Santorum: Obama doesn't understand America
May 6th, 2011
09:09 PM ET
4 years ago

Santorum: Obama doesn't understand America

Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) – Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had a ballroom packed with South Carolina Republican insiders all to himself on Friday night when he addressed the state party's annual fundraising banquet in Columbia.

Each of the previous night's presidential debate participants were invited to speak at the Silver Elephant Banquet, but only Santorum accepted, giving him a precious chance to court an influential crowd of GOP donors, legislators and activists in the early primary state.

"Half of life is just showing up," Santorum cracked after he took the stage. "So I'm glad I showed up tonight."

Santorum, who created a presidential exploratory committee earlier this week, pressed what is likely to be a central rhetorical theme of his campaign: American exceptionalism.

"We have a president who does not understand what American exceptionalism is," he said.

He faulted President Obama for telling an audience last month that America "would not be a great country" without the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare.

"Stunning," Santorum said. "America was born great. The president of the United States doesn't understand who we are."

He spoke of how the British Empire faded because "they accepted the mediocrity of state control."

"We face that moment right now," he said. "It is our watch right now."

Santorum was one of 16 potential candidates listed on a presidential straw poll ballot that was distributed by the state party. Results of the straw poll will be announced at the state GOP convention on Saturday.


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum • South Carolina
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. wake up America

    And you do...lol... ,you may know about the land of Dixie, but being a republican from South Carolina makes you as scary as a trump / Palin ticket!...

    May 6, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  2. Dave

    HA! Santorum apparently thinks this country is made up of extremist fundamentalists. There are a contingent who'd welcome the Christian Taliban that Santorum represents, but they're far, far, far from being any kind of majority. The normal Christians I know are as creeped out by the kind of people who back Santorum as moderate Muslims are by the Bin Laden types. Santorum's people have an unpleasant surprise waiting for them if they run one of their loonies, because they'll lose in every state other than a few Southern ones.

    May 6, 2011 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  3. Nadeem

    Maybe, but Obama understands how to kill bin laden

    May 6, 2011 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  4. D-NICE

    Google Santorum. That will tell you all you need to know about this guy.

    May 6, 2011 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  5. sportsguydave

    If we're so exceptional, it will be apparent through our actions.

    We don't need to keep puffing out our chests and bragging about how great we are. You're the one who doesn't get it, Santorum.

    May 6, 2011 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  6. GOP-SUCKS

    Politicians liks Rick "Scrotom" here will make it easy for PRESIDENT Obama to be reelected. What a joke this guy is, the British Empire really??? The moronic GOP is the party that no longer understands America. We don't all make over $250K and then refuse to pay our share of taxes. Thanks Pres. Bush for giving back a Billion Dollar budget surplus to the richest Americans and recreating our budget deficit. Way to go GOP!!!

    Keep on trucking Ricky, you and the Donald should be great for the GOP ticket in 2012.

    May 6, 2011 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  7. Jacquie

    President Obama more than understand "red-neck" America. From Jim Crow to Emmitt Till to Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. If anybody understands Black Americans DO!

    May 6, 2011 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  8. John

    Santorum is "childlike" in his ignorance.

    May 6, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  9. chill

    Kind of like you didn't understand Pennsylvania? What y'all don't understand is that we're a big place with lots of different people and whether Santorum beleives it or not, we're all real Americans. Americans who think for themselves rather than being part of the GOP Borg. Maybe if y'all didn't demean so many of us, you might get more votes.

    May 6, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  10. jc

    Rick doesn't have a snowball's chance in heck of becoming President, let a lone being nominated by the GOP. He is a far right candidate that Independents will not elect; therefore he is as irrelevant as half-term quitter Palin, serial adulterer Gingrich, and "I'm so proud of myself" Trump. I will venture that Rick will make a nice living pandering to the Tea Party pseudo patriots.

    May 6, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  11. Jacquie

    What we mostly understand is if WE don't agree with you, we are stupid and wrong, because "white is always RIGHT".

    May 6, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  12. sarah in cape

    Mr. Santorum, your "American Exceptionalism" sounds very stylish; telll me, since President Obama has none, what exactly is it? Having lived in another country where there is no help at all for less than rich citizens, I have to say I agree fully with Obama. We are and have been great because we do not let poor, or less fortunate, die in the streets. We do not let babies die because their parents have no money. I worked hard for 30 years, and now live on my social security. Without it, I have no idea where I would go. None. Anyone who votes for a Republican has only half a brain, and less heart.

