1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 9/6/2006 8:30:20 AM ET 2006-09-06T12:30:20

MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: Only 65 days until the midterm elections. The Democrats must gain six seats to take control of the U.S.  Senate. This fall we will once again present debates between the candidates in some of the hottest Senate races across the country, and this morning we kick off our 2006 SENATE DEBATE series with one of the most closely watched races of the year, Pennsylvania, where incumbent Republican Senator Rick Santorum faces off against Democratic challenger, State Treasurer Bob Casey.

Rick Santorum, Bob Casey, welcome both to MEET THE PRESS.

MR. BOB CASEY: Good to be with you, Tim.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): Thank you, Tim.

MR. CASEY: Thanks.

MR. RUSSERT: Let’s go right to it: the war in Iraq. Mr. Casey, you’re the challenger, you told The Philadelphia Inquirer August 2005 the following:

“Casey said he would have voted for the war considering the evidence at the time, and supported the spending bills that funded the effort.” Knowing what you know today, would you still have voted for the war?

MR. CASEY: Tim, before I begin my answer I just want to make a note of a loss in Pennsylvania. Mayor Bob O’Connor, in the city of Pittsburgh, passed away. We want to express—I think we share that here today—we want to express our condolences to his family.

Tim, on the war in Iraq, if, if, if a lot of Americans knew now—if they knew then what they know now, they would, they would have thought that this war was the war that shouldn’t have been fought based upon the misleading of this administration.

Here’s what I think has to happen in Iraq today.

MR. RUSSERT: So you would not vote for it today.

MR. CASEY: Based upon the information that we have now, I think that, that a lot of Americans would have serious doubts. I’m not sure there would have even been a vote on Iraq that early in the...

MR. RUSSERT: But in ‘05 you said you’d vote for it. Would you today in ‘06 vote for it?

MR. CASEY: Based upon the evidence that was presented then, yes, which I think has been—was misleading, and I think it was faulty. The intelligence was faulty.

MR. RUSSERT: But today, today is no. Today you would vote no.

MR. CASEY: Today—if we knew then what we know now, sure. I think there wouldn’t have been a vote and I think people would have changed.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me also ask about the funding. Earlier in the week I had said that Democrats had not sought to cut off the funding. In fact, Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and 17 other Democrats have called for the End the War in Iraq Act of 2005 to cut off funding for the war. Would you vote to cut off funding?

MR. CASEY: I don’t think we can, Tim. I’m not ready to abandon this mission; I think a lot of Americans are not, either. What has to happen in Iraq is what you’ve, you’ve not seen. We need new leadership. We don’t need a deadline—a timeline; we need new leadership. And part of that leadership, I think, involves a couple of things. Let me just go through four of five of them.

One of them is a question of accountability. Our troops have been accountable with their lives, and yet a lot of politicians in Washington haven’t been held accountable. You know the, the work of Thomas Ricks, who wrote a book recently based upon his, his work at The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. In that book he lays the blame squarely on the Congress failing to hold the Bush administration accountable. Accountability, I think, means replacing Donald Rumsfeld—Rick and I disagree on that—it means finding out how and whether we were lied to with regard to intelligence.

The second thing we need, I think, in Iraq, in terms of a new direction is to make sure that we have clear and measurable benchmarks. Not just from the president, but from the Iraqis as well. What is the plan that the president can tell us about with regard to disarming the militias? What is the plan to bring oil production above the pre-war levels? All of that kind of accountability and clear benchmarks.

And thirdly, I think what’s happening in Iraq should tell us that we need to transform the mission on the ground. There’s no reason why American soldiers have to continually lead, lead on the ground, and, and go ahead of the Iraqis.  The Iraqis need to take over and take on some of these street patrols, patrols in Baghdad and so many other places.

And I think also, Tim, I’ll conclude with this: We need to rebuild the American military. We need to have more Special Forces. I’ve called for a doubling in the number of Special Forces. Senator Santorum apparently doesn’t agree with that. It’s the right thing to do.

And I would just ask Senator Santorum: Donald Rumsfeld, I’ve called for him to be replaced, Rick. Where do you stand on that?

SEN. SANTORUM: I’ll be happy to start there. I think Secretary Rumsfeld has done a fine job as the defense secretary, and the problems that we are confronting are problems of an enemy that’s a very potent enemy—much more potent than I think anybody ever anticipated. You know, we have a great game plan. We go it just like a football team. You go in there, you do your best, but the enemy has a vote, the enemy can react and change its tactics, and they have, and they’ve been very, very effective. We need to go out there and continue to fight this war on Islamic fascism. Not just, as my opponent likes to focus on, just the war in Iraq. That’s a front of a multi-front war in which we’re fighting against an enemy that’s a very dangerous enemy.

As you know, Tim, I’ve been giving speeches not just in Pennsylvania, but here in Washington, talking about the importance of focusing the American public on the terrific potency of the enemy that we face. This is an enemy that uses a tactic that is a very effective tactic against us, called terror, because they don’t care about life, and we do. And so when you have—when you match up those forces, people who don’t put on uniforms, people who are willing to die for their cause, and want to die for their cause, makes it a very difficult enemy to fight, one that we have not successfully fought in the past—or I shouldn’t say successfully, one that we haven’t fought in the past.

So we have a very difficult enemy. We have an enemy that now is trying to get nuclear weapons in, in, in the form of Iran, and one that—you know, we can ask all these questions about process and procedure, most of which I would argue have been answered already. The real tough questions is how do you win this war? How do you go out and, and, and prosecute a war that—successfully?  And I’ve laid out a very clear vision on that, and my opponent has not.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me talk about a Pentagon report on Friday. Our ambassador to Iraq has said the principal problem is not foreign terrorists, it’s sectarian violence, Sunni vs. Shiite. The Pentagon report on Friday said this: “Sectarian violence is spreading in Iraq and the security problems have become more complex than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2003, a Pentagon report said. ... ‘Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife.’ ... ‘The last quarter, as you know has been rough,’ [Asst. Secretary of Defense Peter] Rodman said.  ‘The levels of violence are up and the sectarian quality of the violence is particularly acute and disturbing.’”

This is Shiite vs. Sunni, Iraqi vs. Iraqi.

SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah. This is...

MR. RUSSERT: What do you do about that, stay the course?

SEN. SANTORUM: That makes, that makes it more complex. The fact that not only do the Sunnis and the Shia, the, the radical Sunni terrorist groups, as well as nation-states, Shia nation-states like Iran, want to defeat the United States—and we’ve seen that very clearly, articulated just yesterday about submitting to, to their rule. And this was...

MR. RUSSERT: But, but stay on Iraq, Senator.

