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JOHN KING, USA
Republican Race Shifts to New Hampshire; Interview With Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum
Aired January 4, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And, tonight, we're live again from the CNN Election Center.
More high drama, as the volatile Republican presidential contest shifts from Iowa to New Hampshire. Can Mitt Romney turn an eight-vote Iowa victory into what the politicians call big mo' and does McCain's new backing help or hurt?
Is Iowa surprise Rick Santorum the right's best hope to stop Romney? His first New Hampshire interview is with us just moments ahead.
But Rick Perry bets no. The Texas governor abruptly reverses course, stays in the race, and vows one last stand in South Carolina.
Plus, Texas police explain why they shot and killed an eighth- grader.
After the closest Republican caucus in Iowa history, the crackling Republican presidential race moved into New Hampshire today and immediately became a ground war. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich arrived this morning, a fourth-place finish in Iowa. Immediately, he opened fire on the Iowa winner, Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I find it amazing the news media continues to say he's the most electable Republican, when he can't even break out in his own party. And I don't think he's going to -- he will do fairly well here. This one of his three best states. But the fact is that Governor Romney, in the end, has a very limited appeal in a conservative party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Instead of striking back at Gingrich, Romney arrived in New Hampshire this afternoon, celebrated the endorsement of Senator John McCain and together they concentrated fire on President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Now, my friends, our message, our message to President Barack Obama is, you can run, but you can't hide from your record. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And he said, "If I can't turn this economy around in three years, I will be looking at a one-term proposition."
Well, I'm here to collect. We're going to take back the White House.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Romney may sound like he's looking beyond New Hampshire and past his Republican opponents, but his Republican opponents, well, they are looking at Mitt Romney.
CNN's Jim Acosta joins us from Peterborough tonight.
And, Jim, a narrow eight-vote victory in the state of Iowa. Mitt Romney obviously know his needs a bigger victory in New Hampshire. How big do they think to make clear, I'm the prohibitive front-runner?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John.
Mitt Romney needs New Hampshire to be a blowout, after what happened in Iowa. That slim eight-point -- or -- excuse me -- eight- vote margin of victory for the former Massachusetts governor is certainly not what anybody had in mind, least of all him. It was once thought that if he had run the table and had won Iowa and then come into New Hampshire and then won this state, that that would make him sort of an unstoppable force for the GOP nomination.
Well, that didn't happen, and that might explain why we're seeing John McCain out on the campaign trail with Mitt Romney to sort of reset the campaign, reset the tone of what's happening here in New Hampshire to remind folks that Mitt Romney has on his team the man who resurrected his political career four years ago, coming into the state, holding town halls, like where we are standing right now here in Peterborough, and launching his campaign on to the GOP nomination, and then on to, not winning the presidency, but, you know, keeping his campaign going when it was looking very grim for John McCain four years ago.
And, you know, Mitt Romney has his hands full up here in New Hampshire, John. You mentioned Rick Santorum. He's here tonight. Newt Gingrich was here earlier today. He has a -- there's a pro- Gingrich super PAC that has an ad out, essentially a recycled ad from John McCain's campaign in '08, tearing into Mitt Romney, calling him a flip-flopper.
So, Mitt Romney has his hands full. It does not hurt to have John McCain on his side. And he will be out here in just a few moments, John.
KING: And you can see with Jim Acosta right there the energy has moved from Iowa to New Hampshire as well. Jim Acosta, thanks, live at a Mitt Romney event in New Hampshire tonight. And Jim just mentioned Rick Santorum. He lost by eight votes in Iowa, but you have to declare that a huge moral victory for a candidate who had little money, was written off in the polls for months, written off as a long shot who wouldn't last past Iowa.
Well, Rick Santorum, fresh from that strong performance in Iowa, joins us tonight from Manchester, New Hampshire for his first New Hampshire interview.
Senator, it's good to see you.
Welcome to the fray in New Hampshire.
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much.
It's -- it's good to be here, in fact, back here. This is trip number 31 for me to New Hampshire. I've done over 100 town hall meetings here and we're excited to get back on the ground here and surprise a few people, just like we did the last time around.
KING: Well, let's go through that. You now emerge. You are, at least for this week, the conservative alternative, the leading conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. We've spoken many times over the course of this campaign, when you were way down in the polls, as you started to surge in Iowa.
You say you can make the case you are the best, the most consistent conservative in this race.
I want you to listen here. The Texas Governor Rick Perry, who says he'll see you in South Carolina, disagrees.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Rick is going to have a real problem when he leaves and people start vetting his background, from a fiscal conservative standpoint. This guy is the king of earmarks and pork barrel spending. He was the liaison between Washington and K Street. And I mean he's got some real bags that he's going to have to explain to people. And that's going to be a problem for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's go through that, Senator, with this -- with the rising in the polls there's going to come some tougher scrutiny.
Now, earmarks, you say they were a good thing when you were in the Senate.
Do you stand by that, a good thing?
SANTORUM: Well, all I said is that what the constitution provides is that Congress appropriates funds. And that's what we do. We appropriate funds. And as Ron Paul did, as Jim DeMint did, as just about, I think, every single member of Congress did, when you go to Congress, you make sure that re--- that -- that when taxes go from your state to Washington, D.C., you fight to make sure you get your fair share back.
