Santorum calls out Obama on 'evil,' mocks Romney
February 22nd, 2012
05:26 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum calls out Obama on 'evil,' mocks Romney

Tucson, Arizona (CNN) – Speaking to a tea party audience on Wednesday, Rick Santorum mocked fellow Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and led the overwhelmingly friendly audience in a chorus of catcalls against President Barack Obama.

As Santorum harshly criticized the president on the economy and foreign policy during the speech in Tucson, audience members could be heard calling the president a "liar," "arrogant" – and repeatedly booing his name.

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The candidate did not use those words himself. Instead, his words encouraged his audience.

For example, at one point, Santorum accused the president of appeasing "evil" around the world.

"Ronald Reagan was courageous enough to go out and speak about the forces of evil," the former Pennsylvania senator said.

He continued: "Our president refuses to call evil – evil. He refuses to even name it, refuses to confront it. He tries to appease and cajole it in an effort to reduce America's commitments around the world - that if we just have paper or if we just try to make nice with those who are actively doing harm to America and its allies, that somehow or another that threat will go away or be ameliorated."

"And what we have found is that is simply, from history, it doesn't work."

On Tuesday, the former Pennsylvania said, "I believe in good and evil" in response to CNN questions about his 2008 comments that Satan had set his sights on the United States.

The previous comments raised eyebrows. Yet Santorum defended his words.

At another point during the Tucson speech, Santorum accused the president of trying to end core U.S. beliefs.

"Essentially we are going to have to hold together on some set of moral codes and principles," Santorum said. "And we are seeing very evidently what the president's moral codes and principles are about. We see a president who is systematically trying to crush the traditional Judeo-Christian principles in this country."

Such language directly appeals to Christian evangelicals and the conservative tea party movement – two groups Santorum is courting in the GOP race. Speaking just under an hour, the candidate promoted tea party ideals: adherence to the Constitution, lower taxes and less entitlement spending.

The candidate also addressed an issue of major concern to Arizona, one of four states that border Mexico.

"You have my pledge that we will secure this border," Santorum said. "We will deal with the issue of the drug violence and the cartels."

He also pledged, if elected president, to "deal with the national security threats to our country at the border and secure the border so that the people in Arizona can live in peace and prosperity just like every other state in the country."

The afternoon event was Santorum's only public appearance of the day ahead of the CNN/Arizona Republican Party Debate Wednesday evening. CNN's John King will host that debate – the last before Super Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Santorum appears to be increasingly wielding a double-edged sword: training as much fire against the president as he does against Romney.

On the same day the former Massachusetts governor played up his tax plan to revive the economy, Santorum mocked his rival.

"I just saw today that Governor Romney announced that he was going to be lowering the tax rates to – well, the tax rate I proposed," Santorum said.

"Welcome to the party, Governor. It's great to have you along."

And Santorum continued to draw contrasts between himself and his main rival.

"Look at the record versus the rhetoric of what you see of in many cases 'Johnny Come Latelys' to the conservative cause," the candidate said. "That's the decision you have to make here in Arizona. Who do you trust? Who is authentic? Who is believable?"

Romney's campaign responded with a statement linking Santorum to Obama.

"It's no surprise that Senator Santorum would try to associate himself with Governor Romney's conservative, pro-growth plan to cut taxes and grow the economy," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said. "But there are crucial differences. First, Governor Romney's plan will not explode the deficit in the way that Senator Santorum's will. Second, Senator Santorum takes the exact same approach to tax policy as Barack Obama-he wants government to pick winners and losers."

Some national polls suggest that Santorum's double-edged slams may be helping him in the GOP race. However, in a new NBC News/Marist poll out Wednesday for Arizona, Romney holds a 16-point lead over Santorum.

A CNN/Time/ORC International poll released Tuesday showed Romney and Santorum in a statistical dead heat.

Arizona and Michigan hold primaries February 28. Twenty-nine winner-take-all delegates are at stake in the Arizona contest. In Michigan, the 30 delegates at stake will be divided proportionally among the candidates.

Santorum appealed to the audience about the importance of both contests.

"You are going to have a huge impact," he said. "Everybody is focused in on Super Tuesday."

"But more than anything else, what happens in Michigan and Arizona next week is going to have the biggest impact on Super Tuesday and this election than any two states."

Ten states hold primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday on March 6.