SEN. SANTORUM: I’m coming back to it. But we can’t—you can’t ignore the fact that we are, we are fighting this war on multi-fronts, and Iraq is simply a front. And Iran, which is, which is the principal stoker of this, this Shia/Sunni sectarian violence, would love nothing more to see than the Iraqi democracy fail because of that. This is a tactic of Iran to disrupt the—our, our efforts in Iraq by, in fact, trying to defeat the Sunnis. So there’s, there’s no question, this is a very complex war.

But understand, at the, at the heart of this war is Iran. Iran is the, is, is the problem here. Iran is the one that’s causing most of the problems in, in Iraq. It is causing most of the problems, obviously, with Israel today. It is, it is the one funding these organizations. And is the, is the country that we need to focus on in this war against Islamic fascism.

MR. RUSSERT: So Iran now has more influence in Iraq than they did before Saddam Hussein?

SEN. SANTORUM: Just understand.

MR. RUSSERT: Is that true?

SEN. SANTORUM: I would say that they have influence in, in, in a free country where you have an opportunity to express yourself, if you will. Yes.  You can probably do more...

MR. CASEY: All right let, let...

SEN. SANTORUM: ...in that country than they would within a dic—a totalitarian regime.

MR. CASEY: ...let me respond to that. Can I have a few minutes to respond?

MR. RUSSERT: Please.

MR. CASEY: Couple of things. First of all, what you just heard was Senator Santorum’s long answer, which basically says, “Stay the course in Iraq.” It’s a completely different point of view. I think we’ve go got to change the course and, and have new leadership. Part of that is that, that accountability I’ve talked about.

MR. RUSSERT: But stop there—stop there Mr. Casey.

MR. CASEY: OK.

MR. RUSSERT: I think there’s an evolution in your thinking. Let me go back to April of ‘05, the Philadelphia Daily News said, “The key thing now is to finish the job.” That’s Bob Casey, quote/unquote. October, “Some people think that pulling out is a good idea and a timeline is a good idea - I don’t agree with that. We’ve got more work to do to make sure that we get it right.” Then in June of ‘06, Bob Casey said, “He doesn’t believe U.S. troops should be removed from Iraq immediately but should be by the end of the year. He said the country has a new government and that it’s time for the Iraqis to take a greater role in defending themselves.” Should we finished the job? Or should we remove the troops by the end of the year?

MR. CASEY: Tim, I’ve never favored a deadline in, in, in this whole campaign. Because we have to do everything we can to, to hold the administration accountable. And when you’re—when it’s not going well, you, you see the, the Pentagon report this past—just in the last couple of days, this thing is headed toward civil war. We don’t know if it’s there yet. We hope it’s not. But when you have it heading in the wrong direction, you’ve got to have a new course. And, and...

MR. RUSSERT: So, so when John Kerry, the Democratic nominee in 2004, introduced legislation which says, “All troops out by July of 2007,” Bob Casey votes no.

MR. CASEY: Absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Santorum, leading up to the war. In October of 2002, this is what Rick Santorum said, “Saddam Hussein’s regime, is a serious and grave danger to the safety of the American people.” “Given the threat posed to he world by his weapons of mass destruction programs...” Would you now acknowledge that that was not correct?

SEN. SANTORUM: What I would say is that we have found weapons of mass destruction, they were older weapons, but we have found chemical weapons. The report was just released not too long ago that, that said that there were over 500 chemical weapons found in Iraq.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator, the president has accepted the report of his two task force and said, “That the chief weapons inspector has issued his report. Iraq did not have the weapons our intelligence believed were there.”

SEN. SANTORUM: Well, there were all sorts of weapons that our intelligence believed were there. They thought that they were new weapons. So far we, we did not—we have not found any new weapons. But we have found old weapons, weapons from the Iran/Iraq conflict, and we found over 500 and the report says that there were more.

MR. RUSSERT: Was...

SEN. SANTORUM: That’s the—that’s a fact.

MR. RUSSERT: Was Saddam a serious and grave danger to America?

SEN. SANTORUM: I believe that Iraq was a serious and grave danger to America. I believe...

MR. RUSSERT: Based on what?

SEN. SANTORUM: Well, based on the fact that they were working—and we have certainly lots of information about the fact that they were working with other terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, and that they were, in fact—had camps that they were—while they were training Baathists, they were also training terrorists to be used. The...

MR. RUSSERT: President Bush said that Iraq had “nothing to do with September 11th.” Do you agree with that?

SEN. SANTORUM: As far as we know, that’s, that’s the case. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a working relationship with a variety of different terrorist organizations. In fact, the Saddam Hussein government was giving bounties for killing Israelis, giving terrorists bounties for killing Israelis.

MR. RUSSERT: But knowing what you know now about the weapons of mass destruction, the primary rationale for the war, would you believe that the Iraq war was a war of choice or a war of necessity?

SEN. SANTORUM: I believe that it was a war of necessity because it—they are a—they were a threat. It is important that we are in the, the Middle East right now and, and confronting this broad war that we are involved in against Islamic fascism.

The bottom line is that we are now five years, almost, from September 11th.  No one gives anybody credit for the fact that we have not had a serious—any kind of terrorist attack in this country. The reason we haven’t is because we’ve taken it to them where they are. We’ve taken it to them. We’ve disrupted their networks, not just in Afghanistan, but we have—remember, the president’s speech on the, on the night several weeks after 9/11 talked about we were going to go after terrorist organizations and sponsors, state sponsors of terrorists. There is no question Iraq was a state sponsor of terror, and we went after them. We had legitimate reason. The United Nations said that they weren’t complying. We thought at the time that they had weapons programs. We had bad intelligence. But you know what? I’m not—I don’t play Monday morning quarterback. That’s not, that’s not what you do here in Washington, D.C. You take all the information you have, you make the best decision you possibly can. And based on the information we had, there is no question that Iraq should, that the Iraq war should’ve commenced.

MR. RUSSERT: In ‘04, after the war, you said, “the Bush administration deserves a lot of credit for getting it right in Iraq.” Do you believe the Bush administration is still “getting it right” in Iraq?

SEN. SANTORUM: As you know, I have given speeches repeatedly talking about how I think we need to change the focus of our policy. I gave one at the National Press Club and I gave one just earlier this week...

MR. RUSSERT: Specifically, what would you change in Iraq? In Iraq, what would you do differently?

SEN. SANTORUM: Look, the plans that my opponent has laid out in some of his speeches and I’ve laid out in mine are basically the same thing the administration is trying to do. You’re trying to get the Iraqis take—to take control of their—of the security situation, which we are trying to do. We are trying to get international cooperation to get money in there. We’re trying to improve their quality of life. We’re trying to stabilize their democracy and make sure their constitution is defended.

