Santorum reflects on family, 'extremist' label with Dobson
April 11th, 2012
05:32 AM ET
2 years ago

Santorum reflects on family, 'extremist' label with Dobson

Lancaster, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum reflected Tuesday evening on family and why he believes he was labeled the “extremist” candidate in the GOP race.

The revelations were made at an event with James Dobson, founder of the conservative group Focus on the Family, who was also an early Santorum supporter.

After Santorum declared earlier in the day his White House run was “over,” it was inevitable the discussion about faith and values would take a political turn.

Appearing with Dobson before more than a thousand people, Santorum reflected on the Gettysburg announcement and the campaign’s toll on his family. “I can’t say it was an emotional moment for me. I know it’s a little tougher for the family, always is tougher for the family,” he said.

Karen Santorum was scheduled to appear with her husband at Lancaster Bible College but he appeared by himself. Dobson explained why before Santorum came on stage.

“It was just, with all the activities of this day and with little Bella – the three-year-old’s been in the hospital – and she just didn’t feel she had the emotional strength to come.” He also said Karen “would have made a great first lady. And who knows, maybe she will yet.”

While Dobson praised the former two-term Pennsylvania senator for having the courage to talk about marriage and the sanctity of human life, he chided conservative political commentators for considering those views “extremist.”

Santorum, who often presented himself on the campaign trail as the alternative to more moderate candidates, said Tuesday his opponents are not dissimilar.

“If you go down the list of sort of the life, marriage, social conservative issues, we were all pretty much in line, yet I was considered the extremist, which I found very interesting,” said Santorum.

He conceded, “In a sense, all the candidates on the dias were social conservatives, but I was considered the social conservative candidate because I was the only one on the dias who actually tried to do anything.”

Dobson, who has appeared with Santorum on the campaign trail and touted the candidate in a radio spot, asked the former White House hopeful about coping with daughter Isabella, the youngest of Santorum’s seven children known as Bella, who suffers from a rare chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18, which causes severe medical and developmental problems.

Santorum acknowledged the “pain and hardship” of raising a disabled child but he spoke passionately against detecting pre-natal chromosomal abnormalities through Amniocentesis, saying the process is “used to cull the disabled from society.”

“She doesn't talk in a way that you would understand but she talks in a way that we understand. She's a happy healthy girl. Like everybody else, like every other kid she gets sick. The problem is when she gets sick it is life threatening," he said of Bella, who will celebrate her fourth birthday next week.

The former senator, who has taken only a handful of days off the trail since he launched his presidential bid said, “I’d like to get some sleep” when Dobson asked him “what’s next?”

Dobson’s parting words to Santorum, “God’s not done with you.”


Filed under: 2012 • James Dobson • Pennsylvania • Rick Santorum
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. s

    give us all a break, you want to be a church freak, go right ahead but keep it to yourself, we really don't care what you think

    April 11, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  2. Marie MD

    Bye, bye, stepford family. Those smiles. Those looks. Weird, very weird! :(

    April 11, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  3. FedUp

    Santorum was labeled an extremist because he stood up for what he believed in, not the party. That is why I admire him. I don't know if he would have made a good President or not, but he certainly couldn't be any worse than anyone else running or sitting in office for the past 20 years. I hope he will be back, If more people would stand up for what they believed, and not what the handlers are saying, this just might be a better world.

    April 11, 2012 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  4. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Mitt McCain can thank Ricky Santorum,Rush Limbaugh and the other good old boys of the unhinged GOBP for his whipping in Nov.

    April 11, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Santorum's daughter Bella isn't healthy. She has, as has been described, a cromosnal disorder. She will continue to need help for the rest of her life. That doesn't strike me as being healthy. I am glad that he can provide medical care to her. She needs it and shouldn't be denied it either.

    April 11, 2012 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  6. Cfrench

    I wonder if Little Ricky ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe his imaginary friend in the sky brought about his current situation because he too realizes that a religous zealot should not be elected president of anything other than a religous organization.

    April 11, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  7. sick of republican phonies

    "God's not done with you." But we are.

    April 11, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  8. JPX

    Santorum, who doesn't belive in evolution or global warming because it conflicts with his religious nonsense, does believe that women who become pregnant through rape or incest should not be allowed to have abortions. Extreme? Nah, he thinks like every American.

    April 11, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  9. Mitch

    He wonders why he is called an extremist? He is dumber than I initially thought he was.

