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. Tylenol666

    Well Played,, Taking that to the Wealthy Jewish Community there,,, nice,,, Try that in California,, see how that works,,, ;)

    January 23, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  2. Marry

    Quickly dismissing the idea that such aggression would be an act of war…
    Well, what is it then? A preemptive strike? Self-defense? We had one stupid war and the other is not looking to good either – going to start a third one? Have Republican stupid ideas of grandeur, patriotism, bulling as started under Bush not cost us enough lives and money? Funny, for war and making their rich friends even richer, the deficit does not matter – for American infrastructure, education, health care, Social security, environmental protection, investing in our country it does? And that is Christian?

    January 23, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  3. susan

    Santorum.......what can we say abt him?

    January 23, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  4. bmull

    Al Qaeda and Iran don't even follow the same branch of Islam. This bigoted loser doesn't know what he's talking about. He's just shooting off his mouth for the benefit of the Florida AIPAC crowd, who are obsessed with Iran for some reason. Iran is no threat to the average American, and we could actually have a decent relationship if we would stop murdering their scientists and threatening to bomb them.

    January 23, 2012 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  5. Reagan Republican

    Fear, Fear, Fear....Obvious this is a person who has no background or experience in understanding the complexties and relationships of dealing with other governments. Let's just put this into perspective: first we cliam we can't be the world police, but he wants to go out and police the world without any cooperation from our allies. Secondly does he really think that Iran's allies are going to stand by and let the "threat" of this occur. Tallk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Time for him to bow out after Januray 31st, and then there were 3.

    January 23, 2012 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  6. Lisa

    Does Rick get daily security briefings? Does he understand that "dismantling it for you" - would be considered an act of war? That unlike 2003, we're not going to be able to strongarm "allies" into joining us in another invasion of a middle eastern country? Does he understand that we haven't paid for the last 10 years of wars, and under any of the GOP "tax plans", we're not even covering our expenses here at home, much less ready to fight another war? Does he know that over a million Americans have already served in the last 10 years - and the VA bills for treatment are going to be with us for a long time. That 18 veterans a day are committing suicide, that there is a lot of domestic abuse and violent crimes by vets on bases as a result of combat stress. Does he understand that unlike Iraq, Iran doesn't have a single tyrant as a leader - but it's ruled by mullahs - and i don't think you're going to be able to hand over a deck of cards to American servicemen and have them start kicking down the doors of mosques to "get the bad guys". I don't think he understands that Russia and China and Venzuela (where we get a lot of our oil and gas) are strong allies with Iran, either. The GOP candidates need to stop shooting off their mouth when they don't know what they're talking about. They've listened to that draft dodger, John Bolton, too much on Fox.

    His kids are too young to serve and I doubt that he plans on sending any of his own - but

    January 23, 2012 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  7. Mike

    Why is it that when Santorum speaks I lose 20 IQ points immediately? How does this fool even get near 20% of the GOP vote? The man can neither be honest nor think logically. Don't go away mad, Rick, just go away!

    January 23, 2012 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  8. mary

    Mr Santorum-You are going to find out real quick just how popular starting another war will be. Better keep your finger off that trigger. Everyone is SICK of these wars and you sound like a whole lot of political bluster.Change the subject!

    January 23, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  9. BobAD Iowa

    If you want Regulations removed from Corporation and placed on your Personal Life and If you want WWIII vote for Rick Sanatorium for that's where he belongs.

    January 23, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  10. bear

    You have 7 children send them first and see what middle class and poor parents endure.

    January 23, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  11. RinosRWinos

    Reason #1 why Santorum should not be president. Crazy! Last thing we need is another war started by another firebrand Republican. We have two we are still paying for.

    January 23, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  12. Peter

    "we will dismantle it for you"

    Exactly who is "we"?
    Will anyone of his family be there, gun in hand? Or just us 'folk' ?

    January 23, 2012 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  13. Do Not Disassemble

    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."

    So are you Santorum, so are you.

    January 23, 2012 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  14. Dan

    He doesn't like Iran because they believe in different invisible people in the sky.

    January 23, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  15. Debbie from Arizona

    So, I guess, if Santorum somehow (Heaven forbid) becomes the President, we can all look forward to being in yet another war.

    January 23, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  16. sensible

    Iowa was Santorum's 'backyard', because of all the fundaMENTALists there.

    January 23, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  17. Anonymous

    More baseless fearmongering about Iran from the GOBP deathcult. I wonder when they'll focus on the other ME countries that pose a far greater risk of destabilization.

    January 23, 2012 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  18. PittUSMC

    Rick Santorum is gonna try to win Florida by preaching fear to a state full of old rich Jewish people. Whatever. Rick Santorum is a coward that never once shot a rifle in defense of this country but wants to send other people's kids to die for his political ambitions. COWARD!!!!

    January 23, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  19. Ric

    This guy is more scary than Bush was...a chickenhawk that never served his country in uniform. Now he panders to the jewish vote in Florida about taking on Iran. I hate him. He should go back under his lobbyist rock where he's been hiding for years. Another thing. It was a tradegdy about his still born son. That was a private matter for his family, but what kind of a person would retell that tale for the sympathy and political gain? What kind of a person would do that? That's just an example of how far these creatures will go to get power.

    January 23, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  20. PaulC

    Has anyone asked this fiscal genius how he plans to pay off George W.'s war of choice and how he will pay for his planned war on Iran? Oh yeah....cuts in medicare and social security....we know what is important.

    January 23, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  21. Joseph - Ohio

    Mr Santorum......New Flash! You are not going to be President. Stop wasting money trying to convince people you can beat The President in November. Especially when you cannot even beat another Republican. Obama-Nation 2012!!!!!!

    January 23, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  22. ShawnDH

    It's always terrifying to hear right-wing wackos talk foreign policy. These numbskulls endanger the whole world.

    January 23, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  23. Iowa mary

    Rick is so family values, but not when it comes to anybody but his own family. We are just now trying to exticate ourselves from the Bush wars that ruined our economy, he wants to bomb another country? Just to sway the Jewish vote in Florida? I still want to know who is paying for his health insurance, he hasnt worked in years.

    January 23, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  24. chill

    Rick's starting to channel Dick Cheney.

    January 23, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  25. AEK

    Sovereign country, Ricky my boy. Did these people NOT learn ANYTHING from the Iraq war? There are lots of countries that seem to threaten the right wing of the Republican Party. Trillions of dollars and thousands of lives have been expended to promote their view of what our world should look like. Aren't we finally done with these dangerous Christian jiihadists?

    January 23, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
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