News+Opinion » Features

Santorum disses Romney as a 'moderate' at U.S.S. Yorktown

Social conservative calls repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' a mistake

by

4 comments

On the U.S.S. Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant Tuesday morning, Rick Santorum pitched himself to a crowd of about 50 spectators as a social conservative who would work to keep military spending a budget priority.

The former Pennsylvania senator accused President Barack Obama of "fecklessness" in dealing with the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran. He also said it was clear from Monday's Republican debate in Myrtle beach that "one candidate" (he did not specify which) had exhibited "incoherent and dangerous rhetoric ... about the future of our military and the presence of America around the world."

The stump speech was also an opportunity for S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley County) to announce his endorsement for Santorum. Grooms had previously endorsed Rick Perry, but he called on Perry to withdraw from the race Monday afternoon after he polled at just 5 percent in South Carolina leading up to the crucial S.C. GOP primary election on Saturday.

"Let's face it," Grooms said. "It's time for the conservatives of South Carolina to rally around our best choice to have a true conservative as president of the United States."

Santorum made several digs at the current frontrunner in state and national polls, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He shied away from critiquing Romney's jobs record while working at Bain Capital, but he repeatedly used the word "moderate" as an epithet against Romney and accused him of "dirty, dishonest politics" due to his apparent support from politically unaccountable Super PACs. He said Romney had never won an election on a true conservative platform and brought up his previous pro-choice allegiance on the issue of abortion.

Santorum was the third candidate to speak on the Yorktown during the current campaign cycle; Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry appeared there late in 2011. When Rick Perry spoke there in December, he said he opposed the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as the standard for gays and lesbians serving in the military. The repeal, effective in September 2011, allowed homosexual servicemen and women to be open about their sexual orientation.

When City Paper asked Santorum what he would do in regards to DADT if elected, he gave a more succinct answer than he had in the past:

"The policy for the military should be what is in the best national security interest of our country and what gives our fighting force the best possibility of achieving its mission and doing so in a way that minimizes the loss of life, and that we continue to attract and retain the best possible volunteer fighting force that has ever been seen. I have grave concerns in talking with a lot of people in the military that this policy will undermine all of those things and that while ... [Here he paused for applause.] I go back to the fact that, under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' everyone can serve, and that's what the policy should be: Everyone can serve, and that the military is not there to promote any particular agenda outside of securing our freedom."

Santorum has earned a reputation as an aggressive campaigner. In Iowa, he came from behind to nearly tie Mitt Romney in the Republican Caucus by speaking and staging meet-and-greets in all 99 of the state's counties. The most recent NewsMax poll, released Sunday, puts Santorum at 13 percent among S.C. Republicans, behind Ron Paul (14 percent), Newt Gingrich (21 percent), and Mitt Romney (32 percent).

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment
 

Add a comment