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. Rob

    How bout Senator LooneyTunes gives up his own TAXPAYER funded healthbenefits and pays back the premiums for this 'real American's 25 years of recieving them while working for the government?

    THEN we can listen to him prattle about why the rest of us shoudl give ours up.

    May 7, 2011 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  2. brian

    Maybe the millions of people wanting freedom from foregin rule ended the british empire. Rick should learn some history. Intelecual honesty is needed not jingoism.

    May 7, 2011 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  3. Pete J

    And you know who we are Senator Santorum? I guess you are one of those real Americans your fellow tea party enthusiast Sarah Palin talked about!

    May 7, 2011 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  4. jim

    no, this idiot and the rest of his merry band of retards do not understand america

    May 7, 2011 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  5. swolfson

    Santorum doesn't understand this country needs to take care of the grandmas of this country.

    May 7, 2011 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  6. Vman

    I would suggest Ricky is the one who has lost touch with America. America is not the old Southerners in South Carolina. America more than ever is a country of diversity of thought. It is the greatest country on the face of the earth but not one that is perfect. I don't agree with many of Obama's policies but the one thing I would not accuse him of is that he does not understand America. Ricky, it took decades for folks like you to come in terms with diversity of races, now learn about diversity of ideas. Just because his ideas different than yours, it does not mean he does not get it.

    May 7, 2011 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  7. once upon a horse

    after what President Obama just did, this has to be the DUMBEST statement that has been made so far in the election cycle. Everyone in that room should have gotten up and walked out after he said this, but being mostly biased right wingers I am not shocked that they stayed and listened to this crap.

    May 7, 2011 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  8. jjinKS

    The people that do not understand America are the far right politicos (like Santorum) that take statements made by the other side and "explain" these statements to the American people, so they can better understand them, because no one knows more about America than the far right (yeah...sure!!). Medicare is one of those govt programs that needs to be improved, but it does try to help those that need help. Social Security would have been fine and fully funded, if those crappy politicians (like Santorum) in DC did not use it to fund or underwrite other politically favorable (to the politician's cause) special projects/programs.

    May 7, 2011 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  9. juliei4

    Really? Obama doesn't understand America? Why is the GOP backtracking on Medicare as fast as they can? It is the GOP that doesn't understand America. They feed fear and distrust in this country and there are some people that are fools enough to believe their lies.

    May 7, 2011 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  10. annie s

    He understands MY America. It's the fanatical religious conservatives like Santorum, with their hatred and opposition of equality for all Americans, that are out of touch. Obama/Biden 2012 to move America forward!

    May 7, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  11. 4merRepubCT

    Santorum needs to study history. The British Empire faded because it was autocratic, racist, imperialistic, and refused to recognize human dignity. Is that what he wants for the U.S.?

    May 7, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  12. Adalbert

    "Obama doesn’t understand America" And this dodo bird does?

    May 7, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Mountaineer

    Who is Santorum to be an authority on whether or not the President understands America? After all, I don' see Santorum in office in PA. He was voted out because he didn't understand the voters of Pennsylvania. Any Politican on the take from Lobbyist don't understand America, that's she's hurting and doesn't need Congress to take bribes from major companies who write their laws for them at the expense of the rest of us.

    May 7, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  14. David

    Blah, blah, blah. This loser should go back to his hole with that Pennsylvania griound-hog.

    May 7, 2011 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  15. Anonymous

    "American exceptionalism" is just another word the nutty neocons and Friedman/Rand cultists use to justify their class war on the poor and working class, and to push for deregulation and the destruction of the environment. It's a feel good phrase used to shut down any debate about the harms the GOBPbaggers and their filthy, faceless predatory billionaire backers use to when confronted with the damage they have caused, and continue to cause, this country. A country that now accepts torture and robbing from the poor to give to the rich can still be described as "exceptional" but not in a good way. The term is a reflection of the psychopathic approach to politics as practiced by the extreme right Koch-heads.

    May 7, 2011 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  16. CHW

    In all due respect to Mr Santorum Presdent Obama does understand Americas exceptionilism because he is international and have seen us from inside and outside to gain a better perspective.

    May 7, 2011 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  17. Derrick

    This moron is living in a wonderland along with the rest of the nut jobs who think they can compete with Obama. Nobody in this field has the intellect or competence to stand on stage with Obama.....

    May 7, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  18. Al

    Ricky, our President took down a person who killed 3,000 Americans. You should look at yourself in the mirror at once for a while.

    May 7, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. catmom

    And what doesn't he understand? How pompous fools like you can get away with being unpatriotic and hurling insults to the duly elected President of the United States of America. I sure wish he would elaborate and tell us all how he understands America more. Tell me what you think America is saying because so far all Santorum has been spouting is ignorant drivel.

    I think this past week alone President Obama showed the entire world that he understands America. He showed the entire world that he gets it and can achieve it. Too bad Santorum was off on an imaginary trip to la la land. Now what I would be more accepting of is Mr. Santorum told us in detail what his plans for our country are. Simply insulting President Obama is not working here.

    May 7, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  20. FBMarky

    Judging by his past actions, the only America Santorum seems to understand is the rich, white, heterosexual America that he dreams of. The fact is, America is not the greatest country in the world. We suck at many things including education and health care. I applaud Obama for being a realist and pointing out that republicons live in a fantasy world, where poor people can afford education and old people can afford health care and nobody needs to pay taxes because the government doesn't need to do anything for its self-sustaining population. Good luck with that, ricky!

    May 7, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  21. Anonymous

    We were born great. So he equates our country in the 18th century as being unquestionably great. I guess slavery to him was "great" as well.

    May 7, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. Big Al

    My impression is Rick Santorum doesn't understand America. He doesn't even know what he was talking about.

    May 7, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. Joris

    How hard Conservatives work to smear the President as "un"-American. Unable to birth him back to Kenya, unable to stop his success in Health care, unable to smear him with his "associations" of preachers and school board attendees–and his mainstream liberalism stretching back to Jefferson and Washington–they smear him–it is the only word–with "un-American" in any way they can. It is a consistent smear, consistent, subtle, and, of course, hostile to Christian love and truth.

    May 7, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. ED FL

    SANTORUM doesn't understand ,PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 7, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. Monster Zero

    Gee, do you think?
    He sure has a thorough understanding of Islam, Marxism, Socialism and Unions though...
    Carter moment 2012!

    May 7, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
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