Santorum: Obama Hits ‘New Low’ of ‘Oppressing Religious Freedom’

Feb 18, 2012 7:55pm
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(Eric Gay/AP Photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Rick Santorum said he was not questioning President Obama’s Christian values today when he said the “president’s agenda” is based on a “different theology” and instead Obama is “imposing his values” on Americans.

“He is now forcing people to do things that he believes that they have the right, that they should do. The Catholic church has a theology that says this is wrong, and he’s saying no I’ve got a different, I’ve got a different — you may want to call it a theology, you may want to call it secular values, whatever you want to call it, it’s a different moral values. And the president of the United States is exercising his values and trumping the values of the church,” Santorum said, referring to the decision by the Obama administration to require all institutions that provide health insurance, including Catholic churches and hospitals, to cover birth control and emergency contraception.

“If you don’t want to call it a theology, I’m fine, you can have them let me know what they want to call it,” Santorum said at a press conference after a speech to the Ohio Christian Alliance.

At a tea party rally in Columbus this morning, Santorum said the “president’s agenda” is “not about you. 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,” Santorum said. “Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology, but no less a theology.”

Obama deputy press secretary Ben LaBolt called the comments the “latest low in a Republican primary campaign that has been fueled by distortions, ugliness, searing pessimism and negativity — a stark contrast with the president, who is focused every day on creating jobs and restoring economic security for the middle class.”

Santorum was asked about LaBolt calling it the “latest low” and he became increasingly angry as he answered, saying the “president has reached a new low in this country’s history of oppressing religious freedom that we have never seen before.”

“But it is a different set of moral values that they are imposing on people who have a constitutional right to have their own values within the church,” Santorum told reporters. “It is a new low. … If he doesn’t want to call his imposition of his values a theology that’s fine, but it is an imposition of his values over a church who has very clear theological reasons for opposing what the Obama administration is forcing on them.”

When asked if he believes Obama is a Christian he curtly replied, “The president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”

The former Pennsylvania senator was also asked if the president’s views make him less of a Christian and he replied, “No one’s suggesting” that, but said “he’s imposing his values on the church and I think that’s wrong.”

The candidate became the most combative when responding to a question about his focus on social issues and how that would play in a general election. He interrupted the question and said, “No, you ask a lot of questions about the social issues.”

On the stump, Santorum often says he’s the only candidate that can unite the country, but when asked if this kind of language, specifically calling liberals “intolerant,” might counter that claim he said, “It’s a fact.”

During his address to the Ohio Christian Alliance, he received an enthusiastic response from the crowd and used the speech to rebut negative ads Mitt Romney’s super PAC is running in this state. He also criticized Romney’s campaign for using their “money advantage … as a club to beat up anyone who gets in his way.”

“And I was not given such a gift of a money advantage. I was given very little money as a matter of fact. But we went out into Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and went out there and labored in the vineyards and talked to people, ordinary people in every little town you can possibly imagine,” Santorum said.

After Georgia, Ohio has the most delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday. Santorum has an evening stop in Akron and travels to Georgia Sunday for a campaign event there.

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