An interview with Senator Rick Santorum


Senator Rick Santorum is visiting Notre Dame on September 17 and speaking at 5 p.m. in the Carey Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library.  Prior to his visit, the Rover conducted a phone interview with him.


Irish Rover: How did  your experience running for president in 2012 affect your view of the political process. Do you think the media has too much power in the outcome of primaries?

In most ways it was an encouragement to me about how the political process works.  To have a candidate like me, someone who seemed to have no chance of becoming a major candidate in the race, winning 11 states and getting it down to where either Romney or I would be the nominee.  We had all the establishment against us but there was still the possibility [that we could] pull off a huge upset, and that’s an encouraging thing.  This is the most important political office in the country, and for it to be available to someone who was outgunned from the start, not considered a major tier candidate from the beginning, is really quite remarkable.

On the other hand, the media was not particularly helpful.  It was in spite of the media, not because of the media.  The mainstream media is very much a conventional wisdom group of players.  It’s not just the New York Times, Washington Post, and the major networks, it’s even the conservative media.  They have a formula and if you don’t really fit the formula then you’re discounted.  That has proven time and time again not to be a very smart way of looking at things, but they haven’t learned from their mistakes.


How has your work with Patriot Voices and Echo Light Studios advanced conservative ideals outside of the legislative process?  Has it been what you expected?

I saw both of these as really great vehicles to [use] the blessings that Karen and I were given from the last campaign.  People knew my name, had an opinion of what I was about and who I was.  I felt it was incumbent upon me to give back to those who gave me that gift: the American people and God.  I felt like I had an obligation to serve God and country with the gifts that He gave me as a result of the last campaign and so when this opportunity came around, a year or so after I left the campaign trail it really just fit.  [Echo Light Studios] was a way to honor God by making films about faith and also try to have an impact on the country to move it in a direction toward the true, the good and the beautiful.  With Patriot Voices, I felt like it was important for me to stay engaged, to continue to fight for the things that I believed in, and to stay active in the political sphere.


If a Republican is elected in 2016, how do you think the new president should address what’s happened during Obama’s presidency?
Start all over.  Wipe the slate clean.  Because on just about every front the President’s policies have been a disaster for the country.  It is apparent that the president’s international work has been devastating not just for American security, but it’s been very destabilizing to the world.  We’re seeing conflicts arise, we’re seeing a scale of brutality that we haven’t seen really since the Vietnam War.  And the president, as he’s said, just doesn’t have a plan.  Experience matters when you have any job of significance and importance, and knowing what you’re doing, whether you’re running as a president, or running a major company, or you’re playing basketball.  Knowing what to do and how to do it and having experience, you want those folks when you’re in the championship game, when you’re trying to make your company profitable, or when you’re trying to run a country.  This is, I think, a lesson learned from the Obama administration and so I’m hopeful that going forward we’ll have someone with experience in national security and experience in being able to layout a vision for America that is a unifying one, not a divisive one.


You’re known for being a family-oriented politician and for having strong religious beliefs that are often looked down upon by modern society. What do you think is the key to revitalizing the institution of the family, strengthening traditional marriage, and advancing a message of life?
The most important thing is to actually have a plan to do just that.  To advance it, to make the argument, to stand for your rights.  I have a movie that we’re bringing out to churches called ‘One Generation Away.’  It talks about how we’re losing our religious liberty in America and the reason we lose is because we aren’t fighting.  You can’t win if you don’t fight.  The other side fights, the other side pushes, the other side is aggressive, they’re constantly trying to create opportunities to move the needle.  And we don’t fight back.  We don’t even make the arguments.
The idea that we can eliminate religion and faith from the public square, the fact that we’ve sanitized our education system.  [Faith] has been removed from politics, now they’re trying to remove it from business.  And we as believers have sat back and said, “Well, we just go to church.”  And that’s great, but faith isn’t just about going to church.  It’s about living your faith out in every aspect of your life and the fact that it’s been sanitized and taken away from us is not neutral.  Not teaching faith is not neutral, not teaching the importance of the Bible and the foundations of Western civilization is not neutral.  It’s a lie.  We have allowed them to perpetrate that lie and we’re suffering the consequences.


The HHS mandate has affected many American religious institutions and we’ve seen what happened with the Hobby Lobby decision this summer. Notre Dame especially has been affected by this.  What is your opinion on the best way to resist this mandate, either on an institutional or personal level?
We have to go through the courts, and [we] have to get engaged and involved and fight back.  We have to elect people who have the value structure that is consistent with religious liberty and who understand the importance of faith in American society.  The ballot box is critically important, the courtroom is important, the classroom is important.  At Notre Dame there are still a lot of great teachers who teach the truth, but there are a lot of teachers there who don’t teach the truth.  The bottom line is, universities should be about truth.  Diversity is overrated.  Diversity is not a virtue.  It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not necessarily a good thing.  There was a debate with Howard Dean at Northwestern University a few years back and he said that the greatest virtue of America is our diversity.  That’s ridiculous.

The whole reason the Constitution is one of the great documents in the history of mankind is that it addresses the problem created by diversity.  The whole point of America is ‘e pluribus unum,’ out of many one.  Diversity is easy; everyone can go off and do their own thing, but there’s no virtue in that.  The virtue is, how do we get along?  Not how do we differ, but how do we get along?  How, with our differences, do we come together and function in a way that creates a good and decent society?  That’s not to say that diversity is a bad thing.  It can be a bad thing, and it can be a good thing, but it’s not a virtue.  It is something to be dealt with that can be made bad or good.
And finally, I have to ask, are you open to running for president again in 2016?
I certainly am hoping to do so.  I’m actively looking at it and doing things consistent with running.  And I’d like your help.  I’m coming to Notre Dame soon, and hopefully we have a great crowd and we can get some people psyched up to participate and help us out.
Alexandra DeSanctis is a junior studying political science and constitutional studies.  She is determined to learn how to do a cartwheel before the end of the year.  Contact her with tips at