January 22nd, 2012
06:12 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum brushes off S.C., takes on Iran in Florida

Coral Springs, Florida (CNN) - Trying to brush off his third-place finish in South Carolina on Saturday, Rick Santorum went straight to Florida on Sunday in search of momentum.

Newt Gingrich's strong win in the Palmetto State was something of an equalizer, Santorum argued, emphasizing the importance of the January 31 primary here in the Sunshine State.

Before a crowd of more than 150 people – and 20 or so vocal Ron Paul supporters – Santorum said that the contests won by his opponents were races they should have won, because they were competing so close to their homes.

"We've had three races, one in Romney's backyard in the state of New Hampshire," he began, describing the former Massachusetts governor's many connections to the Granite State. "Last night, we had a race in South Carolina. Right across the border from where Newt Gingrich was, and pretty much his backyard and where he staked his claim. And they were able to win in their backyard."

Santorum said his win in Iowa was more significant.

"There was one race that was in nobody's backyard," he said. "There was one race where you had to go out and on a level playing field compete and we won that race."

Now the race is in Florida, which has a diverse Republican electorate.

Santorum tried to walk a political tightrope Sunday when describing his record.

Calling himself a "conservative firebrand" and "the person conservatives went to" for help in the U.S. Senate, Santorum also tried to argue that he's got the best chance of appealing to blue-collar, moderate voters in key swing states.

"There are about 10 or 12 states where this election is going to be won or lost," Santorum said. "And we need to look at the three candidates and say who has the ability to go up toe-to-toe with Barack Obama in the states that matter. Let's just be honest. South Carolina is not a swing state in a general election."

Speaking in one of the country's biggest swing states, Santorum directed voters to look at the race from that perspective. Dismissing Paul's candidacy almost entirely, he said that of the three remaining viable candidates, Santorum said that he would be the most competitive.

The mood at the afternoon rally was kept light by the occasional musical interjection of a local Tea Party band, but Santorum nonetheless shifted to more serious foreign policy topics such as Iran toward the end of his remarks.

"If we reach a point where I believe the only thing that will stop them from this program being realized and having a nuclear weapon - I will make a clear declaration to the Iranian government that you either open your facilities, you begin to dismantle this nuclear program, or we will dismantle it for you," Santorum told the crowd to much applause. He then argued that acquiring a nuclear weapon would allow Iran "carte blanche to spread a reign of terror around not just the Middle East, but here in America, here in Florida, here across western civilization."

Quickly dismissing the idea that such aggression would be an act of war, Santorum said it would be justified, comparing the Iranian government to the terrorist organization al Qaeda.

"They're just as radical as the people who run al Qaeda - their theology is identical. Again different strengths, but identical in their fundamentalist, Jihadist version of Islam," Santorum said. "We cannot allow the equivalent of al Qaeda to have this weapon."


Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Rick Santorum
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. logicnLA

    He can brush off anything he likes- bottomline- he has yet to win a primary. Beating Romney in Iowa, a state that held a meaningless caucus and where Romney did not campaign that heavily, was a media win and nothing more.
    He is an extremist with a limited following and would be a dream candidate for Obama to slaughter.

    January 22, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. Tired of republican lies

    Here we go...trying to start a war and not even in office...and you wonder why Iran is sassing the Navy in the Strait of Harmuz...elect one of these radicals, and we will have WW 3 before you know it. Think carefully folks...I personally will stay with the steady, calm no drama hand we have now. Obama/Biden 2012

    January 22, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  3. ED FL

    Santorum lost re election in his home state ,even in his dreams he can'tget elected nationally.

    January 22, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  4. Rick

    Is Rick going to send his son or daughter in harms way to stop Iran? Is he going to raise taxes to generate the required money to engage in another conflict? Or which social entitlement programs will he cut to pay for another conflict? When is he going to be honest with the American people? Is he going to cut social security and medicare to balance the budget. Even without National Health Care we got an issue. It is easy to talk big, when your not the decision maker.

    January 22, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  5. ED FL

    I am sure that Santorum time in the boy scouts will scare the heck out of Iran when he tells them to quit making missles. Do these politicians ever listen to their propaganda spiel that they actually think that anyone with common sense believestheir propaganda. What a joke they have become.