There are a lot of earmarks...
KING: OK. It's not quite...
SANTORUM: -- that were put in place...
KING: -- it's -- it's...
SANTORUM: -- for example...
KING: -- it's not quite...
SANTORUM: -- earmarks...
KING: -- every single -- forgive me for interrupting, Senator. But it's not quite every single senator. John McCain, who we just heard from, endorse your opponent today, he has long opposed earmarks. A lot of the people, for a long time, were looking for help in that fight.
SANTORUM: Yes, well, John McCain...
SANTORUM: -- the reason...
KING: -- the vice president of Taxpayers for Common...
SANTORUM: Well, hold...
KING: -- Sense...
SANTORUM: -- head on, John...
KING: -- says in Pennsylvania...
SANTORUM: -- John...
KING: -- in 2005...
SANTORUM: Yes, John, hold...
KING: -- $483 million.
SANTORUM: Yes, hold -- what I would say about John McCain is the reason John McCain made earmarks a big deal is because he wasn't for entitlement reform. That's where the big money is. That's where the real resources.
I've come out and said I'm going to cut $5 trillion over the next five years. You won't have any room for earmarks.
But what we need to do is -- is to do reform of -- of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and food stamps and housing programs and SSI. I was the -- I was the author of the Welfare Reform Act. That was serious dollars. Earmarks are -- are -- are something that's focused in by people who simply aren't willing to take on the tough problems.
I took on the tough problems. And I also said that when earmarks got abusive, that we should end them. And I agree with that.
But the idea that earmarks are the problem in Washington, D.C. is just ridiculous. The problem are -- are -- are the entitlement programs and this desire to spend more money. And that's what I've taken on in my career. I for -- I've been for the balanced budget amendment of the constitution. It will be one of the major planks of my -- of my campaign. And -- and you'll see someone who is as tough on spending as anybody.
KING: As you make that case in New Hampshire, you know you'll run into some Tea Party people who disagree with you on earmarks. But we can have that debate as we go forward.
You mentioned entitlements. And, again, we've had this conversation in the past. You voted for the Medicare prescription drug benefit. You say essentially you were holding your nose, that you didn't lead the charge for that legislation, but when it came to the floor, you decided it was worth voting for.
I want you to listen. This is your own voice last June, where you sound a lot more optimistic about the program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 6, 2011)
SANTORUM: Did anybody ever look at the Medicare prescription drug plan?
The Medicare prescription drug plan is exactly the model Paul Ryan is asking. We, quote, "shoved that down the throats of the American public."
No, we didn't. We gave them a choice. Seniors love the Medicare prescription drug plan. And it's exactly what we're proposing for Medicare, which is give people the resources to go out and choose for themselves as to what's best for themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Again, a lot of Tea Party voters -- and this may come up in the new debates now, as well -- think Medicare prescription drugs was a disaster, it was Washington expanding its reach.
A good vote? SANTORUM: Yes, well, what I said was, at that -- at that town hall meeting, and what I'll say again is the same thing, that the model we used was a private sector model. One of the reasons I held my nose and voted for it was because we did have a private sector model for -- for -- for Medicare prescription drugs, which was, in fact, a model that Paul Ryan used. We also had a Medicare Advantage program which took the one size fits all Medicare program in the same way that Ryan is trying to do and give people a -- an option for the private sector.
And finally, we had a provision in there for a health savings account, something I had been fighting for, for almost 15 years.
So there was a lot of good things in there. And, in fact, the model we used for the Medicare prescription drugs bill, which I was not for a universal benefit, once it was expansive. But once that was settled upon, I said let's see if we can make this as good a program as we possibly can to save money.
Well, we did. It -- the Medicare prescription drug program has come in over 40 percent under budget.
So while I was not for and did not advocate for the comprehensive benefit, nor did I advocate for it not being paid for, there were a lot of things in that bill that set the template for Medicare reform, which would save far more money than what the expansion of the Medicare benefit.
Those are the kinds of things, as you know, John, when you're in the United States Senate or when you're a congressman, you have to make those kind of -- of checks. You have to make those kind of, you know, decisions that sometimes, as I said in this case, was 51-49.
As president, you can make a little tougher decisions. You can veto bills if they aren't what -- exactly what you want. And those are the kinds of things that I would do.
But if you look at what I -- what I accomplished, as a lot of conservatives accomplished who voted for that, was to set a template for a major change in Medicare, which, if it wasn't for President Obama, would be implemented.
KING: And you are trying to be the chief executive now and it is an important distinction. So let's follow this out.
In that Medicare prescription drug comment we just heard, you were praising the Paul Ryan plan on Medicare. It fundamentally changes Medicare. It's essentially a voucher program. Seniors would get so much money from the government to buy their health care.
And if the cost of that health care then, in years down the road, exceeded the voucher, they would have to make up the difference on their own.
Would a President Santorum be comfortable with that? SANTORUM: Yes, that's exactly how the Medicare prescription drug plan works, John. It works that way right now. We -- we make that available to seniors. It's very similar to -- to what Paul Ryan is proposing. As you know, Ron Wyden has signed onto it.