I mean, all of those things are things that I think everyone would agree that we are to do. The question is, is you have some, you have, you have sectarian violence you talked about, fomented by Iran, that we are not addressing. So the question is, how do we, how do we cure Iraq, focus on Iran? We need to do something about stopping the Iranians from being the central destabilizer of the Middle East.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you put more troops in Iraq?

SEN. SANTORUM: I don’t know if it’s a question of more troops or less troops. You get—I, I think the focus should not be Iraq, should be Iran.

MR. CASEY: Tim, you’re hearing, you’re hearing a long speech here about, about other speeches he’s given. What we need and what the president needs to tell us about, and what this senator won’t hold the president accountable for is a plan. One of the things that we could be doing, not just when it comes to Iraq, but when it comes to the, the global war on terror, is to have more Special Forces out there. Doubling the number of Special Forces, having counterproliferation units run by the Special Forces that intercept nuclear, biological, chemical, potential weapons around the world—finding them before the terrorists get them. That’s the kind of on-the-ground thing. We don’t need more speeches.

And I think what you’ve unearthed here, Tim...

MR. RUSSERT: Do we need more troops?

MR. CASEY: We need—what we need in Iraq right now is some accountability for this administration. And part of that is making sure that, as we, as we have our troops on the ground, that they can pull back at what the Pentagon calls “level two” readiness, they can still be there, but the Iraqis can take the lead and get the Americans out of the front line already. Keep the American...(unintelligible).

MR. RUSSERT: And what if you, what if you left behind a haven for terrorists? Then what do you do?

MR. CASEY: Well, I don’t—that’s not the, that’s not the, the objective here. The objective here is to make sure we’re doing everything possible to give the American people the information they need and to protect our troops.  And I think it’s an abomination, Tim, when you have people like Rick Santorum, who have rubber-stamped this administration 98 percent of the time, did not call for or insist upon the best body armor when those troops needed it.

And I think when you point to the 9/11 question on Saddam Hussein, and you point to this crazy theory that there’s still weapons of mass destruction, Tim, I think you’ve unearthed something. You’ve unearthed the 2 percent of the time that Rick Santorum disagrees with President Bush, and I think that’s new information for this campaign.

Let me, let me just have a moment on, on Iran. Rick, you just talked about, and you’ve heard him a lot talking about Iran. You’ve heard him a lot talking about the terminology of, of the war on terror. He calls it Islamic fascism and, and he, and he talks about the terminology and changing the terms. What we need, Rick, is not a change in the terminology, we need to change the tactics. And we’ve got to make sure that even as you’re debating whether or not we call Osama bin Laden a terrorist or a fascist, I don’t think that really matters. We need a plan. You’re in the Senate, you have votes, you should be leading that effort. And I, I think after it’s over, after you get the terminology right, maybe you can have a seminar in Washington about whether bin Laden, whom we should be finding and killing, whether he’s a dead terrorist or a dead fascist. And I think you should worry more about finding him and killing him.

SEN. SANTORUM: My, my opponent has, my opponent has, my opponent has no plan. The idea—all he’s suggested is his plan is Special...

MR. CASEY: I just gave a plan. Where’s yours?

SEN. SANTORUM: All you, all you suggested with your plan is more Special Forces.

MR. CASEY: No, it’s not. That’s not, that’s not all it is.

SEN. SANTORUM: Do you, do you support, do you support more intelligence gathering because your party has been out there...

MR. CASEY: Absolutely.

SEN. SANTORUM: ...trying to, trying to undermine our surveillance programs.  You’re the one who’s gone out and said that you have serious questions about our intelligence surveillance programs. What do you think has kept our people safe? What do you think stopped the British, the British attack? You folks have been the party, as you have been the party, of making sure that we don’t have the intelligence gathering capabilities that we need, and, and, and have, have joined in making sure...

MR. CASEY: Rick, Rick, you’re not debating the party, you’re debating me right here.

SEN. SANTORUM: I’m debating you.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

SEN. SANTORUM: And I—and I’ve looked at your comments saying that you have serious concerns about our, our, our surveillance programs. I don’t. I think they’re surveillance programs that would...

MR. CASEY: No, we should, we should, we should keep the programs and keep the wiretaps...

SEN. SANTORUM: I, I let you speak. I let you speak. If you’d allow me...

MR. CASEY: Senator Specter, you know this, can get it right.

SEN. SANTORUM: Well, my point is that we need to have strong surveillance programs. You mentioned Special Forces. We have lots of Special Forces out there, but they need intelligence if they’re going to be able to do their jobs. And as far as that being a plan to solve this problem, I think you just fundamentally misunderstand the problem. You’re saying that somehow or another the language and terminology doesn’t matter. You believe that we’re going to win or lose this war on the battlefield in Iraq and the battlefield in Afghanistan. I don’t. I think we’ll win or lose this war right here in America. I think we’ll win or lose this war because the American people...

MR. RUSSERT: Let’s, let’s have...

SEN. SANTORUM: Please let me finish—because the American people are not going to stand—are, are, are losing their resolve because of the tactics the terrorists are using. Understand, terrorists understand. What they, what they want to accomplish is every single day to kill people, and every single day make it hard for Americans to open up their papers, or turn on their television and find more death and more destruction. And it’s undermining our ability to prosecute this war.

We need to lay out for the American public what this war is, the fact that we are up against, I think, the greatest challenge of this, of this country’s history.

MR. RUSSERT: But, senator, the American people have turned against the war in Iraq.

SEN. SANTORUM: Yes, they have.

MR. RUSSERT: Why? Because of misjudgments made by the Bush administration?

SEN. SANTORUM: I think because the Bush administration hasn’t laid out the complexity of dealing with this war and, and how it fits into a broader picture.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me pursue...

SEN. SANTORUM: And that’s what I’m trying to do.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me pursue that, because when President Clinton took troops into Kosovo, this is what you said. “President Clinton is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill defined objective and no exit strategy. He is yet to tell Congress how much this operation will cost. And, he has not informed our nation’s Armed Forces about how long they will be away from home.”

Do you believe you should have the same standard for President Bush? He should give a defined objective, he should give an exit strategy, he should give a cost, and he should give a timeline for Iraq, just as you were demanding President Clinton give for Kosovo?

SEN. SANTORUM: No. Because, because Kosovo and, and Slobodan Milosevic were never a security threat to the United State of America. No way. There—I mean, it wasn’t even close.

MR. RUSSERT: But these are men and women at war.

SEN. SANTORUM: We had, we had—excuse me—we had no business, in my opinion—and I felt this today—we had no business going in—into that area.  We had no national security interest. We are up against an enemy that every single day in the streets of Iran they’re out talking about how they want to destroy the United States, how they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. We can sit back and say they’re not a real threat, we can sit back and play games and, and, and pick apart the administration’s strategy, or we can focus...

