On the same day that Fox News temporarily severed ties with Rick Santorum
because of his possible presidential aspirations, the former Pennsylvania senator Wednesday sat down for his first interview with CNN’s John King, who greeted him saying: “Welcome to the land of freedom and, we like to think, objectivity."
The suspensions of Santorum, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, will be lifted May 1 if the two notify the network they aren’t running for president, and their contracts will be terminated if they haven’t yet made a decision. King asked Santorum whether the Fox timeline would accelerate his decision.
“No. I mean, it doesn't really affect my decision process at all,” Santorum said. “I sort of … am looking at this and exploring it. And it's [the suspension] not going to – it's not going to have any impact on what I'm hearing in Iowa, and New Hampshire, and South Carolina, you know, how our fundraisers are going. All the things that when you test the waters you have to test to see how you're doing really are quite separate than media appearances on Fox.”
Asked about Gingrich and other Fox News contributors who might enter the presidential race and their interaction, Santorum noted that even thought there might be a potential rivalry, there remains a sense of camaraderie.
“I think everyone has the same objective, which is we want to have a new president in 2013,” he said. “And I think at this point, that's really the focus.”
King asked what his place would be in a Republican field of presidential hopefuls.
“I'm going to just go out and talk about, you know, what I have done in my career, what I stand for, what I'm about, and let the other folks do the same,” he said. “And I think that's the best way we're going to get the best possible person to face off in 2012.
“I've been a consistent conservative on all the issues that I think people care about when it wasn't cool to be that,” Santorum added. “You know, I was out there fighting the reform battles that a lot of the tea party people are fighting right now. I was leading the charge on Social Security reform when it wasn't cool to do it back in 1995 and 1997.
“So, on the issues that are sort of the front-burner issues, I think I have a pretty good solid record and the interesting thing is – I think where I maybe differentiate myself – is I have a record on other issues that people care about too,” he said.
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