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. Darla

    You, Mr. Santorum, are as ignorant as you look. Let's hear what your policies are and explain just what & how you are going to carry them out.. Stand on your own. Rid yourself of campaigning like sourpuss Sarah. I want to hear you selling yourself and not tearing someone else down to do it. If you are a man capable of being president, prove it with your own abilities. As I see it, you will have a tough time getting many votes.

    May 7, 2011 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  2. Brian

    This is borderline offensive. Santorum acts like God established the United States and Jesus wrote the Constitution. Wake up Rick, America hasn't always been that amazing. And the social safety nets we've built to guarantee our citizens a basic quality of life are a big move in the right direction. Also, don't disrespect the president with this kind of "he's not like us" crap. Thinly-veiled racism.

    May 7, 2011 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  3. smtwnguy

    Mr Santorum,I may not understand America as well as you think you do-however I understand enough to know that it will be a cold day in hell before Americans will ever elect the likes of you to be President !!!

    May 7, 2011 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  4. anagram_kid

    I am so tired of hearing the right wing opinion of what this country was founded on… Here are some facts – It was founded on an agrarian economy, with slave labor, no rights for women, an infrastructure that lagged behind all other civilized countries with fewer people than live in most medium sized cities today. And of course we cannot forget it was founded on forcing natives off of the land they occupied and killing them in droves. Anyone really want to go back to that? Besides Santorum and the wing nuts of course…

    May 7, 2011 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  5. mk1

    No, to me it is Santorum and his radical views who does not understand America. A truly scary individual and I wonder why he hates America so much.

    May 7, 2011 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  6. khay

    What does this guy understand....for that matter...most of the GOP front runners have no clue what America is ...they all care about top 5% of America under the pretext that they only can create jobs...It is the small businesses create better jobs for America. While they agree about this but still like to give tax cuts to top 5%. .

    May 7, 2011 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  7. Joe Issano

    As a white person, I must say that Rick Santorum not only looks and speak like an angry white man, but a very racist one as well.

    May 7, 2011 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  8. GrogInOhio

    More empty rhetoric from a Republican... full of complaints and short on solutions.

    May 7, 2011 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  9. Tori

    Do politicans ever speak truth. America was not always great. This was the home chosen by God for the different indian tribes that were not worshipping him but believing in witchdoctors and totem. The Europeans and Spainairds came here and took and tricked the indians.
    Why does or should Obama believe a lie you speak out of your dishonest mouth.

    May 7, 2011 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  10. Chris Willett

    Those who think that our nation is by definition superior and can do no wrong ("it's not torture if we do it!") are extremely dangerous. I'll take a humble, thoughtful leader like Mr. Obama over any of these gun-slinging, Bible-thumping "I AM AMERICA" types.

    May 7, 2011 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  11. SNAPPA

    Rick go back to Pennsylvania will you and leave the government stuff to the adults. Like all great empires eventually they must fall, perceiving one to be better than all others is the first step. Once you reach the pinnicle there is no where else to go especially alone.

    May 7, 2011 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  12. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    Mr. Santorum ... there is nothing exceptional about you! If you're an example of American "exceptionalism", then you really don't realize that you're the court jester of GOP politics.

    May 7, 2011 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  13. SC

    Right! Obama does not understand America. Only you do!

    May 7, 2011 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  14. CKesey

    Ya got Santorum the bible thumper, Rick Scott aka Al Capone, Mitch "the king" Daniels, Narcissistic Newt, Scott "backstabber" Walker...are ya even a little embarrassed?

    May 7, 2011 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  15. Robert n Texas

    Rick Santorum is a weirdo crackpot and has no chance whatsoever of coming anywhere close to the White House. Anyone who contributes to his campaign is throwing their money away.

    May 7, 2011 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  16. ZweiStein

    Santorum said, "...the British Empire faded because "they accepted the mediocrity of state control." What a crock of nonsense. Prior to the British building their empire, and while building and administering their empire they were under strict state control.

    Can't the republican party come up with one intelligent candidate. Or is it that they don't want to because they know that Obama can't be beat?

