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."

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. ntrlz

    WOW, Larry in Houston

    To be perfectly honest – I would rather see the sanitarium win over romney – why ? because I Do know people who Will Vote for Romney in the General Election – versus Santorum – I don't know ONE person (yes even the republicans) who will vote for Santorum, in the general election.

    Vote Democrat 2012
    2016
    2020
    2024

    We keep going, you won't have to worry about the vote no more america. But then again, that is your agenda.

    February 20, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. scmom

    "Donald in CA" you haven't notice that's what they are doing in a lot of states, changing voting laws, then the attack on contraception everything but the civil war. We are definitely going backwards with the Republicans.

    February 20, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. HurtfulTruth

    "America's greatest generation did almost nothing until December of 1941...."

    Then what did they do.......they went to war against Fascists and Nazis with a SEGREGATED military!! I don't think you REALLY wanna go THERE Rick!! Might explain how you managed to get yourself voted out of the Senate!!

    February 20, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. AmesIA

    I would absolutely love to have government sponsored prayer shoved in Rick's face. It would be a "teachable moment" for him to explain the Wicca Earth Mother prayer that lady led his children in at school...oh wait...he home schools his children so they live in a vacuum free of any other points of view. So freedom of religion is really the freedom of the Rick Santorum's of our country to impose their religion on the rest of us.

    February 20, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. matt houst

    Santo...you don't have to do the comparison. Your constituents already do it all the time. You just slipped up and mentioned it in one of your political speeches because you knew it stokes the flames of hatred in your base.

    February 20, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The idea that you have to explain yourself with a comment like that means that you haven't thought through it well enough.

    February 20, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Helena Troy

    And yet, when a woman at a recent campaign event stated that Obama is a Muslim, Santorum failed to correct her...

    February 20, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. Craig

    Santorum neglects to mention that there was a name for those Americans who said prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor that Hitler was Europe's problem and we shouldn't get involved: Conservative Republicans.

    February 20, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. Tucson attorney

    Please read the paragraph that contains a quote starting with "We think, well, you know, it'll get better..." Don't we want a president who can articulate his ideas better than this paragraph suggests. I expect better of the leader of the free world. Democrats, republicans or green party, please do better than this when you select a potential president. Thanks in advance.

    February 20, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. mauiharper

    It's amazing how the Catholic Church supported Hitler, their current Pope included, but now condemn Obama with insane accusations comparing him to Hitler. Please tax them for the profitable business they are. The separation of church and state are constitutionally protected, something they refuse to believe or abide by.

    February 20, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. Kris Craig

    @tao9 Uhh you DO realize that the "Political Unit" simply refers to the account user that posted the article, right? The CNN website runs on WordPress and this is just how WordPress works. They probably just used a shared account for posting to the political ticker for the sake of simplicity. If you check the tag, you'll see that they post most if not all of their stories under this account.

    As for the remainder of your little rant, a few points worth mentioning:

    1. What "Dem/Media nexus" are you referring to? CNN is not affiliated in any way with the Democratic Party. In fact, they go out of the way to project neutrality, almost to a fault.

    February 20, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Kris Craig

    2. Even if this "nexus" did exist, how exactly are they "constitutionally" incapable of "apprehending" Santorum's political positions? I'm guessing that you simply got the word, "apprehending," confused with, "comprehending." But as for the "constitutionally" adjective, I have no clue where you got that from. Does CNN even have a Constitution? Did CNN form its own government while I wasn't looking?

    3. What "context," exactly? Santorum directly compared President Obama with Adolf Hitler, then tried to deny it later by saying he was merely comparing the situation to World War II. In other words, "No, I wasn't comparing Obama to Hitler! I was merely comparing him to the leader of Nazi Germany during World War II." I'd say nice try, but....

