Santorum in ’08: “Satan is attacking” America

Brian Montopoli, CBS News

Controversial comments made four years ago by Rick Santorum are making waves ahead of a key election next Tuesday in Michigan, where the conservative former senator from Pennsylvania is in the midst of tight race against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president.

Santorum said in August 2008 that “Satan has his sights set” on the United States of America, adding that “the Father of Lies” is using vice to go after the nation’s great institutions.

“Satan [has been] attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition,” Santorum said at Ave Maria University in Florida in 2008.

The remarks appear to have first resurfaced last Thursday on, and are now being highlighted by powerful conservative aggregator Matt Drudge, who is widely seen by GOP insiders as an ally of Mitt Romney.

“This is a spiritual war,” Santorum said in 2008. “And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies, Satan, would have his sights on: A good, decent, powerful, influential country – the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States.”

Santorum goes on to say that Satan has been “most successful and first successful” in attacking academia, saying Satan exploited the “pride of smart people.” Then, he said, Satan went after the church, and now “we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”

He then said Satan has also gone after popular culture – which he discusses below – before saying politics “is falling too.”

“Whether its sensuality of vanity of the famous in America, they are peacocks on display and they have taken their poor behavior and made it fashionable,” he said. “The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.”

Santorum, who has risen to the top of national polls of Republican presidential candidates, has faced increased scrutiny in recent days for his suggestion that President Obama’s policies are grounded in a “phony theology… not found in the Bible,” his suggestion that Mr. Obama’s health care plan amounted to a program to abort disabled children, and his questioning of the value of public education.

The Santorum campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment on his claims that Satan is targeting the United States.

Attention to the audio falls on the same day that the university where Santorum made the remarks – Ave Maria University – announced it is suing the Obama administration over its policy mandating that employees at religiously-affiliated universities have access to free contraceptive health care coverage.

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Rick Santorum’s Beer Money

Was the former Pennsylvania senator under the influence of the beer lobby?

Tim Murphy, Mother Jones

Rick Santorum might not be the political candidate you’d most associate with a keg party. But during his 12 years in the Senate, few members did more to promote the suds industry’s interests in Washington than Santorum.

Big Beer is big business in Pennsylvania, home to major breweries like Rolling Rock, Yuengling, and Keystone. And the beer industry has worked hard to make its voice heard in Washington, channeling millions into lobbying and campaign contributions. From 1995 through 2006, Rick Santorum was one of the upper chamber’s biggest beneficiaries of beer industry cash. Wholesalers, brewers, and their top executives filled Santorum’s coffers with at least $80,000 in campaign donations. And they got their money’s worth: Four times during his two Senate terms Santorum pushed to cut the beer excise tax by half, over the protests of economists and public health experts who say that a lower tax would lead to a loss of revenue and lives.

The beer excise tax isn’t the hottest topic on the campaign trail, but it’s serious business in Washington, where the alcohol industry spent $79 million on lobbyists between 2001 and 2006 alone. The industry-backed Beer Institute, to take one example, spent $3.9 million on lobbyists over that period, and chief among its goals was reversing a seemingly innocuous piece of the vast federal tax code. Set at the flat rate of $9 per barrel in 1951, the federal excise tax on beer (paid by the brewer) went unchanged for 40 years, until it was raised to $18 per barrel in 1991.

The beer lobby opposed the new standard long before Santorum came on board, and sought willing allies in Washington. In 1997, the New York Times noted [1] that “the politically powerful beer industry has been hoping to persuade Congress to reduce the excise tax on beer.” To help win support for repealing the excise tax increase, Anheuser-Busch bankrolled a “Roll Back the Beer Tax” web campaign that launched in 2002, touting the Main Street cred of “Joe & Jane Six Pack: The Average American Beer Drinkers” and leaning on the work of the Beer Institute.

But since the tax is not indexed to inflation, the real tax rate has been steadily eroding since the Eisenhower era; the current rate actually marks a 75 percent decline from its original value, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities [2].