    May 6, 2011 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  13. Mark in St. Louis

    American exceptionalism implies that there is something exceptional about America. We are far from number one in Health Care, we are low on the totem pole when it comes to science and technology. We do have one thing going for us, though. When we make a promise, we keep it. Just ask Osama bin Laden. But wait...that would be implying that Obama did something exceptional...and we just can't have that.

    May 6, 2011 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  14. IVOTE

    If anyone knows what american exceptionalism is it is Barack Hussein Obama, a biracial natural born american. This man is the President of this United States of America. Accept that.

    May 6, 2011 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  15. Jay

    Maybe you should understand how many percentage points you lost your re-election by.

    I watched the Fixed News "Debate" and I think President Obama has more energy in his thumb than you have in your whole body. Man, could you be more boring?

    Shut up idiot, is that the best you've got? "Obama doesn't understand America"? You wish you had your other half of your brain so you could fully understand.

    Go away and retire you boring loser.

    May 6, 2011 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  16. Michael

    That just shows you how moronic Santorum is. "America was BORN great." Hmm, so that would mean that America didn't need to evolve, that America as she was back in 1776 was perfectly fine? Oh sure, if you were white, male, and rich, everything was great; if you were a woman, or black, or Native American, or poor, or any number of other characteristics, things weren't so great. So, Mr. Santorum, you can keep your revisionism; reality is much more honest and trustworthy.

    May 6, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  17. dave

    ah, yes..Obama 'doesn't understand America' like a white guy like Rick Sanctimonious does...a black muslim could NEVER understand Amurka like ole Rick does, ya see

    May 6, 2011 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  18. BB

    The problem with the idea of American Exceptionalism is that while we as Americans see it as viewing our country as uniquely wonderful, the rest of the world tends to see it as "Americans saying we are better than you". It is NO LONGER HELPFUL in a global economy. Get with the times. Yes, America is a great place but you don't go down to the corner and taunt a hobo with a ham sandwich.
    Grow up Santorum and say what YOU stand for rather than what you say the other guy does not.

    May 6, 2011 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  19. Thankfully Independent

    No, anyone from a party that gives away subsidies to oil companies thar are already reporting record profits and tries to make cuts to Medicare that would detrimentally affect the elderly and poor not only doesn't understand the U.S., they don't understand what it means to be Christian.

    May 6, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  20. pa voter

    santorum you are a joke just like trump. try not to grit your teeth when you talk. wondwe why pa voters voted you out. you did nothing for us period

    May 6, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  21. J

    HAHAHAH!!!!!! Your the joke Rick!!! You will NEVER be potus.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 6, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  22. Dee

    Politics, Politics, it is such a shame for him to try and discredit and denigrate the President at this time in American History.

    This is a time that we should be thankful, and praise the President, Military and National Security Staff for a superb job that has been done in protecting us as Americans. This week should be aboutreflecting, being proud to be an American and embracing the families of 9/11.

    I would not be suprises that this GOP spectacle does not backfire on Santorum, FOX news and the rest.

    God Bless them how soon do we forget about unity there is plenty of time to campaign for the Office of the Presidency now is not the tiime.

    May 6, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  23. me

    Wow, if Santorum can't see how much citizens are helped by social security and Medicare then he's the out of touch one, not President Obama. Hey Ricky, do us all a favor and talk about SS and Medicare when you're on the campaign trail.

    May 6, 2011 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  24. Aaron

    He must have done history class with Bachmann. The British Empire ended because of World War II. They simply couldn't afford to maintain colonies spread throughout the world any longer, especially since the indigenous populations were far exceeding that of Great Britain itself, which the war bankrupted. If America continues with its current bankrupt status, we will see our star begin to slowly diminish. His GOP policies of giving a free ride to rich, doing nothing for the poor, and saddling the middle class with the majority of the taxes only further to speed along this fate.

    May 6, 2011 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  25. Bill, NY

    Forgive me for saying that Mr. Santorum knows not of what he speaks. The way you treat your less fortunate says the most about a people and country. Mr. Santorum and his ilk are the ones who are rendering this country inert. For them it is and has always been about big corporations and the ultra rich over the betterment and well being of all Americans.

    May 6, 2011 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
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