The voucher does go up. The voucher does go up based on the -- on the competitive -- the increases driven by competition in the -- in the insurance plans, which is exactly what you want. You want the private sector out there competing, driving down costs, improving efficiency. You want to get rid of this -- of CMS, where government basically micromanages all health care through Medicare and Medicaid. That's the advantage of a Ryan plan.
We have, right now, in -- in essence, either a government run or a government regulated private sector -- private sector insurance system. What we need is a deregulated, not unregulated, but deregulated private sector insurance plans as -- to -- to reduce costs.
KING: And if some seniors have to dig into their own pockets to pay for it, that's OK?
SANTORUM: Well, seniors dig into their pocket right now to pay for Medicare. They pay -- they pay for their Medicare -- their Medicare Part B Subsidy, number one. Number two, they all -- almost every senior has a Medigap insurance policy.
Why? Because the Medicare policy doesn't cover the things that they want, so they have to buy additional coverage.
What this does, instead of buying your Medigap policy, you go out and buy a policy that may have things that your Medigap coverage has, but you have choices to take the kind of policies and the kind of choices as to the providers who your going to use, whether you want a limited set of providers and, therefore, more benefits, whether you want a broader set of providers and fewer benefits.
All of those things are choices for seniors, which, right now, they don't have, that they can apply that money to. and so right now, they have a one size fits all system and if they don't have what they want, they have to go out and buy Medigap insurance, which is out of their pocket right now.
KING: A lot of Democrats were celebrating, if you will, Senator Santorum, last night, saying, in their view, you're on the extreme right on many of these social issues and they think, for them, it's a good thing that these issues will be front and center.
One of the remarks you have made in the past, and you know this, that comes up from time to time because a lot of people think it's quite controversial, you were talking about same-sex marriage. You were talking about a Texas case making its way through the courts, sodomy laws, back in early 2003.
You said this to the Associated Press: "Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing -- that society is based on the future of the society. And that's what? Children. Monogamous relationships, in every society, the definition of marriage has not ever, to my knowledge, included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know. Man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be, it is one thing."
There are a lot of people who are saying, whoa, how do you connect that, homosexual behavior, to bestiality?
And you went on in that interview to talk about bigamy.
How do you connect those dots?
SANTORUM: Head on one sec. Hold on a second, John. Read the quote. I said it's not. It is not. I didn't say it is. I said it's not. I -- I -- you know, I don't -- I'm trying to understand what -- what -- what you're trying to make the point.
I said it's not those things. I didn't connect them. I specifically excluded them.
KING: You specifically exclude them. You have said that you have no problem with homosexuality, you have...
SANTORUM: I said it's not.
KING: -- you have problems with...
KING: -- homosexual acts. So if a man loves a man or a woman loves a woman, you're fine with that as long as what?
SANTORUM: Well, my -- my -- as you know, my Catholic faith teaches that to -- that it's actions that are -- that -- that are the problems, not -- not necessarily someone's feelings. And that's -- I was reflecting Catholic teaching on the subject, and, I think, basically Christian teaching on the subject, that -- that one can have desires to do things which we believe are wrong, but it's when you act out those things that that is a problem.
And -- and I was simply reflecting that -- that opinion and that -- that belief structure that I happen to hold as a Catholic.
KING: And as a president, should you reflect that?
In this case, you have said that contraception is dangerous?
SANTORUM: Yes, I -- I think both in the case of the "Lawrence v. Texas" case, which was the sodomy case, as well as the contraceptive case, what I've said is both of those laws I would not have voted for. I don't believe that everything that is immoral should be illegal. The government doesn't have a role to play in everything that, you know, that either people of faith or no faith think are wrong or immoral. That was one. And I said it at the time, that I wouldn't have voted for the Texas sodomy law that was in place nor would I vote to -- to ban contraception, even though I think that, as a -- as a Catholic who the Catholic Church teaches that contraception is wrong, I would not do it myself.
KING: And so help me understand this, as a member of the House and a member of the Senate you're voting -- and your constituents reflect it. And this is the president. You're president of the entire nation.
How would you be different, as a president, than you were as a senator, on these issues, if at all?
SANTORUM: Again, I didn't vote for -- for any kind of ban on contraception nor did I vote for any ban on sodomies and -- and -- and nor would I as president. So if that's -- if that's the question you're asking, what I've -- what I said was that -- that in this whole case, that I thought the Supreme Court was wrong in making a constitutional right. And that was the discussion. It wasn't about my -- my belief on the -- on the underlying law, which I said I wouldn't have supported.
KING: Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, said something the other day and I want to give you a chance to respond to it. He was talking about a comment you made at a rally out in Iowa this past Sunday. And you told an audience there that you don't want to, quote, "make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money."
Marc Morial said this: "Senator Santorum is perpetuating a thoroughly false and destructive racial stereotype in a desperate attempt to score political points. His appeasing -- appealing to the lowest common denominator within the electorate and, quite frankly, should be ashamed of yourself."
How do you respond to that, Senator?
SANTORUM: I would respond a couple of ways.
