Advocacy

Santorum Gets Hit from All Sides in Debate

MESA, Ariz.–Nineteen debates later, it was finally Rick Santorum’s turn at center stage –

His prize: fire from both sides.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney accused Santorum, the latest leader in national polls, of being a big spender who as a senator from Pennsylvania voted five times to raise the debt ceiling and to approve earmark spending. Texas Rep. Ron Paul called Santorum “a fake” and said he was running as a conservative after voting for big government programs such as the No Child Left Behind education law.

“While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the ‘Bridge from Nowhere,’ ” Romney charged. The Romney campaign immediately blasted out details in an e-mail headlined: “Santorum and earmarks: A love story.”

A few minutes later, Santorum shot back, arguing that he had taken a principled, consistent position by opposing the government rescue plans for banks as well as the auto industry — unlike his rival. “With respect to Gov. Romney, that was not the case,” he said. “He supported the folks on Wall Street… and when it came to auto workers and the folks in Detroit, he said no.”

The debate at the Mesa Arts Center, the final four contenders sitting side by side at a curved table, began with prickly scrapping and continued with charges about everything from their positions on immigration to political endorsements they have made.

In the early debates — they’ve been going on for eight months, and through nine candidates — the contenders typically had aimed their harshest language at President Obama. This time, they hammered the president on foreign policy but unleashed their sharpest attacks on one another on domestic issues.

Perhaps that’s no surprise: The future of their candidacies was at stake.

Although the debate was in Arizona, the targeted audience was in Michigan. Both states hold primaries Tuesday, but Romney’s home state of Michigan has become a battleground between him and Santorum.

The candidates were asked about the federal bailout of the auto industry but not about the housing crisis that has hit Arizona hard, leaving almost half of homeowners owing more on their mortgages than their houses are worth.

One moment of relative lightness came when they were asked to describe themselves with a single word.

“Consistent,” Paul said.

“Courage,” Santorum said.

“Resolute,” Romney said.

“Cheerful,” Gingrich said — and smiled.

For much of the two-hour forum, Santorum had to explain and defend controversial comments that have made headlines in recent days. Immediately after the debate, in an interview on CNN, Santorum noted his central position on stage. “You fight for that real estate,” he said, laughing. But he acknowledged that, with Romney on one side and Paul on the other, “You get smacked around a little bit.”

During the debate, Santorum said he made a mistake in voting for the No Child Left Behind law setting federal education standards, then drew boos when he said “sometimes you take one for the team” — that is, to support a signature proposal of then-president George W. Bush.

He said he wasn’t necessarily opposed to an expanded role for women in the military but instead had simply expressed “concern” and explained why he had voted for a federal program that included funding for Planned Parenthood. On the issue of contraception, he said he had a “personal moral objection” to birth control but had voted for bills that included it.

“The left gets all upset: ‘Oh, look at him talking about these things …,’ ” he said. “Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it.”

Paul, an obstetrician, replied that birth control pills “can’t be blamed for the immorality of our society.”

Romney used the question to criticize the Obama administration for moving to require religious-affiliated institutions to provide contraceptives to employees.

After an uproar from Roman Catholic leaders, the proposed rule was revised to require insurance companies, not the institutions themselves, to do so. Obama has made attacks on “religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance,” he charged.

Gingrich said, “When you have a government as the central provider of services, you inevitably move toward tyranny … and move towards the coercion of the state.”

In another heated exchange, Santorum raised the Massachusetts health care law Romney signed, saying “Romneycare … was the model for Obamacare.”

“Wait a minute,” Romney broke in, detailing differences between the state and federal laws. Then he reminded Santorum: He endorsed Romney for president four years ago.

He blamed Santorum for the passage of the federal health care law, saying the senator had supported Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter for re-election in a primary over a more conservative Republican challenger only to see Specter provide a critical vote for the bill years later.

There was more unity on stage when the topic turned to foreign policy.

Romney, Santorum and Gingrich reiterated their belief that Iran must be stopped from obtaining a nuclear weapon in order to protect Israel and the United States.

Gingrich said that if Israel feels a threat is imminent, it is acceptable to pre-emptively strike Iran.

“If you think a mad man is about to have nuclear weapons and you think that mad man is going to use those nuclear weapons, then you have an absolute moral obligation to defend the lives of your people by eliminating the capacity to get nuclear weapons,” he said.

Romney said the threat of higher gas prices “pales” in comparison with the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.

