DES MOINES, Iowa – Former senator and presidential hopeful Rick Santorum attempted to set himself apart from his GOP primary opponents today, criticizing Mitt Romney’s record on same-sex marriage and taking veiled shots at Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Herman Cain as well.
The former senator painted himself as “ahead of the curve” on conservative issues and took his rivals to task for allegedly betraying them.
“I wrote in 2005 that the institution of marriage and the family were at risk, far before anyone thought this was going to be an issue,” Santorum said, then contrasted his stance with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:
“One of the key battles we have in this country is the battle with our courts,” Santorum said, “[but] how many, when they were in the position of power, for example Gov. Romney, when you had the corruption of the court, when the court of Massachusetts against the law and the consistitition – the Constitution of Massachusetts says that only the legislature and the governor can change the definition of marriage, it’s actually in their constitution, and the law of Massachusetts said marriage is between a man and a woman – when the court said, ‘We disagree with that,’ but the court said, ‘We can’t change it, because the constitution says we can’t,’ but they ordered the legistlature to do it … the legislature rebuffed the courts, guess who didn’t rebuff the courts? Governor Romney.
“Gov. Romney issued those marriage licenses, ordered people to issue marriage licenses in contravention to the constitution and the statutes of Massachusetts,” Santorum said. “Here you have a situation where you have a choice, you have a choice between the constitution and the will of the people or the rogue actions of a handful of justices, and Mitt Romney chose the rogue justices.”
Santorum was speaking to the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, or NFRA, a group he called “the conscience of the Republican Party.”
The NFRA describes itself as a grassroots movement to “take back the Republican Party for the vast and disenfranchised majority of its members: Reagan conservatives, who believe in small government, lower taxes, free market capitalism, a strong defense, the right to life and a decent America.”
The NFRA was holding its Presidential Preference Convention, which brought in delegates from around the country with hopes of endorsing a candidate they believe best represents an alternative to the RINOs (Republicans in name only) currently holding or running for office.
“We endorse candidates in contested primaries, so rank-and-file Republicans can know who the true conservative candidates really are,” the NFRA website explains. “We shuck the corn, with highly competitive grassroots endorsing conventions at which candidates must secure two-thirds of our delegates’ support to win. And when we’re done, there’s no question who is who.”
Santorum joined Rep. Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich (by video) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s wife, Anita, in addressing the convention.
In his comments, Santorum also criticized the political positions of polling frontrunners Cain, Romney and Perry.
“The top three candidates in the polls all supported Wall Street bailouts,” Santorum said. “Here we are, trying to take on big, huge expansion of government … and our top three poll candidates all supported what Republicans and Democrats alike abhor. Do you think that’s a prescription for success?”
Santorum’s comments on Israel and Iran also ran in stark contrast to Paul, who in Iowa earlier this year declared “Islam is not our enemy” and told Fox News only two months ago that he was OK with Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. When pressed if he as president would step in should a nuclear Iran attack Israel, Paul further responded, “No. Let Israel take care of them.”
Santorum, on the other hand, told the NFRA convention, “I was talking about Shariah law before anybody knew what Shariah law was in this country. I was talking about the threat of Iran before anyone else was talking about it. I actually introduced legislation almost 10 years ago that talked about the nuclear problem in Iran, that talked about Iran getting a nuclear weapon and being able to spread their terrorism, their radical Shia Islam throughout the entire region and throughout the entire world. … I stood up for the state of Israel when no one else would stand up for the state of Israel.”
Santorum referred to President Obama’s current hands-off approach to a nuclear Iran as “refusing to confront evil” and warned of looming danger should the U.S. – under a Democrat or Republican president – too quickly withdraw its troops from Iraq and allow Iran free rein in the region.
“There is no one doing more harm in Iraq and Afghanistan than the Iranians,” Santorum warned. “We’re going to see that this withdrawal was, in more respects than not, a surrender to a growing power in the Middle East.”