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Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum blasted the “screwed-up media” today for fixating on two GOP Senate hopefuls’ controversial comments about abortion and rape for several days and subsequently downplaying news of President Obama’s stunning refusal to help Americans under attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

First, Santorum told WND’s Greg Corombos that he believes Mitt Romney is the candidate with momentum in the race for the White House.

“If I was playing poker and I had two hands to choose from, I think I’d take Gov. Romney’s hand right now,” Santorum said. “Key states that looked to be very squarely in the Obama camp are now very much in play like Pennsylvania, Minnesota for example, Wisconsin. All of those states are very much in play.”

Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania hasn’t gone for the Republican nominee since 1988, but Santorum sees three factors that work in Romney’s favor. He said the Obama “war” on energy and manufacturing is deeply unpopular in the state. He also said Romney is doing better with voters in the Philadelphia suburbs, which is critical to victory. Santorum said he sees far less enthusiasm for Obama inside Philadelphia itself.

Santorum was runner-up to Romney in the Republican primaries. At times, the rhetoric between the two was very heated. However, he said he not only strongly prefers Romney over President Obama, but he’s genuinely excited about the prospect of a Romney presidency.

“We were concerned about the future of our country,” Santorum said about his family’s decision for him to seek the nomination this year. “We wanted to make sure that Barack Obama was not re-elected president. We felt we had to go out and do everything we felt we could do for our seven children and for future generations of Americans to make sure that we had a new president.

“Now we have an opportunity to have a new president and I’m very excited about that prospect. Gov. Romney’s going to be light years better than Barack Obama on every front – everything from our national security to the handling of our economy and our fiscal problems to our culture. I’m excited about it. I think that a Romney presidency will be a marked improvement and a completely different direction than where President Obama is taking us.”

Santorum prides himself on being a strong conservative in all areas but is probably most closely associated with his culturally conservative views.  He said it’s a big mistake for the Republican establishment to think the party cannot appeal to independents and the base by holding strong convictions on traditional values.

“Let’s just look at Minnesota,” Santorum said. “Who would’ve thought Minnesota would be anywhere close to being a toss-up state in this election?  You know what happens to be going on in Minnesota that’s making that the case? There’s a marriage amendment on the ballot. Go back to 2004 when George Bush won Ohio. The reason he won Ohio? There was a marriage amendment on the ballot, and it drove out a lot of turnout in areas where, frankly, Republicans need high turnout if they’re going to win elections.”

Santorum said the media and party elites diminish the importance of values issues because they don’t think they’re important. However, he argued that regular Americans do place a high priority on those issues.

He offered the same indictment of party officials and the mainstream media in their reaction to recent controversies over rape and abortion in two high-profile Senate campaigns.

Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin is still struggling to make up ground after suggesting in August that women’s bodies have natural mechanisms to prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” Last week, Senate hopeful Richard Mourdock came under fire after a debate response in which he said children conceived during rape should have the right to life because such pregnancies are “something that God intended to happen.”

Santorum views those comments very differently.

“Both of them – particularly in Todd Akin’s case – was very inarticulate in the way he addressed it,” Santorum. “I’ve watched the Richard Mourdock comment repeatedly. I think any believer would understand exactly what he meant and what he said … which is that God doesn’t make mistakes.  God intends every human life that comes into being to have the opportunity for life. I think Todd Akin said a dumb thing. I think Richard Mourdock said what most believers believe.

“We have a bunch of folks in the media who don’t see the world that way and are trying to make it into something that it’s not,” he said. “That to me was a real indication of how screwed up the media is that they focus three days of coverage on that while we are finding information about the president potentially knowing – it looks like he did know – what was going on in real time in Benghazi. He and the White House basically ordered our men in that embassy to to fend for themselves and not try to support them. That somehow is not a story, and someone stating a biblically held worldview as to God’s intention for every life to have the opportunity to be born is somehow big news.”

While Santorum rejects Akin’s statements on rape and pregnancy, he is still among the few high-profile Republicans actively assisting Akin’s Senate bid. Both the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee refused to back Akin, even after he decided to stay in the race.

“It’s a double standard. The moral cultural issues are always the ones that the elites in our party tend to steer away from,” said Santorum, noting that a candidate would never be pressured to resign for saying something strange about tax policy. “What Todd Akin said was stupid. He apologized for it, said he certainly misspoke in a way that certainly was offensive. But candidates, unfortunately, do that all the time. The question is, did we apologize for it (and) did he make clear what his position is, and the answer is yes on both fronts. It’s time to move on, and that’s what I’ve done.

“Hopefully, the people of Missouri are good and decent people who understand that people make mistakes, but know Todd Akin from 16 years in public life and know him to be a good and competent public servant and someone who has the strong ideas across the board on conservative principles will stand behind him, unlike the Republican establishment.”

Santorum is also the author of a new book, “American Patriots,” in which he seeks to promote the American First principles that were the hallmark of his campaign.

“The lack of understanding of who we are as a country is still shockingly low,” he said. “What I wanted to do was write a book about who we are as Americans, and that’s what the overarching theme of the book is. But then I wanted to illustrate it with stories of ordinary people at the time of the Revolution who did in some cases ordinary things (and) in some cases extraordinary things but all combined to help us win our freedom.”

He said he hopes the stories will motivate Americans to do ordinary and extraordinary things to protect their freedoms.

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