Santorum Optimistic About Tuesday Contests, Ties Romney to ‘Contraception Services’

Feb 7, 2012 6:02pm
ap santorum colorado tk 120204 wblog Santorum Optimistic About Tuesday Contests, Ties Romney to Contraception Services
(Image Credit: Chris Schneider/AP Photo)

BLAINE, Minn. — Rick Santorum went after Mitt Romney at an election day rally here, accusing the GOP front-runner of forcing the Catholic church in Massachusetts to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.

“They said to people of faith, specifically the Catholic church, that you will provide contraception care, you will provide the morning-after pill, which is abortion drug, and you will provide sterilization services whether your faith prohibits it or not. … We are losing the freedom of conscience, the most fundamental of freedoms in the First Amendment,” Santorum said, before turning on Romney. “Governor Romney told the Catholic Church that they, too, have to provide contraception services.”

The Romney campaign responded to Santorum’s charge by saying that the former governor “stands with the Catholic Bishops and all religious organizations in their strenuous objection to this liberty- and conscience-stifling regulation.” “He is committed to repealing Obamacare entirely. On his first day in office, Mitt Romney will eliminate the Obama administration rule that compels religious institutions to violate the tenets of their own faith. We expect these attacks from President Obama and his liberal friends. But from Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, it’s a clear indication of desperation from their campaigns,” spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

As he walked on the stage, Santorum was glitter bombed — at least the fifth time that’s happened to Santorum.

He also hit Romney on the amount of money he’s spent. “Governor Romney has been able to bully his way through this primary by outspending his opponents by 5-to-1,” he said.

And Santorum raised expectations here, saying, “I feel great that Minnesota is going to change the direction of this race tonight.”

“This is a big day. All the pundits circling and certainly one particular candidate is trying to write a scenario,” he said, referring to the Romney campaign trying to downplay today’s contests.

In an op-ed on Tuesday, Santorum drew a clear connection between Romney and the Obama administration’s requirement that all institutions that offer health insurance — including Catholic organizations and hospitals – -provide contraception and emergency contraception.

“This is not the first time that elected officials have trounced on the fundamental right to religious freedom. In December 2005, Governor Mitt Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic ones, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims,” Santorum wrote in the op-ed in Politico. “He said then that he believed ‘in his heart of hearts’ that receiving these contraceptives – free of charge – trumped employees’ religious consciences. Now, a few years later and running for president, his heart is strategically aligned with religious voters opposing this federal mandate.”

This is the first time Santorum has drawn the connection or criticized Romney’s opposition to the mandate. Newt Gingrich did the same earlier Tuesday.

“The actions of President Obama – as well as the actions of then Governor Romney – raise some questions. From where do we receive our fundamental human rights? Are they given to us by the government – -whether that government be state or federal? Or, as the American Founders insisted, are these rights endowed upon us by a Creator?” Santorum asked, repeating a consistent theme he stresses on the stump of losing personal freedom under the Obama administration.

Monday in Rochester, Minn., Santorum linked Romney’s health care legislation and the administration’s national health care plan, a standard target on the GOP campaign trail, even saying Obama “copied” Romney’s plan.

“The problem is we have a candidate who is running and seen by the media as the prohibitive favorite who is the worst possible person in the field to put up on this most fundamental issue in this campaign and that is Governor Romney,” Santorum said. “The plan he put together in Massachusetts is in fact Obamacare on the state level.”

Yet, he did not mention the link or even choose to criticize Romney on the decision when he was governor to require hospitals in his state to provide emergency contraception to women who were raped.

He also did not mention it at his first event of the day, a boisterous rally in Colorado Springs with a crowd of about 150 that became even more enthusiastic when he threw red meat out at them, including yesterday’s comparisons of Romney and Obama’s health care plans.

Colorado Springs is in El Paso county, the most conservative part of the state.

Santorum is traveling to the three states with contests today: Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, giving his final pitch ahead of contests that award no delegates today, but he’s hoping victories will “reset the race” and move the momentum from the former Massachusetts governor to him.

“Colorado has an opportunity to do something that no one was expecting, which is to provide a little surprise to the inevitable march of Gov. Romney,” Santorum said to shouts of “you can do it” from the audience.

He said if you look at polls, “today could be a very good day for the conservative cause,” before jabbing Romney on trying to lower expectations ahead of voting and accusing him of not putting in effort in the state.

“Colorado is a state that four years ago Governor Romney won with 61 percent of the vote,” Santorum said. “He won and he campaigned hard here. He didn’t pass it off like he’s doing the last couple of days and saying, ‘Oh, well, these are just nonbinding caucuses. They don’t really matter much.’ Well, they mattered four years ago when he came out here and he campaigned in these very same states. You have an opportunity to reset this race.”

The Romney campaign released a memo Tuesday pointing out the lack of delegates awarded today and playing down expectations.

Santorum also called the Obama campaign’s decision to explicitly embrace the super PAC working on its behalf — the president opposed the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision that gave birth to the funds — “pathetic.”

“This is typical Obama. Whatever is necessary for him to keep power, that’s what it’s always about. It’s not a matter of principle,” Santorum told reporters. “It’s not a matter of doing what’s right. It’s always a matter of doing what’s best for him and what accumulates power and resources for him to be able to hold on to that power. It’s pathetic and it’s consistent with him being focused on not consistency with policy, not consistency of values, but consistency of doing things according to his best interest.”

Santorum has his own super PAC working for him: the Red, White, and Blue Fund. The man who largely bankrolls the effort is billionaire mutual fund manager Foster Friess, a friend of Santorum’s who at times travels on the trail with him.

Santorum will end the day in Missouri where today’s primary will award no delegates, but Newt Gingrich is not on the ballot and the former Pennsylvania senator is hoping a victory in a head-to-head match-up with Romney will prove his message, that he’s the true conservative alternative, is getting through to the electorate.

Minnesota and Colorado’s caucuses also award no delegates today, but unlike Missouri they will be allocated at a later date.

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