First off, Marc Morial and I have worked together on a number of issues and he knows quite well how much work I've done in the African- American community. I've worked with him at the Urban League. I worked with him when he was mayor of -- of New Orleans.
And the other thing is, I've looked at that quote. In fact, I looked at the video. And I don't -- in fact, I'm pretty confident I didn't say black. What I think -- I started to say a word and sort of -- sort of mumbled it and changed my thought.
But I don't -- I -- I don't recall saying black. No one in that audience, no one listening, no reporter there heard me say that.
I think it was -- and -- and from everything I see -- and I've looked at it several times, I was starting to say one word and I sort of came up with a different word and moved on. And it -- and it sounded like black.
But I can assure you, if you look at my record, there's no one that's worked more in -- when I was a senator from Pennsylvania, in the urban communities, both black, Hispanics as well -- as well as whites. There's no one who's worked more with African-Americans, whether it was historically black colleges. I actually set up a program to help historically black colleges be able to bet -- get better access to educational funds in the -- in the Congress, in fact, had a summit every year for historically black colleges, not just in Pennsylvania, of which we have three, but also all across this country.
So I'll match my record against any Democrat or Republican in working in -- in African-American communities. And I would specifically point to the city of Chester, which is an overwhelmingly African-American community. And we were able to work with them and bring almost a billion dollars worth of investment into that community by helping them bring private sector resources and private sector jobs with some minor transportation improvements to improve access off I- 95, to increase that.
So match my record up. Go look at it. And -- and then look at what was probably just a tongue-tied moment, as opposed to something that was deliberate.
And I think Marc Morial knows better of me to make those kinds of statements.
KING: Let's close with a couple of questions about the moment. You were nowhere in the polls just a few weeks ago. Now you've come to New Hampshire having essentially tied Mitt Romney. You've got a big challenge in New Hampshire this week.
But when we talked in Iowa several months back, when I think you were at 4 percent in the polls at the time, after the on camera interview, we were talking, you said, you know, your wife was getting a little bit frustrated from time to time because you're out there day after day after day after day and away from your wife...
KING: -- and away from the family and she's saying, hey, Rick, 4 percent in the polls.
We got to see her on stage with you last night. We're showing a big hug right now to our viewers.
Assess this moment and, you know, the country is looking at you and looking at your family, in some ways, for the first time, because you're at the top of the race right now.
How important is she in terms of your political career, advice and the like?
SANTORUM: Well, I said, if you -- if you had played back my introduction, which I won't repeat, because I get sort of emotional when I think about how much my wife has sacrificed during this time, but, frankly, through the 16 years of being in the House and the Senate and -- and the enormous amount of time and effort I put into -- into that work in -- in trying to serve the people of Pennsylvania.
She's made a tremendous sacrifice and she's done so because she shares the same vision I have. And, you know, this was something that we prayed a lot about before we decided to make this decision.
And -- and, frankly, the easier course would have been to -- to stay home and to -- to continue to work and do the things to provide my -- for my family and -- and to spend more time with her. but she both -- we both felt that this was something that our country needed someone to step forward who had a little different perspective on what this country needs than the other Republican candidates that were going to be in the race.
And it was a -- a gratifying moment that the people of Iowa recognized that. And it was an affirmation to her that the -- that the sacrifice that she has been making, and not just her, but to all of my children that have been making that, you know, it was worthwhile and we've been able to make a statement and go out there and talk about issues, you know, about people getting jobs and particularly everybody -- blue collar workers, folks from where Karen and I grew up, in Southwestern Pennsylvania, who are being left behind by this economy. We feel very good that we're talking about them and we're talking about life and we're talking about family, we're talking about being stronger overseas, with an American that can be respected.
Those are things that are important to her and they are to me, too.
KING: When you got back to the hotel last night, did you say, "Honey, I told you so?"
SANTORUM: No, actually, we -- I'll admit, we watched CNN until you guys -- I -- I was -- I was listening to the -- to the -- the little, what you've got, your package you had before, Jeanne Moos' package. And I was reliving it, because I was...
SANTORUM: -- I was watching that late at night and enjoying the coverage. So, yes, we were just sitting there watching it and she eventually just fell asleep watching it. And that was -- that was sort of the end of our evening.
KING: Smart lady.
Senator Rick Santorum, a lot of questions in the week ahead, a big week for you in the next week in New Hampshire.
We appreciate your time tonight, as you just arrived in the state, sir. We'll talk more in the days ahead. Appreciate it.
SANTORUM: Thanks so much, John.
KING: Thank you, Senator.
We are going to take a quick break. We will be right back, much more of our coverage.
The Texas governor, Rick Perry, says he's going -- he was going to go home to Texas to reconsider his presidential bid, but didn't take long, that reassessment. Next, he will be back on the trail. How will he reset in South Carolina?
KING: A huge, dramatic day in presidential politics.
Let's discuss the conversation we just had with the Republican surge candidate, Rick Santorum, and other big developments in the GOP race.
Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, she is in Des Moines, Iowa, where she was in the center of the action last night. With me here in the Election Center, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Dana, I want to begin with you.
