Santorum hunts birds and serves up photo op
December 26th, 2011
09:43 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum hunts birds and serves up photo op

Adel, Iowa (CNN) - Opting not to hunt for votes one day after Christmas, a gun-toting Rick Santorum went on a different kind of hunt on Monday.

The black pheasants, quail and chukars set in his sights didn't have a chance.

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"I had four clean kills and then I had some group kills," the Republican presidential candidate boasted after a bird hunt in Adel, Iowa.

He was clad in a neon-orange jacket, vest and hat emblazoned with "NRA," for the National Rifle Association.

"Well, the day after Christmas is not a particularly good day to do a lot of town hall meetings," Santorum said. "So I just thought we would do something that was fun, something that I enjoy doing - I know the folks here in Iowa enjoy doing also."

"So we go out and first bird up – boom. [Son John Santorum] knocks it right out of the air," the beaming candidate said of his son's first time hunting. "So congratulations, John."

The result: wild game that Santorum would eat with his family and a chance to mention how his children got guns for Christmas. But perhaps most important, the occasion offered a photo op of a gun-toting, NRA-backed, bird-hunting conservative that could be tantalizing to conservatives ahead Iowa's Jan. 3 caucus.

It didn't hurt that his hunting buddy was Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King. King's endorsement is coveted by the GOP presidential field, though he did not offer one Monday.

Santorum is struggling to gain more attention and approval from Iowa voters. His poll numbers are mired in the low digits despite his having visited all 99 of Iowa's counties.

That could explain why birds were not the only topic of discussion.

The candidate took on those people who many conservatives believe want to weaken the Second Amendment's constitutional right to bear arms.

"There's nobody who's done more for the Second Amendment – and has been stronger on that issue – than I have," Santorum said. "You know, we have an A+ rating from the NRA."

Just after, King said: "I just want to enforce that, all of our constitutional rights – if we don't exercise them, we will lose them. And say if no one picked up a gun and used a gun – and waited until we needed an armed militia – then, by then, we would have already lost our gun rights, because the liberals redefine them out of existence."

When asked about his GOP rivals, Santorum was also critical.

"As we know, the governorship of Massachusetts – and (former Gov.) Mitt Romney even said – you know, he had to just basically do whatever the Democrats wanted to do and a little less," Santorum said. "And you know, (Texas) Gov. (Rick) Perry is, you know, is from a state that we all know the lieutenant governor has more authority in the state than the governor has."

"So as far as really being able to lead, I think if you look at leadership ability and being able to get things done in a tough environment, we've got it hands down over the field and I feel very good about that."

Going further, Santorum said his campaign has momentum and he offered an analogy.

"There's really three primaries going on here. There's the libertarian primary, which Ron Paul is going to win. And then you got the moderate primary, which Gingrich and Romney are scrumming for. And you've got three folks who are running as strong conservatives," Santorum said, referring to himself, Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

"And I think if we win that primary, I think we are in very good shape – as the non 'Newt Romney.'"

The candidate even jokingly compared his success at bagging birds to his potential success at the ballot box.

"It's a primary versus a caucus, or even a general election, in some respects," Santorum said, referring to his ability to nab not just one type of bird, but differing varieties of pheasants, quail and chuckars.

"Because you have moderates, liberals and conservatives. As opposed to just conservatives," he added.

"I'll let you guys figure out the bird apportionment."

– Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN


Filed under: Iowa • Rick Santorum
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Going further, Santorum said his campaign has momentum and he offered an analogy.

    "I had four clean kills and then I had some group kills," the Republican presidential candidate boasted after a bird hunt in Adel, Iowa.

    He was clad in a neon-orange jacket, vest and hat emblazoned with "NRA," for the National Rifle Association.

    I didn't know the NRA was now marketing florescent condoms .

    December 26, 2011 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  2. nintex

    And then there are those of us who don't kill animals for fun and are turned off by the whole gun thing who probably won't vote for you, Rick. But then we wouldn't have anyway.

    December 26, 2011 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  3. Lost inTexas FOREVER and EVER

    ahhh yes guns and killing defenseless wildlife....that's part of the GOP mantra

    December 26, 2011 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This doesn't prove much other than he and his son can shot weapons. I don't know if that will help his chance at getting the endorsement. I wonder really how important King's endorsement is going to be given how close it is to the caucuses. Something longer ago would have been more potent to who every received it.

    December 26, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  5. Larry L

    Dick Cheney used a 28 gauge shotgun to shoot that lawyer down in South Texas. Clearly not enough gun. Perry used a .380 semi-auto to shoot a cotote then later his mouth to shoot himself in the foot. I suspect Santorun might be able to simply whine enough to make the birds kill themselves in disgust.

    December 26, 2011 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  6. Real Patriot

    Nothing says Christmas like shooting some defenseless birds with a CathloFacist like Rick Santorum....

    HoHoHo indeed.......

    December 27, 2011 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  7. Max

    It always blows my mind that Christians like Santorum are able to rationalize the killling of animals, particularly on these farcical hunt clubs - with planted birds. No matter how one reads Biblical texts, it's difficult to believe that Christ would have looked favorably upon a commercial endeavor that sets these human-raised birds loose for hunters, just hours before they are shot by bands of hunters. I wish this country would start questioning the grip the NRA has on public consciousness in this country. A right to bear arms should not be construed as a right to inflict cruelty. God, guns and killing. It's impossible to reconcile how the right-wing has manipulated people into believing they go together.

    December 27, 2011 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  8. steve harnack

    Well it's a little different Ricky. The voters aren't raised in cages nor have they had their wings clipped so they can't get away. You call what you did "hunting"? You might as well have walked into a grocery store and shot some frozen turkeys.

    December 27, 2011 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  9. ThinkAgain

    Oh, cry me a river about "losing" your guns rights! I'm a Liberal and my biggest beef is the loophole that allows unlimited purchasing of guns at gun shows without background checks. All in the name of greed, felons, lunatics and criminals show up at these shows and buy whatever they want.

    This loophole needs to be closed! If you are insane, a criminal or a felon, I don't think there should be ANY way you can buy a gun!

    December 27, 2011 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  10. Donkey Party

    Right-wingers are a sickening bunch. Anybody that chooses to be one doesn't deserve to be included in society. All they are is a cancer.

    December 27, 2011 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  11. alimonyjones

    HaHa! I'll k+ll lots of animals if you'll endorse me. Please? Pretty please?

    December 27, 2011 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  12. alimonyjones

    Bet he didn't really eat the partridge and pheasants, either.

    December 27, 2011 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  13. GOP = Greed Over People

    He is a member of the GOP, obviously he was hunting "peasants" not pheasants.

    December 27, 2011 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  14. Deep in the Heart of Texas

    Killing God's creatures for sport, "christians"?

    December 27, 2011 06:52 am at 6:52 am |