ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Cancel

Our Guide to the Best Coverage on Rick Santorum and His Record

The best reading on former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to help you cut through the horse-race coverage and get oriented.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum arrives at a local restaurant to campaign and watch a football game in Ames, Iowa, on Dec. 30, 2001. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

This is the latest installment in a series of reading guides on 2012 presidential candidates. Here are the other guides.

The Basics

Rick Santorum's strong showing in the Iowa caucuses has vaulted him from obscurity to presidential contender. Just a few months ago, Santorum barely merited a mention as Republican voters fell in and out of love with Rick Perry, Herman Cain and New Gingrich.

So who is this darling of the evangelical movement?

Santorum, 53, is devout, hawkish, competitive and polarizing. Social conservatives praise him for his hardline positions. He opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, believes gays should not be allowed to marry, and has said he would bomb Iran's nuclear sites if they are not opened to international inspection. Evangelicals applaud the prominence he gives to his faith. Liberals decry him for many of the same reasons.

Santorum's path along the campaign trail has been unusual by standards of modern politics. A recent New York Times profile of the candidate noted that his Iowa operation lacked a campaign headquarters, a speechwriter, advance team or advertising budget. The Times said Santorum set out to win the "old-fashioned way, through shoe-leather politicking." That involved lots of moving around. In the months leading up to the Iowa caucus, he visited all 99 counties in Iowa, often traveling by himself or with a single press aide.

The Background

If you want more than his official stance on the issues, you can take a look at NPR's recently listed the Five Things You May Not Know About Rick Santorum, including the fact that he jokes about spending his childhood in public housing, has spoken against programs that would pay for community service, and has two nieces.

A long Des Moines Register profile describes Santorum's journey from an ambitious young staffer and law student to 32-year-old U.S. representative of Pennsylvania and, four years later, senator. Here's a timeline of some key events in his life and more on his voting history. He helped author a landmark welfare reform act that gave states more responsibility for administering welfare and put time limits on how long a person could receive assistance. The bill passed with bipartisan support. Santorum was one of the Gang of Seven, a group of freshman Republicans that exposed several congressional scandals. He was elected to the Senate in 1994 and served two terms before losing by 18 points to Democrat Bob Casey in 2006. Since then he has worked as a lawyer and as a commentator on Fox News, a gig that ended when it became clear he was running for president.

Santorum has steadily gained popularity with the Christian conservative base. TIME magazine listed him as one of America's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals," and he recently won the endorsement of several prominent evangelical leaders. This New York Times story from 2005 is perhaps the deepest look at Santorum the Believer, whom a former aide once called "a Catholic missionary who happens to be in the Senate."

He is "at home on the far right of the Republican spectrum" as a profile in the Los Angeles Times puts it. Santorum fiercely opposes gay marriage, calling it a threat to the traditional values of this country. As a senator he fought for anti-abortion legislation -- which is why he calls himself the only Republican candidate with a track record on the issue.

Santorum is well known for his colorful and often controversial comments. The website Santorum Exposed keeps a list of his "greatest hits." Here are just a few:

"It's amazing that so many kids turn out to be fairly normal, considering the weird socialization they get in public schools." July, 2005.

"I think it has, as we've seen, very harmful long-term consequences for society. So birth control to me enables that and I don't think it's a healthy thing for our country." July, 2005.

"A lesbian woman came up to me and said, 'why are you denying me my right?' I said, 'well, because it's not a right.' It's a privilege that society recognizes because society sees intrinsic value to that relationship over any other relationship." May, 2011, explaining his view on gay adoption.

Santorum wrote in the National Review that two texts -- the Declaration of Independence and the Bible -- have shaped his guiding beliefs in "the dignity of every human being:" He and his wife Karen have seven children, all of whom they have home-schooled.

Santorum has called for public schools to teach students about the possibility that God, not evolution, was the moving force in the creation of the human species. In 2002 he wrote in the Washington Times that "intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."

Controversies

In 2003 Santorum gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he equated homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia. In protest, one gay activist spread a fake, vulgar definition for his last name all over Google. Santorum sued Google (he lost).

In one of the GOP debates this September, Santorum sparked another wave of criticism for his remarks on the military's policy of banning gay soldiers, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (He called the recent repeal of those rules "tragic"). He didn't speak up when audience members booed a gay soldier. The gay rights group GOProud demanded an apology. None was issued.

Following the Money

Santorum has raised far less than other Republican candidates, taking in only $1,286,975, according to his page on OpenSecrets.org. That's less than half as much as the next nearest candidate Newt Gingrich, who has raised about $2.9 million. Most contributions came from Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania, according to this New York Times interactive fundraising guide, which you can use to compare Santorum to other candidates.