MR. CASEY: We never said that, right? You know we’ve never said that.

SEN. SANTORUM: ...we can focus...

MR. CASEY: Never said that.

SEN. SANTORUM: ...on what the real problem is. The real problem is we are up against a serious enemy that wants to destroy us. Ask the two Fox News reporters who just came back. “Submit or die!” That’s what they believe. And we can step back and say, “Ah, well, they’re crazy. Ah, we’re not—they’re not serious.”

MR. RUSSERT: But...

SEN. SANTORUM: “Oh, we all just need to play around, and play politics with tactics.”

MR. RUSSERT: ...but what is wrong with asking—what is wrong with asking for a defined objective, an exit strategy, a cost estimate and a timeline?

SEN. SANTORUM: We have—we have...

MR. CASEY: Tim...

SEN. SANTORUM: ...we have—the administration has, has testified, as I have laid out in my campaign, lots of things that we need to, we need to accomplish on a tactical level. The bottom line is, are we going to get the focus right as to who the enemy is and how we, how we have to go after them?

MR. CASEY: Tim...

SEN. SANTORUM: And again, I go back to Iran. What—a big problem I have with this administration is it hasn’t been tough enough on Iran. It should not have let Khatemi come into this country and be at Harvard today. It should not have negotiated with the Iranians on their nuclear program.  They’re stringing us along and they’re going to continue to string us along.  We need to pass the Iran Freedom of Support Act, my bill that I introduced two years ago. I offered that on the floor of the United States Senate.

MR. RUSSERT: Should we launch a military attack against Iran?

SEN. SANTORUM: No, I think what we have is an opportunity—and again, my bill says this—to go after them by using pro-democracy forces within Iran, also pro-democracy forces outside, and to do something to crack down on that regime with additional sanctions. That’s the one-two punch. The administration so far has opposed me on that.

MR. RUSSERT: No military option. No military option.

SEN. SANTORUM: That’s part of the—that’s part of the other 2 percent he doesn’t agree with me on.

MR. RUSSERT: Go ahead.

MR. CASEY: Tim, let me take a few minutes on, on Iran. There’s no question that this—the policy of our government has to be to do everything possible to make sure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. There’s no question about that. And we’ve got to use sanctions in a very skilled way. Not—we need a much better policy leading into this—any kind of conflict with Iran than we have with Iraq.

And I have to ask Senator Santorum, he has talked about his legislation. He has talked about sanctions, and we agree, I think, on the question of sanctions, they’ve got to be very tough. But I have to ask...

SEN. SANTORUM: You would have vote—you would have voted for my bill?

MR. CASEY: Hey, absolutely.

SEN. SANTORUM: Good.

MR. CASEY: I have to ask him, I have to ask him, though, if he, if—you’re the foremost supporter of sanctions in the U.S. Senate. Would you say that?

SEN. SANTORUM: I don’t know if I would say I was the foremost, but...

MR. CASEY: Well, you’re one of the top, OK?

SEN. SANTORUM: I, I support sanctions in Iran.

MR. CASEY: And so do I, and so do a lot, a lot of Americans. But, but I think you should tell the American people today about what you’re feeling is about the number one, or the most prominent, at least, opponent of sanctions, critic of, of Iran’s sanctions when he was in the private sector at least.  His name is Dick Cheney. It’s not some, some European. Dick Cheney opposed sanctions when he was at the Halliburton Company. And I want to ask you today, Rick, do you—are you going to sit here today and not denounce him for continually opposing sanctions, and are you going to give the money back that he raised for you? I think he raised you 300,000 bucks in Luzerne County.

SEN. SANTORUM: I’m not going to denounce the vice president of the United States, and I think you’d find that...

MR. CASEY: Even on sanctions?

SEN. SANTORUM: Even—I, I disagree with him on sanctions, I’m not going to denounce him because I have a disagreement. I don’t denounce people because I disagree with them.

MR. CASEY: Oh, and I’m sure you’ve told him that.

SEN. SANTORUM: I, I think I’ve been very clear. In fact, I stood up on the floor of the United States Senate when I debated this, and Joe Biden opposed me, and he waved a letter from Condoleezza Rice in opposition to me, and we still got 46 votes on the floor of the Senate, and I intend to bring that up again this fall, and hopefully we’ll pass it.

MR. CASEY: Rick, sanctions are important; you should tell him he’s wrong.

MR. RUSSERT: It is interesting, Senator Santorum, hearing you distinguish your voting records in some cases with the president. There was an article in The Wall Street Journal that caught my attention. Here’s the headline: “A Test of Republican Resiliency. Powerful Pennsylvania Senator Bets He Can Catch Up at Polls Through Distance From Bush. When President Bush arrived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to campaign for the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Mr. Santorum was 130 miles away campaigning at an agricultural event. ... During a recent campaign swing, the senator rarely mentioned Mr.  Bush, and when he did, it was generally to point out where they differed—even if the differences were modest.”

And if you go to Congressional Quarterly and review your voting record in support of the president, here it is: In 2005 you were with him 95 percent of the time, 100 percent of the time in ‘04, 99 in ‘03, 96 in ‘02, 97 in ‘01.  Ken Mehlman, the president’s hand-picked chairman of the Republican National Committee, said the most important priority in ‘06 is re-electing Rick Santorum. George Bush and Rick Santorum have governed very much in lock-step.

SEN. SANTORUM: Absolutely. I agree with the president, as you see, a vast majority of the time. When I agree with him, I say it. And when I don’t agree with him, I, I say it, too.

MR. RUSSERT: You think he’s a great president?

SEN. SANTORUM: I think he’s been a terrific president, absolutely.

MR. CASEY: Tim, what—I think what the people of Pennsylvania expect and deserve is someone who’s going to be independent, truly independent. That voting record shows very graphically he hasn’t been independent. Being a rubber stamp for the president of the United States is not the best—in the best interest of the people of America. Especially...

MR. RUSSERT: But have the Democrats sometimes been obstructionist, and opposed everything that Bush proposed?

MR. CASEY: I’m sure, I’m sure they have. But, but I’m talking about the way I approach it as a U.S. senator, to be independent. And I think, Tim, when you have two politicians in Washington that agree 98 percent of the time, one of them’s really not necessary. We could have, we could have a machine have that kind of vote. We need someone who’s going to be truly independent, who has the character and the integrity to stand up to his party and his president, especially at a time of war.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me find out how you would implement something that you’re promising the voters of Pennsylvania. Here’s a Casey campaign ad about our budget.

(Videotape, Bob Casey campaign ad):

MR. CASEY: I believe in a balanced budget. Government should live within its means, like any small business.

(End of videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: How would you get a balanced budget?

