Santorum defends TSA profiling
January 24th, 2012
07:41 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum defends TSA profiling

Punta Gorda, Florida (CNN) - At a tea party rally here Tuesday evening on the banks of Charlotte Harbor, Rick Santorum offered up a vociferous defense of law enforcement profiling when asked about possible overreach by the Transportation Security Administration.

"We are spending billions and billions of dollars, wasting money, wasting time, delaying people. A United States senator's going to be secondarily searched? Oh everybody should be treated the same," Santorum said sarcastically, referring to a recent incident where Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was forced to miss his flight after refusing a secondary search. "Use common sense. Please."

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Paul objected to the screening on more principled grounds, making the point that while he believes the TSA system is broken, a U.S. senator should also not be treated any differently than any other citizen. Santorum disagreed.

"They should be profiling people who are the most likely folks to be able to do it," Santorum said, referring to terrorist attacks. "Now understand, because when people hear profiling they say, oh he's going to profile based on race or religion. No. Profile based on the profile of someone who does these things. Right?"

But he avoided a precise description of exactly what type of profile he was recommending that TSA agents treat differently. Describing his own profile – "a 53-year-old, Italian-American, who grew up in a steel town, who used to be a United States senator" – Santorum went on to say he'd be happy to be searched if he fit the profile of a terrorist.

"But that's not the profile," he said of his own description. In other venues, Santorum likes to clearly define the enemy as "radical Islam," but in Punta Gorda he stopped short of recommending exactly who should be profiled, simply saying it shouldn't be based on race or religion, but based on "someone who does" terrorist acts.

Santorum also used the question to tell a quick story about joking with Ron Paul about his son's interaction with TSA at a recent debate.

"We came back stage and I was the last of the four of us to get there," he said. "You know I said hello to Romney and I said hello to Newt and then I saw Ron Paul and I went over and I frisked him. And said I want to make sure I'm safe with you here Ron today. We both had a big laugh at that."

Later Santorum was also asked a pointed question about U.S. manufacturing jobs getting shipped overseas, and the former senator used the opportunity to criticize all the attention that the political left is paying to income inequality.

"Income inequality is going to happen, some people are going to make more, some people are going to make less," Santorum said. "People ask me, 'What do you think about Mitt Romney, you know, making a gazillion dollars last year?' Good for him, that's what I say, good for him. I wish I'd made some gazillion dollars last year. I'd be in a little better shape financing my own campaign like he's done. Good for him, that's OK. The problem is, and this is something Republicans and conservatives need to be concerned about, is the ability of people to rise. The ability of people to climb the ladder."

Also see:

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Gingrich lands Fred Thompson endorsement

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Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Rick Santorum
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. vic , nashville ,tn

    Nothing wrong with TSA it was Rand Paul stunt

    We are mad at Rand Paul because he chooses music city Air port to his political stunt. When Our local leaders are working hard to attract more tourists

    January 24, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. Data Driven

    Hm, Rand Paul must be living in a 9/10/01 America. Having some brute fondle my junk at the airport is just the I pay for security. "Freedom isn't free" - remember, Republicans?

    Anyway, Santorum's last comments in this piece are interesting. A truly populist element is emerging in the Republican Party, spearheaded by the likes of Santorum with his focus on manufacturing and, of all people, Sarah Palin, with her talk about "crony capitalism". I don't believe that either of these reactionaries are the best spokespeople for US manufacturing and a more humane form of capitalism, but the focus is preferable to Newt's red meat and Mitt's starched collar.

    January 24, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  3. midwestmoderate

    Timothy McVeigh was a white, US Army Veteran who decided to engage in terrorism and blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. According to Santorum's logic, would he fit the "profile" of someone who commits terrorist attacks?? I don't think so, yet he committed the deadliest attack on US soil prior to 9/11. The point of security screening is to OBJECTIVELY identify individuals who are going to commit acts of terror, and NOT use subjective criteria of someone who looks like a terrorist. Santorum's logic is completely backwards and would put people of this country at risk of more terrorist attacks.

    January 24, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  4. arale norimaki

    People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

    tsa=People's Safety Agency

    January 24, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  5. SLibertarian

    I don't usually like Santorum. I think he's a pretentious waste of space. But I laughed at his crack about "Frisking Ron Paul" Was quite funny, though I disagree with the need for the TSA. It does nothing but grope children and grandparents. Has any of it stopped anything? Nope.

    January 24, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  6. Gonzoinhouston

    If we're going to profile mid-eastern men between 20 and 40, then we should offer some benefit to the 99.999% of them that are honest citizens. Maybe a discount, early boarding, holding planes until they clear security, etc. With a reasonable incentive we might make the controversy go away and still get to a plane in under an hour.

    January 24, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  7. T'sah From Virginia

    I don't know – maybe it's the longevity of the primary and the fact that it's gong to be drawn out even further – It does not even matter what any of them think anymore.........SAME OLD SAME OLD!!

    January 24, 2012 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  8. Marie MD

    Sorry ricky, but I don't care if you are one month old or one hundred years old. I don't trust anyone. When I get on a plane I want to make sure everyone has been checked and rechecked.
    You really think that these terrorists care about killing a child by strapping a bomb to the child?
    Ask any Vietnam veteran how children were used to kill. We already know what these folks do and I don't care about their skin color or hair color. Everyone is a suspect, including what's his face's son.

    January 24, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I think that there are some good points. The Israelis profile in a way. We need to do that and to look at who has been terrorists in the past. I don't see a problem with some profiling. It just needs to be done with good ideas and understandable rules.

    January 24, 2012 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  10. Mr. Moderate

    So he'll defend the TSA, but will not defend the president? Stay classy Rick!

    January 24, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  11. Skeptic2012

    The mafia carries out terrorist acts...I'm terrorized! The white Norwegian did terrorist acts. The IRA did terrorist acts. Make sure you're profile all these people. If you concentrate on the mullah type in long beards you're gonna get screwed! And what about old Timothy ?!

    January 24, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |