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Rick Santorum's Language Could Cause Trouble In White House Bid

Rick Santorum Campaign Rhetoric

Posted: 02/16/2012 8:46 am

By Ros Krasny

Republican candidate Rick Santorum has won support from American conservatives for his views on social issues but a habit of hyperbole may lead to stumbles in his White House bid.

In Boise, Idaho, on Tuesday, Santorum compared contraception to deodorant and soap when making a point about why he believes birth control should not be covered by health insurers.

"Let's mandate that every insurance policy covers toothpaste. Deodorant. That might be a good idea, right? Have everyone cover deodorant, right? Soap. I mean, where do you stop?"

Santorum also fell back on a well-worn Republican criticism that President Barack Obama and his administration are elitists.

"Don't you see how they see you? How they look down their nose at the average Americans? These elite snobs," said Santorum, who reported 2010 income of almost $1 million, according to financial disclosure forms.

Though he is giving Republican rival Mitt Romney a run for his money in the nomination race, Santorum's language might be an obstacle if he wins his party's nomination to challenge Obama in the November 6 election.

"As a frontrunner you have to watch exactly what you say," said Donna Robinson Devine, professor of government at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. "The attention has moved to Santorum, but to me he seems very whiny. I just can't imagine him as president."

Santorum's most famous equivalence came from 2003.

In an interview, he said that if the Supreme Court protected the right for gays to have consensual sex in their own homes, "then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

Comments in that interview that homosexuality was not as bad as bestiality raised even more eyebrows.

"That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be," he said.

Santorum lost his 2006 re-election bid to the U.S. Senate for Pennsylvania by 18 percentage points to Democrat Robert Casey.

Among those who turned against the incumbent were young voters, said Geoff Garin, a strategist who polled for Casey in that race. "Young people thought he was kind of weirdly out of sync with modern times," Garin said.

In January, Santorum was booed by an audience of high school and college students in Concord, New Hampshire, after equating same-sex marriages, legal in the state for two years, to polygamy.

"What about three men?" Santorum said, after being asked how it affected him, personally, if two gay men or lesbians married. "If you think it's OK for two, you have to differentiate for me why you're not OK with three. Any two people, or any three, or four."

Talia Stroud, a professor of communications at the University of Texas in Austin, said it was uncertain how much any one of Santorum's individual comments would resonate.

"It depends on how much that item stays in the news cycle. A lot of issues crop up, but a lot of how it impacts public opinion depends on how much it is recirculated," said Stroud, who studies the media's role in shaping political attitudes.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

Santorum is also outspoken on matters of sex:
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  • On Contraception

    "It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/health/2011/10/19/348007/rick-santorum-pledges-to-defund-contraception-its-not-okay-its-a-license-to-do-things/" target="_hplink">Think Progress, 2011</a>

  • On The Definition Of Marriage

    "Marriage is what marriage is. Marriage was around before government said what it was. It's like going out and saying, 'That tree is a car.' Well, the tree's not a car. A tree's a tree. Marriage is marriage." "It's like handing up this and saying this glass of water is a glass of beer. Well you can call it a glass of beer, it's not a glass of beer, it's a glass of water. And water is what water is. Marriage is what marriage is." "I can call this napkin a paper towel, but it is a napkin. Why? Because it is, what it is." <a href="http://iowaindependent.com/60602/santorum-qa-marriage-for-gays-threatens-religious-freedom" target="_hplink">Iowa Independant, 2011</a> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fLbAFNbVSEE http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/08/09/292121/santorum-marriage-is-like-water-not-beer/" target="_hplink">Think Progress, 2011</a> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U394HKpak1s" target="_hplink">MSNBC, 2011</a>

  • On Sex In The Military

    "I -- I would say, any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. And the fact that they're making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to -- to -- and removing 'don't ask, don't tell' I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military's job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country." <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/22/fox-news-google-gop-2012-presidential-debate/" target="_hplink">Fox News, 2011</a>

  • On Gays In The Military

    "The problem is that sexual activity with people who you are in close quarters with who happen to be of the same sex is different than being open about your sexuality ... They're in close quarters, they live with people, they obviously shower with people." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/09/rick-santorum-gay-soldiers-shower-dadt_n_1002244.html" target="_hplink">HuffPost, 2011</a>

  • On Polygamy, Bigamy, Adultery ...

    "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything." <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2003-04-22/politics/santorum.gays_1_statement-on-individual-lifestyles-senator-santorum-bigamy-and-adultery?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS" target="_hplink">Associated Press, 2003</a>

  • On The Difference Between Being Black And Being Gay

    "You are black by the color of your skin. You are not homosexual, necessarily -- obviously, by the color of your skin. [...] The idea that being black and being gay is the same is simply not true." <a href="http://politics.foxnews.mobi/quickPage.html?page=23681&content=58208053&pageNum=-1" target="_hplink">Fox News, 2011</a>

  • On Candidates' Sex Lives

    "When you look at someone to determine whether they'd be the right person for public office, look at who they lay down with at night and what they believe in." <a href="http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/10/rick-santorum-when-selecting-candidate-look-at-who-they-lay-down-with-at-night.php" target="_hplink">Talking Points Memo, 2011</a>

  • On 'Man On Dog'

    "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing." <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-04-23-santorum-excerpt_x.htm" target="_hplink">Associated Press, 2003</a>

  • On Sodomy, etc..

    "Whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, whether it's sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family." <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-04-23-santorum-excerpt_x.htm" target="_hplink">Associated Press, 2003</a>

  • On The Government Getting Up In Your Sex Life

    "The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions -- I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we're seeing it in our society." <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-04-23-santorum-excerpt_x.htm" target="_hplink">Associated Press, 2003</a>

  • On Gay Marriage

    "This is an issue just like 9/11 ... We didn't decide we wanted to fight the war on terrorism because we wanted to. It was brought to us. And if not now, when?" "The battle we're engaged in right now on same-sex marriage, ultimately that is the very foundation of our country, the family, what the family structure is going to look like. I'll die on that hill fighting." <a href="http://articles.mcall.com/2004-02-25/news/3521981_1_gay-marriage-defense-of-marriage-act-amendment-process" target="_hplink">The Morning Call, 2004</a> <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/10/19/348059/rick-santorum-pledges-to-die-on-the-hill-fighting-against-same-sex-marriage/" target="_hplink">Think Progress, 2011 </a>

  • On Being A Hater

    "You can say I'm a hater. But I would argue I'm a lover. I'm a lover of traditional families and of the right of children to have a mother and father. ... Isn't that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?" <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04197/346633-84.stm" target="_hplink">Pittsburg Post Gazette, 2011</a>

  • On The Gay Jihad

    "So the gay community said, 'He's comparing gay sex to incest and polygamy, how dare he do this,' and they have gone out on a, I would argue, jihad against Rick Santorum since then." <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/178543-santorum-gay-community-on-jihad-against-me-for-stance-on-marriage?utm_campaign=briefingroom&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitterfeed" target="_hplink">The Hill, 2011</a>

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