 

Leave a Reply

18 Comments on "Santorum Gets Hit from All Sides in Debate"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
How about a campaign to get fair ragecove from CNN?I left email with both CNN and Anderson Cooper expressing my disappointment with the way the Ron Paul was denied his closing statement in tonight’s debate in Vegas. I also left a phone comment as well at: 404-827-1500.Then after making my online donation, I called the CNN breaking news line at: 404-827-1500, and informed them of the breaking news that Ron Paul’s money bomb had raised about $100,000 in about 38 minutes.I suggest that all Ron Paul supporters flood CNN with both comments and breaking news about the money bomb.By the way, here are my email comments to CNN and Anderson Cooper:Dear Anderson Cooper,As an registered voter, I thought it was totally shameful the way the you denied Ron Paul his closing statement in tonight’s debate in Vegas. I further observed that you pretended that Ron Paul doesn’t exist during your… Read more »

The real chairman of the campaign to re-elect OBAMA must be named Romney. That negative individual has done
more to demean the republican party than Obama ever could. If I were Obama my campaign would be to replay all
the negative, half truth and untrue slime he used on all the worthy candidates against the republican candidate that will
be his opponent. Can’t anyone see the forest from the trees ????? Would not those millions have been put to
better use broadcasting the abuse of government by OBAMA.?????.

Of the comments posted, I agree totally with Wanda. She stated it precisely. For those who want to jump on the Romney bandwagon, I believe he is a total elitest, completely out of touch with the “average” American. I have never been impressed with someone who wants to gain height by trying to stand on someone else. Romney has spent a chunk of his fortune defaming others, then you won’t be looking at him. Santorum is a “nice guy” with some very good ideas but I don’t believe he will be able to withstand or overcome the Obama “onslaught”. Ron Paul is just not realistic. Gingrich has the intelligence, knowledge and capability to cope with any situation. As to his “baggage”, are you quoting the misrepresented and fictious slam ads run by another contender or the vindictive ex-wife? Either way, we are dealing with human beings who are a sum… Read more »

Rick,
when you catch a lot of flak you know yor are on target. Stay the course.

Ron Paul has leaked the fact that he’ll choose Judge Napolitano for a running mate. If he were to accept a VP position from the likes of Mitt Romney, my faith in humanity will sink like our economy is about to. As for Santorum, oh please, look at his record!

This simply shows the partnership between Ron Paul and Romney if anyone was in denial before… how much more proof you need?

After all is said and done, my vote is still for Mitt Romney. He obviously is monitarily successful and if you were in his place, would you not place a strong campaign and utilize what you may find on other candidates who commenced the mud slinning. Not everything which was stated is a fabrication. I frankly am tired of career politicians who play the games on both sides and are afraid to stand up for what they believe.. Mitt Romney was a good governor and especially as a republican had to work with a democratic base. From the start he was criticized for Obama Care as though it was fashioned after that program which was in his state.He was criticized as being a moderate. Yet his plan is conservative. I believe the states should have the rights to handle matters which pertain to its jurisdictions solely. The Federal Government should… Read more »
Obama was fairly new to Washington and look what that got us. His high prices for fuel have increased the cost of living in every aspect. Not to mention we have appointed Czar’s running our country while the Senators refuse to submit a balanced budget. I Believe in Newt Gingrich- He’s balanced the budget and reduced the deficit before and with that experience I trust he can do it again. Steven Forbes recently examined all the economic plans from the candidates and stated that Mr. Gingrich had the most sound and promising of all. Newt is intelligent and articulate. He has the ability to think on his feet and in an instant reply to any assault from the Obama regime. I don’t think we can afford to have someone who is in training in Washington at this time. Yeah, Romney is rich and he’s been spending millions to cut the… Read more »

While we pick away at the sore, we keep losing sight of the goal, let the primaries run their course and then lets rally behind the winner, as our great nation is losing it to the secular progressives and their leader Obama.
We must get behind the candidate that wins the primary.
My choice is Romney, buit I will vote Santorum, Paul or Gingrich over what we have now.

Romney definitely won’t be nniniwg the straw poll this year…especially with Palin headlining the conference. There’s going to be a lot Romney bashing taking place all accross the convention. Moonbeam and Sarah will have complementary speeches that seek to undermine Romney.It’s funny how just three years ago, Laura Ingrahm introduced Romney’s speech labeling him the Conservative’s conservative. Gotta love the inconsistency of our own media…were they just just pretending then, or are they just pretending now…it’s anybody’s guess.Gordon

Only 19 debates? Seemed like more than that. Fortunately, I missed them all. In the future, GOP candidates should shun any debate hosted or moderated by left wing organizations (like the alphabet networks) or their talking heads. They have deliberately goaded the candidates into responding to insignificant issues and attacking one another rather than forthrightly expounding their positions on matters that voters really care about. The result of this is that over 95% of the war chest of the wealthiest candidate has been spent on negative campaigning. It’s one thing to attack an opponent’s stance and presenting an alternative. It’s quite another to simply drop a stink bomb and run from the scene. That’s not an indication of leadership. All it signifies is that he wants to be the last man standing. Ron Paul and his tin hat brigade don’t even qualify for consideration. Either of the two others are… Read more »

When money controls politics, it also controls the people, and Government “by the people and for the people” becomes a sham. When I was much younger and a democrate on the fence because of the debacle in 1968, I was with a group of young persons and we were talking to a local lawyer who was also a delegate to the State Democratic Caucus. Someone asked him who he thought would be selected as the Democratic candidate. His response was, “I don’t think, I know who will be the candidate. I asked him what the purpose of the caucus was if they already knew who the candidate would be. His response was, “it is to give the electorate the impression that they have a say as to who
the candidate will be.” I have been a Republican ever since.

