Rick Santorum Clashes With Glenn Beck On Libertarian Influence in the Conservative Movement

Photo Credit: Mark Mabry


Today, Presidential candidate Rick Santorum appeared on the Glenn Beck program to discuss the state of the race for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. The tone of the overall exchange was cordial, with Santorum joking at the start, “You know, Glenn, sometimes my wife loves you more than me.”

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Still, Glenn warned Santorum that he wouldn’t be gentle in questioning him just because they were friends. “I’m nobody’s shill,” Glenn said. And indeed, not all of the interview was sweetness and light, as during the second segment, Glenn asked Santorum a tough question on his views about libertarianism, leading to a clash between host and guest.

Santorum said:

“You’ve heard this from me before, the libertarian influence on the conservative movement, I mean, you heard it from Ron Paul last night, I mean there’s — he has a very bad conservative rating. Why? Because the libertarian view is isolationist from a national security point of view, moral issues have no place in the conservative movement…”

“I would consider myself a libertarian,” Glenn said.

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Santorum backtracked. “I would say the conservative movement believes that this country is a moral enterprise, we have God-given rights, and with God-given rights come God-given responsibilities, and we have a set of values, and if everyone does whatever they want to do, then we have George Soros, we don’t have America.”

“Those values don’t come from the Government, they come from our Churches and our Societies,” Glenn protested.

“But the Government has a role,” Santorum responded.

“In not undermining them.”

“Well, and also in having laws in place that you don’t impinge on other peoples’ rights, and those values are important, and we have laws against murder. We should have laws against abortion. So those are values issues, I mean, they’re all values issues, I mean they’re the Ten Commandments, and they’re put into law,” Santorum said.

“There’s a Tea Party split, I think,” said Glenn, “with the Ron Paul Tea Party, that tend to be more like those who followed the French Revolution, some of them are following into Occupy Wall Street, and those are guys that I split with. But there’s people like — I don’t know where Penn Gillette stands on the election, but Penn Gillette is a friend, I disagree with him a lot on religion, but he is a decent, honorable guy, and he’s a wild libertarian. I got no problem with that. It’s the difference between Thomas Paine and George Washington. I lean more George Washington, and I think you do, too, but Thomas Paine was a patriot too.”

“I think in a lot of areas, libertarians have some legitimate gripes about what’s happened in the conservative movement over the past 30 years,” Santorum said. “But I’m just saying: careful that we don’t transform that movement into something that I would recommend against.”

The exchange came after over 20 minutes or relative agreement between the two, starting with the first segment of the broadcast, which focused on the economy:

Both men expressed visible frustration at the tenor of last night’s CNN debate, with Glenn mocking the moderators for their question choice. “War, food prices going up, gas prices going up, housing going down, everything, jobs, everything that’s going on, and the press asked — 25 percent of the questions last night were basically on contraception,” said Glenn. Santorum nodded sympathetically, before adding that the reason he seems to only ever talk about contraception is because “it’s all [the press] want to ask me about.”

Glenn followed up with his usual urgency, asking, “Do we [Americans] make it [after] another four years with Barack Obama?”

“I think this country would be a fundamentally different country at that point,” Santorum said. “I think we will have lost the very essence of what America is about, which is free people…The President is using the Constitution very much the way the French used the French constitution, to wield it and impose.”

“Are we on the course of a dictatorship?” Glenn asked.

“I think you’re looking at European Socialism at a minimum,” Santorum responded.

Glenn then segued into a much more technical question, asking Santorum how to rein in the power of central banks.

“I think you’ve got to put the Fed back in the business of just managing the money supply for the purposes of holding inflation in check,” Santorum said. “If the Fed’s only mission was dollar stabilization, then they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing right now.”

Glenn pushed Santorum harder on this issue. “There are no checks and balances [on the Fed]. How is this not a criminal organization? Because what they’re doing to us…it’s the biggest heist in human history.”

“To go that one step forward and say ‘Well let’s abolish the Fed and go back to a gold standard,’ I have some serious problems with that,” Santorum said. Glenn cut in.

“You can’t afford the lifestyle we have on gold.”

“The problem is the idea with the gold standard was…gold would increase as economic growth increases,” Santorum continued. “That’s not necessarily true anymore, I mean we don’t have a lot of gold supplies in this country taht we can increase as the economy increases, and can become – in fact, are – dependent on a lot of not particularly great areas of the world for gold mining.”

“Where do you specifically make cuts big enough?” Glenn asked.

“You have to go to the entitlement programs, and the biggest problem with entitlement programs is they’re 60 percent [of the budget], but they’re growing,” Santorum said. “The biggest area of entitlements is seniors, and the three biggest entitlement programs are Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.”

“How do we take care of our seniors? What do we do?” Glenn asked.

Santorum pointed out that much of the problem with Medicare and Medicaid is that they were inefficiently run, and stacked with corruption. In a politically risky move, he then switched to defending the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit for saving costs by bringing seniors “into the game” by giving them private insurance, rather than government run insurance. Santorum claimed that this market-oriented element made the Prescription Drug benefit come in 42 percent under budget.

“Can you imagine a 42 percent reduction in the cost of Medicare?” Santorum asked. “We’re talking probably $100 billion/year.”

Glenn switched topics following this question to the issue of whether the country could be saved while the Left was trying to “set the world on fire.” Santorum demurred slightly in answering.

“The Left has their own agenda, and as far as their coordination and the like, all I can say is, I have seen the Left in America, they are very good at what they do, and they’re increasingly transparent in what they do,” Santorum said. “The whole anarchist group, I mean, they’re well-funded. Soros is one of these folks who clearly has mal-intentions, as far as I’m concerned, for our country, and his values are very different from those that built this country and what we’re founded upon.”

In response to a question from Glenn on the USA Today op-ed by an OWS member calling for armed insurrection, Santorum chuckled. “That was the Tea Party!” he gasped in mock surprise.

“What do you do with Occupy Wall Street? How do you get them off the street?” Glenn pressed.

“The first thing you have to do is trust the American people,” Santorum replied. “How about a President that trusts the American public enough to educate them on the problems that are facing this country?”

On that note, the second segment of the interview opened with a tweet from one of Glenn’s followers asking Santorum: “What action would you take if occupy wall street turns into massive chaos on the streets?”

“I want to start with that question,” Glenn said.

“We certainly would take whatever steps to support state and local authorities to handle those demonstrations, and of course those are always state and local functions,” Santorum said. He added that if any Federal help would be needed, it might be in ferreting out connections across the network of protesters through intelligence agencies.

Glenn then dived into social issues and asked Santorum whether he was pro-choice in the 1990s. “No, I wasn’t,” Santorum said. “When I first ran for office, I was sort of an agnostic, I was a single male and not really interested in the issue, didn’t really care,” Santorum said. “But then when I ran for office, I decided I’d better find out about this issue, and really what my position is. I sat down with my father-in-law, who was a Medical Geneticist, and said okay, doc…tell me the story. I walked out of that meeting, and just from the standpoint of reason, I was pro-Life.”

Following more back-and-forth, including the above confrontation on libertarianism, the entire Santorum family made an appearance on the show:

When asked why she thought her husband was doing so well, Karen Santorum said, “I personally think this is God’s will. I think he has us on a path and I think there’s a lot more happening than what we’re seeing.”