By Martin Gould and Ashley Martella of Newsmax [emphasis added]:
Saying he’d look for a “strong and principled conservative” as a running mate should he win the Republican presidential nomination, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum tells Newsmax that he certainly would consider rival Newt Gingrich for that vital role.
When asked if he would consider the former House Speaker as number two on his ticket, Santorum said Gingrich had been “tested” by the bruising GOP race and that makes him an attractive vice presidential candidate.
Santorum tells Newsmax that his choice would be a core conservative who is “willing to stand up and fight for the things that I believe in.”
“My principal and only criterion for vice president is to make sure that I have someone that I have confidence that if something should happen to me that they could carry on and do what I promised the people of America I would try to do,” he said.
Gingrich would seem to fit the bill more than any of the other candidates. He and Santorum have been battling for the same voters on the right of the party as they try to defeat front-runner Mitt Romney.
Santorum said the GOP only has to look to history to see that conservative candidates do better in general elections that do moderates.
“If we have another moderate Republican we are going to end up with the same situation we had four years ago,” he said, referring to John McCain’s loss to Barack Obama. “We’ll have the same situation we had with Bob Dole and the same situation we had with Gerry Ford.
“You go back. If we nominate conservatives we win. If we nominate moderates we lose. We can’t afford to lose this one.”
Santorum said he is not worried that the latest Rasmussen Reports poll gives Mitt Romney a double-digit lead over him, going into Saturday’s caucuses in Kansas and next week’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.
“Three weeks ago I had a double-digit lead and before that he had a double-digit lead and before that Newt Gingrich had a double-digit lead,” he pointed out. “This is an ebb-and-flow campaign.”
He said that Romney has spent some $65 million so far and has had a super PAC spend almost as much, while he only put some $6 million into his campaign.
“The fact that he hasn’t been able to close the deal and get this nomination behind him, that we are very much alive and well and have an opportunity to win this race, is a testament that money does not buy this election.
“Ideas and vision will not just win the primary but more importantly it’s the only chance we have to win the general election,” Santorum added.
The GOP has to nominate “someone who has convictions, someone who tells the truth to the American public, someone who goes out there and lives what he says he is going to do and follows through and has the courage of his convictions and can create a clear contrast with President Obama,” he said.
“I do that. Gov. Romney, in all fairness, is simply not measuring up. The people of America are beginning to see that and that is why we have the opportunity we do.”
Santorum said he is “very hopeful” that he will win Kansas and that he will at least beat Gingrich in the two Deep South states, proving he is the conservative alternative to Romney.
Santorum said Obama’s energy policies are one of the main issues that are preventing the nation getting below 8 percent unemployment. “It can be summed up in two letters,” he said. “N-O.
“We have literally 60 billion barrels of gas and oil off the coasts of this country and this administration is saying, ‘No, we are not going to go there.’ Shutting down federal lands for good, not voting the Keystone pipeline, not opening up Alaska – all of that is driving up energy prices, which is slowing down this economy and crushing it with a high-energy cost burden.”
The former senator from Pennsylvania said he would repeal costly regulations on businesses and simplify the tax system, and that too would add jobs.
“I would cut the corporate rate of tax to zero and say to every manufacturer not just in this country but around the world, bring your business here; expand your business because we want to make things here in America again.”
He also made it clear that he is vehemently opposed to forcing religious institutions to have health insurance plans that cover contraception.
“It’s bad enough to impose a new rule making everybody buy insurance but the idea that they are going to force people to buy insurance on products that they have moral objections to is truly government run amok,” he explained.
And Santorum said that if there is enough GOP support in November to elect him, then the party can get at least 50 seats in the Senate.
“We’ll have the wherewithal to be able to strip all the funding and fines and fees out of Obamacare and make it basically a dead letter,” he vowed.
“That can be accomplished within a few months.”