–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Rick Santorum
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. cf

    Rick Santorum is the most dangerous kind of person there is: one who declares anyone who disagrees with him on policy to be "evil" and "Satan." Haven't these teapublicans learned anything from the Jared Loughner incident? Your words and incitement have actions!

    February 22, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  2. Busted

    The president is arrogant... that's what they hate about him? But the dude who led 4,000+ american troops to their death while staying the course as the decider is what they prefer. We must defeat the GOP.

    February 22, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. MTATL67

    Mr. Santorum is becoming the embodiment of everything ugly one human can say about another human being. Mr. Santorum is mistaken if he thinks these racist Republicans in Arizona represent the majority of us decent Americans

    February 22, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Jim in San Mateo

    They may not like Obama, but they'd better get used to him. He's going to be around for another four years and they have no one to thank, but themselves.

    February 22, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. macrasta

    cf..thanks for mentioning what happened in Arizona.. becuz.. its seems some want to pretend like it didn't happen.....

    February 22, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. s58

    Santorum appears to want to impose his religuos ideology on US citizens. I wonder if he becomes president, instead of being called President Santorum he would prefer to be called Ayatollah Santorum.

    February 22, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  7. Veritas 2011

    Does Santorum remember he was "let go" from his former government position as PA Senator? Now he comes back and thinks he deserves a promotion to the highest job possible in the US? Allowing catcalls against the current President at one of your speeches is disrespectful to the entire nation....Obama was elected by a majority vote...so Santorum is basically showing total disrespect to a majority of Americans. It is juvenile to call others names and label people...why doesn't he focus on his accomplishments, instead of just insulting the opposition? Because he can't! He doesn't know what freedom is – if he did, he would appreciate the differences in the people of this country and stop shoving his religious beliefs down everyone's throats. If you think Santorum's train of thought is crazy now, imagine if he was given more power? Remember, "Power Corrupts!" And I know that Santorum will not be able to ignore the temptation!

    February 22, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  8. TellinZTruth

    Thanks ricki, The President appreciate your efforts and contributns to his re-election campaign. It's not about the economy anymore; It appears to be personal and hateful, losers attributes.

    February 22, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    Santorum is an evangelical. THAT is evil incarnate. They don't hold to Christian beliefs. And yes, I know this to be a fact because I went to an evangelical school. They are NOT on the same planet as the rest of us.

    February 22, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. chechi

    Mr. Obama will have his second term. Sorry Mr. Santorum, your retoric makes him look still better, you are sounding every day more like sour grapes........We can do very well without YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 22, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Have your little fun, Rick.

    Disgusting behavior from a despicable candidate. A big FAIL for showing off those Christian values he purports to treasure ... I suspect though that Mr. Santorum is already aware of just how far off the road of Christianity he has traveled these past few months and more.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    February 22, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. Romney is not My Hero

    I believe in good and evil too, and you are evil, Sanctimonious.

    For those of you who do not know: Sanctimonious means excessively or hypocritically pious. Describes this hypocrit exactly.

    OBAMA 2012! The GOP has nothing to offer!

    February 22, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  13. T'sah from Virginia

    ►Santorum calls out Obama on 'evil,' mocks Romney◄
    Audience shouts LIAR and other downgrading mockery
    SATANorum recently speaks about so much EVIL, WHY?
    I guess we're beginning to see his TRUE insides!!

    SATANorum will end up stabbing his own self in the back
    Mittens will go on to win the nomination and that's a fact
    But in the end they all would lose and hate themselves
    Because President Obama will win again in November, 2012

    Yes We Can!!

    February 22, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. jake1969

    What a tool!!! I'll tell you what evil is, trying to undo all the environmental regulations that have cleaned are air and water and improved the health of the nation, especially the children and elderly who are most susceptible. Santorum's the one who recently opposed reductions to mercury - an incredibly toxic metal. He said those who support reducing mercury emissions show their "hate of blue collar workers." What garbage. I can't believe some of the candidates the republicans are coming up with today. The only decent one, Romney, is hated by most of the Tea Party. Eisenhower and Rockefeller are spinning in their graves over today's republicans.

    BTW, to get on point to the article, how is Obama appeasing evil when he made the call to take out Osama (on only 50% probability given by intelligence officers...it's known that Bush and Clinton both passed up chances when given probabilities as high as 90%), increased troops in Afghanistan, and has more than tripled drone strikes against our enemies. I think he's been outstanding in efforts against terrorism and totally has al qaeda on the run...far more than they were under Bush's tactics.

