Santorum: Obama dividing country to win election
December 22nd, 2011
03:01 AM ET
3 years ago

Santorum: Obama dividing country to win election

Fairfield, Iowa (CNN) - Fresh off the heels of a coveted endorsement, Republican Rick Santorum displaying some newfound confidence Wednesday as he accused President Barack Obama of playing "Chicago politics" and dividing the country to win an upcoming election.

The President has been "painting a picture" over the last six months of an "us vs. them" narrative, Santorum said.

"Rich vs. poor," he went on. " It is classic class warfare. It's dividing.  It's a very divisive message."

The former Pennsylvania senator said the reason Congress hasn't gotten anything done is because the President is "trying to pit one group against another."

"It's pathetic.  It is beneath the dignity of the president."

Santorum's comments were in response to an audience member at a town hall meeting of about 60 caucus-goers in rural Fairfield, Iowa. The question was in regard to what the executive's role is when the legislative side isn't getting anything accomplished.

Also in his answer, Santorum said he believes what the country needs in times of gridlock is a leader who can rise above the blame game and who doesn't resort to calling people out by name.

He said he admired George W. Bush for his ability to take the high road in instances such as these.

Describing Obama's style, Santorum said "he is the most divisive, partisan, he'll pick anybody who says anything against him – you talk about thin skin, boom.  He's just right out there, and he'll just go right back at that person."

"That's not what a president does. You're above that. You're the leader of the country. You don't get involved in those things. You lead."

He continued with passion.

"But he's not interested in leading.  He's interested in winning.  He's interested in winning a political game.  Chicago politics.  And it's nasty.  And it's divisive.  And it is the reason we're not getting anything done. "

"All he's done is focus on damning Republicans by name, and running an election campaign instead of leading this country. "

Santorum said Obama has "proposed no ideas" except for "just tax the rich."

"It's not about taxing the rich to solve the problem.  It's about taxing the rich so you can pit the rich against the majority of Americans, so he can get their votes."

"This is who the president is folks.  It's not hope and change.  It's just radical change."

Wednesday was the candidate's last day of town hall meetings in Iowa until after the holiday break. He travels back to Pennsylvania Thursday afternoon for a couple of days of rest before the final sprint to the caucus finish line on January 3.


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • President Obama • Rick Santorum
soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Tom

    "He said he admired George W. Bush for his ability to take the high road in instances such as these." This guy is making Palin look like a Rhodes Scholar. Bush's "high road" was the use of signing statements.

    December 22, 2011 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  2. wildwildwest

    Santorum's comments are some of the most ludicrous and ridiculous I've heard this year. Wow.

    Of course, it's always blame the President. Not take any responsibility for the Rethuglicans in congress.

    December 22, 2011 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  3. Ned Champlain

    Where as Santorum only divides by sexual preferences and religion? A true member of the party of hate and fear

    December 22, 2011 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  4. frag

    Dear Rick, President Obama is not responsible for the reality of the divide between rich and poor, any more than Abraham Lincoln was responsible for the divide between slave owners and non slave owners. If you think you stand a chance of being elected with this line, you need some new advisors! Could you give us some new ideas on what government can do to change, or help, or innovate, or improve? THAT might sway someone's opinion of YOUR ability to be president. We know Obama, and we don't need you to tell us what he is like. We don't know much about you, except that you are now a whiner!

    December 22, 2011 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  5. Navyboyp

    Its silly how Santorum acuses the president of playing the blame game when congressional LEADERS are the first to start pointing fingers and dropping the ball for political advantage. Even the Republican Presidential Nominees are attacking eachother. I understand that is the political game but really practice what you preach. What is Santorum doing right now....calling out President Obama and playing the blame game....Humm is that becoming of a presidential candidate??? I think not.

    December 22, 2011 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  6. John in Brooklyn

    Actually, President Obama is painting a picture of a very broad-based, welcoming "us"....while the GOP has made it clear that it doesn't want gay people, people who support civil liberties, people who support the right of working men and women to negotiate their labor contracts, people who question the ethics of Wall Street executives, people who understand that ALL of our families were immigrants to the US at one point or another. Gee....when you combine all of those people that the GOP apparently DOESN'T want....it looks more like THEY are dividing us...and Obama is uniting us.

    December 22, 2011 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  7. chris

    Recently, I have been extremely impressed by Mr. Santorum’s candor and discourse. At first, I thought his demeanor lacked maturity (Okay, he seemed young). Now, I think that it is an appearance that is overtaken by his passion, often times worn on his sleeve. There does appear to be frustration with trying to get his word out given the lack of attention. I wish Michelle Bachman would throw her support to Mr. Santorum prior to the Iowa Primary. My favorite duo would actually be Santorum/Bachman. However; because of Michelle’s stand for virtue and integrity, the media and moderate voters will see her as the far right, unfairly characterized similarly to Ms. Palen, although Ms. Bachmen is much more experienced.

    And that’s my take.

    December 22, 2011 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  8. Mechelle Dawn

    And that’s my take.

    Rick Santorum? After reading this article, I immediately began going back through the archives and debates. I am very comfortable with putting the security of my family and my country in your hands and under your leadership.

    I believe his youth and real experience gives him the ability to ‘believe it can be done’ without the cynical confidences and constraints of those entrenched in the system. I believe he can help unify the parties and the people. Let's work first on these things we all hold dear and things we know to be paramount: Security-borders and abroad; Provision for families-jobs; Economy-dependences on domestic energy sources like oil and natural gas from Alaska; Virtue and Integrity-to not be swayed by ‘small’ interest groups. In other words, drill today; tap the enormous supply of natural gas today, clean coal today; pipeline today for a supply surplus and competition and jobs. Do you know the best way to make up for a shortfall in the payroll tax liabilities? It is more workers. It is that simple. No, it’s not to call up Mat Damen and wonder if he knows what he’s talking about. It certainly isn’t to wait until after the general election so that Mr. Obama can wait to upset some of these green money contributors.