MR. CASEY: It’s not easy, Tim, but here are the steps we should take. First of all, when it comes to the budget, what’s missing principally is a lack of fiscal responsibility, you know that. We’ve gone from about two, 236 of, of surplus down to 296 in deficit. We need some fiscal discipline. One of the ways that we do that, I believe, is to repeal the tax cut for people making over $200,000 a year. That alone, that, that change alone, in addition to an estate tax change, could get you a trillion. About 730 billion on...

MR. RUSSERT: Over 10 years.

MR. CASEY: Over 10 years, that’s right.

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah, but, but if you rolled back the top 1 percent, it’s about $56 billion in a year. Our deficit is 200...

MR. CASEY: That’s true, Tim, absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: How you going to balance the budget? Which, which programs you going to cut?

MR. CASEY: Tim, you can’t, you can’t balance a budget in one year. They’ve put us in such a fiscal hole, it will take many years. I hope it doesn’t take 10 years, it took...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, but give me a couple ideas. Which programs would you cut?

MR. CASEY: Tim, there are a lot of things. I—in, in state government, I’ve already done this. Sometimes you, you try to limit the number of, of consultants, that’s one idea. Sometimes you limit the size of, of, of the federal government. I’ve already done that in state government. There are a lot of ways. Especially some, some tax loopholes, off-shore tax loopholes that are in there right now.

There are lots of ways to cut. But the first thing you have to do, I think, is—and let me just outline these quickly. First of all, the tax cut. Over 10 years, if you repealed it for 200,000 and up, you could get $730 billion.  The second thing, on the estate tax, if we set the general estate tax exemption level at $3.5 million for an individual, 7 million for a couple, maybe even carve out a $5 million exemption for family farms and businesses, you could get a savings just on that alone of $300 billion over 10 years.  You’re already at a trillion. It’s a step along the way. A corporate welfare commission, over—conservatively over 10 years could get you 200 billion. And finally, you’ve got to make sure that we have a pay as you go strategy, just like a family has.

MR. RUSSERT: But Mr. Casey, let, let...

MR. CASEY: I think we can get to 1.3 trillion over 10 years with that.

MR. RUSSERT: But let me show you reality. Here was the budget, as you mentioned in 2001, a surplus of some $261 billion. And now a deficit—now it’s a deficit of $260. That’s the next chart. And our debt has gone from 5.7 trillion to $8.5 trillion. Senator Santorum, you voted to increase that debt every single time.

SEN. SANTORUM: Well, let me just say this. First up, I don’t know how Mr.  Casey by, by, by changing the, the estate tax to provide more exemptions is going to save money. The fact of the matter is that that would cost money over, over the long term, not, not save money. The death tax snaps back to the old death tax in 2011, and if he made changes, it would cost, literally, hundreds of millions—probably $100 million just to do the changes that he suggested. So it doesn’t save money, it costs money. But that’s OK because I’m for not, not taking more people’s money when, when they die. So maybe we, maybe we agree on that. Although he said he would have voted against any changes to, to lower the death tax.

MR. CASEY: Not true.

SEN. SANTORUM: What you heard from Mr. Casey is what you hear all the time.  No specifics. No answer. He gave absolutely—he didn’t give you one program that he would cut. Not one. And he won’t. And he won’t give you an, he won’t give you an answer on Social Security. He won’t give you an answer on anything to make any changes. It’s all talking points from the Democratic Senatorial Committee. There’s no specifics.

MR. RUSSERT: All right, let’s, let’s, let’s be, let’s be specific and let’s go...

SEN. SANTORUM: I have—I, I—wait, let...

MR. CASEY: How about your specifics?

MR. RUSSERT: Let’s go back to the chart.

MR. CASEY: Your turn, go ahead.

MR. RUSSERT: Let’s go back to the chart where Social Security and entitlements are such a huge part of our budget. They asked Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, he said that’s where the money is. Look at this pie chart.  Social Security and Medicare and other entitlements make up 52 percent of our federal spending. It dwarfs defense and non-defense and interest on the public debt. There are 40 million people on Social Security and Medicare.  There’s going to be 80 million in the next 15 years. Life expectancy is—used to be 65, it’s now approaching 80. We all know it.

Senator Santorum, when you ran first for the Senate in ‘94 you said, “You can raise taxes, you can cut benefits, or you can push back the retirement age in the future.” You also said this to—in La Salle University, “It is ridiculous if we have a retirement age in this country of age 65 today. ... Push it back to at least 70. ... I’d go even farther if I could, but I don’t think I could pass it.” Will you push retirement age back because of the huge influx of baby boomers?

SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah, everybody in Pennsylvania has seen that quote because it’s been out on every advertisement, but...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, you said it.

SEN. SANTORUM: I did say it. I said it to a group of students at La Salle talking about them in 1994 and I’ve had 12 years in the United States Senate and I haven’t introduced or voted for anything like that because I, I think that there’s a better way. And, and, and the alternatives at the time, as you heard me lay out, were either raise taxes or cut benefits or push back the retirement age.

I think there’s a third option now that I have been an advocate for which my opponent opposes, and that’s personal retirement accounts. I have a three-step concrete approach to dealing with Social Security. Number one, pass the Social Security Guarantee Act, which I’m the author of, which says that if you’re born before 1950, your benefits cannot be changed and your cost of living increases are guaranteed. Number two, stop the raid introduced by Jim DeMint which says take the surplus that’s coming in right now and actually put it into individual accounts so people have ownership of this surplus instead of the money being taken and raided to pay for, for current government expenditures. So number two is to stop the raid, give people their own personal accounts that, that will actually be there to pay for them down the road. And number three, give younger workers the opportunity to have personal retirement accounts. Those personal retirement accounts will grow faster and produce more than what the government, “investment in Social Security,” thus making up the difference between the two.

So my question to Mr. Casey is, if you’re not for personal retirement accounts, which he says he’s not, how much are you going to raise their taxes?  Or how much are you going to cut benefits to fix the Social Security problem?

And be specific.

MR. CASEY: Here’s what we’ve got to do on Social Security, Tim. You need a step by step process. First of all, we know that the best remedy for Social Security in addition to a lot of other challenges is economic growth.

SEN. SANTORUM: And that’s why we won’t raise taxes.

MR. CASEY: And you know, and you know what? A lot of—and I’m not willing to, to say that this, this issue...

MR. RUSSERT: But something that’s 52 percent of the budget, approaching 70 percent of the budget. You’re going to grow your way out of it?

MR. CASEY: You—that’s part of it, Tim. That’s only part of it.  You—you’ve got to—one of the ways you return to fiscal responsibility is making sure that we repeal that tax cut for the top 1 percent, that’s part of it.

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah, but we’re talking about Social Security.

