The Associated Press

Santorum Questions Obama’s Christian Values

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks during a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday. (Eric Gay/AP)

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks during a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday. (Eric Gay/AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — White House candidate Rick Santorum on Saturday questioned President Barack Obama’s Christian values and attacked GOP rival Mitt Romney’s Olympics leadership as he courted tea party activists and evangelical voters in Ohio, “ground zero” in the 2012 nomination fight.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator known for his social conservative policies, said that Obama’s agenda is “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.”

Obama campaign deputy press secretary Ben Labolt said Santorum’s comment was “the latest low in a Republican primary campaign that has been fueled by distortions, ugliness, and searing pessimism and negativity.” He said it was “a stark contrast with the President who is focused everyday on creating jobs and restoring economic security for the middle class.”

Trailing Romney in money and campaign resources, Santorum is depending on the tea party movement and religious groups to deliver a victory March 6 in Ohio, one of Super Tuesday’s biggest prizes.

More delegates will be awarded in Ohio than in any other state except Georgia in the opening months of the Republican campaign. Ohio and Georgia are two of the 10 contests scheduled for March 6, a benchmark for the primary campaign that often decides who can continue to the next level.

Even as he criticized Obama, Santorum also went after one of Romney’s most promoted achievements – his leadership at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

“One of Mitt Romney’s greatest accomplishments, one of the things he talks about most is how he heroically showed up on the scene and bailed out and resolved the problems of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games,” Santorum said. “He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake games — in an earmark, in an earmark for the Salt Lake Olympic games.”

The Romney campaign does not dispute that congressional earmarks helped save the games. But they noted that Santorum voted for those earmarks, among many others, when he was a senator.

“Sometimes when you shoot from the hip, you end up shooting yourself in the foot,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “There is a pretty wide gulf between seeking money for post-9/11 security at the Olympics and seeking earmarks for polar bear exhibits at the Pittsburgh Zoo.”

“There’s no state that can shout louder. You are the biggest state. You’ve got the biggest trove of delegates,” Santorum told the Brown County Republican Party on Friday night. “This is ground zero. Ohio.”

While 63 delegates are at stake in Ohio, Georgia offers 76.

Hours earlier, the former Pennsylvania senator stood at the State House in Columbus as state Attorney General Mike DeWine formally shifted his allegiance to Santorum from rival Mitt Romney, another sign that Santorum has seized the momentum in the roller coaster Republican presidential contest.

His socially conservative message has captivated crowds this week from Boise, Idaho, to Romney’s hometown of Detroit to the southern Ohio village of Georgetown.

Questions about whether Santorum can sustain his rise in the polls come amid signs of stress within his campaign, mainly disorganization. Romney’s machine, coupled with new scrutiny for Santorum’s view of social issues as well as governmental policies, will give Santorum little margin for error.

As an example, one misstep by a Santorum supporter kept the former senator off message at times for two days.

Foster Friess, the main donor behind Santorum’s “super PAC,” created a stir Thursday when he related on MSNBC an old joke about how aspirin used to be a method for birth control. “Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception,” Friess said with a grin. “The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

Friess apologized Friday in a blog post. But Santorum was repeatedly forced to distance himself from his surrogate’s comments, which Santorum described as “a bad joke.” The comments drew unwanted attention to Santorum’s own musings about contraception and women’s issues.

Santorum has said that he wouldn’t try to take away the birth control pill or condoms but that states should be free to ban them. He told a Christian blog last year that as president he would warn the nation about “the dangers of contraception” and the permissive culture it encourages. He’s also questioned whether women should be in combat and said that “radical feminists” have undermined the traditional family by “convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.”

The contraception flap, according to Republican observers, is evidence of an undisciplined campaign that is already stumbling under the weight of intensifying scrutiny. Polling suggests that significant numbers of voters still don’t know Santorum well. He may struggle to win over female voters in particular as they begin to pay more attention, according to Phil Musser, a GOP strategist who doesn’t work for either campaign.

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  • Guest

    “NO ONE RELIGION” is what the constitution states and that means Christianity, so learn and quit making up your own ideology as you go along. Quit preaching HATE.

  • labman57

    Since when should theology and religious beliefs dictate public policy decisions?

    Obama understands the distinction between his Christian values and his role as POTUS, something that the self-righteous, theocracy-minded Santorum will never comprehend.

