February 20th, 2012
02:35 PM ET
3 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."

CNN LIVE: Tune in Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET for the final presidential debate before Super Tuesday: The CNN Arizona Republican Debate. Only on CNN. Follow it on Twitter at #CNNDebate.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. tao9

    "CNN Political Unit"

    It is most instructive that no one at CNN will put their name on this. Only a "Unit" could be this oblivious. As individuals they're quite aware it's embarrassing, albeit obligatory.

    Mr. Santorum is constantly "re-phrasing" because the Dem/Media nexus is constitutionally and ideologically incapable of apprehending Mr. Santorum's convictions, nor capable of putting them in context. And just so, we get the reflex, vacuous Hitler conflation.

    If you can't make the distinction between "freedom of religion" and "freedom to worship" you are exhibiting ignorance (willfully) of that which a hundred million, or so, of your fellow Americans are familiar and quite seriously concerned.

    February 20, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. Will

    "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."

    Yeah, that's the way it's supposed to be. Get on your knees and beg all you want in church but when you leave it's back to reality.

    February 20, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. Noodle Nose Johnson

    The best thing about Santorum is that he keeps talking. And very soon he'll talk himself out of any chance at the White House.

    February 20, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. cali girl

    Gees, santo, make up your mind dude. Is Obama not christian, not Hitler, not for theology, socialist, not against the American people but for govt, what is it? You rank right up there with Rmoney with your can't stick with an idea to save your life. How about for once tell me how you would handle China? Didn't the heir apparent show up last week? Or is that too much for you to deal with? If the world was falling apart what would you do? You don't have a clue,

    February 20, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. DENNA

    Of course he meant it. The GOP has been getting away with this crap since President Obama was duly elected by the majority of America. Their utter, bare hatred of this good man is inexcusable. GOP, America cannot survive with this kind of vitriol. We will surely cannabilize ourselves.

    February 20, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Pete Clarke

    I would probably be a Republican if not for their radical social views, racism, bigotry, and all around malevolence for the majority of Americans. You see I don't have very much money, don't speak in tongues, but I love America very much.

    February 20, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. winston

    There comes a place in time when you are TOO politically correct. Over 20% of Germans under the age of 30 had no idea Auschwitz was a concentration camp. Hitler was a great speaker in desperate times and mislead a country. Do i think BO is capable of the NAZI atrocities, NO, do i think he misleading a country in desperate times with very bad policies, YES. Give me a break, please... And no I am not a Rick supporter...

    February 20, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Chuck

    "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."

    Ummmmm. YES! That's called "separation of church and state." Being religious does not exempt you from obeying the law.

    February 20, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. w l jones

    The Marine need a few good men age is no excuise.

    February 20, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. BobRayTalbot

    I wouldn't liken Obama to Hitler. Not at all. I would liken Obama to Nikita Kruschev, who, with shoe banging on the U.N. table shouted, "We will bury you!" What did he mean? He meant that they would slowly, laboriously, overrun our way of life with Socialism. By enamouring U.S. citizens of the "benefits" of government, such as disability and oil and banking restrictions, until the government here was everything it was in the USSR. What they didn't count on was Ronald Reagan and his love of Capitalism. Capitalism saved this country, and it must do so again against Obamaism.

    February 20, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Nate

    Wait a minute...So this guy is campaigning on an argument that there needs to be a greater separation between church and state, and he's saying this in a CHURCH in hopes that he'll be elected for a STATE office?!! Do I sense outright, unabashed hypocrisy, or does nobody else see a problem with this?

    February 20, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. Allinit123

    Great Reality TV.. I'm serious.. These folks are out of their minds.. The GOP can usually control the voters using propaganda, but I think those days are over. Americans feel the squeeze and they are beginning to see the light. Thanks to the World Wide Web.. we can all pool our knowledge and fight back..

    February 20, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Jenro

    I honestly don't understand the growing popularity of Santorum. He's clearly a nut. He's constantly "clarifying" statements he just made. He's a soft spoken, bigot, racist, sexist, homophobe and there are still people out there that he appeals to??? C'mon!

    February 20, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  14. Attila, The Hun

    Santorum's thought process is obviously flawed. He has no problem with his church telling him what to do and eagerly subscribing to those teachings, but he has no right to force those beliefs on others. Which seems to say he is as guilty as those he rails against.

    Whenever a Republican gets into trouble the immediate reaction is to play some form of Fear Card or pit one group against another. What seems to be a more common occurrence is to "explain" what they meant. Another way of saying how do I get my foot out of my mouth! Santorum knew perfectly well he intended to make this comparison. Just give it up loser we know what kind of person you would be in the White House.

