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Rick Santorum on Fox News Defends Birth Control Position, Obama 'Snob' Comment

First Posted: 03/04/2012 9:29 am Updated: 03/04/2012 11:32 am

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace put Rick Santorum on the defensive Sunday with pointed questions about his stance on birth control, his insult to President Barack Obama over higher education, and his low record of charitable giving. A visibly flustered Santorum tried to defend and explain some of his previous missteps and inconsistencies ahead of Super Tuesday.

On the subject of birth control and the controversial Blunt amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny contraception and other health coverage for moral reasons, Santorum tried to drive the conversation away from contraception and toward the issue of religious liberty. But pressed on his own views about birth control and confronted with the fact that 99 percent of sexually active women have used it at some point, Santorum defensively acknowledged that he believes it's morally wrong and that employers should be able to opt out of covering it.

"I'm reflecting the views of the church that I believe in," he said. "We used to be tolerant of those beliefs. I guess now when you have beliefs that are consistent with the church, somehow, now you're out of the mainstream, and that to me is a pretty sad situation when you can't have personal held beliefs. But that's not the issue -- the issue is whether the government can force you to do things that are against your conscience, and that's what we've been talking about on the road. We haven't been talking about my own personal beliefs."

Santorum's reiteration of his Catholic beliefs gave Wallace an opportunity to hammer him on another moral issue: his own lack of charitable giving. While both Obama and fellow GOP candidate Mitt Romney gave around 14 percent of their respective incomes to charity in 2010, Santorum donated only 1.76 percent of his $923,411 in income.

The former Senator blamed the lag on the costs of caring for a disabled daughter.

"I was in a situation where we have seven children, one disabled child who we take care of, and she's very, very expensive," he said. "We love her and cherish the opportunity to take care of her, but it's an additional expense. We have to have around-the-clock care for her, and our insurance company doesn't cover it, so I have to cover it."

Santorum's comments about the cost of having a disabled child and the lack of insurance coverage are particularly interesting in light his recent criticism of free prenatal testing under the Affordable Care Act, which he opposes because the test results might "cull the ranks of the disabled" by encouraging expecting parents to have an abortion.

Finally, Wallace pressed Santorum on the issue of higher education. The candidate had recently called Obama a "snob" for wanting "everybody in America to go to college," but Wallace pointed out that what Obama actually encouraged was for all Americans to have at least one year of higher education or some kind of vocational training or apprenticeship.

Santorum acknowledged that he might have made a mistake.

"Look, maybe I've read some comments where at least it was characterized that the president said we should go to four-year colleges," he said. "If I was in error, you said you haven't found that, I certainly read that… if it was an error, I agree with the president that we should have options for a variety of training."

The latest polls show Santorum slightly edging out Mitt Romney in the pivotal state of Ohio, which, if he wins, could prove significant to his campaign.

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