  • Rcephd

    While it is clear that Obama is no Christian by any ordinary definition, the fact is that for Santorum to make an issue of it is a bad, unforced error.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ETATYS7LFVBDQWRV47VAJ32ENQ Allan Clark

    It is very doubtful whether Santorum has any accurate notion of what Obama’s theology really is. He is making inferences based on his own understanding of how a Catholic President would approach issues. Unquestionably Obama does not agree with him on the issues, but whether that disagreement proceeds from theology is open to serious question.

    Obama withdrew from a church whose minister made unacceptable remarks. Santorum continues to belong to a church whose priests have molested over 10,000 children. That is enough to make me question Santorum’s own Christian values.

  • James

    Is Santorium running for Bishop or President? He is condemning Obama’s Christian values? Who told this dude that Presidents impose their personal religiosity on the general population. The government is inherently secular since the US has no state religion as some would have us believe. If we are going to have a state religion are we going to adopt Mormonism, Catholicism, Protestantism, or some of Cult? No wonder our founding fathers emphasized the separation of church and state.

  • Anonymous

    Thomas Jefferson warned that the greatest threat to our Democracy is ‘ignorance!.  Rick Santorum represent the ‘ignorance’ about which Thomas Jefferson warned! Ignorance is eroding our freedom! Conservatives are inflicting a greater terror on America through ‘ignorance’ than any enemy of this country. Considering Thomas Jefferson’s warning, survival of our democracy is in peril because obviously Tea Party people who support  Santorum are not educated and America is suffering the consequence of their ignorance!  Rick Santorum and the Tea Party are synonymous with ignorance, racism and a lack of patriotism! These insidious ingrates are inimical to our Democracy for which many brave people, excluding theirs, fought, sacrificed and died!
    The audacity of this insidious ingrate, Rick Santorum, to believe that someone of his caliber could actually  be president of this country founded for and by Protestants and Deists.  I weep for my country!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_67MZCOUXFSLOM257CRHBKW4AL4 wareinparis

      Well said!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_67MZCOUXFSLOM257CRHBKW4AL4 wareinparis

    This guy is darned near as scary as Palin. Church and state are to be separate in this country which was founded by men who specifically said so. Many of our founding fathers were not so sure about a Christian god, but called themselves deists instead, That is to say that while recognizing a higher power, they did not agree it had to be the Christian Trinity.

    Mr. Santorum really should read a little of our country’s history.

  • nvdmost

    First off and to make it quite clear, Mitt Romney is a good investor/business machine we get it. The problem is America should be doing business not being treated like one. Sometimes in business there are no sense of what is moral, its about the bottomline. I’m sure Mr.Santorum will be considered the “underdog” and people like the “underdog” so he might actually get the G.O.P. nod, but ALL jokes aside President Obama NOT “Obama” as the media and ignorance of America falters when they address him, has done an amazing job. Any person of business/wealth knows you have to put yourself in debt to add to your networth. He has choosen the right descision to send these kids to school! He has brought home a majority of our troops like he said he would. He has successfully played a hand in capturing and killing the ones who have been responsible in terror attacks across the world. Now with that said Isreal has said the plan on hitting Iran in the coming months with missles strikes is the wildest s*** I have heard in my life. Isreal has been tormenting the people of Palestine well before the war of ’47 and enough is enough. What goes around comes around the truth is always exposed. When I was 11 yrs young and had gone to visit family in the occupied region to have a better understanding of what was really going on. I was at the checkpoint visiting family who I was unable to see for multiple years. The Isreali soldiers had placed a gun in my bag claiming it was mine because I had originally been traveling with a my other passport (Royal Jordanian). It was when I showed them my American passport was when they starting saying it was all a misunderstanding. The truth is when you go into negotiation with countries in conflict you can NOT say “We stand with…” It sends the wrong message and gives the people of Palestine that they are left to continue to be tormented. The war we have all seemed to have looked past is the pshycological warfare that has taken place for decades. Watching soliders when I was younger putting guns to the back of the children and tying there hands to cars that were ready to blow up are the memories that stick with me and remind me everyday that I AM PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN! I just would like to say that no one is perfect. We are able to look past certain issues that have happened to get us in this mess, Being able to understand people on both sides of the ailse is what it takes to be a President now of days and President Obama has not only been believed in being able to get the job done, but he is working as deligentaly as he can & we are here to help see him through it all. Remember God does NOT like ugly (has NoThiNG to do with physical appearance.), what a beautiful soul our President who represents us as Americans SO WELL , deserves our support for another term!

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