    February 22, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  15. Dan

    This guy is drinking more and more of his own cool-aid- People are buying into this rhetoric? Who is doing his polling ? Pres. Obama is laughing- He thinks somehow he is more moral than... well everyone...how many more groups can Santorum alianate-Gays , Blacks, Woman , Hispanics – he is ok with breaking up illegal families- man of family values?- I am sure the slave traders thought the same thing. The GOP is a joke – it all started when they made it their only mission to not let Pres. Obama Get reelected- and everything they do is only helping Pres. Obama get reelected.

    February 22, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  16. GI Joe.

    Christians do NOT rile hatred and fear.

    February 22, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. Vanessa

    Heard so much disrespect towards this president, it's downright SAD! president Obama does not deserve all this animosity directed at him! If you have difference of opinion, that is fine, but the Republicans attitude just shows what they're really about, HATE!! I'm a Catholic & in my church what the republicans are doing Is EVIL!
    Make no mistake, this catholic hispanic will B working endlessly to have president Barack Hussein Obama reelected! 4 more years! Si se puede.. hispanics 4 Obama all the way!

    February 22, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  18. Mikey

    I hope this guy wins the GOP nomination. There's a small risk that he might actually make into the White House and try to impose a theocracy on us. But this is a fight worth having. The values of freedom and opportunity for ALL, sound science, and ethnic and religious inclusion versus the selfish, narrowminded, self rightous, and ignorant extremist ideas of the far right.

    February 22, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  19. Fred Riek

    This forum will not let me or many others express the deep revulsion we feel with the verbal abuse that our President and our Country is being subjected to daily by this group of miscreants. If there is a just God, voters will turn out in droves to let all Republicans know how much they have fallen from grace. It is time to end the Republican Party. Any party that turns away moderates and people who are willing to compromise for the good of our Country do not deserve to be in office. They were very clear when Obama was elected president; their number one goal was to defeat Obama and not let anything pass the Congress that could be interpreted as a success for Obama. THEIR IS NO GOOD USE FOR A REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT. They have purposely been hurting our Country by not participating in helping to solve the problem that the Republican administration caused. The Republican Party brings out the worst in those who support them. It is up to us, the true patriots to throw the Republican bums out of every office possible. We need a solid moderate Independent Party to ensure that creeps like the current crop of Republican wannabees never win an election.

    February 22, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  20. Cliff

    Is Santorum running for president or the pope?

    February 22, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. tor5

    I guess if your only “news” source is Fox, you somehow believe that Obama is weak. But most of us have no idea what Santorum is talking about. The guy who killed Bin Laden is “appeasing evil”? Say what? Please, enjoy your surreal hatefest. I may have my reservations about Obama, but his clean-up of Bush’s messes has been an undeniable achievement. And Republican opposition to birth control and rational economics is making my choice very easy.

    February 22, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  22. Charlotte

    "Santorum is an evangelical. THAT is evil incarnate." I cannot agree with you more! This guy is just plain dangerous. And he doesn't seem to be very bright, either. That didn't stop America from electing W but honestly we should strive to do better. The GOP field this time around is pretty pathetic and none of them deserves the position they are seeking. I happen to know that within the GOP there are many who are really really qualified and smart and thoughtful and would excel....but none of them seems to be stepping up. So if the nation is lucky we will have Obama for 4 more years rather than some sanctimonious tyrant or someone who has shifted positions so much it's painful to watch, like a tumbleweed careening down the highway from side to side.

    February 22, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  23. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Rick Santorum may be the only republican in history who thinks the Pope is too liberal.

    February 22, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  24. PJ/TX

    If this isn't the biggest wake-up call we have ever had as far as any candidate running for office, then I don't
    know what it takes.
    This foolish, foolish person, allowing, even encouraging, the disrespectful words and behavior towards our
    President only shows us that he is so far off the mark of Christianity and has no shame whatsoever. We
    have heard it in the halls of the Senate, we have seen it on tea party signs, and now they cheer this
    hateful man and want him to lead America.
    This is happening all over the south, and they scare me to death. No doubt this dunce will come to
    Texas, along with Gingrich, and most likely be warmly greeted. It makes me sick.
    Most of the bloggers here get it, and they give me hope.

    February 22, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  25. cody

    It kind of shocks me that the tea party does not back Ron Paul. Kind of seems like that would be their candidate.

    February 22, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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