You just heard Rick Santorum. Let's start with the spending and the fiscal issues. While he was in the United States Senate, George W. Bush, a Republican president, wanted him to vote for that Medicare prescription drug benefit. Just about everybody, he says everybody -- not everybody -- but just about everybody did support earmarks.
That was before the Tea Party. Can he sell those votes now?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be tough, especially when you have his opponents highlighting that big time.
Look, he was right. He was telling truth when he talked about the fact that earmarks had been such a tiny, tiny sliver of spending, I think less than 1 percent. But he also knows full well that it's a political hot potato, particularly within the Republican sphere. So he's going to have a hard time explaining that.
He already has Ron Paul going after him on it, as you played, Rick Perry going after him on it. And for Republicans who want to paint him as somebody who is kind of just a typical Washington politician who just tried to put some money away for his folks back home to make sure he got reelected, that's going to be pretty hard.
KING: Gloria, the social issues, this is Rick Santorum last night in Iowa, all of this purple, opposition to abortion, opposition to same-sex marriage, sometimes, you know, I will fight the fight. He doesn't just vote. He fights the fight publicly -- helped him here, rural evangelicals. If you move on to New Hampshire, you don't see many of those. I'm going to back to the 2008 map so we can fill it in. We don't have an election over here, but this is Mike Huckabee on the Republican side last night. Not a lot of them here.
Democrats are saying, in a Republican race, that we have electability as an issue, as well as your positions on the issues. They think Santorum's out of the mainstream and they're thrilled he's still in the fight.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They're thrilled. And, in fact, some Republicans are quite worried about it, because the last thing in the world they want to do is have this become a campaign about social issues.
The agenda that Republicans want to talk about is Barack Obama's record on creating jobs, questions about the economy, the unemployment rate, all of the rest of it. They don't want to be talking about social issues, which tend to be very divisive, which will divide the Republican Party, and also encourage people who care about the economy to vote the other way. So it's not the conversation they want to have.
KING: And so we will hear some about the social issues. This week, I think we will hear Senator Santorum focus almost exclusively on the economy...
BORGER: On the economy, right.
KING: ... because he's up in New Hampshire. He needs those blue-collar voters.
But when we get down here, he's going to have no choice, because if Santorum wants to perform well here, Rick Perry is going to be waiting for him. This is Mike Huckabee four years ago, evangelical votes up here. Remember this, Fred Thompson. Who might be the spoiler this time? Fred Thompson cost Mike Huckabee South Carolina four years ago and that gave John McCain the nomination.
Do we take seriously what I call Rick Perry's Alamo? He says, I'm not going to be in New Hampshire, but I'm going to waiting for you guys here for one last stand.
BORGER: Well, look, he's got money, he's got a very well-funded PAC.
When you talk to the Perry people, the one thing -- it was one thing they took heart in last night, and that is only 14 percent of the people who identified themselves as very conservative supported Mitt Romney. So they believe that they have a real opening with conservative voters, and that's who they're going after.
So, you know, they think, look, Mitt Romney's got kind of a ceiling here that he hasn't been able to punch through, and we're going to go after those conservative voters, and let the chips fall. KING: They think Gingrich may stumble in New Hampshire and be gone. They're hoping, the Perry campaign is, that Santorum doesn't do nearly as well in New Hampshire and he's weak when he gets here.
Dana, one of the other really fascinating things we saw today, I'm going to call this the frenemy triangle. If you go back in time, there is no love lost between Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Rick Santorum. But McCain made a choice here. He and Romney went at it pretty good in 2008.
But in a longer period of time in the Senate, he and Rick Santorum had developed even more bad blood. So John McCain had a choice. It was essentially a tie in Iowa,. McCain chooses Romney. Take us behind that one.
BASH: Oh, I think it's definitely a love triangle. There's some hate in there, but it's a love triangle, there's no question about it, with the three of them, because you're right.
BASH: Look, Romney and McCain went at it big time and then they kissed and made up in the general election back in 2008.
And Rick Santorum is somebody who has always had a very, very tense relationship with John McCain. I remember covering both of them in the United States Senate. Actually, it goes back to what you and I were just talking about, earmarks. John McCain has long been a crusader against earmarks, and Rick Santorum was an appropriator.
So the two of them clashed originally on that. And let's just say that I won't repeat some of the things I heard quietly about each other because this is a family-friendly television show. But the bottom line is, John McCain is a very astute politician still.
He knows what he's doing. He's not a big fan of Rick Santorum's, especially since Rick Santorum puts some robo-calls out against him in 2008 saying that he doesn't have the temperament to be president. This was a direct hit on Rick Santorum and certainly helped Mitt Romney, who he genuinely has become friendly with after they had a very tense relationship in 2008.
BORGER: And, John, you know what I couldn't think about was, as I watched McCain there today with Romney, I was thinking, hmm, in a Romney administration, would there be a Secretary of Defense John McCain? Possibility?
KING: Does John McCain want to be in the Cabinet at his age? That's something to watch.
