Pro-Life Sen. Rick Santorum Seeks GOP Presidential Nod

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Jun 6, 2011   |   10:30AM    Washington, DC

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a pro-life stalwart, makes his bid for the Republican nomination for president official today. The Catholic former elected official is making the announcement  from the Somerset County Courthouse in Somerset, Pennsylvania.

This location is significant because it is near where Senator Santorum’s grandfather settled in America after leaving fascist Italy to work in the Pennsylvania coal mines until he was 72 years old.  He chose to come to America for the freedom our nation offered him, Santorum’s campaign says.

“He’s devaluing our dollars, and he’s devaluing our other currency, our moral currency,” Santorum said in his announcement speech, criticizing pro-abortion President Barack Obama. Taking on Obamacare, he added, “Every single American now will be hooked to the government with an IV. And they will come to you every time they want to do more and say, ‘you want that IV, you want that healthcare?’”

“I believe now that Americans are not looking for someone they can believe in, they’re looking for a president who believes in them,” Santorum concluded. “I’m ready to lead.”

The senator led off the announcement day with an appearance on  ABC’s Good Morning America in an exclusive interview to discuss his joining the race for the Republican nomination to take on Obama.

“As I travel the country, it is evident that voters are looking for a candidate who believes in them and not the power of government, and who wants to move our country forward based on our Founders’ vision,” he said. “What people are looking for is someone who has stood by their principles in good times and in bad.”

Although Santorum has struggled to move past the low single digits in polls of Republicans in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire, Santorum told the ABC program he is “in it to win,” and says his message will resonate with voters in a way that can make him competitive.

Santorum is a passionate conservative and two decades ago, he was elected to the House of Representatives as one of the new GOP freshmen ready to take on the status quo in Washington. A decade later, Santorum beat Democratic Sen. Harris Wofford and he moved up the ranks of the Republican Senate leadership as a young activist who was set to take on the slow-moving chamber and instill a reform ethic.

He was pegged as a rising star — especially after leading the battle to pass the ban on partial-birth abortions — until he lost a difficult re-election bid in a bad year for Republican candidates nationwide. Santorum held his Senate seat for 12 years before losing in 2006 to Democrat Bob Casey, the son of a popular former governor and someone who ran as a pro-life Democrat.

But that hasn’t stopped Santorum from pressing on with his pro-life perspective.

“To me there are truths out there,” Santorum said recently in an AP interview. “There are things that are right and things that are wrong. That may not be popular and it may lose you an election, but that’s OK.”

“If you look back at what I did and when I did it, people can say: You know what? He may have lost but he didn’t flinch. He stood by what he believed in and he continued the fight through the end,” he said.

Santorum says Republican voters are looking for someone like him with a consistently conservative message — “Someone who’s been there for many, many years talking about the same issues in the same way is what a lot of folks, a lot of conservatives, are looking for.”

In February, Santorum condemned talk of a social issues “truce” including abortion. In an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Santorum slammed Mitch Daniels, a former potential GOP hopeful, on his abortion-social issues truce.

Daniels, the Indiana governor, renewed his talk of a truce in a new interview in which he said a “mute button” should be pressed on social issues like abortion so politicians could focus on fixing the economy. The truce talk has upset pro-life advocates and other potential candidates like Mike Huckabee and Tim Pawlenty have weighed in with criticism of Daniels’ comments.

“I think he is far off base,” Santorum said of Daniels. “I don’t think he understands what conservatism is all about.”

“I don’t think he understands that Reagan’s three-legged stool is not just that we have three legs of the stool, the social conservative, the fiscal conservative and national security conservatives, but that the material made of all three parts of the stool is the same,” Santorum added. “And it’s a moral and cultural heritage of this country, is what that stool, the material itself that the stool is made of.”

Santorum continued: “And if we deny that, if we don’t understand that those issues are intertwined, and that without a strong and good and moral culture, we can’t have limited government, you can’t have lower taxes, you can’t, you don’t have the freedoms that we enjoy unless we have a moral code by which can all agree to live by. And for him to say that those issues need to be put in the background, I just, I’m stunned by it.”

Santorum told Hewitt he condemned the elite Republicans who don’t care about social issues but drive a lot of the money in the GOP presidential races.

“When you go to the big cities, where the big money is, the Republican donors say shut up about those issues, or we’re not going to help you. And I don’t know if you saw George Will’s piece today, but it’s pretty clear I’m not shutting up about those issues. I think they’re important issues. Obviously, the economic issues are front and center. But you have to talk about the economic issues even in the cultural and moral context,” the former Pennsylvania senator said. “There’s an element of the party, and unfortunately, I keep coming back, it comes back to where most of the money is in the Republican Party, are folks who live in the big cities, and are more socially liberal. And they just don’t want, they don’t want the campaign to be about something that they don’t want to be able to talk to their friends at the club about.”