“The name of the game is to deflect attention at all costs from the fact that really we should be raising beer taxes and the most brilliant way to do that was devised by the beer industry by creating this ‘roll back the beer tax’ campaign,” explains Michele Simon, president of the industry watchdog Eat Drink Politics. Santorum took up the industry’s agenda in Congress. “He was just parroting what the beer industry had told him to say,” Simon says.

In some cases, almost literally. Santorum’s floor speeches and public statements in support of his beer tax repeal measures read like an almost verbatim rehash of industry talking points.

Here’s a statement from the Anheuser-Busch-backed website, “In 1990, Congress raised taxes on luxury items like expensive cars, fur coats, jewelry, yachts, and private airplanes and doubled Federal excise taxes on beer. Though most of the luxury taxes were repealed in 1993, the beer tax remains in place.”

Here’s Santorum in a 1998 floor speech introducing his beer tax repeal bill: “The federal excise tax on beer was doubled as part of the 1991 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act…While taxes on furs, jewelry, and yachts were repealed through subsequent legislation, the federal beer tax remains in place with continued and far reaching negative effects.”

Here’s Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute: “The tax on beer is one of the most regressive of all taxes in the federal and state tax codes.”

And here’s Santorum in 1998: “The excise tax on beer is among the most regressive federal taxes”—and again in 2003: “I am proud to once again sponsor a bill to repeal this obsolete and regressive tax on working Americans.”

According to Santorum, the tax increase had cost the American economy 50,000 jobs since 1991—including 30,000 in the beer industry itself—and he estimated that 43 percent of the cost of beer was a result of state and federal taxes. Both of those dubious figures have been trumpeted by the Beer Institute, the industry-funded shop that adds charts and figures to the beverage industry’s talking points.

Santorum, who did not respond to a request for comment from Mother Jones, has defended many of his less palatable legislative pursuits by noting that he was merely sticking up for his constituents. But if today’s comparatively tame tax rate is costing the beer industry tens of thousands of jobs, it’s tough to see how. The Center for Science in the Public Interest [3] touts Bureau of Labor Statistics calculations showing that from 1990 to 2000—roughly the time period Santorum was fretting about the crippling effect of the excise tax—the beer wholesaler industry actually added 8,000 jobs, offsetting the 8,000 jobs lost in the beer manufacturing sector (as with the rest of the American economy, the industry has been shedding manufacturing jobs for decades). And despite Santorum’s claims, the beer excise tax is a lot less regressive than, say, federal tobacco taxes [4].

But there’s another issue at play here, too. According to public health researchers, when the beer industry saves money, the rest of society ends up picking up the tab.

Lowering the beer excise tax “would lead to an increase of sales of alcohol and an increase in drinking, and that would lead to an associated or proportionate increase in the health problems associated with alcohol,” says Alex Wagenaar, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida who has studied the impact of the tax on public health. “It’s chronic disease for people that drink heavily, it’s also, just for people that occasionally drink more than a very small amount, [an] increased risk for car crashes, pedestrian injuries, fights and assaults and things like that.”

That’s part of the reason why the Centers for Disease Control recommends increasing excise taxes on all alcohol products. So does Mothers Against Drunk Driving (although the group’s focus has been on the state level). In Florida alone, Wagenaar estimates that between 600 to 800 lives could be saved each year if the state’s real tax rate was returned to its 1983 level. A 1999 paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research posited that “raising the price of alcohol by one percent would decrease the rate of [domestic] abuse by 3.1-3.5%.”

Bad policy or not, Santorum wouldn’t be the first Republican nominee with deep ties to Big Keg. John McCain’s wife, Cindy, owned a majority stake in her family-owned beer distributor, which donated tens of thousands of dollars to the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s PAC at a time the organization was locked in a lobbying war with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

You won’t hear a peep from Santorum about the excise tax these days, though, and he’s made only brief mentions of suds on the campaign trail. He told reporters in Iowa City that he prefers stouts and bocks to IPAs, and last August informed the Des Moines Register’s editorial board that calling gay marriage “marriage” was like calling water “beer.” (He’s clearly never tried Keystone Lite). Santorum might not be the candidate you’d most like to have a beer with. For 12 years in Washington, though, he was the toast of the industry.