    May 7, 2011 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  17. KO

    What a dope. What Obama was saying was that Social Security helped make America great by ensuring that everyone had a chance at a decent retirement and security after a long life of working hard. America wasn't "born great"–that's totally idiotic. Was it great that women couldn't vote and black people were slaves? Santorum is a nobody who will be out of the race before it starts.

    May 7, 2011 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  18. Proud to be an Independent !

    Please , Obama understand's America far more than any of the GOP clown's that they have put forth this cycle ! They only thing the current group of GOPer's understand's is how to give , and give, and give to the wealthy and everyone one else get's totally shafted ! All the GOP has done is regurgitate " Trickle Down Economic's " an economic model that hasn't worked in over a decade ! President Obama's approach is the right one because it preserves program's that people depend on to survive and the cut's are reasonable enough that they won't send the economy into a tailspin ! The Republican's are really playing for second place , they just don't know it yet ! Getting OBL was a powerful statement that has strengthened the President's national security credential's ! I can't see any of the current GOP crop even coming close ! The GOP might as well start planning for 2016 because 2012 just flew out the window last week !

    May 7, 2011 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  19. Marry

    Rick Santorum: "We have a president who does not understand what American exceptionalism is," he said. For the GOP/TP to state: “We want the president to fail” is to know what America is all about? That is respect for the “Democracy” in America?
    The president understands more than any of these “pretenders” (one cannot call them contenders!) that for the future development is necessary to deal honestly, capable, and with style on present and future problems.
    Something the complete GOP/TP proved to know nothing about in the last decade. First they get the country to “nosedive” because of their incompetence and greed and then refusing to get the country moving again. “NO” and “Hell NO” is not a program or creative opposition or dealing with reality! .

    May 7, 2011 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  20. John Jones

    He is beating THAT dead horse? What is American Exceptionalism? Ask any american on the street and they will shake their heads in confusion or give you half a dozen definitions. The problem with Santorum is that he just doesn't get it himself. The term is a GOP fanstasy talking point with no traction.

    Americans what a Jobs Plan for 2012. That's it. Nothing else. It's all about JOBS, stupid! Anything else is useless fluff.

    May 7, 2011 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  21. zimbot

    Sorry, can't see Santorum as the President.

    May 7, 2011 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  22. Chuck

    More of this underhanded racism. Obama is as American as the next guy and fully understands America. Santorum saying anyone who doesn't agree with the white/right view of America isn't American or doesn't understand America is really blatant racism pure and simple. No one accused any of the other 43 presidents of "not understanding America" just because they disagreed on political views... Tired of this mess.

    May 7, 2011 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  23. fred sanabria

    RIck, you have to be creative if you want to gain votes. "We have a president who does not understand what American exceptionalism is," just does not cut it. The president just gave the American public what they wanted for ten years. You have to top that, and stay out of the bigot white republican garbage that no one wants to hear anymore.

    Please convince me (a prospective voter) how are you planing to create more jobs? What is your energy plan? Defense plan? etc. I already know that Obama is black and the south hates him! For the sake of the GOP you need to move forward.

    May 7, 2011 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  24. seriously

    Honestly what does that have to do with your Math not working. That's like failing a test and telling your teacher my mom says I can do anything. STOP BEING STUPID AND IGNORANT. Your mom lied to you. We were not great when we started out as nation. In fact the British burned down Washington. We trafficed human beings. We stole land from Indians. Committed Genocide on a number of occassion to not only blacks and indians but Whites immigrating from other countries. We had exceptional ideas many of which were not fully carried out until the last 50 years. So what do think makes us exceptional. Makes us great. Is it being rich or morally doing the right things. I hear republicans talk about morality all the time and god values. Why don't you read the bible and see the talk about widows and orphans or the gleaning system or the 20 percent tax Israel had to pay. Even Jesus disciples collected distribution for the old elderly and women.

    May 7, 2011 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  25. Sandy

    "Obama doesn't understand America"

    LMAO! These Republicans are something else! LOL

    May 7, 2011 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6