Louis Nardozi

Jan. 3, 2012, 9:43 p.m.

Santorum was apparently taking bribes from Accuweather to introduce legislation that prevents the NWS from giving out free weather reports - now that information is given to AccuWeather to sell to us. But it gets better - he sold us out for a lousy $2000.
Hm. He also sold us out on a $10 billion bailout of tobacco farmers - for $9,000. Nice work if you’re a tobacco farmer I guess.
He took $6,000 to reduce the federal tax on a keg of beer by 1/2. Nice work if you can get it.

http://www.citizensforethics.org/page/-/PDFs/Reports/CREW_Beyond_Delay_Report_20060920.pdf?nocdn=1

The truth is that only one or two people booed and it was not at the homo-sexual soldier, it was because of his question. Only one actually might have booed . The rest told the person who booed to shut up. This is another example of the lies and distortions that the media and the liberals are all about. Truth to them does not matter. This is why I believe Rick Santorum will be received well by decent honest hard working people because they rightly sense that Santorum will be honest to a fault but as tough as nails on America’s enemies and in solving our problems.

Your statement that Santorum is against abortion in the case of rape and incest is not quite accurate. He is supports these provisions when they are part of legislation that would restrict the current status of abortion on demand.

From the Article:  “He [Santorum] opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, believes gays should not be allowed to marry, and has said he would bomb Iran’s nuclear sites if they are not opened to international inspection.”

“In 2003 Santorum gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he equated homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia.”

If you wonder how he managed to lose a Senate re-election bid in a battleground state like Pennsylvania look at his views and his priorities.

WILD!!!  Here this guy is, standing in “judgment” of others, pretty pathetic for a guy that says he’s so religious.  Can you see how easily issues get blurred in the name of religion?? to equate homosexuality with “bestiality and pedophilia is not only incredibly ignorant, but pretty weak, as a compassionate caring human being, or isn’t that in his religion??? 

I can’t wait to hear his position on medicinal use of cannabis, this ought to be just great.  I’d be dead today without it, but that isn’t the issue~~right??  He better just go back to Pennsylvania and give this thing up now, not happening THIS year~~OBAMA~~FOUR MORE YEARS~~~~

“THIS year~~OBAMA~~FOUR MORE YEARS~~~~ “
Not that Santorum or another of the clowns wouldn’t be a disaster but…....you find this prospect particularly thrilling?

What am I missing? He says no to ending a pregnancy which occurred as a result of a violent act, but also says no birth control. So let me understand - if a pre-teen or teenage girl who may find herself a victim of sexual assault & has the consent of her parents to use birth control, is assaulted, & doesn’t end up pregnant, that’s not OK? He seems to think all females should be barefoot and pregnant. Welcome back to the 19th century. BTW, social security is NOT an entitlement - ALL its revenues come from taxpayers & their employers - the government doesn’t contribute a dime. Let’s just hope the government has the moral code to pay back what they have stolen from that self-sustaining fund for the past 30 years - to date, $2.6 TRILLION which wasn’t theirs to steal.

@Ed Davis:  Honest to a fault?  He was on the Congressional Watch most corrupt list two years running.  You’re typify blind, ignorant, “you can’t make me listen to the facts” right wingnuts.

As a Republican of years, I would never endorse or vote for Santorum.
He has spent most of his campaign whinning about his own personal life.  I have heard NOTHING about what he would do to change America if President, except to bomb Iran.  He is using his Catholic views on having many kids, no birth control, no abortions under any circumstances. Yet has supported abortion candidate in the Senate.
  He is catering ONLY to those Evangelical Right groups and doesn’t realize that most of US want to know what the heck he would do if President. He will discover that his whinning and tears will Just not work on intelligent, educated, Americans that are looking for CHANGE, and that doesn’t mean Obama. Santorum a loser.

Mr. Santorum is another person who employs magical thinking to justify his personal righteousness. He has no real opinions, only dogma.

Adrien Taylor

Jan. 4, 2012, 1:26 p.m.

According this this he believes in the dignity of every person - unless that person is gay, and then, that person is seen (by Santorum) as one who engages in bestiality and pedophilia.  Consistency is SO HARD .sometimes, unless he means that those who do practice bestiality and pedophilia also have an inherent dignity.  Reminds me of other good souls who have thought that the good Indians were he dead ones and that Blacks here not quite human because they lacked souls and that women couldn’t vote because their minds were too weak to deal with complex issues.  Moving right along toward the 21st century . . . .

@BonnieOwens, Social Security IS an entitlement BECAUSE “its revenues come from taxpayers & their employers.” It’s my money and I’m ENTITLED to the benefits for which I invested my money.

Contrary to propaganda efforts by some on the left, entitlement is not a synonym for “handout.” An entitlement is simply a benefit to which one is legally entitled. Overpayment of taxes entitles people to receive tax refunds. In the case of “Temporary Aid to Needy Families” low income can entitle people to handouts. Social Security entitles people to defined benefits. Responsible money managers keep track of entitlements through careful actuarial processes and don’t extend entitlements beyond the level of payout a fund can sustain.

I wonder what will happen when the “Evangelicals” figure out that he’s a Catholic. That seems to rate below a Muslim and only slightly above a Mormon in their retarded heriachy. Well Santorum does declare an “Israel first” loyality, that might offset being Catholic with these simpletons.

Rick Santorum represents the most reactionary elements of the so-called religious right, reflecting his version of Catholicism. Is he on record condemning the pedophilia, the coverups and other hypocrisies of the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy and clergy? While he might be welcome in the Vatican and evangelical rave-ups, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll get support from any educated and open-minded US Catholics of which there are many. Those Catholics in fact practice birth control and respect the rights of gays and others on everything from abortion to the death penalty. Santorum has earned the scorn and derision of his Google definition. One can assume is name is Latin for “sanctimonious”. Less colorful than the Google definition but equally applicable.

Walter D. Shutter, Jr.

Jan. 4, 2012, 2:35 p.m.

Santorum lost his 2006 re-election bid for the Senate, not because of his voting record, but because his opponent was Robert Casey, son of a very popular Pennsylvania Governor,and 2006 was a bad year for Republicans everywhere. Senator Casey, by the way, is a empty suit.

Santorum, on the other hand, is not a empty suit. But he would make a better Pope than President.

Salvatore DiChristina

Jan. 4, 2012, 2:36 p.m.

Pennsylvanian education law provides for entitlements to homeschooling with certain stipulations. The stipulations are you must not only live in the state of Pennsylvania, but you must belong to your school district to receive the homeschooling entitlements. Poor Rick who purchased a million dollar mansion in Virginia, received Pennsylvania homeschooling monies while his offspring were homeschooled in Virginia. Homeschooling to me always connotated to me that the parents educated their children.
I wish some enterprising reporter would search the Pennsylvania homeschooling monies that the Santorums received and see who the checks were made out to…. Could it be Mrs. Santorum?

David E. Shellenberger

Jan. 4, 2012, 4:08 p.m.

Santorum, the sanctimonious gay-hater and warmonger. Believes in “the dignity of every human being,” subject to persecuting or killing a lot of them.

Please read santorum’s wife’s book, it will show you the insanity of these people.  Below is copied from Wikipedia about Karen’s book,

In it, she writes that the couple brought the deceased infant home from the hospital and presented the dead child to their living children as “your brother Gabriel”,

“Rick and Karen Santorum would not let the morgue take the corpse of their newborn; they slept that night in the hospital with their lifeless baby between them. The next day, they took him home. ‘Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!’ Karen writes in the book.

Please check this entire article from Wikipedia, it tells of his corruption while in his senate position in Pennsylvania.

Terrence Erdt

Jan. 4, 2012, 5:59 p.m.

There’s a dictum from a kind of political correctness that forbids us from holding up a person’s religious beliefs for scrutiny. As if it’s fine if someone like Bachmann, Perry, Romney, or Santorum spouts religious beliefs that most intelligent and educated people would find hilarious if the finding were not hurtfull to Bachmann, Santorum, etc. The First Amendment to the Constitution says wisely that we can’t establish a religion or restrict freedom of speech. It Doesn’t say such ninnies as the Rebublican candidates shouldn’t be denounced as throwbacks and their various vile and public expressions ripped apart in hopes their consituencies may yet evolve.

Please let us know when Santorum agrees to don a uniform and lead troops into Iran. (Or anywhere!!)

The word on Santorum up here in Erie, Pa., was that he lived in Virginia during his Senate “service” to Pennsylvania; that his Pittsburgh residence was not used; and that his kids were being educated at Virginia schools.  I had not heard the home-schooling claim before.  He lost re-election, in part, because he was considered a carpetbagger who showed no real interest in Pennsylvania.  As a local journalist who met him on the door-to-door campaign trail in Erie, he scared the shit out of me from the first minute.  He is far beyond the normal range when it comes to ego and self-righteousness.

Gudrun Scott RN

Jan. 4, 2012, 10:59 p.m.

Santorum is one of the leaders of the corrupt “K Street Project”. Along with Grover Norquist and Tom DeLay and Abramoff and he worked hard to corrupt the halls of government by placing a lot of lobbyists into to critical slots and insisting that they be GOP party members and do their bidding.  A lot of damage was done such as lobbyists writing the bills such as elimination of the oil and gas industry from the Clean Water laws and many others. We know how Abramoff ended up going to prison for corruption and cheating and abuse of taxmoney.

