Santorum: Obama doesn't understand America
May 6th, 2011
09:09 PM ET
3 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. 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 about reflecting, being proud to be an American and embracing the families of 9/11

    I would not be suprised 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 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  2. Palin Power

    Sarah Palin will destroy Santorum in the GOP primaries and she will be President in 2012! We will have 8 years of President Sarah Palin.

    May 6, 2011 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  3. Nothing new here

    Good grief, Santorum.
    So now we are suppose to be like the British Empire??
    A monarchy??
    Get out of here!!

    May 6, 2011 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  4. Joe

    Here's a translation:
    "The president of the United States (black man) doesn't understand who we (white people) are."

    May 6, 2011 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  5. john

    Actually, in his can-do spirit, his cool-headedness, and his moral and practical clear-sightedness, I can't think of a better exemplar of what is exceptional about American than President Obama is. Certainly ex-Senator Santorum doesn't represent American exceptionalism, because the values he champions aren't really American ones.

    May 6, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  6. charles bowen

    Slick Ricky Santorum is a little like Tricky Dicky Nixon dont you thunk. Oh yeah now thats Republicant Presidential Material another victory sign in the works. Not on your best day ricky you aint got a chance. Sadly Rick it is you who dose'nt understand America . Save Your money for a run in 2016. Democrats Own the White house for at least one more term. Play it again Sam! Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    May 6, 2011 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  7. sonny c.

    Let's see, Obama's grandfather fought in WWII, was educated under the G.I. Bill, moved from Kansas to Hawaii to chase the American Dream,had a Grandson that was abandoned by his father but who still got an excellent education by applying himself, became a millionaire by writing 2 books & then ended up becoming the President of the United States. Right Mr. Sanatorium, Obama doesn't understand America. Only "Holy" people like your kind really understand America & God. Those that are not "ya'll" are cluless. Now that's ELITIST.

    May 6, 2011 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  8. Martha in CF

    Hey Rick,
    Go sell you stuff somewhere else.

    May 6, 2011 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  9. usualone

    He lost his last election by lots of points. Guess he doesn't understand Americans, at least the people of Pennsylvania. He looks young but he lives in an antiquated way.

    May 6, 2011 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  10. Ralph

    What he means is that Obama is black. Like saying States Rights in the 1960's this is code for I want America to go back to the white rich folks only run things like it used to be.

    May 6, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  11. Conservative Californian

    Santorum is correct.

    May 6, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  12. ITALIAN NONNO

    Obama has accomplished more in two years,.. than Santorum could hope to accomplish in two lifetimes. What a dipstick.

    May 6, 2011 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  13. Jamie

    Santorum claims not to believe in state control – until it comes to abortion. Then he personally wants to control your private life.

    Taking care of our elderly and other expressions of compassionate responsibility are part of what makes the U.S. great. Santorum apparently thinks this privilege belongs only to the "exceptional."

    May 6, 2011 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  14. Desmond in Canada

    Now there's a perfect nitwit for you! And this guy wants to be President? What is WRONG with you people? How can you be so blinded with jealousy and hatred?

    May 6, 2011 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  15. Marla

    How can anyone dare say that our president doesn't understand America after the events of this last week?

    May 6, 2011 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  16. JP0

    So "American Exceptionalism" means let the old bastards starve or die from untreated medical conditions?

    May 6, 2011 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  17. Larry L

    Yawn... Another angry, white, socially-conservative GOP candidate telling us we need the government of yesterday. The same yesterday that elected "W" and drove our country to near ruin. He does have that crazy look in his eye the Tea Party racists expect... I'd guess he'll be a hit in South Carolina!

    May 7, 2011 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  18. AntiFringe

    Well now, there's a speech full of solutions!

    May 7, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  19. Republicans.....the country is BROKE?????

    For those of you who missed this news....
    Exxon Makes $30.5 Billion, So GOP Votes Unanimously To Give Them Tax Breaks Exxon Mobil is by far the most profitable company in the new Fortune 500 list, riding “high oil prices to a staggering $30 billion in income” in 2010. Exxon made over $10 billion more than fellow oil giant Chevron, the third most profitable company (AT&T edged out Chevron for the number two spot). ConocoPhillips’ $11.4 billion in profits put it in the 16th spot, giving the three oil giants a combined $60.9 billion in profits in 2010.
    Today, the Republicans in the House of Representatives celebrated this massive redistribution of wealth from American families to oil executives.

    May 7, 2011 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  20. PALINHOPE

    He doesn't understand America because he is not an American. But he understands Rev. Wright.

    May 7, 2011 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  21. Rodger Crowe

    Santorum is delusional. He has no chance of being president.

    May 7, 2011 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  22. Dave

    First of all, when GOP candidates have their lame discussions about how exceptional America is, it is nothing more than a smokescreen because they don’t have the ability to take on more complex issues. Sure, America is a great country, but when people like Santorum make this there main issue, they reveal that they are, in fact, too dumb to take on anything more complex than cheerleading.

    As far as Obama not understanding what America is, I think he has a fine grasp of it. Who lost their last election by 17 points? Thanks, Santorum, for proving what a moronic simpleton you really are.

    May 7, 2011 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  23. Discernment

    . . . . UH . . . WHAT???

    President Obama has been preaching the gospel of 'American Exceptionalism' and 'One America' and a 'Can Do America' and 'America's Greatness' since he first became an Illinois Senator. So where has Rick Santorum been all this time?

    Oh, I get it. Santorum had to tailor his speech for the Tea Party dominated audience of the Silver Elephant Banquet. A little 'divisiveness' here, and a little 'race-baiting' their, and soon the birthers in the audience will know that Santorum is 'one of them'.

    May 7, 2011 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  24. exeodnam

    This guy is as dumb as a bag of hair

    May 7, 2011 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  25. Charles

    Poor Santorum, he doesnt make sense.He doesnt understand that the world is changing everyday.China is graduating over 70 thousand engineers and scientists each year and he is talking about America exceptionalism whilst GOP want to cut funding for education.Country that is investing in education will win the future.

    May 7, 2011 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
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