Santorum begins S.C. push by contrasting with Obama
January 13th, 2012
12:22 AM ET
2 years ago

Santorum begins S.C. push by contrasting with Obama

Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - Rick Santorum aimed to make good on his promise to work harder than any other candidate in the Republican race, trekking to four stops in southeastern South Carolina on Thursday where many communities are isolated on islands or cut off by ocean inlets.

It was Santorum's first full day of campaigning since finishing near the bottom in the New Hampshire primary earlier this week.

Wearing one of his now-famous sweater vests, Santorum spoke at length during each event, condemning President Barack Obama for holding a "fundamentally different view of America" than average South Carolina voters and for "managing the decline of the economy."

"We have a president who sees America like King George III saw America at the Revolutionary War – a country that should be ruled for the benefit of the people," Santorum said at a town hall on Hilton Head Island. "If you want to know what this election's about, it's his foundation. If you want to talk about the economy, the economy's in trouble. Why? Because it's being ruled. It's being taxed and regulated to death."

While rarely mentioning his opponents by name, Santorum found ways to criticize Mitt Romney's record, repeatedly saying the former Massachusetts governor did not provide the "contrast" Republicans needed to be successful in November.

"Unfortunately the person who is quote 'leading' for the nomination has the worst record of anybody in the field on health care, will provide absolutely no contrast, will create a muddled message on the issue that is the essential element of how we define freedom going forward in America," Santorum said to a crowd of roughly 200 retirees at the Sun City community in Bluffton.

Santorum echoed that sentiment later in the day when asked at the Hilton Head event to directly address the idea that Romney is the more "electable" candidate.

"Aren't you looking for someone as president you can trust?" he asked the audience, who quickly answered in the affirmative. "What would give you the idea that someone who has changed his position on almost every single issue is someone you can trust? That when they get into the tempest in Washington, D.C., that they're going to stand by their principles that they've never stood by before. Don't pay attention to the experts."

At each event, Santorum took nearly every question his audiences could think of, often answering at length, and was frequently encouraged to differentiate himself from his opponents. But at his last event – a 300-person, two-hour town hall on Daniel Island – Santorum made clear he was choosing a different line of attack against the GOP frontrunner than some of his rivals.

"I'm not picking on Governor Romney," Santorum began. "I know everyone else is picking on his record at Bain Capital. I don't. I believe in capitalism. I'm okay with the private sector. But I will say that it is important to have a candidate who can communicate and connect with voters that we need to get their votes, and I think he has a harder time doing it than I do."

Throughout the day, Santorum tried to emphasize how important he believed next weekend's primary here to be – not just to his presidential hopes, but to the future of the country. He consistently painted the election as a chance to "defend freedom," and his overarching message at each event was that if the voters of South Carolina elected Romney – or really anyone but himself – they'd have to explain to posterity how they let the opportunity to beat Obama slip away.

"You have a very important role to play, a huge role to play," Santorum told the crowd in Sun City. "If South Carolina gets it wrong, this country may be stuck with four more years of Barack Obama and the implementation of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank and all of those others – who knows what else – and we will be the generation that will have to explain to your children and grandchildren as to what you did, the opportunity you missed, a time when your country called you – not to put on a uniform – but to be a citizen of this country defending our freedom which is our responsibility as an American. That you let America down."


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum • South Carolina
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. andrew

    Romney 2012. Real HOPE! Real CHANGE!

    January 13, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  2. andrew

    ROMNEY 2012! We need his leadership and optimism in the WH.

    January 13, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  3. ahetch

    He talks about freedom but in reality there wold be no freedom for women. Absolutely no freedom for birth control. None.

    January 13, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  4. donna

    Santorum's strategy is to appeal to rural voters by pretending to be regular folk with them. They should be insulted.

    January 13, 2012 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  5. Donkey Party

    Anyone else sick of the right-wing continuously trying to paint President Obama as a foreigner? That line of attack will surely fail, as with all the other right-wing attacks.

    January 13, 2012 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I hope that conservatives rally around Santorum because he is more of one than Romney since he can be shown to be a flip flopper. Besides, his company, Bain Capital, was never really an American company because it let companies ship US jobs overseas or just kill them here. That isn't patriotic and shows that he only values money.

    January 13, 2012 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  7. LovesIrony

    santorum on a sweater vest.

    January 13, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |