Santorum makes push for social conservative vote
December 13th, 2011
03:29 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum makes push for social conservative vote

Belle Plaine, Iowa (CNN) - During a lengthy town hall-style meeting in rural Iowa today, Rick Santorum tried to portray himself as the only choice for caucus-goers looking for a candidate who will put family first.

"In all of these debates if you watch them there's one candidate that always mentions the important role of the family in the economy, that always talks about the centrality of faith, as America being a moral enterprise," Santorum said.

Traditionally Iowa Republicans have preferred socially conservative candidates, and Santorum is trying to tap into that preference to stage a last-minute surge in the weeks before the caucuses. One of his biggest competitors in the quest for that vote has been three-term Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. So when asked by a member of the audience to distinguish himself from Bachmann, Santorum didn't shy away.

"I don't doubt Michele's conservative credentials. I'll accept those, and I think she has pretty much said the same with respect to me. So the question is experience," Santorum said. "She has four years in the House. I served four years in the House. I wasn't ready to be president after four years in the House of Representatives."

Santorum emphasized that much of Bachmann's tenure has been spent in the minority, a relatively powerless position in Washington. And appealing to voters desire to select the most electable candidate, Santorum also pointed to his success in traditionally Democratic Pennsylvania.

"Someone like a Rick Santorum, who has been able to win there in the past, is the best chance to win there in the future," Santorum said of contested states like Pennsylvania. "Michele represents one of the most Republican districts in the state of Minnesota, and she's had a tough time winning those districts every time. Now she's had some tough election years to run in, but it's not like she's ever had or has had any record of success of attracting the kind of voters that we need if we're going to win this election."

Texas Governor Rick Perry, another candidate campaigning hard for the social conservative vote in Iowa, also found himself the subject of some criticism from Santorum. In response to a question about Perry's repeated call for the cutting Congress' pay in half and turning it into a part-time legislature like they have in Texas, Santorum said that "the United States federal government is not a small, state legislature."

"The idea that we're now going to make Congress part time and have even a more powerful executive in places where you have a part-time legislature - the executive is very powerful, and that's not how our founders intended it," Santorum said. "Rick comes from a state that has not a strong governor it's interesting enough. In Texas it sort of works because everybody in Texas is elected."

As for President Barack Obama, Santorum's most passionate attack pertained to the president's approach to the business community. Using the owner of the restaurant where he spoke to make his point, the former senator linked the president's policies with the cry of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"We are the 99%" to argue that these protests are an example of an America divided by Obama.

"In Obama's world the owner of this restaurant is someone to be envied and someone to be vilified," Santorum said. "[He's] someone to be taxed, someone to be regulated in order that he can take their wealth and redistribute it to others."

While Santorum did say that it was not the president's role to get involved with local protests, he argued that the next president would need to restore an attitude where wealthy business owners are admired. One wealthy business owner in particular received mixed reviews from the candidate for the vaunted role he has attained in today's political culture.

On the same day Donald Trump announced that he would not host a Newsmax debate in Iowa scheduled for later this month, Santorum noted that the real estate mogul had met with nearly every Republican in this year's presidential race - except for himself. Yet Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were the only ones who had agreed to attend the debate before Trump himself backed out.

"They all go up there and kiss the ring of Donald Trump and then when he wants to have a public debate they all run away from him," Santorum said. "And the guy that didn't kiss the ring is the only guy that's coming. So, I don't understand this. I told Donald Trump if he wants to meet with me I'd be happy to meet in my Des Moines office."


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Rick Santorum
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Democrats answer to everything, TAX THE RICH, TAX BUSINESS

    Your just not catching fire in the polls Rick. Time for you, Huntsman and Bachmann to pack it in.

    December 13, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. "GOP’s war on reality ~ they hate us for our history, science, & knowledge"

    But can Satanorum defend himself against the puss-bomb throwing candidate that is the Gingeritch? Maybe if he puts up a frothy fence to keep out intruders – like a spitbug?

    December 13, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. Johnathan

    Stick a fork in it, Santorum.

    December 13, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. Thomas

    What is his stance on wearing a condom and family planing ?

    December 13, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Wayne

    Democracy yes. Theocracy no. We don't want/need a Taliban in the US, Mr. Santorum.

    December 13, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. Al-NY,NY

    When he speaks all I hear is an annoying buzz in my ears

    December 13, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I think it is time we look for a candidate that will put country first, not family first, and there is no republican with those credentials.

    December 13, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Wearing a condom???? How about Rick putting one on his head so we know what he really is?

    December 13, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. Food stamps for billionaires.

    It is tiring to see all the GOP sucking up to billionaires. I have a feeling that they are doing just fine, and it is time that they pay taxes at the same rate as the rest of the middle class.

    December 13, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. cali girl

    He scares me, like one of those crazies that says it is ok when someone blows up a clinic for women. He just makes me sick.

    December 13, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    Captain Frothy: "Who hates gays and women's rights more than I do? NOBODY! "

    "What is his stance on wearing a condom and family planing ?"

    Wide stance.

    December 13, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. catwill

    Poor Rick Santorum you may be the next flavor hang in there.

    December 13, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. Stacey

    Santorum got dumped by Donald Chump! Ha-ha! Why are some of these people running when they know they have no chance of winning a general election? That includes Ron Paul. Ron Paul cannot win in a general election. His advanced age alone is a turnoff, let alone his 1865 fundamentalist views/values.

    December 13, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  14. Susan Booth

    This guy has 0 appeal. Boring.

    December 13, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. Noodle Nose Johnson

    Whatever Rick. You'll be out after you post low single digits in Iowa and NH. You wouldn't even carry your home state of PA if you someone miraculously became the nominee.

    December 13, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |