Rick Santorum Hits Newt Gingrich on Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants

Nov 28, 2011 3:10pm

Just days after Newt Gingrich won the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader, one of his rivals sat down with another Granite State newspaper. Rick Santorum met with the editorial board of the Nashua Telegraph Monday for an hour and was asked about Gingrich’s comments on immigration at last week’s CNN and American Enterprise Institute debate.

At the debate, Gingrich voiced a moderate approach to illegal immigration saying he would not remove all illegal immigrants that are currently in the country.

“I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who have been here a quarter century, who have children and grandchildren, who are members of the community, who may have done something 25 years ago, separate them from their families, and expel them,” Gingrich said last Tuesday.

Santorum told the Nashua paper,  ”the principal thing we need to accomplish is securing the border.”

“I think amnesty–and do I believe what Newt is suggesting is amnesty?” Santorum asked the moderators. “Well, even he said after the debate the other night that millions of people would be able to stay in this country as a result of this proposal. I don’t know what you call amnesty. Does amnesty only mean full citizenship or does it mean you are forgiven for your transgressions and you are allowed to stay here under some status? If that’s amnesty then that’s clearly what Newt is suggesting.”

Although the Union-Leader’s endorsement could help Gingrich with more conservative Republicans in the state–voters Santorum needs—the former Pennsylvania senator actually saved his harsher criticism for Mitt Romney, who in a WMUR/UNH poll released last week had 42 percent support in the state. When asked about comments Romney made in a 2006 Bloomberg interview that he also supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in this country, Santorum said the change in position is “just another Romney-ism.”

“This is just another Romney-ism of being in one place when the issue is whether he is running in Massachusetts and he’s taken a more moderate position or a more liberal position (and) now as he’s running for the Republican party nomination in a conservative Republican primary he has transformed himself into a much more ardent conservative,” Santorum said, adding that he has a “pretty solid conservative record” on illegal immigration.

Santorum also criticized President Obama, calling him “as partisan and divisive as any president we’ve ever seen.” He accused the president of “playing politics” with the supercommittee and “poison(ing) the well” to make it harder for the bipartisan committee to make a deal on cuts to reduce the deficit.

“The president of the United States is the leader of the country and the president of the United States did virtually nothing to encourage and facilitate any kind of deal there. He traveled around the country preaching class warfare and taxing the rich,” Santorum said. “In key swing states using taxpayer dollars instead of doing the hard work of working with the relevant parties and trying to craft a deal.”

Santorum spent the weekend campaigning in New Hampshire and has two campaign events there Monday. Tomorrow, he will be in Duluth, Ga., at the Georgia Republican Party 7th District Presidential Forum.

 

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