Santorum gets testy as students raise social issues
December 6th, 2011
03:41 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum gets testy as students raise social issues

Sioux Center, Iowa (CNN) - At times Rick Santorum came across as testy and some might say condescending at an event with students Monday night at a conservative Christian college in rural northwest Iowa.

During a question and answer session, a couple of Dordt College students –one former and one current– within the span of about 20 minutes of each other gave the Republican hopeful an earful about his positions on social issues.

It started with a freshman who said he's been studying certain books of the Bible recently, which prompted him to ask about healthcare.

"God is very angry toward societies that don't care for the poor," student Ryan Walters began. "If not for our social programs, how can we as a society care for our poor?"

Santorum was quick on the draw.

"You go to Dordt College and ask me that question?" he replied with a shocked expression.

"Yes sir," Walters said.

The candidate turned to the audience and immediately asked who they think should be responsible for helping the poor. After he got the answer he was looking for –that it's up to each individual (which was second to the audience's first answer, "the church")– the student spoke up again.

"With all due respect Sen. Santorum, I don't think God appreciates the fact that we have 50-100 thousand uninsured Americans dying due to a lack of healthcare every year."

"Dying?" Santorum shot back, seeming genuinely taken aback.

"I believe that is a statistic," Walters said.

"So 50 to 100 thousand Americans are dying due to lack of healthcare?"

"And preventable diseases, yes sir."

"Healthcare and preventable diseases? Where did you get that number?"

The student said he believed it was from "statistical evidence."

Santorum said people "don't get statistical evidence from thin air" and said, "I reject that number completely, that people die in America because of lack of health insurance. People die in America because people die in America. And people make poor decisions with respect to their health and their healthcare. And they don't go to the emergency room or they don't go to the doctor when they need to. And it's not the fault of the government for not providing some sort of universal benefit."

The student later told CNN he couldn't find the stats when put on the spot, but he was referring to a 2009 Harvard study that said 45,000 people die each year because of lack of health insurance.

Santorum added that people should be free to make their own choice on a decision like the purchase of healthcare, not be under a federal mandate.

Soon after the healthcare debate, recent Dordt graduate Jason Kornelis asked about a social issue of a different color.

"You talked about how this would be a hit to faith family and in America. What are some concrete things that you would say would happen if gay marriage was legalized?"

Santorum turned the question on him. And did so repeatedly.

"Can you contemplate any?"

"I beg your pardon?" Kornelis replied.

"Can you contemplate any?"

"I can't think of–"

"You can't think of a single thing?"

"A consequence..?"

"You can't think of any consequence?"

"No."

"Really? Wow," Santorum said, sounding bewildered. "Um okay, well let's see if we can have a discussion ... Let's look at what's going to be taught in our schools because now we have same sex couples being the same and their sexual activity being seen as equal and affirmed by society as heterosexual couples and their activity. So what's going to be taught to our people in health class in our schools? What is going to be taught to our children about who in our stories, even to little children, what are married couples? What our families look like in America? So, you are going to have in our curriculum ... a worldview that is fundamentally different than what is taught in schools today. Is that not a consequence of gay marriage?"

Kornelis responded, saying, "Whether gay marriage is legalized or not, there is still going to be gay couples. That is not going to change."

"I'm not talking about–" Santorum started. "Well, what is going to be taught in our schools? In our public schools in our institutions?"

"I don't think it is going to be that much different than what is being taught now," said Kornelis.

"Really? I think you're wrong. Okay, in fact you have to know you're wrong because if we say legally is this type of relationship is licit and identical to other types of relationships than of course more of it will be taught because it is what the law says. Right now the law doesn't recognize this type of activity."

"Of course you will have to agree with me," Santorum continued. "Right? I mean let's be honest. You're going to have to agree with me that that's going to be a consequence."

"I respectfully disagree,"Kornelis said, at which point Santorum thanked him for his question and for "engaging in an honest debate."

While both Walters and Kornelis either attended or currently attend the Christian school, they each lean Democratic. But in Kornelis's case, he said he voted for Obama in 2008 and is not completely sold on voting for him again. He is pro gay marriage but strays from the pack when it comes to abortion. He said he generally backs the conservative standpoint and leans more pro-life.

Santorum –the only 2012 candidate who can boast of being to all 99 counties in Iowa– was on a campaign swing that included several rural towns in the northwest part of the Hawkeye State. It wrapped up Tuesday in Spencer with a stop at a local restaurant.

Also see:

Axelrod: Gingrich to blame for Washington gridlock

Romney's stand on payroll tax has Dems crying 'flip-flop'

Gingrich ready for 'early Christmas gift' from Pelosi

Cain says no endorsement soon


Filed under: Gay rights • Healthcare • Iowa • Rick Santorum
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Nice to know that the overpopulator and his tribe of eight have medical insurance. These teapublikans really and truly don't know or care about anything but themselves and running for an office none ofvthem are qualified for. What a country!!!

    December 6, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  2. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Rick Santorum claims to be holier than thou yet dismisses the student's question on what God thinks about the poor. I'm not sure about where the student got his statistics from, but the underlying question is is it morally right to not look after the poor. It's not the Churchs' sole responsibility. Yes, your health is your personal responsibilty. But in terms of the poor, whose burden should it be to make sure that they get decent healthcare?