I want to go back to last night, because, yes, we were all up until 4:00 in the morning. This is 2008. This is our new map that I'm so happy we're starting to fill in some colors here. Six nights from now, we're going to fill it in, in New Hampshire. Stay with us until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning and we will figure that one out for you, too. When you look at this, OK, I want you to -- I want to focus on this first. We are going to spend a couple of minutes on what is the fascinating parts of where we are in this race. But this is Mitt Romney last night. Remember that number, 30,015 votes, 25 percent. You got it? Thirty thousand, fifteen votes, 25 percent.
Four years ago, 30,021 votes, 25 percent. I mean, that is eerie. I'm sorry you have an eight-vote margin, and Mitt Romney gets -- he got six more votes four years ago than he got this time, the exact same percentage.
BORGER: Talk about not being able to punch through a ceiling. I mean, how many millions of dollars did he spend in 2008? He spent $10 million, right? This time not as much.
KING: Go ahead, Dana.
BASH: But you know what? He couldn't punch through a ceiling. He couldn't punch through a ceiling, you're right about that. But he also didn't fall through the floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
BASH: What's fascinating about those numbers is coming back here to Iowa after having been here for a long time with Mitt Romney in Iowa four years ago. They told me, the people who I talked to who worked for him last the time, they said, you know, "We think we have a good retention rate. We have the voter I.D.s still. We have all of our lists. And so we'll be able to call the people, going to fire it back up pretty quickly," because he wasn't competing very hard here until the past few weeks, and they were right.
KING: Winning ugly. Winning ugly beats losing, I'll tell you that as a sports competitor.
BORGER: Right. It's almost like he was the incumbent, you know, in a funny way.
KING: Let's look at this stack quick. Michele Bachmann decides this morning 5 percent of the vote in Iowa -- she needed to win Iowa, at least be a strong second. She made the right decision. She says, "I'm gone."
KING: She suspends her campaign.
Governor Perry last night, in the afternoon guest today, he told me, "I'm going to South Carolina in the morning." After getting 10 percent, he reassesses. He's staying in the race.
My biggest question is right here. Right here. Newt Gingrich goes to New Hampshire. He says he's going to be newly aggressive. If he comes in behind these guys again, what about Newt Gingrich? Is he done?
See, that's what happens when you touch the wall.
BORGER: I think he might be. I think he might be. You know, this is getting dangerously personal for Newt Gingrich, I think. He's there to destroy Mitt Romney. And he might well succeed in really denting him. And if he does come fourth again, I think that's a real problem for him. He won't have the money to go to Florida. He needs the money. He didn't have the money to be in Iowa.
And so you know, that's going to be really difficult for him. And that's where Rick Perry has a clear advantage. And by the way, Ron Paul also has an advantage that way, in terms of fundraising.
KING: Dana, you were there when Michele Bachmann bid farewell to the race today. Quick flavor?
BASH: It was emotional. There's no question. Look, we have seen a roller coaster. Every single one of these candidates, I should say, has seen a roller coaster up and down, up and down, up until this time.
I think no one was higher and then no one was lower than Michele Bachmann, because she actually was the first person to win. She won the Ames straw poll four and a half months ago, and now she's out the day after the Iowa caucuses.
So it was very difficult for her, because she was born in the state, because she thought that she really could capture that conservative vote that we've been talking about that Rick Santorum ended up capturing. And she just couldn't catch on, for a lot of reasons. She couldn't do it.
KING: Fascinating first night in the race. A bit later, we'll talk about how -- why we were here into the early morning. But Clinton County, I don't know if you people were tracking us on CNN after dark. We'll revisit that a little bit later tonight.
BORGER: New show.
KING: Dana, thanks. It ought to be a new show. Dana, thanks. Gloria, as well.
You know what? President Obama just found a new way to infuriate congressional Republicans. He gave a guy you probably don't recognize a job that directly affects your money. More on that next.
KING: Welcome back. There's Kate Bolduan with the latest news you need to know right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, John, good evening, everyone. The nation's new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has its first boss tonight, and Republicans are furious. The president used one of his executive powers to appoint Richard Cordray, bypassing the Senate confirmation process, because the White House argues Congress is in recess, though Republicans dispute that. Republicans opposed creation of the consumer watchdog and intended to block anyone the president named to run it.
In other news, police in Brownsville, Texas, shot and killed an eighth grader this morning. Fifteen-year-old -- the 15-year-old boy brought a weapon to school and started waving it in the hallways. A police statement says, when the student engaged officers, he was shot. No one else was hurt in the incident.
And in a reversal that gets the State Department out of a tight diplomatic situation, Yemen's president announced today he will not travel to the U.S. for medical treatment. President Ali Abdullah Saleh says he will stay in Yemen to help the transition, away from his 33 years of one-man rule. You'll remember, John, it had to do with him being badly burned. He was seeking treatment for that. Apparently, no longer coming to the U.S.
KING: The State Department will be happy there. They were worried about the backlash because of the way Yemeni protestors have been treated by the regime there. Kate, thanks so much. We'll see you in just a little bit.
KING: You might remember this. New Hampshire's most influential newspaper back a little bit endorsed Newt Gingrich for president. In a moment, now that Rick Santorum's the surging conservative, we'll ask the publisher if he's having second thoughts.
Also, a history-making decision about the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the U.S. military. The Obama administration wants to abandon the strategy that's been in place for decades.
