January 22nd, 2012
06:12 PM ET
3 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. dwech

    We cannot allow the equivalent of... a Santorum to have a say in any decisions regarding world politics. The man is an idiot, and dangerous. Follow Pennsylvania's lead on this one folks. They booted him out of the U.S. Senate.

    January 22, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  2. Marla

    And would he do the same to Turkey?

    January 22, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  3. Pot Calling Kettle Radical

    Lets try it this way, is there really much difference?
    :
    ""They're just as radical as the people who run C Street – their theology is identical. Again different strengths, but identical in their fundamentalist version of Christianity"""

    January 22, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  4. Dixie Independent voter

    I trust that chicken hawk Santorum and his sons and daughters will lead the charge into Iran.

    January 22, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  5. Bleedingheart

    Yes sir, keep those defense contractors in the chips. Another Repuke tough guy, where do they find them all?

    January 22, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  6. Michael Bauser

    Somebody needs to help Senator Santorum with his geography. Florida and South Carolina BOTH border Georgia; by Santorum's logic, he just predicted a Gingrich victory in Florida!

    January 22, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The question for me is that does Santorum have enough money to make it. I know that his supporters are coming out as much as Ron Paul's (or more so). He needs to get more of them to show up at the polls and more to cough up some money so he can continue. I don't see him lasting more than Super Tuesday unless he gets some more wins and lots of money.

    January 22, 2012 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  8. J.V.Hodgson

    This man clearly links Iranians religious beliefs to its politics, just as he sees religion as the main reason to vote in the UShe wants iran to be christian.... never happen. equally whatever is done Iran will develop a nuclear weapon they have the knowledge skill and technology. it is simply a question of time.
    His solution stop it or we will stop you or we will destroy the facilites or the bomb is pie in the sky words only.
    I just do not understand this rhetoric. its just that totally and utterly impractical and pure saber rattling.
    Fortunately he'll drop out after Florida.
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    January 22, 2012 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  9. ARTRaveler

    Santorium, who is going to pay for your war? We have already had two ReTHUGlican wars not paid for, running up teh national debt along with President Cheney's tax cut for those who needed it the least-the "non-job creators". The country can't afford another ReTHUGlican war. If you want a war, wrap your request in a proposal for a tax hike when you send it to capitol hill.

    January 22, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  10. The Realist

    If Santorum thinks he has a chance of becoming the GOP nominee, he is asinine.

    January 22, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  11. Greg

    Who is going to vote for a right-wing Mormon extremist?

    January 22, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  12. jimnot999

    So typical of a GOP response to a problem with Iran. The tough guy attitude does not endear us to the world community. It is amazing how many of these guys, who never have been in the military, or fired a weapon in anger at another human being, or for that matter have been shot at, are so willing to commit troops to war.

    January 22, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  13. steve harnack

    As a private citizen, and that's all that he is or ever will be, he needs to leave foreign policy to elected officials. Specifically, the elected official who heads our government and the people that he appoints. These Republican war mongers want to start a war before they even have an election. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon we can deal with them the same as we do Israel, India, Pakistan and all of the other nuclear armed nations. We are NOT the final word on how nations choose to protect themselves. If I was an Iranian I would insist that my country do anything and everything possible to protect me as long as there are people like Santorum!

    January 22, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  14. Loretta Nall

    The only point Santorum, Romney and Gungrich agree on is that if they are elected they will bomb somebody. the only disagreement is who to bomb first. And not one of those three has served in the armed forces.

    It's disgusting really. Maybe if we stopped bombing people across the globe they would stop hating us. What is so hard to understand about hat basic?

    Only one candidate in this race wants to stop bombing the entire globe and bring our troops home and that's Ron Paul. I can't wait to see him wreck the convention. After that I hope he runs third party. There is zero difference between our current President and Santorum, Gingrich and Romney so a vote for anyone other than Paul is voting for the same. He will get my vote.

    January 22, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  15. Thomas

    This guy should go home , be a father. And let professionals deal with foreign policy.

    I wont vote for Santorum , his fuse is too short.

    January 22, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  16. sks

    Go home Santorum....Nobody wants Iraq Part 2..Remember in 2003 George W. Bush claim of Wepons of Mass Destruction? See where that mentality broughts us? Ask those families of about 4000 American soldiers killed in Iraq.

    January 23, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  17. Jefflazrn

    waste of money and time.

    January 23, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  18. VA VERY Ex Republican

    I heard this guy speaks for the first time after his 3rd place defeat in SC. and boy oh boy, the GOP finally found someone who makes GW Bush looks and sounds like a college professor and a saint. this guy is so dangerous it is not even funny. he should not be allowed within 500 miles of the WH. Unbelievable. how can any person with the least amount of self respect consider voting for the current GOP contenders????

    January 23, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  19. bob martin

    a theology. look who's talking

    January 23, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  20. Steven Colo

    Aw, look! He's talking about foreign policy, just like a real President! Isn't he just adorable?

    January 23, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  21. fandancy

    Dream on, Rick!

    January 23, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  22. skarphace

    Darn. When I read 'Santorum takes on Iran', I thought he was going there himself to attack them. Oh well.

    January 23, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  23. Pedron

    Try harder in Florida everything goes especially if you have the money to spend! it doesn't matter whether the wealth came from swindling medicare or medicaid! its even better if you have cash stashed in caymen islands and swiss banks and thats why me and my family will be voting for the bain guy! whats his name again? Mitts thats him, Rick!! try harder

    January 23, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  24. mirrorlogic

    ...and here is Santorum stomping for a V.P. ticket with Willard Mitt. He knows the nomination is likely to go to Mitt if he can suck enough conservative votes away from Newt. So don't be surprised if we find him offered a V.P. slot if the strategy works. Hopefully Florida realizes a vote for Santorum equals a vote for Willard Mitt. To prove the association watch if funding for him doesn't start to flow in from D.C. Republicans and established backers...

    January 23, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  25. Luke Brown

    Oh good. Another war we can't afford. It is scary that Ron Paul seems to be the most rational candidate in this upcoming primary.

    January 23, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
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