    February 20, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Badabing

    Well the people of America should start thinking of Santorum as the Ayatollah of America. When the religious zealots takes over that is what you will expect. Everything will by their interpretation of the Bible. Woman should stay at home and focus on holding a tylenol between the knees. Hey i didn't come up with that. Santorum and his "gang" bangers did. Women might also want to be ready for "open" relationships if Newt takes over instead. In any cases we are save if Romney takes over. 2 wifes is a moron thing. Looks women are damned any which way the GOP goes. I suppose that is how the forefathers wanted it eh? Long Live GOP. Gawd Akhbar!!

    February 20, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. David B

    He didn't intend to imply religous tones when he used the word "theology"? Give me a break.

    February 20, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. Mike

    To Rick Santorum "religeous freedom" means imposing his 16th century catholic beliefs on the rest of us.

    February 20, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. Ringo

    It always seems that guys like Rick Santorum like to play with your thoughts to twist reality for their own advantages. Find a link with someone who personifies evil like Hitler and make the connection with Obama and he gets what he wants. He's already made the connection with gay people and bestiality – somehow. It's almost as if he doesn't care about anything apart from getting the "black" guy out of the White House. He just wants to remain in those parameters of electability so he do whatever he can to achieve the same effect. I really hope America does not choose this bigot for president. Obama has always had to contend with republicans trying to stop him from fixing the mess they made. The whole world is facing some economic difficulties, it's not just Obama's fault. Maybe a few less wars would fix things in future.

    February 20, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  17. Ken Andrews

    Rick: If you clearly stated exactly what you mean, you would not have to tell reporters what you did NOT mean. But, that would require some original thought, something you do not have the ability to accomplish.

    February 20, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. The Veteran

    The GOP brood of vipers is a hott mess!! Male Sheriffs screwing male Illegal Immigrants, while persecuting them? What a Peanut Gallery they have over there.

    President Obama needs to put Hilary on the ticket to set her up for 2016!. The GOP needs to become history. It is out of touch with today's America...

    February 20, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. Robyn

    Just like Mr. Santorum had no intention of comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler when he made his despicable statement yesterday.

    I certainly have no intention of comparing Mr. Santorium to a ambulatory pile of pus when I make my statement.

    He simply is what he is, I am simply observing the fact that he doesn't have the backbone God gave a jellyfish;
    and the simple fact that he is not man enough to stand up and speak honorably because he is a craven and cowardly little boy making wee-wee in his pants is something that each person can easily observe for themselves.

    February 20, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  20. Carol

    If Santorum had wanted the people he was speeching to, to understand him, he would have said what he explained to the press that he really meant, instead he said the words that he knew his audiance would react to favorably towards him. He wants to play his words for his advantage only, until he is caught, and has to clarify what he said.

    February 20, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  21. Boo

    SweaterVest, I can't wait to see you get the smackdown

    February 20, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  22. AgrippaMT

    Santorum has again gone far beyond the limits of political discourse in his crude attempt to compare President Obama to Adolph Hitler. Then he has the unmitigated gall to claim he was making so such comparison. Two things are abundantly clear. First, President Obama is in no way similar to Hitler. To suggest otherwise is utterly foul and swinish. Second, there is now no doubt that Santorum is a precise reincarnation of Benito Mussolini.

    February 20, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. DIANA

    Its a A SHAME when the color of a man skin makes him wrong in everything he tries to do. But my christian friends or so called christian. Obama is your president like it or no. Remember his mother is white and father is black so which percentage makes him blacker or whiter?(30/70)those odd are because his white parent & grandparents raised him out of love. SO when or if you make it to your kingdom and see your god make sure he knows you done well. And the true and living GOD will set things in order when he come.

    February 20, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. Kimster

    So what Richard the Righteous is telling us is that he doesn't want government in our lives, he wants his church, and his particularly oppressive Opus Dei religious beliefs, to dominate our very existence. Sorry, Dicky Boy, that is a theocracy pure and simple, and your insistence that it would be better for the country sounds more Nazi than Hitler himself.

    February 20, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  25. Charles Bowen

    Gotta love this Republican Freak show. Not One of these clowns are Presidential sad to see my party stoop so low to gain this office.... These Clowns are nothing more than American Taliban.... God Save The Party and the Country if we elect any of them....... Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    February 20, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
1 2 3 4 5