February 19th, 2012
07:27 PM ET
8 years ago

Santorum clarifies 'theology' remark

(CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Sunday denied he was questioning President Barack Obama's religious values the previous day when he said the president had a "different theology."

"I wasn't suggesting the president's not a Christian," Santorum said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I accept the fact that the president is a Christian."

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He added he was referring to what he called the president's "radical environmentalism" when it came to mining for resources in the United States.

"I just said that when you have a world view that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can't take those resources, because we're going to harm the Earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven," he said. "The politicization of the whole global warming debate, I mean, this is just all an attempt to centralize power and to give more power to the government."

He later added: "I am talking about his world view or his - the way he approaches problems in this country. And I think they're different than how most people do in America."

At a tea party event on Saturday in Ohio, Santorum suggested Obama leads based on a "theology" different from that in the Bible, leaving some wondering whether he was implying that Obama subscribes to a religion other than Christianity.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, he was asked about the comment and attempted to explain his remarks.

"You may want to call it a theology, you may want to call it secular values," he said. "Whatever you want to call it. . . it is a different set of moral values that they are imposing on people who have a constitutional right to have their own values within the church."

The president's re-election campaign has since pounced on his comments. Top campaign adviser and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Sunday told reporters in Washington that Santorum's remarks "don't belong in our politics."

"I don't think that's what the American people want from either of the potential Republican nominees," Gibbs said.

- CNN's Chris Welch, Gregory Wallace and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Also see:

Gay sheriff resigns Romney role after allegations

Bachmann: GOP is extremely 'pro-women'

Paul: Santorum has an 'atrocious voting record'


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Rick Santorum
soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. Charlie in Maine

    "I accept the fact that the president is a Christian."

    Well Senator Sanatorium, as they say in one of my favorite movies "Blazing Saddles" : "That sure is mighty white of ya"

    February 19, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  2. Kathyrn

    He needs to help with what is left of the gop by populating newts moon colony

    February 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. noble

    Obama's environmental rules are creating millions of jobs in foreign countries. Look at Apple: if you will read "Steve Jobs" you will understand why Jobs chose to have factors for Apple products in China; he even told Obama why, because of the U.S. government's rules making it very difficult to manufacture in the U.S. McDonnell Douglas when they were in business flew their airplanes out of Calif. to be painted in another state because of Calif. environmental laws. Our govt. has made it impossible for some businesses to manufacture in the U.S. thus more and more unemployment in the USA. Foreign countries love our government for giving their people employment, so yes, Obama loves the earth more than the U.S. citizen.

    February 19, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  4. Tao Po

    Santorum said, "I accept the fact that the president is a Christian." How white of you, Mr. Santorum! And FYI, protecting the environment, the earth, is actually protecting the creation, not putting it above man. Man is part of that creation, not its master.

    February 19, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. thomas mc

    Santorum has made it clear he doesn't understand this is a secular republic, not a Catholic theocracy.

    February 19, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. Kenny E.

    Both Santorum and Romney make comments each week that later they have to back away from ("clarify"). Neither are fit for the top job. Come November, this race will be over before Colorado.

    February 19, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  7. jimzien

    I saw the interview and fault Bob Scheiffer for failing to address the real issue - not if Santorum credits Obama as a Christian, but whether or not Santorum believes that only credible Christians are qualified to serve as President of the United States? And does that category include Mormons, who evangelicals do not accept as such?

    February 19, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  8. Rsprings

    Wright you are, Rick

    February 19, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  9. MissusPowell

    AND AGAIN, Mr. Santorum is walking back his comments!! Then his walk-back is another view that MOST AMERICANS and MOST CHRISTIANS do not hold. EARTH is WHERE WE LIVE! Scientist WORLD WIDE report what they learn and concerns they have re: what harms what and who is harmed. AGAIN, Mr Santorum is not an authority on Science anymore than he is an authority on Biblical interpretation. HIS world view is most limited and limiting to those who believe him.

