Santorum, Penn State Fan, Has Luke Warm Support for Paterno

Nov 8, 2011 3:34pm

 

MANCHESTER, N.H.– Rick Santorum, a graduate of Penn State, said he was a “friend” of embattled football coach Joe Paterno, but would not say whether Paterno should stay on in the wake of a sex abuse scandal.

“Look, I pray and hope that he didn’t do anything he shouldn’t have done, but it certainly looks horrible for the university, horrible for the football program and obviously people were fired, should be fired,” said Santorum, a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania.

Two top school officials have been arraigned on charges of perjury and failure to report allegations that former Paterno assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has abused children. Paterno had been alerted to one incident and the coach informed a school official, but did not call the police.

“I have no idea what his side of the story is. I think for me, after someone has served in such distinction for all those years, to sort of to jump to a quick conclusion whether he should go or should he stay, I don’t think that’ s fair to me,”  Santorum told ABC News’ John Berman during the ABCNews/Yahoo “Newsmaker” interview today in the first primary state of New Hampshire.

Santorum is a 1980 alum of Penn state and a big fan of the university’s football program. He said he would still cheer this weekend for the football team.

“Of course I’ll be rooting for him and wish him the best,” Santorum said.

As for the sexual harassment allegations that his opponent Herman Cain is facing Santorum called them “very troubling,” and said that all the candidates are going to be “held accountable for their positions and what they have done in their life.”

The former Pennsylvania senator said running for president wasn’t “a life long dream,” but he’s “in the best position” to win the election.

“I think America is looking for someone they can trust,” Santorum said. He dismissed his low poll numbers saying it’s “still early” and he’s running a different campaign that’s “grassroots,” but he believes he has a “path to success.”

He also answered some personal questions as part of a “lightning round.”

Hardest job? “I cleaned toilets and shined shoes.”

TV guilty pleasure? “I watch the food network with my kids, yeah, I generally don’t admit that, but I love cooking and so my kids and I are really into watching ‘Top Chef,’ ‘Chopped,’ trying to think if there’s another one, ‘Iron Chef.’”

Favorite junk food? “Wow, that’s a hard one because I am a junk food addict. Most everyone says milkshakes, ice cream, that’s probably bad. The deepest chocolate you can get.”

Who would play you in the movie?  “Well, Jim Caviezel could play me. He’s much better looking that I am, which is a good thing.”

Happiest moment besides your wedding or the birth of your children? “Winning the league championship when I was the coach of my kid’s little league team, it was a big deal for me, I had both my kids on the team. I was the coach and we had a great season and it was exciting.”

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