    February 20, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Kris Craig

    Uhhh.... So, Santorum is saying that he meant the word, "theology," in a non-religious context?! Isn't that kinda like saying you used the word, "money," in a non-currency context?

    Theology is essentially defined as, "The study of religion." When used in the form of a possessed object (i.e. "Joe's theology") it refers to the person's religious beliefs. So it's rather difficult to imagine how this word could be used in a "non-religious" context.

    That being said, Rick Santorum isn't exactly a Rhodes Scholar. I wouldn't be surprised if he was simply confusing the word, "theology," with, "theory."

    February 20, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. larry

    Santorum says: " this about that", but he does not talk about the Pennsylvania school district, where he claimed residency (while a PA Senator), paying many thousands of dollars for his children to charter school in the DC area, where he also claimed residency. He owned a house in the Pittsburgh area, but then moved to the DC area and thats where the kids went to school. I believe there is an ethics issue there.

    February 20, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Zane

    I just have to laugh that some in the GOP really think they are going to beat Obama with this guy! I was excepting a fight between Romney and Obama this fall, because at least Romney had experience with creating jobs and balancing budgets. What does Santorum have? Nothing, but the title of "most corrupt" senator. I mean go ahead GOP and get the most conservative candidate in your own little "elections" but come the general election he will be crushed.

    February 20, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  18. inconsistant

    How can you call yourself a christian and be against the enviromental movement to protect god's kingdom?

    February 20, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. Jeetu

    I think Santorum does not understand the secular nature of US Constitution and it trying to cause fear in the minds of people by telling lies. He wishes USA to become Christian Catholic. If he believes in secular state, then why won't he grant a muslim to have four wives and believe in Jihad; a sikh to keep a sword all the time and a Hindu to do fire worship in the open. Also, why would he not allow the burial of the wife alive when her husband die as is the case in some religions. The fact is in a secular state, law has nothing to do with religion and everyone is treated fairly and eqaully. If Santorum does not believe that, then he is denying the American values and sprit. Therefore, he is not fit to be US President.

    February 20, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. Pat

    So you say you are a Christian, but you sold (soul) out!

    February 20, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. historian

    Some time ago, lets say in the 60s and coinciding with Richard Nixon's presidential campaign, the Republican party developed what is termed 'The Southern Strategy' to get votes from southern states which had historically voted Democrat. The strategy pandered to Southern white anti-African American racists, playing on their fears of lawlessness and growing federal infringement on social and economic issues surrounding race. This was only partially successful in that upper middle class white racists were won over at the expense of 90% of the black vote. Irregardless of any racist tendencies they may have had, working class whites however continued to vote for the party that supported them – the Democrats.

    Fast forward to the 90s. Being the party of the 1%, Republicans needed to find a way to get the 99% to vote for them. The Republican 'Southern Strategy 2.0' How to get people who wouldn't normally vote against their economic self-interest to do so, revised. Appeal to something they feel more strongly about, like their faith, and how the Democrats want to restrict their right to free exercise of Religion. Talking points include Gays, Abortion, Non-Christians, Atheists, and Gays.

    Most Republicans just like money, and lots of it, and getting it at the expense of the 99% by maintaining control of Government. The aformentioned social issues they advance aren't important to them – they just want the votes they'll get from hateful bigots by advancing them. Rick Santorum however – He drank the Kool-Aid. He's a true believer. Arguably he's a very honest candidate, no matter how insane his vision for an American Theocracy is.

    Second Thought:

    In a polarized society, the government which people get will usually be a government elected by people who don't think – a large demographic easily won over by smooth talking liars. The key then to winning elections is to come up with talking points which appeal to the opposite of intellect. The right-wing has hit the nail on the head by appealing to blind faith in an imaginary guy in the sky giving orders to all of humanity.

    February 20, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  22. atypical

    santorum keeps talking about how obama wants to control. . .hmm m m
    santorum wants to decide for women on health care issues.
    santorum wants to tell people how and whom to love. .
    i mean what doesn't santorum want to control might be a better question.

    February 20, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. denim

    A short history lesson and predictions from VP Henry Wallace. circa 1944
    "...The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."...It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and "with malice toward none and charity for all" go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail. "

    http://newdeal.feri.org/wallace/haw23.htm

    February 20, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. Merle

    Jeez...does ANYBODY post on here who is not a media-loving, GOP-hating, Obama-loving liberal?

    February 20, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. Ken

    I don't know what will be worse, another 4 years of Obama or electing one of these clowns the GOP managed to dredge up. What's wrong with the Republican Party? In 2008 it was McCain/Palin. McCain wasn't so bad, but Sarah Palin, really? Now the group they have strutting around this go around is very sad.

    February 20, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
1 2 3 4 5