Rick Santorum Tells AIPAC Obama ‘Turned His Back on the People of Israel’

Mar 6, 2012 11:13am
gty rick santorum dm 120104 wblog Rick Santorum Tells AIPAC Obama Turned His Back on the People of Israel

(Image Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND – Instead of shaking hands outside polling places in Ohio or Tennessee today, Rick Santorum warned a Super Tuesday audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington D.C., of the dangers of a nuclear Iran and accused President Obama of doing too little to prevent the country from developing nuclear capabilities.

“As I’ve sat and watched this play out on the world stage, I have seen a president who has been reticent,” the former Pennsylvania senator said.

“He says he has Israel’s back; from everything I’ve seen from the conduct of this administration, he has turned his back on the people of Israel,” he added to applause.

Santorum also noted that today, the largest multi-state voting day of the 2012 Republican primaries, is a “somewhat important day in my life.”

“We have a whole lot of primaries going on all across the nation; 10 of them, but I wanted to come off the campaign trail to come here because one of the reasons I decided to run for president is because of the grave concern I have about the security of our country and the leadership of our country in the face of a existential threat to not just the state of Israel,” Santorum said. “But an existential threat to freedom loving people throughout the world, which is what Iran is.”

The candidate came off the campaign trail after his event in Ohio Monday night, making it possible for him to vote in his home state of Virginia today, if he chose to. Like candidate Newt Gingrich, however, he is also not on the ballot in the state. The campaign did not return requests asking whether Santorum planned to vote in down-ballot races.

Santorum gave his first speech on preventing Iran from gaining nuclear capability in November in a rural part of New Hampshire in front of a small crowd. He called then for a “preemptive strike,” if intelligence shows Iran is on that track. It was the same week the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported the country appeared to be developing nuclear weapons.

He repeated the call today at AIPAC: “These are essentially irrational actors. We need to put that ultimatum in place, and we need to be prepared, if that ultimatum is not met to engage Prime Minister [Benjamin]Netanyahu and the people of Israel in an effort to make sure that if they do not tear down those facilities, we will tear down them.”

He emphasized that his speech was not about “bellicosity” or “war mongering,” but instead keeping all “freedom loving people” secure.

The speech did touch on United States-Israel relationship and he accused Obama of not sufficiently understanding the Iranian threat.

“Ladies and gentlemen, listening to the prime minister’s speech last night and then listening to the president’s, there is a clear and unfortunate tragic disconnect between how the leaders of our, of the country of Israel and the country of the United States view the exigency of this situation,” Santorum said, referring to the two leaders’ speeches to the AIPAC conference.

Santorum, who talks about Iran almost daily on the campaign trail and has been working on these issues since he was in the Senate, even accused the administration of misleading the U.S. public on how serious a threat Iran would be if the country is able to threaten both Israel and the rest of the world with a nuclear weapon.

“The fact that we have the chairman of the joint chiefs saying we’re not sure yet that Iran is really going to pursue or has made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon just shows again the disconnect that they know we have, that the insincerity of our leaders in telling the truth to the American public about what is actually going on in the American public today,” Santorum said, dressed in a suit and bright blue tie.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said in congressional testimony in February that  he considered Iran to be a “rational actor.”

He ended the address with a call to the audience to make sure the “radical environmental movement in this country” does not curb domestic energy production. “We see energy prices going up and it’s obviously caused in part by the tensions in the Middle East,” Santorum said. “I would encourage everyone here to begin to work with us to make sure that the radical environmental movement in this country does not stop the production of oil and gas in this country and pipelines that need to be built so we can become energy independent and not rely on the Middle East and bad actors for the supply of oil and gas for the world.”

The candidate is traveling back to the Buckeye State this evening – it has the second-largest delegate bounty – for his primary night party in Steubenville. Even if he wins the district in which Steubenville sits, Santorum is actually not eligible for any of the delegates awarded in the district.

The campaign failed to meet the requirements in three of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts, including Steubenville’s, because his campaign did not meet the state’s eligibility requirements months ago.

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