    April 11, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  10. Phil in KC

    God may not be done with him, but I think the majority of Americans are.
    By the way, CNN, if you're not going to employ proof-readers, at least get a good spell checker. The word denoting a platform for speakers is spelled 'dais', not 'dias'. The latter is the Spanish word for 'days'.

    April 11, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Not only is Santorum an extremist, he does not respect The US Constitution's intent for a secular democratic republic. Santorum has made his views clear in that he thinks the US Constitution is wrong on separation of chruch and state.

    Satorum likes to blow up and float this big balloon equating secularism with aetheism, which it is not. Aetheism is a form of religion in itself. Secularism is merely a lack of preference for one religion or another. Big difference, folks. Too bad the former Senator doesn't know the diference, or just simply and willfully doesn't care. I'm going with the latter.

    April 11, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  12. JC

    He says they were all social conservatives. Well maybe. But Santorum was the only one talking about how women working outside the home was bad, how contraceptive is inherently wrong. If given any opportunity whatsoever, this man would have tried to legislate his religious "beliefs" on others. There is no capacity in this man to see outside of his own very narrow box. And Dobson? Give me a break.

    April 11, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  13. Al-NY,NY

    JPX

    Santorum, who doesn't belive in evolution or global warming because it conflicts with his religious nonsense, does believe that women who become pregnant through rape or incest should not be allowed to have abortions. Extreme? Nah, he thinks like every American.
    ---------------------------–

    outstanding post. Couldn't have said it better myself. He has pushed Mittens so far to the right that the plastic man and his "Osmond" family has no chance

    April 11, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  14. Matthew

    Pretty pathetic posts here..good job cnn

    April 11, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. AndrewLarson

    His overt racism is certainly extremist. Two times he started to say outrageous and incendiary racist statements in front of microphones only to flub / abort the ideas mid-word. I'm not sure if "blah people" was an example of Turret's or a last-minute lack of courage to speak his true mind.

    April 11, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. k

    sad...very sad... I hope Marie MD is not really a doctor. She apparently diagnoses/judges by how a person smiles, looks and categorizes human families into nice little labels like "Stepford" when she doesn't agree with them. Maria, you may want to try thinking a little deeper when making your judgments. Life deals with real human beings not just what you consider convenient.

    April 11, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    Santorum just passed on his "extremist" title to Romney. Watch Romney try to to flip flop away from social/religious issues Santorum supporters consider important.

    April 11, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  18. gg

    he better hope his insurance company dos,nt drop his daugther

    April 11, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Rick Santorum has always been convinced of his own personal righteousness. Thus he is incapable of standing back and viewing himself in an impersonal way. For reasons known only to himself, he has managed to surround himself with people who are not willing to tell him about the extent of the negativity he generates. Even if they did, though, he would have probably ignored them and continued along the same path.
    I can see Santorum being elected Grand Knight of a K of C council, or Worthy Navigator of a K of C 4th Degree Circle. I can see him being elected as President of a state Right-to-Life organization. I cannot see him on serving on any level of a Federal Government. If the American public somehow becomes effected by a virus that causes Mitt to win the election, the worse thing he could possibly do (besides allowing Rubio or Christie to be his VEEP) would be to nominate Ricko as Secretary for Health and Human Services (although that would probably be the job he wants). That would be the equivalent of appointing J. Edgar Hoover as head of the Equal Opportunity Commission.

    April 11, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. JPX

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    he probably would have made a horrible president.
    --------------------------------------–
    "Probably"? An insane person would have been running the country. He definitely would have made a horrible president. He wants it to be the 1950's again.

    April 11, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. Danny

    The days of rule by religious oppression are long over. You can not legislate morality. These types who continue to make religion political are damaging religion as a whole and it's about time they learn to keep religion in their private lives and in church before they destroy it entirely.

    April 11, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. labman57

    Curious. A number of social conservative politicians have publicly declared that their political aspirations are the result of "speaking with God", some even going so far as to insist that their election campaigns were "God's will".

    Santorum, Bachmann, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Palin - all have cited divine intervention as a primary motivator in their quest for higher office, including the current battle for the presidency.
    And yet each has had his/her campaign for the 2012 GOP nominee either never materialize, quickly crash and burn, or in the case of Santorum and Gingrich, gradually founder.

    So what insights can we glean from this turn of events? Perhaps God is an Ashton Kutcher fan, as He appears to have punk'd each of these POTUS wannabes.

    April 11, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |