February 20th, 2012
02:35 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum denies Hitler-Obama comparison

(CNN) - Rick Santorum on Monday denied he was comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler while using a World War II analogy the previous day.

During a speech at a Georgia church on Sunday, Santorum paralleled the election to America's slow response to the swelling Nazi presence during the late 1930s. He urged his audience to get involved and not sit on the sidelines like "the greatest generation" did for a year and a half while "Europe was under darkness."

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The former Pennsylvania senator described Americans as a "hopeful people," easily susceptible to ignoring a growing problem.

"We think, well, you know, it'll get better. Yeah, he's a nice guy. I mean, it won't be near as bad as what we think. This will be okay. I mean, yeah, maybe he's not the best guy after a while. After a while you find out some things about this guy over in Europe who's not so good of a guy after all, but ya know what, why do we need to be involved? We'll just take care of our own problems," he said.

Asked Monday if he was likening the president to Hitler, he responded, "No, of course not."

He added: "It's a War World II metaphor. It's one I've used a hundred times."

His comments came after an Ohio speech, in which he continued to sharpen his attacks against Obama over what he sees as the president's growing affront against religious liberties.

The former senator said the Obama administration no longer subscribes to principles of religious freedom, but instead uses the term "freedom to worship."

The difference?

Santorum said Obama and his cabinet members are "narrowing the view" of the First Amendment.

"So now you have the freedom to go into that church and do whatever you want, but once you walk out, you're ours," Santorum said, describing what he sees as the administration's perspective. "You will do what we tell you, not what they tell you."

The candidate has been hammering Obama in recent days while he rides the momentum of his newly-minted frontrunner status, catapulting slam after slam at the president for abusing standards surrounding the separation of church and state.

Along with the recent contraception coverage controversy, Santorum points to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, known as Hosanna Tabor, in which the court held that ministers cannot sue their churches for employment discrimination.

Santorum called the January ruling a victory against the Obama administration, whose solicitor general filed a briefing supporting the right to sue churches over discriminatory policies that fall in line with their institution's religious teachings.

Labeling the unanimous Supreme Court decision a "smack down" against the president, Santorum argued the case was just one example of Obama's outlook on government.

"He has this ideology of government-centralized control," he said. "Not worried about the interest of people, he's worried about the interest of power, so he can dictate to people what he believes is best."

Painting the president as a dictatorial leader has been a mounting theme in Santorum's stump speeches, especially when it comes to the president's social agenda.

"It is saying government knows better. It is imposing his ideology on a group of people expressing their theology – their moral code – and saying government will force you to do what your faith says is gravely wrong," Santorum said.

The candidate also made headlines on Saturday when he said Obama had a "phony theology," leaving some to speculate whether Santorum was questioning the president's Christian faith.

But the former senator on Sunday morning said he was referring to the president's position on what he called "radical" environmentalism and did not mean to imply religious tones when he used the word "theology."

Also see:

Santorum clarifies 'theology' remark

Santorum rips Obama on social agenda

Gay sheriff resigns Romney role after allegations


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Rick Santorum
soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. rs

    Come on Santorum, get with it. EVERYBODY knows the GOP ALWAYS compares Obama to Stalin, NEVER Hitler.
    If only the GOP could grow up and stop calling everybody that disagrees with their tiny, narrow world view a name, and just for once behave like the adults they claim to be.
    Yeah, THAT won't happen.

    February 20, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. madison359

    You're a clown ricky. Just keep on running right off the cliff you're heading for.

    February 20, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    The former senator said the Obama administration no longer subscribes to principles of religious freedom, but instead uses the term "freedom to worship."
    -------------------
    When there are people out there who want to define where you can't worship, then that is the proper perspective.

    February 20, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Romney is not My Hero

    "Not worried about the interest of people, he's worried about the interest of power, so he can dictate to people what he believes is best." - Isn't this Sanctimonious' thought process especially regarding religion? How is he blaming Obama for his own mindset? The insanity of this guy is getting worse. Please replace that sweater vest with a straight jacket.

    OBAMA 2012!

    February 20, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. jon

    "Painting the president as a dictatorial leader has been a mounting theme in Santorum's stump speeches, especially when it comes to the president's social agenda"?? If that isn't the pot calling the kettle black I don't know what is.

    February 20, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. diridi

    These republicans are the biggest idiots of the nation. Time should print thus. God bless. Obama2012/Hillary16.

    February 20, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. B

    This country would not vote in a- over the top- religious fanatic like Santoum and would be easy to beat in November.

    Last time I checked, we still have a Free sectarian society, not a Theocracy..

    February 20, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. A Texan

    Rick would be a Democratic`s dream opponent in Nov................. Hang in there Rick and don`t give up.................

    February 20, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. alleygator

    Santorum is a Christian code-talker.

