Kerry blasts Santorum's opposition to disability treaty
December 5th, 2012
08:35 PM ET
10 years ago

Kerry blasts Santorum's opposition to disability treaty

(CNN) - Sen. John Kerry fired back Wednesday at former Sen. Rick Santorum's strong opposition to a U.N. treaty promoting the rights of the disabled that failed in the Senate this week.

"Rick Santorum was just not factual," Kerry said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

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"Now what he did was he gave some people here an excuse to hide behind ... when they know that there are people who hate the United Nations, who don't want any United Nations treaty, and so they gave them a reason to be able to say, ‘this is why I'm voting against it,’" Kerry said.

Republicans in the Senate blocked ratification on Tuesday of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole appeared on the floor of the Senate in a last-minute effort to draw GOP support.

One of Santorum’s daughters, Bella, was born in 2008 with the rare genetic disorder Trisomy 18. He represented the Keystone State in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007 and sought the Republican presidential nomination this year.

Santorum outlined his opposition to the treaty most recently in an opinion piece published in the Daily Beast on Wednesday. He wrote that the treaty "gives too much power to the U.N., and the unelected, unaccountable committee tasked with overseeing its implementation, while taking power and responsibility away from our elected representatives and, more important, from parents and caregivers of disabled persons."

He wrote further that “our nation has been the worldwide leader when it comes to protecting the disabled. We should be telling the U.N., not the other way around, how to ensure dignity and respect for the disabled."

Kerry was animated in his response, charging Santorum did not know what he was talking about.

"He either simply hasn’t read the treaty or doesn't understand it or he was just not factual in what he said," Kerry said, "because the United Nations has absolutely zero, zero, I mean zero ability to order or to tell or to even - I mean they can suggest - but they have no legal capacity to tell the United States to do anything under this treaty. Nothing.”

Kerry pointed out that the treaty was negotiated under Republican President George Herbert Walker Bush and signed at the United Nations by his son, Republican President George W. Bush.

Supporters of the treaty include key Republicans like Sen. John McCain.

Filed under: John Kerry • Rick Santorum
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Rob

    Considering a vast majority of the GOP's base has some mental disability, I'm surprised the GOP didn't back this measure.

    December 6, 2012 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  2. jp

    Has anyone seen how our government functions do we really want power in their hands

    December 6, 2012 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  3. Bernard Altschuler

    The gopers who voted against the disabilty treaty do not care about disabled being able to live.l

    December 6, 2012 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  4. Suzanne Shaps

    Kerry is being very polite. I don't think these Republicans deserve that. Certainly not for this. What a complete and total disgrace. I hope some other country that is what we USED to be can step up to lead the free world. Because we no longer deserve that right or responsibility. Shame on us for this.

    December 6, 2012 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  5. Steve

    So why exactly should the UN and or any other nation have anything to say about my children? Did the good senator not notice that a third of the senate Democrats were against this? No venom for them? Sounds like he was shocked that a republican would be against UN control of our children.

    December 6, 2012 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  6. Miss Macy

    Rick Santorum continues to be the most frightening creature in American politics. His entire platform is something from the Dark Ages.

    December 6, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  7. MashaSobaka

    Ah, Republicans. They kick and scream about the importance of the military but when it comes to protecting the actual human beings in the military – be they gay soldiers, disabled veterans, troops trying to get college degrees, or what have you – they moan about it being too expensive or too liberal. Gotta love these people. We should just stop trying to reason with them. Eventually they'll shoot themselves in the foot so many times that they'll bleed to death.

    December 6, 2012 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  8. jdo

    Yawn...If this does nothing to benefit, hurt, or have any effect on the citizens of US, as clearly stated above, why are we wasting time voting/complaining/discussing this issue. Why don't we focus on real issues that need attention now...

    December 6, 2012 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  9. craig

    Once again the GOP astounds the world by completely ignoring any FACTS that contradict their pre-conceived notions of things. Sadly nothing short of voting them completely out of office will get their attention, and at this point I doubt even that would be enough. The Grand Obstructionist Party continues to do the one thing they know...obfuscate!

    December 6, 2012 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  10. mmi16

    Since the GOP Senators have the apperance of being mentally disabled you would think the treaty would benefit them personnaly. Just shows how mentally disabled they are, that they voted against it.