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Santorum: Democrats are “anti-science,” not me

Rebecca Kaplan, CBS News

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Portraying himself as a native son of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum Monday emphasized his heritage as the grandson of a coal miner and railed against environmental regulations that have diminished the coal industry in the region.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we need someone who understands, who comes from the coal fields, who comes from the steel mills, who understands what average working people in America need to be able to provide for themselves and their families,” Santorum said to a crowd of about 500 people in the Democratic-leaning eastern edge of the state.

Santorum’s claim to have come “from the coal fields” is a stretch – by two generations. He has never worked in a coal mine. His parents’ professions were psychologist and nurse, and Santorum is a lawyer who has spent all of his adult life in politics.

But he frequently invokes his grandfather, who worked in the auto factories of Detroit and then the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania after he immigrated to the United States from Italy.

In his remarks Monday, Santorum went beyond his usual discussion of the importance of increasing domestic energy production to deliver a blistering attack on environmental activists. He said global warming claims are based on “phony studies,” and that climate change science is little more than “political science.”

His views are not “anti-science” as Democrats claim, Santorum said. “When it comes to the management of the Earth, they are the anti-science ones. We are the ones who stand for science, and technology, and using the resources we have to be able to make sure that we have a quality of life in this country and (that we) maintain a good and stable environment,” he said to applause, and cited local ordinances to reduce coal dust pollution in Pittsburgh during the heyday of coal mining.

Santorum also discussed religious faith and the importance of family at length, a popular topic for him in many of the Midwestern states he has visited recently. He accused President Obama of degrading the institution of marriage with provisions in his health care law.

“You realize that if you’re married under Obamacare, you pay a lot more than if you’re living together under Obamacare. A lot more. Thousands of dollars more, for the average American family who pay if you’re married,” he said. “If you divorced and live together, Obamacare gives you a break and they do this on other areas of the government. That’s what the marriage penalty was all about, for years.”

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Santorum Denies Comparing Obama to Hitler

Rebecca Kaplan, CBS News

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum flatly rejected suggestions that he likened President Obama to Adolf Hitler Sunday when he used an analogy comparing the 2012 election to the buildup to World War II.

“No, of course not,” Santorum said dismissively when asked by a National Journal-CBS News reporter whether he was comparing the two. “The World War II metaphor is one I’ve used 100 times in my career,” he insisted.

But the comparison is a recent addition to Santorum’s presidential campaign strategy, and it emerged as a theme in his speeches in the Midwest over the past few days.

During an event in Cumming, Ga., on Sunday evening, he discussed Americans’ uncertainty about entering the war because they hoped Hitler might not be as dangerous as they feared.

“We’re a hopeful people,” Santorum said. “We think, ‘Well, you know it’ll get better. Yeah, he’s a nice guy. I mean, it won’t be near as bad as what we think. This will be okay.’ I mean, yeah, maybe he’s not the best guy after a while, after a while you find out some things about this guy over in Europe who’s not so good of a guy after all. You know what, why do we need to be involved?” Santorum said.

Americans need to get involved in the upcoming election, he said, in the same way they needed to get involved in fighting Hitler in World War II.

“So with the optimistic spirit of America, sometimes, sometimes it’s not okay. It’ll be harder for this generation to figure it out. There’s no cataclysmic event,” he said.

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Santorum says Obama looks down on disabled, encouraging more abortions

Andrew Rafferty and Domenico Montanaro, NBC News

Rick Santorum accused President Obama of requiring free prenatal testing in the health care plan he signed in 2010 because it would detect if children were disabled, encourage more abortions and save money.

“One of the things that you don’t know about ObamaCare in one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing,” Santorum began telling about 400 people here. “Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society. That too is part of ObamaCare — another hidden message as to what president Obama thinks of those who are less able than the elites who want to govern our country.”

Santorum has a young disabled daughter, who has had several health complications.