KING: In this half hour, New Hampshire's Republican kingmaker talks about Rick Santorum, and whether he regrets his newspaper's decision to endorse Newt Gingrich early.
And if you always wait until the last minute before filing your taxes, there's a good reason why. You'll get to wait a little longer this year. And for those of you who may not have been glued to CNN the wee hours of this morning, we have the history-making moment.
Simply a fascinating night in Republican politics last night. Mitt Romney wins Iowa by a mere eight votes. Rick Santorum surges from nowhere into a virtual tie. Where is the Republican race going from here? Can Santorum take his evangelical coalition from Iowa, turn it into a blue-collar economic coalition in New Hampshire, and move on to South Carolina?
A lot more to discuss about this fascinating race. Let's talk right now to Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. I'll walk over here to the magic wall. Ralph also a veteran conservative activist. That's OK. Ralph's rushing up the set. Sometimes on live television, you get to see some of the worker bees. You know, I get the credit sometimes. These guys are working hard. Good to see you.
RALPH REED, CHAIRMAN, FAITH AND FREEDOM COALITION: Good to see you.
KING: So this is a pretty fascinating night last night. You go back several weeks, Rick Santorum's at 4 or 8 percent, he comes up with 25 percent. What does this tell you first about the coalition he put together in Iowa as we look forward? Let's not look back. Let's look forward, New Hampshire, South Carolina?
REED: Well, the first thing it shows you is this swath through the rural part of the state. This is the Huckabee vote from 2008.
KING: There it is right there. Original is Huckabee, purple Santorum.
REED: That vote basically, it was sloshing around, looking for somebody. Various people had their moment in the sun and in the end Santorum surged at the right time.
The second thing you see, and this will have real impact when you get to New Hampshire, is you look in here, where Romney does well in the area of Des Moines, OK, particularly in West Des Moines.
KING: Suburbs here.
REED: That's exactly right. I was at a precinct, precinct 223 in West Des Moines last night. In that one caucus, Romney got 80 votes; Santorum got 45; Newt got -- excuse me, Paul got 36; Newt got 22.
KING: There's your difference.
REED: So there's your difference. So when you get to New Hampshire and you look at those suburbs in, really, the part of the state that is the Boston suburb...
KING: Let's do it. We'll go back to the '08 model in the Republican primary, free the map up a little bit. Here's what you're talking about right down in here.
REED: Yes. And this is where you would look for Romney to over perform. It also means that when you get to South Carolina, and you go down state, particularly Charleston, down through Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, this is where a lot of the so-called snowbirds, the retirees or near retirees -- remember, John, this is a very different state demographically, socio-economically than it was when Bush and McCain went mono a mono in 2000. The suburbs around Greenville and Spartanburg look a lot more like Atlanta than they did 12 years ago.
KING: That's up here. REED: And I think what is going to happen is you look for Romney to do extremely well here. You look for Santorum and Perry to do real well up here. And the election's going to be won in the center spine of the state.
KING: Help stack this out. Perry says I'm reassessing after he just cracks double digits. Then he wakes up this morning and says he goes for a jog and says, "I'm going to stay in this." Skip New Hampshire, come here. South Carolina's now Rick Perry's Alamo.
The question is, if Santorum stumbles a bit, if Gingrich comes in fourth again, is there a chance for Perry to reassert himself here, or is he likely to end up being Fred Thompson, more of a spoiler role, more taking some of the vote up here and maybe denying Santorum or denying a Newt comeback.
REED: Well, a lot of it, as you indicate, depends upon what Santorum does in New Hampshire. You know, I think if he were to finish in the top three he could come to South Carolina with a head of steam.
Romney, of course, is thrilled to hear that Perry's staying in, because he's hoping that Perry plays the Thompson role, the spoiler, particularly in Greenville and Spartanburg, around Bob Jones University, strong Baptist area. This is where Thompson took the votes that really prevented Huckabee from getting the only 3 percent he needed.
Here's the danger for Romney, though. A state that is 60 percent self-identified evangelical, according to the '08 exit polls. By the way, he only got 1 out of 10 of those votes. If Santorum does as well as he did in South Carolina among self-identified evangelicals, as he did in Iowa, and Romney does as poorly as he did four years ago, this race will be too close to call.
KING: You've known Speaker Gingrich for a long time.
REED: Thirty years.
KING: You can tell that Governor Romney's gotten under his skin a little bit. And he promises to more aggressive. He says how can the party turn to Mitt Romney when he can't crack 25 percent? Can a guy who's in the teens in Iowa, if he finishes in the teens in New Hampshire, can you make the case that the guy who's at 25 isn't good enough, if you can't beat him?
REED: Well, I think from Newt's standpoint, he's -- he's turning himself into a human missile and firing himself right at Romney.
KING: But can he win doing that or is he doing it to help somebody else?
REED: Not just doing that. I mean, he has to lay out a rationale and a positive, a reform-oriented, future-oriented case for his own candidacy. And here's the challenge for Santorum. Gingrich, if he goes nuclear on Romney, is both a blessing and a curse. He's a blessing in that he will presumably pull Romney down. But remember, he also can play that kind of Thompson role. So you look at last night, he pulled 14 percent of the evangelical vote.