    February 20, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. Valentina

    Gawd... and how is it possible that so many people (at least according to the recent polls) think that this guy Santorum is somehow electable? Please someone get him off the national stage, and pronto, before he marginalized the Republican Party to a minimum.

    February 20, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. Greg

    Santorum is nauseating. What makes it even worse is that he's preferable to the current President. How is it that in a nation of 300 million people the best we can come up with is a religious authoritarian or a populist authoritarian. It's time that we stop accepting the lesser of two evils. There will be at least 4 tickets on every ballot this year, please do us all a favor and ignore the R's and D's. Those two parties have taken turns for over a century running our country into the ground. If more people quit believing the line about "wasting your vote", or 3rd parties being "unelectable" that self fulfilling prophecy would cease to be true.

    February 20, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. Seanomatic

    Ricky "frosty stuff" Santorium, you are a bold face liar!

    February 20, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. tellitlikeitis

    This guy always sounds so holier than thou when it is convenient for him. He is like Michelle Bachmann in that, he can't utter a complete sentence without blaming Obama for EVERYTHING! I guess everything the Congress and Senate does, it is the Obama Administration. Get real dude, you are a Hitler in disguise. You like to separate people, act like you or so perfect that you know everything, are jealous of how smart Obama is so you tell all of your followers, "he thinks he's better than us". Reality check - he's better than you. At least he believes in unity of the whole country. I have never seen a person of color in your "so called crowds", what are you going to do in the Hispanic, African Am and Asian populations - BECAUSE IT TAKES ALL OF THEM, TO ELECT A PRESIDENT! You talk about pride and already, you have tainted your own family's name. It's disgusting what term your name "santorum" now means. I wonder how proud your Grandfather would be about that?

    February 20, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. Post American

    You have to feel sorry for the Grand Old White Party! This is the Republican Front Runner? LOLZ

    February 20, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. tom-ay

    last time I checked my history book, Chrsitianity was responsible for WWII... Christians persecuted Jews. Who's the Nazi?

    February 20, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  16. Joxer

    Didnt they compare Bush to hitler he just brushed it off. the sitting pres. will always be compared to hitler depending on your views. p.s. obama wants to be dictator he's been talking to chavez about how to go about it

    February 20, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  17. mgfx

    I'm not surprised he'd say this sort of crazy thing – that's par for the course. No, I'm amazed at how stupid Santorum thinks everyone must be, to believe his walk-back on this. Does he think he's that much smarter than all of us that we'll buy that excuse? Talk about self-delusion.

    February 20, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. WhereIsPalin

    I reserve the right to say what I want, as long as I can retract or explain my statements at a later time.

    February 20, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. V in Chicago

    I can't wait until November and this whole thing is over with and President Obama can get on to the business of running the country and working on the economy and jobs. This guy is nothing but a joke and could be a real danger if he were ever given any real power. Again – I DO NOT WANT MY SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE COMING FROM WASHINGTON! What part of that is Mr. Santorum not getting? He may have a "rise in the polls" right now because of the "anybody buy Romney" mentality that is currently occupying the Republican Party, but he is in no way, shape, form or fashion capable of leading this country. The louder he speaks the more he is trying to convince himself he has a chance.
    Not gonna happen! Obama 2012!!

    February 20, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. A Texan

    Pathetic- just pathetic..... For an old moderate Republican, the line up is truly embarrassingly pathetic.

    February 20, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. Donald in CA

    I guess this is what the far right wing has to do to try to win a election being nasty and racist. What next, refight the civil war and get rid of civil right laws and advances for women. Lord help us.

    February 20, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. Independent from NH

    This guy spends more time "rephrasing" his foolish remarks almost as much as he spends every sentence blaming Obama for everything. And dude, seriously, we ALL know you were talking about Hitler. It's condescending and alienating to now assume you were not referring to that. It is also extremely shameful that you suggest "our greatest generation" as essentially lazy by not noticing Hitler sooner. And who are you Santorum? You are a male Michelle Bachman. You screech and pander but ultimately you end up as the loser. You are the flavor of the month. You are the last of the Tea Party candidates and they saved the worst for last. Man, and I thought Gingrich was a loser. Go Crusade somewhere else.

    February 20, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  23. TonyK

    I'm amazed that people on this blog keep referring to Obama as "socialist" and "authoritarian" when he barely passed his healthcare reform, was nearly defeated in the debt ceiling crisis, and has been stymied by GOP obstructionism every step of the way. An authoritarian would have driven through ALL of his proposals–no holds barred. Last I looked, that hasn't been Obama's track record (much to the chagrin of his "base"). The GOP calls Obama "weak" and "failed" and then refers to him as authoritarian–that is just plain stupid. He can't be both.

    February 20, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  24. Hall

    Obama is not Hitler just a pathetic excuse for President. Nice guys are bad at their jobs too. You will see the usual suspects on here proclaiming his greatness through one of worst 3 years economically in our nation.

    February 20, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Ah, the Fakes News strategy!

    February 20, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
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