviews, frequently they won't answer the question. And you know, Rick talked about a lot of issues. And he's brilliant with national security, jobs and the economy, and health care and things that matter to people.

What amazed me is I would sit in on these town hall meetings and I was at a lot of rallies. And they would report and they would pigeon hole him into thinking that he only talked about the social issues, which wasn't true. I would think, gosh, were they at the same event, because it was not just the only thing he talked about.

MORGAN: Hold that thought. When we come back, I want to talk to you about your highs and lows of the campaign. I have a few lows I want to toss on the fire. But there are some very highs as well. Let's explore them after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: Very late in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech and I almost threw up.

I do have concerns about women in frontline combat.

President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Back with me now, Rick and Karen Santorum.

SANTORUM: My greatest hits.

MORGAN: Your greatest -- let's not say hits, shall we? Of all those, which is the one you most regret looking back?

(CROSS TALK)

SANTORUM: The snob one, because I misread his comment. I thought he said everybody should go to college. And it was what I had read was someone's interpretation of what -- and I just used that as a fact. And it was factually incorrect.

That's the one I feel bad about. The other ones, I could have framed them a little better, but I meant what I said.

MORGAN: Karen, when was the moment you were most angry with him for one of his gaffes?

K. SANTORUM: It was the snob comment. I wish he hadn't said that. And it was just any moment where he wasn't thoughtful or considerate. He's a great guy. He's very friendly. And any time he didn't show that part of himself, it was a little frustrating.

MORGAN: I'm fascinated. What would do? When you saw him or spoke on the phone --

K. SANTORUM: You don't want to know.

MORGAN: Would the voices get raised? I mean, you seem such a nice, quiet person.

SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: I can imagine there's a steely side when Rick commits a gaffe.

K. SANTORUM: You know how when you're married, you just -- you're always there for each other and you give each other advice. It was during debates we had moments. I think especially the one before Michigan, that was a real challenge, that debate. And I left early that night, I think.

MORGAN: What did you say to him after that debate? That was not a good performance.

K. SANTORUM: It was a preparation issue. And it was just a real letdown.

SANTORUM: I had -- as I did in most my debates, because you're sort of a one man band out there -- so I didn't take any time off before the debates. I'd campaign the full day up until the debates. Karen on that one said Rick, you're now -- people are now actually going to start paying attention to what you're saying, as opposed to in the past nobody really paid any attention.

Now you're in the game. You just won those three states. And you've got to do a little bit -- take a little bit more time. I just sort of kept the routine. I wasn't as sharp as I should have been. She had every right to say, hey.

MORGAN: There were moments of the campaign when you had much more serious issues involving your daughter Bella, and most recently again. It's obviously an ongoing battle you have. Were there moments when that flared up with her, where both of you or either of you thought, you know what, maybe it's not worth it, this, that actually running for president is fine, but we have a sick daughter that needs us. It must have been a conflict for you.

K. SANTORUM: We're there for her constantly, as with all of our children. And we did have moments like that. However, Bella really was a great source of the reason why we got into the race in the first place. She was the reason that when we learned about -- when Obamacare went through, I think that was really the -- that put the fire in our belly to get in.

Because it was people -- children like Bella who were going to be on -- I think the first kids to be affected by something like that. And so, of course, there were times when the burden seemed so big, and sometimes it felt like maybe it wasn't the right time. I did resist it for a very long time. But in the end, I did feel like it was God's will. And it was the health care -- Obamacare that put that --

MORGAN: How is she now?

K. SANTORUM: She's doing great. Thank you so much, Piers.

(CROSS TALK)

SANTORUM: She's been an amazing component of this campaign. We wanted -- obviously she's one of our children, so we had her out there in the sense that we had a family picture and she was in it. But we didn't talk about Bella very much until she got sick and I had to come off the trail. It was during -- right prior to the Florida primary. I had just lost two primaries in a row.

I was home -- I happened to be fortunate to be home that day when she ended up -- we ended up having to take her to the hospital. But we were going to be off the campaign trail for a couple days. We had to make the decision, should we announce why I'm going to be pulling off my schedule a couple days, at a time when people are saying, shouldn't you get out of the race? And if you did pull off, they'd say he's pulling out.

So we felt like we had to say why we were -- why we didn't continue the campaign schedule. And then we sort of had to tell people about Bella in much more detail. So we put a video together later that week. It by far was the most viewed thing on the website. She became very much part of the campaign. K. SANTORUM: A voice to the voiceless. She was everywhere. It was amazing. At all the rallies and events that we had, the one question we got from literally thousands of people was how's Bella.

MORGAN: It's great that she's doing well.

SANTORUM: She is.

K. SANTORUM: Thank you.

MORGAN: Let's take another break. When we come back, my Twitter has exploded because, senator, they all believe you have endorsed Mitt Romney tonight. You now have two minutes to work out whether you wish to make that official or whether you want to carry on denying the obvious.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with me now to talk about one of my favorite topics, Keeping America Great, Rick and Karen Santorum. But that must wait. We left on a cliff-hanger. Everyone assumes you've endorsed Mitt Romney tonight. Senator, just spit it out.

SANTORUM: All I said was the obvious, which is Mitt Romney's going to be the nominee and I'm going to support the nominee whoever that nominee is, period.

MORGAN: That's Mitt Romney.

SANTORUM: Well, that's what it looks like, yeah.

MORGAN: He's won all five states tonight. He's won Pennsylvania. So on the assumption that he is the nominee --

SANTORUM: I will support the nominee of our party.

MORGAN: You've just endorsed Mitt Romney.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: It's not going to be Ron Paul.

SANTORUM: OK. Could be. Who knows? He's working the delegates really hard. I can tell you that.

