Rick Santorum……unplugged

Iowans have such a unique privilege, in that every four years; we have the unabridged access to many if not all the Presidential candidates from both parties.  I had such an opportunity earlier this week with a 2 hour private meeting with Rick Santorum.  This father of seven children has formed an exploratory committee and predicts that he will make a formal announcement of his intention to run for President of the United States in the early summer.

 Approximately 15 conservatives from eastern Iowa sat down in a Perkins Restaurant in Cedar Rapids to listen, ask questions, and challenge the former Senator from Pennsylvania.  This was the second time I had met Sen. Santorum.  He was the speaker at a fund-raiser for my friend, now State Senator Sandy Greiner in June, 2010.   Back then I found him to be an articulate speaker and unquestionably a committed conservative.  At last year’s meeting, while making an impression, two things concerned me about Rick Santorum:  one being his support for Arlen Specter in a contested GOP primary back in 2004 and that he lost his Senate seat in 2006 by 18 points to his Democratic challenger. 

I found out quickly, that those assembled for this week’s meeting had the same concerns.  After an opening statement and introduction to us he then opened the floor to questions, and the first one, not from me, was about the Specter issue.  Sen. Santorum with conviction in his voice explained that in 2004, the Republicans had the slimmest of margins with a 51-49 majority in the Senate.  At the time, Senator Specter was the chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.  He was the gate-keeper for President Bush’s nominees to the United States Supreme Court.  Sen. Santorum quite simply made the case, that Specter’s chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee was tantamount to nominating and confirming President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.  While John Roberts, one of Bush’s nominees had a relatively easy path to confirmation, other conservative judges would not have.  When Samuel Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court, Santorum gave Specter the credit for this conservative jurist being nominated and eventually confirmed.  Santorum simply stated, “Without Specter, there would be no Alito”.  Justice Alito gives the conservatives a 5-4 edge on the US Supreme Court.  Even more telling, when asked if he would do it again, he replied with no hesitation, that he would. 

When the question about his defeat in 2006 was raised, he explained that running against the son of a popular Democratic pro-life former Governor, lost him the support of the Catholics who had previously supported him in runs against pro-choice Democrats.  Along with the fact that 2006 was the year that the Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives it was not a good year for Republicans.  He also cited the historical note that Abraham Lincoln had lost his election for the US Senate from Illinois before running for the Presidency.

To his credit, he made no derogatory comments about any of the current or potential candidates.   He did state that the thought that Donald Trump was causing damage with his Obama birth certificate obsession, and hopefully with the release of the President’s birth certificate today, this issue has been put to rest.  Santorum shared that he had been born in Virginia and that he would not be able to produce any other kind of document other than a registration of his live birth, not a birth certificate as such.  He said that he had no question that Barack Obama was a lawful President by virtue of being born in this country.

Sen. Santorum spoke on topics ranging from education, energy, economy, national security, and immigration.  In education he said that public education in this country should not be controlled by “No Child Left Behind” and that the US had to do a better job of educating and graduating engineers and scientists who will lead the research and innovation that will help rebuild the American economy and allow us to compete in the global marketplace.  

He supported the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and said that he would again, but questions President Obama’s commitment to victory in Afghanistan.  He sees Iran as a serious threat in the Middle East and thinks that the Libya policy is misguided. His commitment to defend Israel was clear as well. There is no question that Santorum believes that there is a jihad against the US and there are Islamic fundamentalists who want nothing more than to destroy the United States and its allies. 

 He would build the fence along the border to prevent any more illegals from entering and then deal with the problem of illegals in this country at that point.

 He said that for the American economy to fully recover that the corporate tax code needs to be changed to incentivize entrepreneurship and that we needed to start making things again. He would consider a repatriation of investments by Americans in foreign accounts to bring that money back into this country. 

His energy policy would be one that the United States would to drill for oil here to end the problems that a turbulent Middle East has on oil and energy prices in the US.   He opposed ethanol subsidies as a US Senator, but conceded yesterday that ethanol was an important component to achieving energy independence, and that the ethanol industry had turned the corner and is now doing well enough those subsidies may now no longer be necessary. 

Then, succinctly and with true conviction, he remarked that the repeal of Obamacare was the signature issue of this campaign. ObamaCare, fully instituted, Santorum sees as the end of America as we know it.  He told of defeating three incumbent Democrats in congressional elections in his home state of Pennsylvania, and stated with no hesitation, “I know how to beat incumbent Democrats.”  He does not believe that President Obama will raise $1B for his re-election campaign and he is ready to commit the time and resources to an election which he regards as the most important in this country since the Civil War.

I am ready to keep listening to Rick Santorum.  As I emailed to a friend last night, he exudes confidence and has a take no prisoners attitude.  There is no question that he has the credentials to appeal to all segments of the conservative voting bloc.    Sen. Santorum plans to spend a lot of time in Iowa as well as the other early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.  He has assembled a campaign staff in Iowa who already understand Iowa politics and know the intricate workings of the Iowa caucus system.  He has positioned himself well in this state.  And if he can keep up the intensity and visit here often so that he can conduct the retail politics that Iowans have come to expect, there is no question that he could do very well in the caucus and go forth to do well in succeeding primaries as well.  I will definitely be watching.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Rick Santorum……unplugged

  1. Rick David

    Great report Karen. Thanks. I like Santorum. He’s not a RINO.

  2. Randy Crawford

    Karen shows super excellent journalistic skills here, far better than what the ‘major’ newspapers put out as to content, accuracy, fairness, and style.

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