    You can’t build for tomorrow until you strengthen today. Hum…I think I said something.

    December 22, 2011 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  9. TheKop

    Who is this non-entity??? The real reason why Congress has achived practically nothing is because you have a GOP who from the very outset swore to bring Obama down soon after he took office. Not much has been mentioned (to the disgrace of the media who are supposed to be a check and a balance against Govt) about Mitch McConnell's edict to the GOP congressmen not to co-operate in any circumstances whatsoever with Obama and to ensure that he fails, even though many of the policies he has championed are policies supported by the GOP in the past. The GOP are an absolute disgrace. And Mr non-entity Santorum here has the gall to call Mr Obama the most divisive president. One thing that the GOP are remarkable at doing is re-writing history. America, wake up!

    December 22, 2011 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  10. HenryB

    Oh really? This dividing is what YOUR party is so good at. It is called wedge issues like illegal immigration, abortion, Christmas, gays that the GOP pulls off the shelf at every election to fire up the base and to cause division in people. Glad this is finally catching up with you and your "kind".

    December 22, 2011 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  11. rhumba

    So, Santorum admits on the record that republicans are the "rich" in "rich vs poor."

    December 22, 2011 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  12. sick of republican phonies

    What a liar. Look at the burgeoning gap between the rich and everyone else over the last 10 years...the republicans have been waging war on the middle class since the days of Herbert Hoover. Typical Goebbels/Rove propaganda tactics; blame the other side for what YOU are guilty of to divert attention. Sad that people fall for this.

    December 22, 2011 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  13. Little Jimmy Truth

    That's real man!!! He has great job at researching about history.

    December 22, 2011 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  14. Chris

    Obama dividing the country? For the past quarter century the narrative coming from the Right has been that liberals are nothing but a cancer that weakens and corrupts while conservative are God's chosen defenders of all that is good and true. Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Beck, Fox News, and the entire GOP have been preaching divisiveness for years now – long before Obama was even a senator.

    December 22, 2011 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  15. Indy

    The former Pennsylvania senator said the reason Congress hasn't gotten anything done is because the President is "trying to pit one group against another."

    You can't have it both ways Republicans, you said Obama is not a leader and not involved so how is he suppose to be so good at pitting one group against another if he is not involved and not leading. Pick one liars !

    The President has been "painting a picture" over the last six months of an "us vs. them" narrative, Santorum said.

    Meanwhile since day one McConnell made public it is Republicans against the middle class and Obama, and Republicans kidnapped the economy and held every American hostage to get to their goal of dividing and conquering, not everyone is stupid enough to believe the garbage and lies Republicans put forth, keep going after the 2% Republicans and take that to the election

    December 22, 2011 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  16. The Greedy Old PIgs have declared class war on US!

    Typical radical rightwing extremist projection: Accuse your enemy of doing what you yourself are doing. It's quite clear to most Americans that the GOBP deathcult has been working for years in service of a hidden elite of anti-American thugs. To stay in power and to stay undetected, the deathcult and the thugs running the show have specialized in creating false divides among voters. Needless to say, voters are waking up and this phony "us against them" mentality will be exposed for the pandering con job it is. OWS!

    December 22, 2011 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  17. Jules

    It is not the president that is engaged in class warfare. It is the GOP and Santorum is doing it by claiming that is what the president is doing. Some things just never change – the president is dividing America. What a hoot when you have the Congress we had. Division is laid right at the feet of the GOP.

    December 22, 2011 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  18. Matthew

    I literally laughed out loud when I read this line coming from Santorum (of all people). ALL Republicans have done since 2009 is divide the country....to blame Obama for it now when all he is doing is calling out Republicans for their policies is idiotic. But, I then look at the source it came from and it then makes sense. Somehow the more moronic comments lead to a rise in the polls in the Republican primary.

    December 22, 2011 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  19. George

    Ricky Santorum knows how to bring people together. The people of Pennsylvania came together to vote him out of office.

    December 22, 2011 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  20. dreucalypt

    Pot, meet kettle.

    December 22, 2011 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Admires George W. Bush? That is not a good thing to say even if he took the supposed "high road." I think that he had all his brains... I mean the people who ran his campaign and presidency did all the attacking. George W. Bush and his tax policies were wrong then because we had massive debt and were fighting two wars. How could cutting taxes make any sense?

    As for Obama using class warfare, I don't think that is any different than any other president. Besides, he never said he was a "uniter." He is noting that the wealthy haven't paid as much in taxes as the poor nor have the done as much charitable work (or contributions) as the less well off.

    December 22, 2011 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  22. rod

    If republicans stop favoring the rich it might be different

    December 22, 2011 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  23. Dovetail

    Obama will keep doing this because he never was a uniter.

    December 22, 2011 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  24. Ed

    Santorum Its not Obama its the tea party good reason not to vote for Santorum

    December 22, 2011 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  25. anon-i-mouse

    Um, sorry, Rick, but Boehnner and company are the ones running the divisive route. Obama has tried and tried again to negotiate with these losers just to have the run pulled out from under him at the last minute. Somehow spins and lies on the heels of a "Christian Leader" endorsement seems fitting.

    December 22, 2011 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
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