    February 19, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  10. John Thomas

    The rather critical thing that MISTER SANTORUM is missing, is that "people... ...have a constitutional right to have their own values within THE church", which, based on MISTER SANTORUM's use of the word THE, implies HIS CHURCH, the Roman Catholic Church, not the church of the majority of American citizens - millions of whom are of other faiths and millions of whom are non-believers. This nation was founded on philosophical principles that came of age during the Age of Reason. Most of the founding fathers were Christian, but some of them certainly were deists. One of the principles the founding fathers believed in was separation of church and state. To pretend otherwise, is intellectually dishonest. MISTER SANTORUM is, in my opinion, an intellectually dishonest man, who would, if he could, impose a theocracy on the people of the United States and would "roll back" our civilization to the Middle Ages..

    February 19, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  11. TM

    You just keep on blowing that dog whistle Mr. Santorum. Or is your preferred title Ayatollah now? Of course, YOU are not questioning the President's faith. You just want all your supporters to do that.

    February 19, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  12. truthfactor

    It was truly disgusting to read the original comments by a so called conservative Christian candidate. Now he insults our intelligence with such a lame cover story. Please step aside and go back to whatever fanatic society you came from Rick.

    February 19, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  13. Crooked Bridge

    Rick fears those unlike him. That is a problem if you want to govern a diverse country in a diverse world.

    February 19, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  14. Jilli

    No clarification necessary – Santorum is a religious nut job – exactly what this country DOESN'T need now or ever.

    It's 2012, and the United States is NOT a theocracy.

    The only way this clown should get close to the white house is if he takes a tour. He would be a disastrous president.

    February 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  15. yogi

    Typical Republican: First you spew hatred and then you apologize, clarify that you misspoke, that you were taken out of context, etc. What a party....

    February 19, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  16. Smail

    This is not the clarification I was expecting. I was looking for something more like, 'My name is Rick Santorum. I am a small-minded, intolerant fundamentalist who wants to make everyone follow the rules that I pretend to follow. I have no idea what 'separation of Church and state' might mean, but I am certain that the founding fathers would agree with me and not with a black man.'

    February 19, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  17. Thomas

    Rick Santorum is a world class hypocrite" because while his wife sued for $500,000, he had co-sponsored a bill limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 in non-economic damages.

    Ricks religious values in regards to theology is no different.

    February 19, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  18. HenryB

    I amazed that even this right wing fringe Republican party finds a way to be so completely nonsensical.

    February 19, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  19. Sorensen

    Sanatorium cannot clarify anything anymore. He is just a plain nutcase against women, contraception, gay people and
    god knows what else. This of course makes him totally unelectable to any higher or lower public office.

    February 19, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. Scott

    Gotta love it! Santorum believes man is of a higher significance than the earth that sustains...man.

    February 19, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  21. Tom

    Santorum and those like him cannt have t two ways....Is anyone else noticing that the pols will say anything in front of a select crowd....and then "clarify" the same remarks later?

    February 19, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  22. lila

    any man who is desperate enough to question another man's religion isn't fit to serve as leader of a diverse nation. Nor is he true to his own faith. He's a hypocrit. A fake. He's pathetic! All we've seen from the right is the bashing of President Obama. None of them have said what they would do to right the wrongs of the past administration, which was headed by a republican administration, that got America into this mess in the first place. Republicans are an embarrassment to America.

    February 19, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  23. Steve

    Rick Santorum said:
    "You may want to call it a theology, you may want to call it secular values," he said. "Whatever you want to call it. . . it is a different set of moral values that they are imposing on people who have a constitutional right to have their own values within the church."

    That's OK -BUT - the right wing conservatives want to push their own agenda onto the rest of the people of the United States. Their so-called "Christian" values belong IN their church and not in government.

    The Bible and environmentalism do not belong together in the same sentence. A right wing conservative that I know was talking about how the EPA should not ban DDT because the death of one human being from malaria is not worth all the eagles in the world. He went on to say that it would be better if all the fish died than any humans were harmed by the EPA policies of banning toxins. These people have their own fanatical idea of what the web of life is all about and obviously fail to understand that when the planet dies, we will die with it. These people cannot be trusted to govern.

    February 19, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  24. jennifer in Houston

    I would suggest Senator Santorum read his bible before he starts suggesting someone elses theology is unbiblical.

    February 19, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  25. OneSTARman

    It would SEEM that EITHER Rick Santorum has NO IDEA what the word THEOLOGY MEANS (ie the study of God in relation to humanity) or he is incapable of telling theTRUTHP

    February 19, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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