NEW YORK—Rick Santorum wanted to talk to his mom before he spoke to National Journal.
The former and perhaps future presidential candidate arrived here Friday for an interview in a busy Manhattan Starbucks, but before it started, his brother Dan (a South Carolina tennis instructor with no interest in politics) handed him a phone.
"Hey, mom," Santorum said. "How about that, huh? You didn't think you'd get me [on the phone]."
Few voters know much about Santorum's personal life. To most, he's just a culture warrior fixated on gay marriage and abortion. But as he considers another campaign in 2016, Santorum is trying to create a more multidimensional image, both of himself and his agenda for the country.
In the interview last week, Santorum talked about what he would bring to the GOP field that no other presidential candidate can, why he's happy few consider him a serious threat to win the nomination, and whether forced rectal feeding is torture. Santorum also emphasized that while most people expect him to run for president, he has yet to decide for himself.
Here's an edited transcript of our conversation.
If you run, how will this campaign be different from the last?
The biggest thing is this race will allow me to focus on where I want to take the country, where the country needs to go, and less about establishing my bona fides to be able to be in the race. I think the last time, we had to introduce ourselves to folks and say, hey wait a minute, here are my positions, here's what I've done. I think on a lot of issues that's pretty clear to most people."¦ Now it's more laying out a vision for the country. And that's the exciting part for me, because I see a country that's hurting, but still is strong and has tremendous potential.