MORGAN: Can I put it this way, to end this debate, if Mitt Romney is the nominee, you will endorse him?

SANTORUM: If he's the nominee, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure he defeats Barack Obama, absolutely. I mean, that's why I got into the race.

MORGAN: You will endorse him?

SANTORUM: I'm going to support the Republican nominee.

(CROSS TALK)

SANTORUM: I'm not being a politician.

(CROSS TALK)

SANTORUM: I'm being an honest, straight talker. If he's the nominee of the party, I'm going to do everything I can to help him win.

MORGAN: Including endorsing him?

SANTORUM: Absolutely.

MORGAN: There we are. That's all I wanted you to say. Thank you very much.

SANTORUM: OK.

MORGAN: Now let's play you a little clip from former Vice President Cheney about advice for choosing a VP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I think the single most important criteria has to be the capacity to be president. That's why you pick them. And lots of times in the past, that has not been the foremost criteria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean, he's banging on, isn't he? Look at what --

SANTORUM: Absolutely. That's what I said when I was asked that question during the campaign. I said the -- first and foremost is the person has the capability of keeping the promises that I made to the American public and be a good president.

MORGAN: Who is the most likely of all the names? I'm assuming you wouldn't want to be in the running or would not rule it out?

SANTORUM: Look, I'm not interested in any position. I'm interested in winning the election.

MORGAN: If you were Mitt Romney, who would you be looking at in a favorable way right now?

SANTORUM: That's -- I'm not going to comment on that. That's really his decision.

MORGAN: Karen, if Mitt Romney rang up and said he wanted Rick to be his VP, what would you say?

K. SANTORUM: Oh, I'd have to talk to Rick about it. We'd need a little time to think it over and pray about it, you know, consider it. I'd be very surprised. But he's a great guy. MORGAN: Really on a technical point in relation to Mitt Romney needing a certain number of delegates, will you be releasing your delegates?

SANTORUM: I think the way the law comports is that once you're not a candidate, your delegates are effectively released. So I think states have been going through the process right now. We have been sort of trying to understand how that works.

But this is my first go round in this. That is that once you're no longer a candidate, state laws really become operative. A lot of states, they effectively release your delegates. And other states, you still hold them irrespective of whether you're in the race or not.

MORGAN: What's next for Rick Santorum? What's the next job for you? What would you like to do?

SANTORUM: Well, we're going to be announcing some things here in the next week or two about what our plans are.

MORGAN: You can tease them. We're amongst friends.

SANTORUM: We're going to be active and engaged in the political process. We're going to be active and engaged on the issues that we brought up during this campaign, some of the things that we talked about tonight. This is -- this was a -- like I said in the speech when I got out of the race, we tried to listen very hard to the people across this country. And I think we picked up some tones that need to be resonated.

MORGAN: I'm going to give Karen the last word here, very quickly. We've got about 20 seconds. What was the best moment of the campaign?

K. SANTORUM: Iowa. Winning Iowa was great. And we walked up on the stage and I said to the children, soak it in, enjoy this moment. Every time we got on the stage, we said that.

MORGAN: I agree with you, it was a wonderful moment. We'll always have Iowa. Thank you so much for coming in. Great to see you.

MORGAN: Coming up, more of my exclusive interview with the Dalai Lama. It's a candid, surprising, very entertaining conversation with a man who is iconic. But you have never seen him quite like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Do you ever feel temptation when you see a woman?

DALAI LAMA: Oh, yeah, sometimes you see people, oh, this is very nice. But then I'm thinking -- thinking it's a real job. Then she -- too much of a problem. Dirty things like that.

MORGAN: Really?

DALAI LAMA: Really. Even my dream. Just some sort of -- dreaming some woman like that (INAUDIBLE). I never dreamt in my -- in my dream I'm Dalai Lama. I always remember I'm a monk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: As I said, a candid Dalai Lama as you probably never heard him before. That's tomorrow night.

Coming up next, Only in America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: For tonight's Only in America, the attack ad of all time. The bitter and bruising presidential race won't just be the most expensive ever. It may also end up being one of the nastiest.

We've seen some particularly vicious commercials out there. But as ugly as they are, they pale in comparison to the most shocking political commercial ever made, known simply as the Daisy Girl. It was for President Johnson and it ran just once in 1964.

It shows a young girl, harmlessly picking daisies. Here's what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eight, nine. .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Fantastically tasteless. The message was unmistakable. Vote for Barry Goldwater and your child and you will die in a nuclear explosion. The name of the child in that ad is Monique Luiz and she's all grown up now. And we've tracked her down.

And she joins me exclusively. Monique, welcome.

MONIQUE LUIZ, "DAISY GIRL" FROM 1964 POLITICAL AD: Thank you for having me.

MORGAN: You survived the nuclear explosion. Had you got any idea -- you were two years old. Did you have any idea what was happening in that commercial?

LUIZ: No, I didn't.

MORGAN: When did you finally realize how you'd been used?

LUIZ: Probably a good 10 years ago or so. Growing up, I knew of the commercial. We didn't talk about it a lot in our family. It was a little touchy subject with some people.

MORGAN: I mean, it was spectacularly tasteless and inappropriate. I mean, if it happened today, I think whichever candidate tried to make an ad like that, let alone actually air it, they would be drummed out of office, wouldn't they?

LUIZ: Oh, I agree.

MORGAN: Do you feel the whole nature of attack commercials in politics is wrong? It's fundamentally un-American?

LUIZ: I do.

MORGAN: Well, Monique, it's been a real pleasure talking to you. I think your message is simple but to the point. You were the innocent victim of the world's worst-ever attack ad, but living proof there is life after an attack ad.

LUIZ: Yes, that is true. There is.

MORGAN: Thank you.

LUIZ: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: That's it for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.