Rick Santorum

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum signs the shirt of Phyllis Warren while Bill Warren, both of Clinton, watches Monday at the Clinton Public Library.

Ben Jacobson/Clinton Herald
Herald Staff Writer

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s campaign is built on the same bedrock that he believes supports the United States of America. Namely, the family and traditional family values.

Santorum’s “Road to Ames” family tour of Iowa cities, an effort to build support for the Aug. 13 Iowa Straw poll, stopped Monday in Clinton, where the former Pennsylvania senator discussed his values-oriented platform with area residents.

“The foundation of our country is not the individual,” Santorum said. “It is the family ...If we destroy  that, America doesn’t survive either.”

The stop at the Clinton Public Library was the last stop of the day for Santorum, so his family, who accompanied him during previous campaign stops, was given the night off. But Santorum’s committment to re-establishing a religious and moral foundation to government was present and accounted for.

Numerous things were cited as reasons why he believes America is approaching its most important election since Abraham Lincoln won the office in 1860. The spread of same-sex marriage is something Santorum believes is an immoral snowball rolling quickly down a hill, and that the president’s refusal to fight for the Defense of Marriage Act is indicative of an apathetic stance toward family.

But the primary threat to freedom, according to Santorum, is the national health care plan conservatives refer to as “Obamacare.” The plan, which would federally mandate aspects of health care coverage, is something he believes was “rammed down the throat” of America. 

He said that European countries that have switched to a federal health care plan have ultimately sacrificed individual freedom in exchange for entitlements. By allowing the government to dictate aspects of health care, Santorum believes that Americans will suffer the same fate. “In Europe, the god isn’t that God anymore,” Santorum said, pointing skyward. “It’s the government.”

He calls the federal health care plan a “game changer,” and lists it as his primary reason for seeking the office of the president. He feels that Democrats, President Barack Obama in particular, want citizens to rely on the government.

He compared the government to a “drug dealer, that wants you to get dependent on them.”

Santorum said that altering or eliminating the federal health care plan is vital, not only to prevent dependence on the government, but to maintain freedom at any level.

“You will no longer be free (if the federal health care plan is enacted),” Santorum said. “The government will have you. We will be the generation that gave away America’s freedom.”

Santorum acknowledged that defeating president Obama in 2012 would be difficult, but said that he is the only candidate with the pedigree to do it.

Though trailing far behind Republican front-runners Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Santorum said he is the only one of the major candidates to beat a Democratic incumbent in any election.

In fact, he says, he’s done it three times.

Santorum twice beat out Democrat incumbents while serving in the US House of Representatives, once when first elected and once after being placed in a new district. When he ran for Senate in 1994, he defeated another Democratic incumbent.

President Obama received much of Santorum’s ire during the question and answer portion of his Clinton speech.

Santorum questioned President Obama’s negotiating ethics during the recent debt ceiling debates, and accused the president of passing the federal health care plan against the wishes of his constituents.

“I’m not saying the president is a liar,” Santorum said. “He just doesn’t tell the truth all the time.”

Santorum expressed a commitment to empowering the job market, primarily through the promotion of manufacturing jobs.

He said manufacturing jobs have dropped form over 20 percent of the labor market to about 9 percent over the past few decades, in part because it is not profitable for companies to work domestically.

He proposed offering tax incentives to businesses to stay in the United States. Santorum also encouraged innovation among industry workers, to help create new products that will be made solely in America.

Santorum has made dozens of stops in preparation for the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames on Aug. 13. Though performing well at the poll doesn’t guarantee a strong finish in the primary elections, it does help increase name recognition, something Santorum’s admittedly low-profile campaign could benefit from.

 Interested residents were given the opportunity to sign up for tickets to the straw poll, at the expense of the Santorum campaign.

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