MR. CASEY: That’s, that’s part of funding it.

SEN. SANTORUM: That top 1 percent has helped create the jobs that we’ve had over the last three years.

MR. CASEY: That’s part of funding it. Don’t interrupt me, Rick. That’s part, that’s part of how you grow it. Tim, here’s—I think that paying for Social Security over the next 75 years is a problem. I’m—I don’t, I don’t agree with your premise. I don’t think you’re talking about a crisis. The crisis is what he just outlined. The crisis...

MR. RUSSERT: But would you, would you be open to...

MR. CASEY: The crisis is privatization.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you be open to raising retirement age? Or perhaps a means task? Or looking at COLAs?

MR. CASEY: Tim, if we had, if we had a commission that recommended all of those steps, they would have a tough sales job on me. Because here’s what I know and here’s what a lot of people in America know. This is a problem but, but not a crisis, because the assumptions for the next 35 years are based upon a growth number of 1.8 percent, a—I think a far too low and far too pessimistic growth. We need...

MR. RUSSERT: So, so double the people on Social Security and Medicare, and life expectancy approaches 80, and the solution is do nothing?

MR. CASEY: No, no, the solution is...

MR. RUSSERT: Grow our way out.

MR. CASEY: Growth, return to fiscal responsibility, make the estate tax changes. In other words, get on the path to fiscal responsibility. Tim, we didn’t have a problem with Social Security in the ‘90s because we had a—we had good growth, and I think that’s one way to do it. I am just not willing to accept...

MR. RUSSERT: You didn’t have a baby boom, you didn’t have a baby boom generation in retiring.

MR. CASEY: That’s true. But I don’t think that—I think when you say 1.8 percent growth over 35 years, Tim, that is half the growth rate of the last 75 years.

SEN. SANTORUM: That’s exactly what I just said. No answer.

MR. CASEY: Hold on one second.

SEN. SANTORUM: No answer.

MR. CASEY: We’re going to do better than—yes, I had a much better answer than yours, because yours is, yours is what The Philadelphia Inquirer called “snake oil.” They called his, his so-called guarantee “snake oil.” His proposal is to privatize. His proposal drains a trillion dollars out of the trust fund. We agree that we shouldn’t drain the trust fund.

But, Rick, you know why they’re draining it right now? To pay for those tax cuts for the wealthy that you supported. That’s the wrong policy for Social Security and for the economy.

SEN. SANTORUM: He wants to, he, he wants to grow the economy by increasing taxes. That’s what he says. So here, here he’s saying we have to grow the economy so we’re going to take more out of it. That’s a great way to grow the economy. In fact, what we’ve seen is that, in fact, when we give people their money, let them keep the money that they’ve worked hard to earn, they reinvest it, they create jobs, and they grow the economy just like you suggested. He provided absolutely no answer, again. And he’s not only has not provided an answer for how he’s going to reduce the deficit, in fact his proposals are well over a trillion dollars. If you just go through his Web site and see all the things he wants to fully fund...

MR. CASEY: Your answers...

SEN. SANTORUM: We passed, we passed a Medicare bill—Medicaid bill earlier this year, cut $40 billion out of the growth of Medicare. He was against it.  I—we—another entitlement, welfare reform. 1996, the most successful piece of legislation, social policy legislation in history, took illegal immigrants off welfare, took, took prisoners off of welfare, took fugitive felons off of welfare. He was against it. It would—it saved billions of dollars over the last 10 years.

MR. CASEY: (Unintelligible).

SEN. SANTORUM: He was against it. He’s against anything that cuts government.

MR. CASEY: No.

SEN. SANTORUM: He’s for increasing taxes, and he says he wants to, wants to balance the budget. That’s just a joke.

MR. RUSSERT: Take 20 seconds, we have to take a break.

MR. CASEY: I’m for, I’m for fiscal responsibility.

Hey, Rick, you’re—there’s only one guy sitting at this table running for the Senate who voted for those record deficits and voted to raise the debt number more in, in a couple of years than every president from George Washington to, to Bill Clinton. You’ve got a lot of explaining to do. I’m, I’m the one who’s been fiscally responsible in my work. You ought to try it.

MR. RUSSERT: We’re going to take a quick break. A lot more of our Pennsylvania Senate debate, right after this.

(Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT: MEET THE PRESS. The Senate seat from Pennsylvania. Rick Santorum, Bob Casey. After this station break.

(Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT: And we are back with the contenders for the U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania: the Republican incumbent, Rick Santorum; his Democratic challenger, Bob Casey.

Senator Santorum, another social issue. The Federal Drug Administration has said that Plan B, the morning-after pill, can be sold over the counter to Americans 18 and older. Many in the right-to-life community have called that pill an abortifacient. Are you in favor of the FDA decision to sell the morning-after pill?

SEN. SANTORUM: No, I’m not. I, I agree that it is an abortifacient, and that, that it’s dangerous to give a dose of hormones equivalent to one third of a whole series of birth control pills to, to someone without any kind of doctor supervision. I think it could be dangerous and I think, obviously, if you’re giving it out over the counter to, to 18-year-olds it’s going to get to younger people, and I think it could be very dangerous, can lead to serious problems. And plus, I do believe that it, that it causes abortions—in some cases.

MR. RUSSERT: The morning-after pill. You in favor of it selling over the counter?

MR. CASEY: Yes, Tim. We, we disagree. I think what emergency contraception is, according to the science, is, is basically that. It is contraception, and I support it, and it’s a difference of opinion.

MR. RUSSERT: But you do believe life begins at conception?

MR. CASEY: I do.

MR. RUSSERT: And in fact, if this was fertilized, would you call it contraception or abortion?

MR. CASEY: Tim, I think the science is clear on this. I think it is contraception, and I support it. I think we’ve got to make it widely available, and I think that’s one of the ways, I think, that we reach common ground on the very tough issue of abortion: to reduce the number not just of unwanted pregnancies, but I think emergency contraception can reduce the number of abortions. That’s what we should emphasize.

SEN. SANTORUM: He says the science is clear and it is clear. In fact, it is an abortifacient in certain circumstances. If the, if the egg has been fertilized and, and the, and the pill is taken, it does cause an abortion.  It’s inconsistent with his previous position. It’s a classic attempt of him, how in a general election, to try and middle and, and, and violate his principles. And I think his father would be very upset if, if he were alive today and, and heard him be supportive of something like this.

MR. CASEY: (Unintelligible).

MR. RUSSERT: Senator, if you believe that life begins at conception, then why do you support exceptions for rape, incest, and life of mother?

SEN. SANTORUM: What I said is—yeah. What I said is that I would vote for things like that. I think that, that...

MR. RUSSERT: But it’s the taking of a life.

