'This Week' Transcript: GOP Candidate Rick Santorum

PHOTO: Rick Santorum

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, THIS WEEK: Good morning, everyone. It has been a rough and tumble week on the campaign trail. All eyes now on the Midwest battleground, Michigan. The big question, will it be a decisive tipping point in this tumultuous race? Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum neck and neck right now, and Senator Santorum is our headliner this morning from Marquette, Michigan. Good morning, Senator.

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, George, how are you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm OK, thank you. It looks like this tough week has taken a toll on you. The latest Gallup poll, I want to show what happened this week. You started out the week plus 10 in the Gallup poll. Yesterday, it was a dead heat. We are seeing the same kind of trends in Michigan. What's happening out there?

SANTORUM: Oh, you know, look, this is going to be a long race, and there's going to be some ups, there's going to be some downs, and you know what happens when you – when you get that position to be that in front. We've just stayed focused, though. We stayed focused on here in Michigan in particular talking about manufacturing jobs, particularly about energy and trying to get energy prices lower, and you know, the response we've gotten has been absolutely great. We've had great crowds. We've focused on building this economy and particularly focused on making sure that lower-income people, folks who don't have the skill set that has been rewarded a lot in this knowledge economy, have the opportunity to get those basic skills, get those good manufacturing jobs, rise up the ladder and have the opportunity to succeed for themselves and their family, and we're going to continue that message here in Michigan and across this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Seems thought that that debate performance earlier this week was a setback for you. I noticed that your wife thought you should have prepared more. That was in the New York Times. And Governor Romney has zeroed in on this moment, where you discussed your vote for No Child Left Behind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: I have to admit I voted for that. It was against the principles I believed in, but you know, when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake. You know, politics is a team sport, folks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, the crowd didn't like it. Romney says it suggests that you're playing for the wrong team, and that you'd like to take that answer back. Is he right?

SANTORUM: Well, the team I was playing for is making sure that we stick to the American principles that made this country the greatest country in the history of the world. And if you look at my record, in particular on education, what I've been proposing and fighting for is to get the federal government out of the education system, actually get the state less in the education business and bring it back to families and communities. And here in, you know, where education should be. It should be in the responsibility of the people in the community, and particularly the parents. They should be involved in making sure that we have customized education for every child in America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you did say that that goes against your principles.

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