ROBERT McCAIN (ALABAMA)
STAND THESE FOUR GOP CANDIDATES UP SIDE BY SIDE THEN, ASK YOURSELF, WHO LOOKS PRESIDENTIAL? I SAY THAT BASED ON KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE AND THEIR HISTORY, BOTH MITT ROMNEY AND NEWT GINDRICH STAND HEADS AND SHOULDERS ABOVE THE OTHERS. I CAN SEE EITHER OF THESE TWO CANDIDATES, AS THE PRESIDENT, AND STANDING FACE TO FACE WITH OTHER FOREIGN LEADERS AND NOT HAVE TO BOW DOWN FOR ANYONE OR APOLOGIZE FOR AMERICA UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. I FIND MYSELF HAVING TO SUPPORT MITT ROMNEY SINCE HE APPEARS TO BE THE FRONT RUNNING CANDIDATE TO REMOVE BARRACK OBAMA FROM THE OFFICE THAT HE HAS DISGRACED OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS. I AM A SOUTHERN BAPTIST, SENIOR CITIZEN AND IT IS MY HOPE AND PRAYERS THAT MITT ROMNEY OR NEWT GINDRICH WILL BE OUR PRESIDENT AND RESTORE THIS COUNTRY TO BE KNOWN AS A CHRISTIAN NATION, UNDER GOD, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL…
I agree with many of the comments here about the mud slinging and it’s disappointing. Let’s face it, Ron Paul I like but he may be too much an isolationist and it’s doubtful he can win against Obama, Newt has too much baggage and while I think he is capable and brings a lot of experience to the table he is a master politician and has all along been a part of the many problems we have today that suddenly he now has the answers to and could solve if he were king. I like Rick Santorum and unless he can get the underdog vote probably can’t withstand the onslaught of the big money campaigns. He may not have the experience many would like to see but that didn’t keep Obama from being elected. I think he knows Washington enough to maneuver until he figures it all out. I feel… Read more »
The GOP establishment doesn’t live in middle America and deal daily the difficult decisions facing us. They are okay with buying an election by spending the big bucks and going negative. What has that gotten us in Washington, or even at the state level, in many cases? It’s revolting to watch the “win at all costs” mentality of the Republican elites against their own candidates. It seems very careless and cavalier to think that this is just another election cycle, that the novelty of the TEA Party will wear off, and there will be time for the RINOs to maintain control. Lest they forget, we have an opponent who is working tirelessly to destroy this country: Obama and his minions! In the upcoming election, we have a unique opportunity to choose a President who can stand courageously on deeply-held convictions.I am a staunch Rick Santorum supporter because I believe he… Read more »

I’m fed up with hearing what terrible people his opponents are. Get down to cases about what he intends doing about the economy, jobs the Federal Reserve, reversing zero’s executive orders. Do it Now!. Cut the negative crap now! Applies equally to all candidates

I’ve never seen so many millions of dollars used by one GOP candidate to “slime” another fellow GOP candidate AS HAS BEEN HAPPENING. The American voters may like the ‘excitement” and the “fighting”. It’s understandable how people can be influenced this way from slanted MEDIA and internet video clips. But, responsible candidates and the American public know that eventually this will not work. The public may not be able to distinguish, easily, every accurate fact. Many will follow what they are told to do without thinking it through. Big Money use, by one GOP candidate, influencing election outcomes with lies about other candidates is the lowest form of use. I think it is OK to use that kind of money to get your positive message of Solutions out to the nation. It is destructive use when used to confuse, mislead and destoy the character of other other good candidates. Santorum… Read more »
Shellie – Of course we care. Campaigns always get ugly when there are too many horses in the field. The “failure” of the GOP was to allow everyone and anyone into virtually every event (not debates) to prop up the attention. Second is the number of events. Please…enough already. We know the candidates positions. We know their foibles and mis-steps as well as their experience and qualifications. It is now just theater (WWF style) and is embarrassing for all of us, which in my opionion, was the purpose of the MSM pushing the number of events and hosting so many of them – badly – to the consternation of any honest voter. Newt is toast and should be. Dr Paul is an irascible crank who served his purpose but now needs to get behind the wagon and push. Either Santorum or Romney would be fine, although my choice is Gov… Read more »
wpDiscuz