SEN. SANTORUM: I, I said I would, but so does the Hyde Amendment allows rape, incest, life of the mother. That’s what I talked about is that if, if that is the common ground we could get, I would support that.

MR. RUSSERT: But by your standards, it’s the taking of a life.

SEN. SANTORUM: It is, there’s no question it’s the taking of a life. But if it—it is an attempt for me to try to see if we can find common ground to actually make progress in limiting the other abortions. So yes, that’s what I would do.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you something from the Weekly Standard, Mr. Casey.  “Rick Santorum has proven that he gets the job done. Time and time again he has come through. ... When it comes to Pennsylvania, Santorum delivers.” Quote/unquote, fellow Democrat, Governor Ed Rendell. When you read that, what did you think?

MR. CASEY: Well, Tim, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I disagree. You know, Tim, what I think what the governor is trying to make a point about is that, as a public official, certainly as a governor, you’ve got to work with both parties, and I’m glad that he does, and he’s a great, great governor.  And Ed Rendell has been a great supporter of mine throughout this whole campaign and we look forward to, to working together and, and winning this race.

MR. RUSSERT: But is it helpful for a Democratic governor to say, “Santorum delivers”?

MR. CASEY: Tim, I’ll let the pundits decide that. I just have to, to focus on my campaign and, and work to make sure I win this election. He’s been a tremendous supporter. I don’t know of any public official in the country, literally, who’s done more to help our campaign, and I’m grateful for his help.

SEN. SANTORUM: And the bottom line is, though, Tim, that, that is a huge issue in this campaign and that someone—that’s the governor talking, but I think you could talk to, to mayors all over the commonwealth, Democrats and Republicans, who would tell you that there’s no one who fights more and delivers more for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, whether it’s transportation funding, whether it’s writing the a Part D plan that, that works for Pennsylvania—a whole host of other things that I do to make sure that Pennsylvania’s represented and represented aggressively.

I’m the number three man in the United States Senate. I hope to be the number two guy when this is all said and done. And I’m going to be someone leading.  I’m going to be someone taking the aggressive position for Pennsylvania here in Washington, D.C., as opposed to someone who has a record of when it gets tough, he doesn’t stand up. And I, I want to point to the issue of the pay raise. There’s a pay raise in Washington—in, in Harrisburg last year.

MR. CASEY: Yeah, let’s talk about that.

SEN. SANTORUM: And Bob Casey as treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania refused—absolutely refused to fight that pay raise. He said nothing for three months, signed the checks that, that, that was an unconstitutional pay raise, and then five months afterwards, after the November election, after the people of Pennsylvania said, “We don’t like this pay raise,” Bob Casey comes out and files a legal brief saying that what he did was unconstitutional. That’s not courage, that’s political pandering.  That’s not someone who’s going to come to Washington and fight for Pennsylvania. That’s someone who plays games with his old buddies, and when the going got tough, he was nowhere to be seen.

MR. RUSSERT: Are you going to respond?

MR. CASEY: Tim, what you’ve got here is some, some Washington hot air and lecturing. Here, here are the facts. He just, he just completely misrepresented the facts. He, he said here today, as he did a week ago, that, that I didn’t make the statement I made on the pay raise until after the election when people were defeated. That is 100 percent wrong.

There’s only one person at this table who has made a commitment, or made a commitment when he was first elected to office never to take a pay raise and then he did, and it’s this guy right here. I never made that promise and never broke that promise. And on the issue of the state pay raise, I came out very clearly, long before Election Day in November ‘05 against it. And, and Rick Santorum when he was asked...

SEN. SANTORUM: You didn’t do anything when you could’ve stopped it.

MR. CASEY: When he was, when he was—hold on, Rick.

SEN. SANTORUM: You didn’t do anything when you could’ve stopped it.

MR. CASEY: When he was, when he, when he was asked about it, when he was asked about it...

SEN. SANTORUM: Why didn’t you try to stop it, Bob?

MR. CASEY: What—you never, you never took a position in it.

SEN. SANTORUM: Why didn’t you try to stop it? Why didn’t you try to stop it? You could’ve stopped it.

MR. CASEY: But, you know what?

SEN. SANTORUM: You could’ve—you, you know what you said?

MR. CASEY: Rick, you got to—you got to do your job as state treasurer.

SEN. SANTORUM: You said, you said to your, you said to your newspaper that you didn’t even ask about it. You didn’t even ask your lawyers what you could do. And then six months...

MR. CASEY: You have no idea what we didn’t ask about. Rick, there’s only one...

SEN. SANTORUM: That was, that was in the paper. You answered the reporter and the reporter asked you why didn’t you do anything? You said, “I didn’t think about it. I didn’t even ask about it.”

MR. CASEY: You know, you’re wrong about this.

SEN. SANTORUM: That is not—I’ll give you the quote. In fact, we’ll provide it for everybody here today.

MR. CASEY: You’re wrong about this. You didn’t take a position on the state pay raise.

SEN. SANTORUM: I’m not a state official, you are.

MR. CASEY: Oh. Oh, I see.

SEN. SANTORUM: You were in a position—you signed the pay raise checks. You had an opportunity to stop this pay raise.

MR. CASEY: It’s called following the law. Following the law.

SEN. SANTORUM: And you said that you were following the law that you say now is unconstitutional.

MR. CASEY: Following the law.

SEN. SANTORUM: You filed a brief, you filed a brief saying it was unconstitutional.

MR. CASEY: Following the law. You have a legal opinion about what it is.

Right.

SEN. SANTORUM: You filed a brief saying it was unconstitutional.

MR. CASEY: Let’s—following the law, Rick. It’s a new concept here.

SEN. SANTORUM: How can you say it’s following the law if you say it’s unconstitutional?

MR. RUSSERT: Let, let me, let me—Senator, let me raise, let me, let me raise the...

MR. CASEY: Why did you vote yourself a pay raise three times when you said to the people of Pennsylvania you would never do that?

SEN. SANTORUM: I voted three—I said to, to the Congressional District when I ran...

MR. CASEY: And then you voted against the minimum wage 13 times.

SEN. SANTORUM: When I, when I—and I voted for it 11--10 times. What, what I will tell you is that on the pay raise, yes. When I, when I got elected to Congress, I said I wouldn’t take the pay raise, and in fact I didn’t. And I wrote checks back to the treasury for four years. When I ran for the Senate I said I...

MR. CASEY: You...

SEN. SANTORUM: When I ran for the Senate I said I would accept the salary and accept the cost of living. That’s what I said, and I have done so every time. I’ve only voted for three in 16 years, a total of 6 percents pay raise.  You had a chance to stop this pay raise before it happened. You could’ve filed a suit. You could’ve gone after these folks who—and you didn’t. You didn’t say anything until October, a month before the election. Three months after the pay raise.