    January 22, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. Abe Vigoda

    Newt is more a Democrat that Huntsman...Romney starting to sound more like a Republican....Santorum? Sec of State or Sec of War? Obama is a 1%er and no one seems to notice or care. Don't like any of them

    January 22, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. Wendy kleiner

    I attended the rally. he comes accross very sincere and honest.

    January 22, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  8. Doyle Wiley, MI

    Santorum how would you pay for that war? And, thanks for choosing the one option that would guarantee more terrorist. What an idiot.

    January 22, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  9. ?????

    watch Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers.

    January 22, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  10. dreucalypt

    Big talk, and foolish talk. But also, probably, empty talk too.

    January 22, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  11. Doug

    Rambo rick!

    January 22, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  12. PR

    If Santorum is elected the Pope will run the white house and the Vatican will write the policy. He is an extreme right-wing bible-thumping catholic who wants to take away all our feedoms and take us back to the dark ages. He's an idiot, that's why
    we got rid of him in Pennsylvania.

    January 22, 2012 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  13. Montello

    Just what this country needs, another and even bigger war. Rick certainly doesn't get my vote.

    January 22, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  14. jmsbois

    Santorum obviously thinks it's time to energize the chicken hawks by beating the war drum. Predictable.

    January 22, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  15. Here we go again!

    "They're just as radical as the people who run al Qaeda – their theology is identical. Again different strengths, but identical in their fundamentalist, Jihadist version of Islam,"

    Again with the "THEY". Who are they? The people of Iran or the two or three crazy leaders? Repugs always dividing and stereotyping and generalizing people. No doubt Iran is becoming a scorn but if you are going to beat the war drums, you have to make sure to get pass the American public with 10 years of two conflicts on their backs. Or should I say their wallets.

    Please fellow Americans who will waste your vote on any of these Repugs, think about it very hard before we end up with another 10-15 year conflict comming out of our W-2's.

    January 22, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  16. Bob

    Please for the love of God do not let this man become president.

    January 22, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  17. Vosky

    LOL! May God help the Republican party!!

    January 22, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  18. Bill in Florida

    The man has no chance ... thanks be to God.

    January 22, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. SMH

    All we can hope is that the Iranian people google him before they take him seriously.

    I am very uset that Gabrielle Gifford is stepping down this week, can we rerun all the footage of how we felt when she was shot and all the others died. Can we please stop launching verbal targets!

    January 22, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  20. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Santorum and the rest of this bad field of candidates know about as much as Sarah Palin knows, when it comes to foreign affairs. And we all know how ignorant Sarah Palin is.

    January 22, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  21. Joe

    Santorum is utterly irresponsible. Fortunately he has no chance of getting the nomination.

    January 22, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  22. ksmary

    So much for a pro-life candidate. I guess the many citizens who would die during an attack on Iran are not considered to be living humans in his way of thinking. One cannot say all life is precious, and then advocate a plan to kill people because they happen to be in the wrong place when we bombard their country. I guess that is that pesky 'situational morality' that conservatives say liberals use.

    January 22, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  23. Scott

    Last I checked IAEA is allowed into Iran and has approved and stated Iran does not have and is not developing, despite "capacity" to develop Nuclear weapons.

    Don't be sold on war mongering blood-thirsty politicians.

    Santorum is making himself look more and more like a Cheney every day.

    January 22, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  24. lgny

    "I will make a clear declaration to the Iranian government that you either open your facilities, you begin to dismantle this nuclear program, or we will dismantle it for you"

    A perfect way to start yet another Middle East war - this time with a larger opponent who is better prepared and with less international support.

    Santorum is very dangerous.

    January 22, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  25. JD in Moraga, CA

    "If we reach a point where I believe the only thing that will stop them from this program being realized and having a nuclear weapon – I will make a clear declaration to the Iranian government that you either open your facilities, you begin to dismantle this nuclear program, or we will dismantle it for you," Santorum told the crowd to much applause.

    Shameless pandering to the lowest denominator. One almost hopes the naive fool wins Florida, just to keep the Republican nominating contest interesting.

    January 22, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
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