presidential candidate Rick Santorum says his
conservative credentials and electoral success
in rough-and-tumble Pennsylvania politics position
him well to take the fight to President Barack
Obama in a general election.
"The people of Iowa gave us Barack Obama
four years ago and now you have to give us the
antidote," Santorum said.
Speaking at the Swan Lake Conservation Education
Center in Carroll on Aug. 2 to a midday crowd
of about 40 people, Santorum, 53, a Virginia-born
former U.S. senator and congressman from Pennsylvania,
said he was inspired to enter the race following
the passage of Democratic-led health-care reform.
"Obamacare is a game-changer for America,"
Santorum said. "Obamacare will do the ultimate
damage to freedom."
Santorum, a Catholic, who along with his wife,
Karen, have seven children, compiled a consistent
pro-life record in Congress, a fact he stressed
during the event in Carroll.
The Pennsylvania Republican said his faith informs
his politics, and he was making no apologies
"This is the line from the left, that only
secular views are allowed in the public square,"
He added, "Everything has a moral component."
Santorum was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
in 1990 at the age of 32, and from 1995 to 2007,
served in the Senate. In 2000, he was elected
by his peers to the position of Senate Republican
In 2006 Santorum was defeated in a landslide
by Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., the
son of a former Pennsylvania governor. Casey
faces re-election in 2012 but Santorum said
he had no interest in pursuing that seat, that
he'd put in his time in the Senate and was prepared
for the White House — which he also said was
a more family-friendly place to serve than the
Santorum said his success in the politics of
a battleground state like Pennsylvania should
make him a stronger candidate in the Iowa caucuses.
But Santorum said he is fighting not just the
rest of the GOP field but a hostile national
media, which he said fears he might have the
right stuff to successfully challenge Obama.
"They're doing their very best to bury
me before I can get started," Santorum
According to polling and pundits, across the
political spectrum, Santorum is widely considered
a long shot in the Iowa caucuses, much less
the GOP nomination contest nationally.
"I felt called to go out and do this,"
Santorum said. "On paper it doesn't make
a whole lot of sense."
Following his speech Santorum fielded about
a dozen questions from the audience.
On foreign policy Santorum said he is a fierce
advocate of Israel, arguing that the United
States is the only nation that can stand with
the Jewish state based on immigration patterns
in Europe that are bringing more Muslims to
the borders and into the populations of places
like France, Germany and England.
"Israel will be alone but for us,"
He said Iran poses the most significant threat
to Israel, and that the United States should
factor this into foreign policy.
"The first place to start to give them
(Iran) street cred in the radical Islamic world
is Israel," Santorum said.
Santorum said another major concern is the relatively
low birthrate in Europe compared with higher
ones in nations with strong concentrations of
"They (European countries) are committing
genocide, and guess who's filling the void?"
Responding to an audience question, Santorum
said that like all of Iowa's congressional delegation,
he opposed the debt-ceiling/deficit-reduction
plan that passed the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
Santorum said Republicans missed an opportunity
to rein in more spending and reduce the size
of government. The deal, as brokered, sets the
stage for potential major cuts to defense spending
and tax increases, Santorum said.
On other matters, Santorum said tax reform should
involve consideration of an elimination of deductions
for summer homes. He is opposed to a flat tax,
saying there should be higher rates for those
with more robust incomes. Santorum wants to
cut the corporate tax for manufacturers to zero
to encourage business start-ups in a sector
that provides higher wages. CV
Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman
who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald
and offers columns for Cityview.