Many doctors and medical experts would dispute Santorum’s reasoning that the sole explanation for pre-natal testing is to have an abortion. There is value in pre-natal testing, because it can detect potential problems in utero or at delivery and allow parents and doctors to get the proper care for their child.

“Early detection of a fetal condition gives parents the opportunity to terminate the pregnancy in an early stage or to make the preparations necessary to best care for an affected child,” Clare O’Connor, Ph.D., of the Biology Department at Boston College, wrote in Nature Education.

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Rick Santorum: Obama helping Iran obtain nuclear weapons

Republican presidential hopeful, coming off a 3-state primary sweep, says American President ‘throwing Israel under the bus’ over U.S. dependency on oil.

By The Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday accused President Barack Obama of actively seeking ways to allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapon and suggested that the administration had betrayed Israel by publicly disclosing what may be a plan to attack the Muslim nation.

Santorum drew connections between the administration’s opposition to the Keystone pipeline project, which would bring oil from Canada to U.S. refineries, and American dependency on foreign oil and U.S.-Israel relations.

“We’re throwing Israel under the bus because we know we’re going to be dependent upon OPEC,” Santorum said during a speech in Oklahoma City. “We’re going to say, ‘Oh, Iran, we don’t want you to get a nuclear weapon — wink, wink, nod, nod — go ahead, just give us your oil.’ Folks, the president of the United States is selling the economic security of the United States down the river right now.”

The U.S. doesn’t purchase oil from Iran but its allies do. Pulling Iranian oil from the world market would wreak havoc on oil prices in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Santorum later told CNN that Obama’s actions support the view that the president was choosing Iran over Israel. He accused Defense Secretary Leon Panetta of divulging sensitive information about Israel’s plans to strike Iran and then invited scorn upon the Jewish state from the rest of the world.

Panetta is not on the record saying that the U.S. has concluded that Israel plans to strike Iran. The Washington Post published a column last week saying that Panetta has concluded that an Israeli strike is likely before summer, but Panetta has declined to comment on that assertion.

Santorum told CNN: “The president fought tooth and nail against putting sanctions on Iran and only capitulated at the end. This is a president who is not standing by our allies, is trying to appease, trying to find a way to allow — clearly to allow Iran to get this nuclear weapon. He’s doing absolutely nothing in a consequential way to make sure that they do not get this weapon.”

Iran has maintained that it is not seeking to build a nuclear weapon but refuses to capitulate to demands that it abandon controversial elements of its nuclear program. It argues that sanctions are a form of aggression.

The Obama administration has rejected Republican charges that it has been weak in its response to Iran and points to sanctions and diplomacy as a cautious but effective way of dealing with a situation that could upend oil markets and the world economy.

The Obama campaign responded to Santorum’s remarks by reiterating its position that more pressure than ever has been placed on Iran and that the president has led the international effort to sanction Iran.

Obama said this week that Israel had not decided whether to launch a strike against Iran and that he hoped the nuclear standoff could be resolved through diplomacy. However, the president also said the U.S. has planned a range of options and was prepared to exercise them if necessary.

Economic coercion by the U.S. and its allies appears more likely than a military strike. Besides new U.S. sanctions on Iran’s central bank, Europe has approved its first embargo against Iranian oil.

While campaigning in strongly conservative Oklahoma, Santorum defended himself against criticism from rival Mitt Romney over of his backing of home-state projects during his career in Congress, saying that some so-called earmarks were necessary for defense or health programs.

Romney has been challenging Santorum’s commitment to fiscal discipline by pointing out that Santorum sought funding for home-state projects when he represented Pennsylvania in Congress. The former Massachusetts governor has stepped up his criticism of Santorum since the former senator’s three-state sweep in Tuesday’s nomination elections.

The taint of earmarks, or spending that lawmakers direct to favorite projects, still dogs candidates courting the fiscally conservative tea party movement. Santorum argued that earmarks were a legislative check on the executive branch.

“There are good earmarks and bad earmarks,” he told reporters after a speech.