    December 6, 2012 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  11. Lou Cypher

    Treaties are for formalizing obligations in state-to-state relations.
    If a candidate treaty imposes no obligations on the US, then the subject matter is not appropriate for a US treaty.
    An in all honesty, the UN has far more pressing business in front of it than this.

    December 6, 2012 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  12. Jason

    Its just a platform for Santorum to get on to appeal to tea partiers. It doesn't have to make sense.

    December 6, 2012 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  13. John Douglas

    This is typical of journalism these days. How does a reader outside the Us know why this was defeated. Did it require some sort of super majority? What was the vote? Also typical is that there is never any follow up. How do we know wha thappened to the final undecided House seats. I could never finf a report. Where is the presentation of facts and not comment?

    December 6, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  14. Peter Q Wolfe

    I'm a disabled american e.g. legal blindness (LHON) and don't know personally what is in this legislative bill myself. However, the international community whether United Natins, WIPO, W3 Consortium, WHO, WTO, WB, IMJF, etc need to recognize prevention, research and universal adoptions of adaptive solutions to the disabled for personal, academic or professional productivity. I'd very much rather work thn collect a welfare check but many businesses and even thegovernment need to work harder in resolving long-standing issues in a cost-affective manner.

    December 6, 2012 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  15. charles hoffman

    Rick Santorum is on the wrong side of virtually every issue of public policy. His only claim to fame is that he was the last of the remaining GOP clowns to get walked over by Romney in the latter's march toward the nomination. It's not that Santorum had such staying power, it's just that nobody even cared about him until the others, more formidable opponents, had been dispatched.

    This is a treaty that had widespread, bipartisan support and backing from virtually every organization from the Vets to the Chamber of Commerce. All that killed it was the second derivative of paranoia. The fear by Republican senators that some lunatic would gin up a scare about its implementation that could then be used as fodder in a primary battle by some unidentified lunatic fringe opponent.

    Profiles in courage this wasn't.

    December 6, 2012 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  16. Sean

    If the U.N. has no legal capacity to do anything regarding this treaty then why bother signing the treaty Mr. Kerry?

    December 6, 2012 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  17. JB

    Santorum out of touch with reality. Wow, there's a shocker.


    December 6, 2012 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  18. Marry

    The GOP "facts" go two ways: Pro-life from conception to birth – continued support when born rich! No support of life ones it leaves the womb until (early) natural death when born poor –
    It is all in their "Budget"! Not to stand up for the disabled – for superficial reasons – shows their indifference to the needs of people!

    December 6, 2012 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  19. James C Edgar

    So this is how far we have fallen. Rick Santorum is the epitome of what is wrong with the American political landscape. He brings his ridiculous religious views to every public forum. He walks around as if he has some important mandate, when he was thrown out of office by one of the largest landslides in Senatorial history. He rarely knows anything about any subject on which he speaks and it appears he has never read an entire anything. And now a bunch of similarly inept and ignorant Senators hide behind his falacious pandering to an equally ignorant base. Throw the bums out.

    December 6, 2012 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  20. ray

    As a Pennsylvanian all I can say is that Santorum does NOT represent any Pennsylvanians but Rick(Mr. Slick) Santorum. His radical views and positions can only be attributed to a childhood without love. So sad. I hope he never again gets the chance to perpitrate his radicalism on a public stage.

    December 6, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |

    Ricky Santorum not factual. What's new?

    December 6, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  22. PaPilot

    Santorum was correct to oppose yielding even more of our sovereignty to the United Nations. We don't need a bunch of busybodies in some third world country somewhere dictating our laws.

    December 6, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  23. Lola

    I read the treaty and we don't need it. It would have required us to submit progress reports to the CRPD Committee and contribute money to an international disability fund. We also could be sued if someone claimed we violated this treaty. It sounds like a great document for bureaucrats & lawyers, but not for Americans with disabilities.

    December 6, 2012 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  24. Scott

    I think Sen Santorum's opinion matters a little more than Lurch's since he actually has a disabled child. The American People spoke to their Senators and their Senators listened.

    December 6, 2012 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  25. Ron

    This is yet another example of how the GOP has gone over the sanity cliff, and does not deserve to represent the people of this country. To reject a treaty endorsed by two Republican presidents, which places no restrictions on the US but merely encourages other nations to follow the example of our ADA, the Tea Party nut cases who seem to have flunked high school social studies, should be recalled en-masse!

    December 6, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
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