Rick Santorum Would Fight 'Pandemic' of Porn

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, speaks to an audience at a town hall meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 14, 2012.
Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/AP Photo

Leave it to Rick Santorum to pick a new social issue of the day that will clog the political conversation. He's made controversial statements about abortion, women in combat, religion -- even pornography.

Yes, as Yahoo's Dylan Stableford notes, the social conservative candidate wants to ban hard-core porn. "America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography," Santorum's website says. "Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking."

Santorum has rightly earned a reputation as the candidate most drawn into the fray over social matters, which, despite the economy being voters' top concern, are important to many Republican primary voters.

This week, during a two-day campaign swing through Puerto Rico, Santorum waded into the hot-button issue of English as the principal language of America, suggesting that Puerto Ricans would have to adopt English as their "main language" in order to become a state.

"Like in every other state, it [must comply] with this and every other federal law,- and that is that English should be the main language," Santorum said in an interview with the El Vocero newspaper Wednesday. "There are other states with more than one language, as is the case with Hawaii, but to be a state of the U.S., English should be the main language."

The former Pennsylvania senator has insists the news media are forcing him into this social issues sideshow by probing him about his social stances.

"I get the question all the time, 'Why are you talking so much about these social issues,' as they, as, as people ask me about the social issues," Santorum told NBC's David Gregory in late February.

Here's a look at the other social issues Santorum has focused on during his trek through the first half of this GOP primary race.

Contraception

Santorum staunchly, vocally and continually opposed a recently-announced Obama Administration policy that would not allow faith-based employers to be exempt from covering contraception under their employee health insurance programs.

The GOP candidate said the policy proved that President Obama "has reached a new low in this country's history of oppressing religious freedom that we have never seen before" and that the president must operate under a "phony theology."

The "president's agenda" is "not about you," Santorum told an Ohio crowd in February. "It's not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your job. It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology, but no less a theology."

Santorum later walked back his comment, saying he was not questioning Obama's Christian faith. While the Senate was debating an amendment that would roll back the Obama Administration's no-exemption policy, Santorum blasted Romney for not using strong language to support the amendment.

"Having a conscience-clause exemption used to be something that Democrats and Republicans all agreed to. Now it's not. When Governor Romney was asked that question, his knee jerk reaction was, 'No, I can't be for that,'" Santorum said earlier this month at a campaign rally in Atlanta. "I tell you if I was asked a question like that, my gut reaction would be always, my gut reaction would be, you stand for the First Amendment. You stand for freedom of religion."

Abortion

Santorum, a staunch social conservative, often points to his record as consistently anti-abortion to draw a distinction between himself and his chief rival Mitt Romney, who has been accused of flip-flopping on the issue.

In the lead-up to Super Tuesday, Santorum released a radio ad in Ohio attacking Romney's conservative credentials. Abortion was the first knock on the docket.

"While Romney was writing a personal check funding Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, Rick Santorum was writing the law that ended partial birth abortions forever," the ad's narrator said.

By "Romney" the ad should have been referring to Mrs. Romney. Romney's wife Ann donated to Planned Parenthood in 1994.

Back in October, when Herman Cain was still in the race, Santorum put out a 3-minute web ad attacking the former Godfather's Pizza CEO for having a "newly discovered pro-choice position."

And in January Santorum caught flack for making a veiled comparison between unborn children being denied their rights because of the legality of abortion and African Americans being denied rights during the years of slavery.

"For decades certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the Constitution," Santorum wrote in a January Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. "I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in his country."

Gay Marriage

As a devout Catholic, Santorum is ardently opposed to gay marriage, which is viewed by the church as a sin. In nearly every campaign speech, Santorum mentions his opposition to same-sex marriage. He has signed multiple pledges supporting a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

At a January speech in New Hampshire Santorum was loudly booed by the crowd after he compared gay marriage to polygamy.

"Are we saying that everyone should have the right to marry?" Santorum said in response to an audience-member's question about the first amendment applying to same-sex couples.

"So anyone can marry can marry anybody else?" he questioned. "So if that's the case, then everyone can marry several people … so you can be married to five people. Is that OK?"

Like every other GOP candidate Santorum has been glitter bombed by a gay rights activist.

Separation of Church and State

The "absolute" separation of church and state makes Santorum nauseous, he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos last month. The GOP candidate said former president John F. Kennedy's 1960s speech about keeping the church out of the Oval Office made him want to "throw up."

"To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?" Santorum said.

The next day Santorum said that the separation of church and state has been "turned on its head"

"I'm for separation of church and state. The state has no business telling what the church to do," he said. "And now it's the church, people of faith who have no right to come to the public square and express their points of view, or practice their faith outside of their church."

Higher Education

A centerpiece of President Obama's education policy is the idea that every American should have the opportunity to go to college. In Santorum's book that is apparently a rather snobbish notion.

"President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob," Santorum said during a February speech in Detroit. "There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren't taught by some liberal college professor to try to indoctrinate them."

The comment brought an unsolicited rebuke from Obama the next day during a speech to the National Governors Association.

"I have to make a point here," Obama said. "When I speak about higher education, we're not just talking about a four-year degree. We're talking about somebody going to a community college and getting trained for that manufacturing job. We all want Americans getting those jobs of the future, so we're going to have to make sure that they're getting the education that they need."

Santorum defended his remarks in an interview on ABC's "This Week," saying colleges are often "liberal" institutions where young conservatives are "ridiculed" for their Republican views.

"You talk to most kids who go to college who are conservatives, and you are singled out, you are ridiculed, you are — I can tell you personally, I know that, you know, we — I went through a process where I was docked for my conservative views," Santorum said.

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