Santorum specifically defended targeted spending for the V-22 Osprey helicopter and a human tissue medical program in Pittsburgh. He declined to identify any earmarks he regretted.

On Wednesday, Romney said Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich belong to a category of Republicans who “spent too much money, borrowed too much money, earmarked too much.”

Santorum said Thursday that he fought to end earmarks amid concerns that lawmakers were abusing the practice. He tried to turn the issue back on Romney, who is having trouble winning over the conservative voters that Santorum, himself a conservative, is appealing to.

Santorum said Massachusetts benefited from earmarked money from Washington when Romney was governor.

“Gov. Romney’s campaign has been about serially tearing down but not offering any kind of vision about what he wants to do for this country,” Santorum said. “He’s not going out and talking about his record as governor of Massachusetts. He hides from that record.”

Romney, who had no public appearances Thursday, issued a statement urging Congress to ban earmarks permanently.


After 3-state sweep, Santorum ready for Romney

By Catalina Camia and Susan Page, USA TODAY

Fresh from his three-state sweep, a confident Rick Santorum said he is prepared for an onslaught from Mitt Romney as he tries to make his case that he’s the best conservative to take on President Obama.

Santorum, speaking to CNN Wednesday morning, derided Romney for trying to portray himself as a Washington outsider and for repeatedly talking about his credentials as a former CEO.

The former Pennsylvania senator stressed that Romney’s stands on health care, “cap and trade” legislation and government bailouts are the wrong positions for a GOP nominee.

“Mr. Private Sector was Mr. Big Government when he was out there running for the private sector,” Santorum told CNN. [Read more...]


Santorum hopes to build momentum from 3-state sweep

By Lucy Madison,
Following a triumphant three-state sweep in Tuesday night’s nominating contests, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is taking to the airwaves for a victory lap, blasting President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney alike in an effort to translate his victories into momentum that begets more wins. 

Speaking on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning, Santorum attributed his Wednesday night sweep – albeit one that conferred no binding delegates -to his effectiveness in bringing his message on issues like the economy and Obama’s health care plan to the American people.

“The issues I’ve been stressing are Obamacare, the Wall Street bailout and cap-and-trade – three issues where Barack Obama and, unfortunately, Mitt Romney, are on the same position,” he said. [Read more...]


Santorum revives campaign with wins in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota

By and Nia-Malika Henderson
Washington Post

DENVER — Rick Santorum had a breakthrough night Tuesday, winning GOP presidential contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, all of which is expected to breathe life into his struggling campaign and slow Mitt Romney’s march to the Republican presidential nomination.

The Santorum triumphs promise to, at least temporarily, alter the face of the campaign going into the crucial “Super Tuesday” contests, as the caustic tone of the primaries is expected to continue and intensify. Romney and his allies have signaled that they will use their financial advantage to launch stepped-up attacks on Santorum and on former House speaker Newt Gingrich, the other main challenger.

Santorum solidly defeated Romney in Minnesota and Missouri, and he narrowly edged the former Massachusetts governor in Colorado, according to state GOP officials.

The victories mark a sharp turnaround for the former Pennsylvania senator, whose candidacy had been sputtering after he failed to capi­tal­ize on his narrow win in Iowa last month. Santorum’s wins across the Midwest Tuesday could bestow new legitimacy on his insurgent efforts and boost his fundraising in the critical period before next month’s major contests.

Santorum now appears to pose a more serious threat not only to Romney, but also to Gingrich, who had been positioning himself as the logical alternative to Romney. [Read more...]


Could Rick Santorum put Newt Gingrich in the rearview mirror Tuesday?

By Amanda Paulson, Staff Writer / February 7, 2012
Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday night is shaping up to be a good night for Rick Santorum.

While polling has been limited in the three states holding contests Tuesday (Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri), and an unusually high number of voters are uncommitted, pollsters are predicting that Mr. Santorum will win two out of the three and should place a close second to Mitt Romney in Colorado.

The question is: Will that be enough to revive Santorum’s candidacy or even put him on a path to nomination? [Read more...]