REED: If that vote had come to Rick, Rick would have won the Iowa caucuses.
KING: Fascinating game of chess. South Carolina's up third. New Hampshire is next. Ralph, appreciate your help tonight. We'll see you again.
As we mentioned, New Hampshire comes next. We're going to go up to New Hampshire next. The man known as the Republican kingmaker, we'll ask the "Union-Leader" publisher, Joe McQuaid, if he regrets endorsing Newt Gingrich. And what he sees in the week ahead for Rick Santorum.
Later the latest switch in -- get this -- singer -- yes, here we go. You hear it, right? Justin Timberlake's high-profile romance. You want to know about that, don't you?
KING: His big Iowa surge made huge headlines, so how will Rick Santorum do in a Romney rematch in New Hampshire? Joining us the publisher of "The Union-Leader" newspaper, Joe McQuaid. Joe, you endorsed Newt Gingrich early on. Any second thoughts after you see the strong Santorum performance last night?
JOE MCQUAID, PUBLISHER, "NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION-LEADER": Heck no. I think the game is just beginning. Now we're in New Hampshire where people actually vote.
KING: See, in New Hampshire, the Iowa people are proud. The New Hampshire people are proud, as well. You get a race now. Governor Romney comes out with an eight-vote victory. This is an unfair question to ask you. It's T-ball, I guess, since you're against Romney and for Gingrich, but be as fair as you can.
Where's the bar for Governor Romney? What would be a convincing win in New Hampshire for him for people to say, "OK, he's our front- runner now"?
MCQUAID: Oh, I don't know. Forty percent or more. I -- I don't think Romney did that well in Iowa last night. He did six votes fewer than he did last time around, and he virtually tied with an unknown, Santorum, and with Ron Paul, who has his vote and is going to stick with it. I think the game is really up here in New Hampshire.
I heard what Rick Santorum said earlier and what Ralph Reed had said, and I really think that this is a fight for second place in New Hampshire. And I think it's tougher for Santorum than it is for the others, because the base was good for him out in socially conservative Iowa, and it's not so conservative here.
KING: A different base there. He's going to have to fight for the blue-collar voters, the Manchester area, places like that. We'll see if he can do it. But you know, you're behind Newt. You wrote an editorial in the paper today, talking about the economy, saying why you think Gingrich is preferable to run anything.
And the voters in Iowa clearly didn't agree. Newt Gingrich got 13 percent there last night. You look at the latest Suffolk University poll in your state. Gingrich is down at 9 percent. If he comes in third, fourth again, is he gone?
MCQUAID: Oh, yes. I think he has to finish a strong second here. I think he has to explain why he is the conservative who has done things and Romney is the moderate who really hasn't done much for the Republican Party.
KING: You know your state. Does he have to be more aggressive? You can be more aggressive without being negative, but you saw what happened in Iowa. It was largely not the Romney campaign itself, but a Romney political action committee plus the Ron Paul campaign that peeled the skin off Speaker Gingrich pretty good. What does he have to do in New Hampshire to change the tide, Joe?
MCQUAID: Well, I think those -- the debates have been Gingrich's strength right along, and there are two back to back. God, if they just physically make it through Saturday night and Sunday morning, you should put him in the Olympics or something. But I think that's his game.
And when you say he's down in the polls here and elsewhere, well, that drubbing that he got constantly in Iowa went nationally with all the national media that was reporting on it. I wouldn't expect that he was going to get anything but drubbed there.
But New Hampshire is still on-the-ground kind of campaigning. It's only five days left. That's why I think it's stronger for Gingrich, really, than it is for Santorum. Santorum is largely an unknown here, and Gingrich has his record, which he's going to run on.
KING: Our own little version of the Olympics. Presidential politics moves on now, five days away in New Hampshire, the campaign, six days till the vote. Joe McQuaid, thanks for your insights tonight. We'll talk to you in the week ahead. When we come back, today's moment you probably missed. That is, if you're a good sleeper. Stay with us.
KING: Quick political update. One of our top stories. Senator Rick Santorum has raised $1 million, our political producer Peter Hamby has been told, since just last night. That will help in the week ahead in New Hampshire. Kate Bolduan here with other news you need to know and, of course, Kate, what's up with Justin Timberlake?
BOLDUAN: I know. This is the major breaking story that you have been worried about all day long, I know.
KING: Can't wait to hear.
BOLDUAN: This according to "Us Weekly." On again and off again superstar couple Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, they are engaged, everyone. After four and a half years, several break-ups, and who knows what else. Timberlake proposed to Biel on vacation in Jacksonville, Wyoming. No word yet on a wedding date but, of course, John King will know, because he will be invited -- John.
KING: I bet he popped the question watching us all night last night going through the election coverage. Did you miss those moments? Were you up with us?
BOLDUAN: I did not miss those moments. I was laughing so hard.
KING: Team player.
BOLDUAN: You were fabulous.
KING: Team player. Jon Huntsman is with us live from New Hampshire tomorrow. Erin Burnett was up all night, took and "ERIN BURNETT UPFRONT" starts right now.