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. MakeThemEatCake

    Rick, nothing is getting done because the Congress is haggling over pennies when they should be looking for dollars. You talk about the President's solution to everything is "tax the rich". the conservative solution to everything is to eliminate taxes on the rich in the HOPE that the extra money in their pocket will nudge them to create jobs. the Bush tax cuts, those that should have expired months ago, were in place and the economy of this country slashed employment to the tune of 100k job losses per month for the last year of the Bush presidency. what makes you think that providing another reduction in corporate, capital gains and individual tax rates will now do anything different? Past behavior is used to describe all democratic officials as having a tax and spend mentality. What, in their past behavior, leads one to believe that the beneficiaries of such reduced tax rates will behave differently? Really, I wish someone would answer that question. those that push ( demand ) that our government legislate this policy are like gamblers. they try to convince the rest of us (99% of the population) that they will win big on the next hand. they feel it.

    December 22, 2011 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  2. John

    Please focus on solving the problems.

    December 22, 2011 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  3. ksmary

    Mr. Santorum is just upset that Pres. Obama is articulating what 60% of the country is saying as far as taxing the wealthy goes. the president wants to speak for Americans, not multi-national corporations. Pres Obama also wants to put a jobs plan in place and look carefully at a pipeline plan that could ruin a major aquifer if not handled properly, even though the aforementioned aquifer mostly affects parts of the U.S. that are not friendly to him. Sounds to me like he is lookind after all Americans, and that is his job.

    December 22, 2011 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  4. Desmond, Canada

    The only people dividing your country in a negative way are you GOPers.

    December 22, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  5. David

    Rick, President Obama does'nt care what you think. Rebuilding the middle class from years of assault by the well heeled must be the priority. Now get back into the ring and sort things out with the rest of the GOP candidates and worry about your slim to none chance at the nomination.

    December 22, 2011 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    I hope Sen. Santorum will one day learn the truth of why his message is in last place. The classic cry of "class warfare" is an old one, used to deflect the conversation away from to the economic facts to a social issue painting the wealthy as victims. Why he says that, when polls show that a plurality of people making over a million per year favor raising their taxes to help the economy, is a minor mystery to me. He says he because he's more or less "paid" to say it by his meager donors, and the major donors that he aspires to win.

    December 22, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  7. RKN

    Every GOP candidate has been pointing too Obama and saying that is is terrible, he weakens security, he promotes class warfare, he blames others for his problems, ....
    Yet, I have not heard Obama blame any person, He blames the political climate and big money buying influence... but no individuals.
    Obama has not started class warfare, the GOP has done this by cutting programs for the middle and lower class while giving more to the top 1%. Obama has tried repeatedly to work on programs with the GOP – health care being a good example- and no one was willing to work with him. The stated goal of the GOP has been to make Obama a one term president.
    Obama has done For this country than any of the GOP candidates have ever done.

    December 22, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  8. Tony

    In Santorum's mind, to point out that Republicans only pay attention to the rich is to divide the country. Republicans are not dividing the country when they cater only to the rich because, in their mind, the rest of the country does not exist. So what if the average American family will be out $1000 on January 1st, Republicans insist that tax cuts must be paid for (except for Bush tax cuts, of course).

    December 22, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  9. Ted Baldwin

    Seriously??? Santorum wants to talk about diviseness of President Obama!! Mitch McConnel is the Father of diviseness since he stated (at the beginning of Obama's Presidency) that he wanted to make this President a one term president. That was (is) his priority and has become the Republican Party's priority. What a display of patriotism. Don't worry about what is best for the country. By the way, Mr Santorum would try to make this country a Caliphate of Evangelical Christianity. KEEP church and state separate please.

    December 22, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  10. EatRunDive

    If the candidate is going to complain about "class warfare," perhaps he should find another profession. By definition, politics IS class warfare.

    And to bring it up after Boener made it clear that Republicans are the party of the rich is pretty poor judgement. If it were the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in question, the speaker would be moving heaven and earth.

    If you make less than 6 figures and you vote Republican, you've been duped.

    December 22, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  11. BamaWhig

    Of course Obama has played politics. If the Republicans had not given us a 4 year election cycle, we might have had 3 years of governing to 1 year of election politics. But since they've been trying to get him out of office since November 2008, he's had to eat at the table they set.

    December 22, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  12. ShawnDH

    This is idiotic. The entire Republican electoral strategy for well over a decade has been to divide Americans for politics. What is Santorum doing with his bizarre anti-gay hysteria and bible-thumping xenophobic lunacy? Republicans are just scared because the people they have been waging class warfare against since Reagan have finally woken up and are fighting back. Notice how they only call it "class warfare" when we fight back? They never call it that when they are busy destroying the middle class so gazillionaires can pay slightly lower taxes.

    December 22, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  13. Independent Voters

    Santorum you would never be president and your republican teaparty friends are dividing the country.
    Please 2012 election hurry up so president Obama will win 4 more years.

    Obama/Biden 2012
    Hilliary/Warren 2016

    December 22, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. LOST in Texas FOREVER and EVER

    as if being against gay people, people that are not Christians by faith are not divisive. People like Santorum need to look at their own house before they start throwing stones. Beside if anybody is good at dividing the nation it's the GOP...they call it Karl Rove politics.

    December 22, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  15. ShawnDH

    How typical of a minion of the 1% to cry "class warfare" while promoting policies that destroy the middle class and impoverish the vast majority of Americans so gazillionaires can pay slightly lower taxes. Classic right-wing double-speak. Clearly, Republicans are terrified that the people they have been oppressing and abusing since Reagan have woken up and are fighting back. But Santorum is right about one thing...Obama will win the election.

    December 22, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  16. Nash

    Really? Nice try. This will not get any traction. This guy needs to go take care of his terminally ill child.

    December 22, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  17. Andrew

    GOP is dividing the country but refusing to take a dime from the rich while taking more and more away from the middle class. Also dividing people but refusing gay marriage and all those other pointless social issues republicans hate for no real reason.

    December 22, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  18. FedUp

    Obama is nothing but a community organizer by profession. Too bad he has to divide a country in order to get his votes. It would be much better if he could bring everyone together. Guess there always has to be an enemy though.

    December 22, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  19. frespech

    Anybody that says he admires George Bush doesn't deserve a vote from anybody!

    December 22, 2011 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  20. Dave

    What's really pathetic is that an idiot like Santorum actually thinks he's worthy of the Presidency. He's nothing more then an intellectual lightweight who thinks he's so morally superior that he can shove his so-called values down everyone's throat. Luckily he won't even come close to getting the nomination. He's a joke and even Republicans know it.

    December 22, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  21. frespech

    The one reason nothing is getting done lies squarely with the Republican Congress 100% to blame for a total lack of civility or compromise and it's time everyone started shouting it from the rooftops. Don't let them get away with any spin.
    The Republican Congress is to blame Period. End of story.

    December 22, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  22. ZB

    The only class warefare going on in America is the Republican/Tparty's war against the middles class; working class, senior class, and every other class of American who isn't part of the rich class.

    December 22, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  23. Jill-IN

    Right wing extremists, tea party Republicans, and neo con Republicans have been dividing this country for more than 10 years and get increasingly worse each year. They are the problem. They need to be voted out and ignored.

    December 22, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  24. Vader

    So it is OBAMA that is dividing the country.... One more Republican BIG LIE.

    December 22, 2011 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  25. diridi

    Who is dividing idiot? It is GOP and their trickery. Nonsense. Just vote all GOP idiots out in next election. Salvation....that's it. Republicans sin is ripe. Obama2012.

    December 22, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
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