Santorum Launches Policy Tour, Pushes Social Issues

Nov 4, 2011 4:25pm
gty rick santorum ll 111028 wblog Santorum Launches Policy Tour, Pushes Social Issues

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URBANDALE, IOWA  Rick Santorum launched a three-speech, three-state policy roll-out tour Friday beginning with “moral, cultural” issues. The economy and national security will follow, but this was chosen as the first topic because it is the most important to Santorum, according to campaign aides.

The tour is called Faith, Family, and Freedom, and the former Pennsylvania senator laid out a long list of congressional directives, federal amendments and legislation he would pursue in a Santorum White House. He acknowledged his opponents are focused on “taxes, tax plans” and “spending plans,” but added that the people in Iowa he’s been meeting “understand there is more to America than taxing and spending.”

“There is more to America than just the size and scale of government,” said Santorum, adding that the “foundation” of America is “faith and family.”

Executive orders Santorum favors include banning federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and restoring conscience clause protections for health care workers. If a pharmacist did not want to fill a prescription for, say, the morning-after pill he or she would not be required to do so. Santorum would also ban military chaplains from performing same sex ceremonies on military bases.

Congressional directives include advocating for a personhood amendment to the constitution, a highly controversial initiative — a fetus would be considered a person at the moment of conception and could not be  aborted.

Others include a federal marriage amendment to the constitution, although Santorum added that he’s “not a big fan of constitutional amendments ,” but it’s sometimes “all you have left when the courts run roughshod.” He would also push to reinstitute 2008-level funding for abstinence education and advocate for a federal law permitting prayer at graduations, football games and other school functions.

Santorum acknowledged that people have asked him why he’s talking about social issues instead of the economy, but he believes “moral, cultural issues tie directly to the economic health and stability of the country.”

“You can’t have limited government if you have broken families because someone has to pick up the pieces,” Santorum said. “The person who picks up the pieces are tax payers with huge government programs who support those broken families.”

Santorum is hoping to woo the social conservatives that vaulted Mike Huckabee to his surprise win during the 2008 Iowa caucuses. This time around, though, the social conservative vote is split with candidates like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.

In the most recent Des Moines Register poll Santorum only earned 5 percent support, but he’s hoping traditional retail politics and hard work will pay off. Santorum spoke passionately, and the crowd in Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines, applauded enthusiastically, especially when he spoke about banning abortion and same sex marriage.

Lynn Hammel, an undecided voter who came to the speech, said he likes what Santorum “stands for.”

“The country, if they are not morally based, they begin to  do things that aren’t right,” he said. “[For example], spending money like Wall Street, so I do like Rick’s message.”

Despite being a new policy roll-out, these are issues Santorum advocated for while in the Senate. He even sounded like a preacher at one point saying, “We ask this God to bless this country and everybody does. We have in God we trust, we have God everywhere, but we assume we can do whatever we want irrespective of what God has told us is right.”

“Iowans know that’s not the case. Iowans have told me repeatedly that’s not the case and we need to stand for those higher laws, the respect for life, the respect for family and marriage.”

Democrats responded quickly. American Bridge, a Democratic SuperPac, issued a statement while Santorum was still speaking. “Rick Santorum, and the other candidates running for the nomination, are dusting off the old playbook of using socially divisive issues to reignite the culture wars of the past in a desperate attempt to appease their base. Proposing ideas like disbanding the 9th circuit court will create exactly zero jobs and shows that they are more interested in playing politics than getting our economy back on track,” communications director Ty Matsdorf said in the statement.

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