    December 6, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Beantown Bully

    He's not ready....

    December 6, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Raul

    Santorem, another my way or the highway holier-than-thou kinda guy got a little "testy" when someone doesn't share his beliefs. Christian Taliban in a blue suit and red tie.

    December 6, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. George

    This guy always has the same whiny snivilly look on his face. I don't know which is worse. His snivilly look or that constant stary eyed look on Buchmann's face.

    December 6, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. Roy Blodgette

    Ok, so Santorum opposes gay marriage because we would have to change school curriculum that would supposedly promote a wold view that is out of step with the "American family." It was my understanding that the "American family" was not, and can not, be defined by law in terms of religion.

    December 6, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. Sid Prejean

    Santorum has spent more time in Iowa in the last six months than he spent in Pennsylvania in the last sisx years of his Senate career. One of the reasons we fired him. Just one.

    December 6, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "I reject that number completely, that people die in America because of lack of health insurance."

    Besides, it's not that 50,000-100,000 people are dying that is the problem (as far as the GOP/Teatrolls are concerned)...it's making sure that it's the "right people" that are dying for lack of insurance that's the trick.

    As for Captain Frothy's issues with the idea of consequences, let me give you a peak inside the GOP/Teatroll dictionary:

    "consequence" – noun – What needs to be shifted to the middle-class and poor and away from the rich and corpoartions when we enact our plutocratic policies designed to destroy the federal gov't as payback for the Civil War, Civil Rights Act, Voting RIghts Act, Medicare, Social Security, etc.

    December 6, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  9. MTATL67

    Santorum – I want to be President but I don't want to listen to any of you and I reject all your views....oh don't forget to vote for me. What a Nazi loser.

    December 6, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. Joe

    It's funny how these people of "faith" preach the exact opposite of what the bible (or any religious book) really stands for. Acceptance and love of EVERYONE! Yet, we can thank God that this man won't win the nomination!

    December 6, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Voice of Reason

    I wish someone would ask these sorts of questions in a larger forum, and engage in the two-way debate like these students did. It seems that the republicans feel free to say things without backing them up, and no one ever calls them on it. If you take the same critical look at the positions of these GOP hopefuls – i think you'd see a bunch of holes and plot gaps like this.

    December 6, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. freidamurray

    Just so happy Santorum doesn't have a chance!

    December 6, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. Voice of Reason

    Besides, Santorum is a narrow-minded know-it-all. Like Bachmann, he feels that the whole world should see things HIS way, or NO way. His inability to relate to anyone who sees the world from a different viewpoint and his staunch refusal to re-examine his own viewpoints make him a sure-fire loser in this or any other enlightened race.

    December 6, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    I like that kid. Questioning the blatant hypocrisy of being a devout Christian and turning your back on the poor at the same time is a national discussion that is long overdue.

    December 6, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. Scott in Atlanta

    The G@y agenda (yes it is an agen-da) is wrong regardless of your politics. (And both Dem@ocrats and Repub%licans know it) They've both just raise it's ref-utation to the "3-rd rail" level of politics, and now because of fe@r of being called "into-lera-nt", just whistle past the gr@ve yard. It will be the downfall of our r@ce (The human r@ce) And spare me your ps-eudo-intel-lectual-p-s-ycho-babble that pre-supposes that just because everyone thinks it's okay, and it feels so right, that it's okay. Save your breath. I maintain...

    20 years from know, it'll be argued that men being se#xually active with young boys is okay, just because to them, "It just feels so right."

    Take the religion out of the word "Abominition", and realize the simple definition is: Something that goes against the nature of itself.

    December 6, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Kris Craig

    I'm utterly shocked by this article! Rick Santorum is running for president?

    December 6, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. Jake

    Rick Santorum, i believe your number is up. You are incapable of leading ALL Americans.

    December 6, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Jay

    So is anyone surprised that Santorum couldn't discuss the questions asked? So much easier to just turn it around and act shocked that somebody that anybody would actually ask such a thing – I mean my God if you are a Christian how dare you question one of God's annointed Holier than all other Republicans! GAG!

    December 6, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  19. GwynniesPapa

    I just wonder what else could have been done to better the world with the money Dick is spending on this campaign. Any person of reasonable intellegence would know his chances are nill. the 2% he has maintained is a cult od intollerent haters

    December 6, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. chill

    It is so nice not to be represented by this mean little man any more in Pennsylvania. Even Mr. Club for Dopes head Toomey is a step up. It took far too long for voters here to recognize what we had.

    December 6, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. Phil in KC

    So old Rick thought he'd go to a conservative school and preach to the choir, get a few "Amens". Guess that didn't work out so well for him. He wasn't prepared to defend his positions.

    December 6, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. Arun

    I can't wait till these idiots are required to answer real questions on the economy, health care, and social issues. Hopefully the media won't be throwing thim soft quesions in debates.

    December 6, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Mah

    Santorum is a vile little creature.

    December 6, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. jim

    Yup. Facist. Me first, screw you politics. And this as$ calls himself a 'christian.' Well, if you mean American Taliban, yeah, he's a 'christian.' God save our poor country.

    December 6, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. Bonnie

    Calm down....Senator....perhaps you need a silent prayer first before answering any question. I will pray for you at mass this weekend.

    December 6, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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