March 15th, 2013
01:49 PM ET
2 years ago

In tearful remarks, Santorum speaks of pain

(CNN) – Former Sen. Rick Santorum delivered a solemn but forceful rallying cry when speaking about the death of a close family member Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

With tears in his eyes, the former presidential candidate talked emotionally about his nephew who passed away Thursday in Pittsburgh from what Santorum described as "a horribly painful disease that almost overnight began ravaging his body."

"Medicines were effectively blocking all of his physical pain. We were the ones in pain," he said.

"I couldn't help but have my experience yesterday impact my message here to you today. I thought of Buddha's first noble truth – to live is to suffer," the devout Catholic added.

As the silent crowd listened, Santorum spoke with conviction from his speech, which he hand-wrote an hour beforehand, an adviser told CNN. While society has made immense progress in stopping physical pain, he said, Democrats have gone too far in trying to use government programs to address almost every other pain.

"The left can always promise more stuff and make it sound like they care more, because they make it easier for Americans by providing the stuff for them through government programs paid for by somebody else's money," he said.

Santorum, who battled eventual 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney deep into the primary season and who is considered a potential 2016 candidate, squarely placed blame on President Barack Obama for trying to "transform" the country and reorder its priorities.

"Obama has offered a new deal. He and his friends will reduce the pain and the suffering," Santorum said, adding that all Americans have to do is abandon their principles. "He wants to exchange the why of the American Revolution for the why of the French Revolution."

The former two-term senator urged the audience to not look to lawmakers to solve their problems. Rather, it was up to private individuals to take care of each other.

"We have to rededicate ourselves in our churches, in our families in our communities, in our local school boards," he said. "We have to fight for those who are suffering and being left behind. They don't want government money, they want your money. They want what comes and they need what comes with it: your caring, your mentorship, your love–all things government cannot give."

Following his address, Santorum was scheduled to attend a number of events at CPAC, including two meetings with members of Patriot Voices, the political action committee that the former senator from Pennsylvania chairs.

– CNN's Mark Preston and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: CPAC • Rick Santorum
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Jesus

    Republicans – Look and listen to Santorum to see why independents and some republicans are trying to get away from the GOP as fast as possible.

    I cant believe he cheapened his freshly deceased nephew's name for political gymnastics – pathetic

    March 15, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  2. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    Yes, that last cycle of GOP contestants was painful for me too.

    March 15, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. rr

    He almost had me feeling sorry for him. Then he went into the abyss.

    March 15, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. ART

    This man should be excommunicated from the Catholic church for being a heartless nincompoop

    March 15, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. Mark from IN

    Rick, please tell me you didn't use your nephew's death to score political points.....that's just sad.

    March 15, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Santorum is a hypocrite to claim position on moral high ground. He isn't even in agreement with his own Catholic Church when it comes to taking care of the elderly, sick, and poor. His anti-government position threatens to take away the safety net for the less fortunate to benefit the rich.

    March 15, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. butch

    using family tragedy to advance political agenda. he should be ashamed of himself.

    March 15, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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