MR. RUSSERT: Ano—Senator.

MR. CASEY: Oh, now it’s a month before. I thought it was after. I thought it was after.

SEN. SANTORUM: I said you didn’t—you filed a brief after the election. You said nothing—you sent a press release a month...

MR. RUSSERT: We’ll look—all right, we’ll look at the transcript. To be continued.

SEN. SANTORUM: After.

MR. RUSSERT: Another issue that’s risen in this campaign, particularly in western Pennsylvania, is the issue of residency.

SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had this editorial: “Five Santorum children have been home-schooled at their house in Leesburg, Virginia, through the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, an education paid for by the Penn Hills district to the tune of $38,000 a year, until it became apparent that they don’t live in Penn Hills.” They go on. “The [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette] sent a letter to Rick Santorum at his home address, at least the one that he claims.  Back from Penn Hills came the letter with a sticker from the U.S. Postal Service checked as ‘Not Deliverable As Addressed—Unable To Forward.’”

And what people point to, and particularly the media in the western part of the state, is in 1990 when you ran for the House, you ran against the incumbent Doug Walgren, and ran this commercial repeatedly. Let’s watch.

(Videotape, 1990 Santorum campaign ad):

AD ANNOUNCER: There’s something strange about this house. It belongs to our congressman, Doug Walgren. What’s so strange? Instead of living in his own congressional district, Congressman Walgren lives in this house, located in the wealthiest area of Virginia.

(End of videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: And now the State Education Department, state taxpayers are going to have to—have agreed to give the Penn Hills school district $55,000 to compensate for your children’s’ tuition while they were in Virginia taking a cyber course. And based on that commercial...

SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...isn’t that rather hypocritical of you?

SEN. SANTORUM: No, not at all. Look, look, first off, that commercial, you didn’t play the rest of it, that commercial criticized my opponent. First off, he never owned a home in the district, ever, in 14 years. Let me finish.  He never owned a home for 14 years, never had a residence there.

MR. RUSSERT: OK, you own a home, but...

SEN. SANTORUM: Number one, I own a home and always owned a home.

MR. RUSSERT: But since you’ve owned your home at 111 Stevens Lane, how many nights have you personally spent there?

SEN. SANTORUM: I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve spent there. What I say is...

MR. RUSSERT: Roughly, roughly.

SEN. SANTORUM: I don’t know. I—what I, what I spend is...

MR. RUSSERT: I mean, a handful?

SEN. SANTORUM: I, I probably spend maybe a month a year, something like that.

MR. RUSSERT: A month a year...

SEN. SANTORUM: On nights.

MR. RUSSERT: ...in that house?

SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah, probably. I mean, the, the, the bottom line is that I, I have—I, I own a home there, I pay all—I pay my local taxes, I pay my state taxes, income taxes, I pay real estate taxes, and I have, and I can—and my driver’s license there, I vote there, my dentist is there. I mean, the bottom line is, yes, I have a job here in Washington, that’s what the people of Pennsylvania elected me to do. And I pay all my taxes there, and, and I want to be a father who’s with his children. And I own a home, I pay my taxes. My opponent didn’t own a home, and he didn’t pay his taxes. Number one.

Number two, and this is very important, he didn’t spend any time in the district. Not only didn’t he own a home, but, but the rest of that commercial was he only spent 28 days in the entire year in that district. I spend—I get to every single one of 67 counties of Pennsylvania every single year. I spent hundreds of days, thousands of days probably during my term—in Pennsylvania.  There’s no one—you heard, you heard the—you heard Governor Rendell, no one works harder, no one spends more time, no one delivers more for Pennsylvania.  The issue is not where I put my head. I put my head where my—I want my children with me, and that’s because I care about my six children and my wife, Karen, and I want to be a good husband and a good father.

MR. CASEY: Tim?

SEN. SANTORUM: But I also have a record of being one heck of a hard worker for the people of Pennsylvania.

MR. CASEY: (Unintelligible)

MR. RUSSERT: Now, you have sought five—four state offices in six years.  Will you pledge to serve a full six-year term if you’re elected senator and stop running for public office?

MR. CASEY: Absolutely, and I already have made that pledge.

Tim, let me get 30 seconds on the residency question. It is an issue. It’s an issue with, with Senator Santorum and his constituents, and it’s an issue because he made it, as you said, an issue in 1990. But the—in addition to that question, the question is not where he lives in the end—it’s one of the questions, not the only question—it’s how he votes. He votes the wrong way for the people of Pennsylvania, 98 percent of the time with George Bush.

MR. RUSSERT: To be continued. Thank you for a spirited discussion. Bob Casey, Rick Santorum.

MR. CASEY: Thank you, Tim.

SEN. SANTORUM: Thanks, Tim.

MR. CASEY: Thanks, Rick.

MR. RUSSERT: Our SENATE DEBATE series will continue Sunday mornings this fall. Next up in two weeks, September 17th, Virginia Republican incumbent Senator George Allen. He debates former secretary of the Navy, the Democratic challenger, Jim Webb.

For the full lineup of all our debates and to submit your questions to ask the candidates, check out our Web site, mtp.msnbc.com. We’ll be right back on MEET THE PRESS.

(Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT: And this coming Wednesday, MSNBC and msnbc.com kicking off their coverage of DECISION 2006. An entire day of politics like no other.  Join me along with Brian Williams, David Gregory, Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews and many more. Everything you need to know in one big day on MSNBC, “Decision 2006: Battleground America,” Wednesday at 9 a.m. Eastern on MSNBC and msnbc.com.

That’s all for today. We’ll be back next week with a special edition of MEET THE PRESS, the fifth anniversary of September 11th. If it’s Sunday, it’s MEET THE PRESS.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

More on TODAY.com

Exclusive
  1. TODAY

    Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly talks near-death ordeal, recovery

    9/3/2014 2:31:06 AM +00:00 2014-09-03T02:31:06
  1. Kelly Gunderson via YouTube

    'I'm lovin' you': Woman with Alzheimer's connects with daughter in viral video

    9/2/2014 11:38:34 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T23:38:34
  1. Kirsty Grant / Kirsty Grant

    See why this baby is smiling... and why his dad is cringing

    9/2/2014 5:26:01 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:26:01
  1. Dan Hallman / Dan Hallman/Invision/AP

    Joan Rivers remains on life support, her daughter Melissa Rivers says

    9/2/2014 5:59:58 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:59:58
  1. Report: ISIS kills second American journalist

    SITE Intel Group, a jihadist monitoring organization, announced on Tuesday that the Islamic militant group ISIS has killed American journalist Steven Joel Sotloff.

    9/2/2014 5:34:24 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:34:24