Of course now Santorum he is trying to backpedal and pretend that never happened, but voters knew about it and one of the reasons he lost to a skillful and decent person, Senator Bob Casey(D)in 2006 in Pa.

I hope I live long enough to see a decent agnostic in the White House.  The nauseating pandering by candidates to the Radical Religious Right makes us a mockery to the rest of the developed world.

Santorum is a vile hypocrite who, inter alia,  denies that people die from lack of medical care.  And would forbid a woman to end a pregnancy even if her life is threatened.

With somebody like that in the White House,  what’s left of our democracy will be taken over by a mixture of plutocracy (the rich already have us by the .....), and fanatic Christian radicals.  Real Christians who try to live by their creed, must be hiding their heads in shame as these hucksters continue to subvert our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

I totally agree with some comments about not hearing anything specific from the candidates on real issues. As an European expat living in the US for barely more than a year, I must say I am surprised to see how much emphasis is put on religion, family values and abortion and how little (any actually) on the 21st century issues the US and Europe has. I recommend the latest article from Thomas Friedman “so much fun, so irrelevant”.
I am personally learning a lot everyday from the Americans I work with. I am learning the culture and how this country made so many great things (Natl Park Service, Highway system, the great university-company network, NASA, ...)  in the past but at the same time I am also seeing how much the political speech is now focused on “who-cares” matters and how the country is totally losing the focus on what the issues really are…China, Education, Infrastructures, Renewal Energies, Internet access…when I hear things like “I would bomb Iran” or “Intelligence Evolution” ...really? is that the speech level of a US President? Is that what people cares about?

PS: don’t get me wrong, I am just sad that the US loses so much energy on these kind of things instead of becoming again a true WW leader.

I am really glad that my ancestors decided to come to Australia instead of the US, especially given how people like Santorum, Bachman and Perry can even be considered presidential material.

We have our share of religious politicians, but, thank goodness, nowhere near as bad as you guys!

Odd how they tend to view the Constitution as a Sacred Text, but rather forget how it enshrines separation of church and state.

Glad to see Santorum did so well in IOWA.  He has spoken well AND has a proven track record.  (unlike current Pres. oops)  He is successful, has traditional values, which are undoubtedly what this country was founded under.  And speaks openly and honestly.  His response to the lesbian woman was spot-on.  Having children is not a right.

He’s got my vote.

Reports of the death and demise of The United States of America are premature and our constitution will continue too. Santorum will NOT be elected because there is no way he will be the Republican candidate.. he’s entirely too far out there. The sad thing here is President Obama has been vilified from the beginning because RICH Republicans( who consistantly look out only for themselves )would rather see the rest of us lose our homes, or never have one,  our jobs, our public schools, safe air, water, roads, bridges.. and fight phony made up wars based on lies so their cronies and VP’s can profit…than really give a damn about Real America. I think Obama has it particularly bad because he’s half black (birthers!) but wake up .. Bin Laden gone not one of ours killed still not enough?? You DO know Obama gave that order right??

Hypocrite Santorum: “Our Abortion Was Different.”

http://oursilverribbon.org/blog/?p=188
Google it; there are lots of material. 
Santorum exemplifies typical Republican misogynism and the terrible awful games that these morons play with other people’s lives.  In the meanwhile, Santorum makes excuses for why HIS wife had a late term abortion.  There is much documentation on the subject including his wife’s book.  If you check further on statements that “he & his wife had a still born child” you will see that his wife DID have an abortion due to a “risk to her life” that would have left her other children without a mother.  The hypocrisy just goes on and on and on…. 

However, the Romney mowing machine (not that I consider Romney a viable candidate for anything) is running full tilt boogie right now and Santorum is soon to be mowed down like so much Iowa corn.

Rick should be proud that long after he’s lost the primary, long after his political career is wrecked, long after he’s a forgotten has-been (i.e. by November), his name will live on and enrich the English lexicon

Much like Juan’s comment above, I have to agree.  Our political campaigns have failed to address the REAL issues at hand and have concentrated on religious views!  I don’t care if the president is a Buddhist or whatever….what I DO care about is how he will run this country.  His religion should NOT get int he way of what the country wants.  I can guarantee you that most of this country does NOT believe in the same things that Santorum believes in….he is a religious zealot with little or no education in anything he’s talking about.  Being gay does NOT have anything to do with being a pediphile (sp) or participating in bestiality….if he knew ANYTHING, he would know that most pedaphiles are NOT gay.  But, enough said, he will never be a serious candidate for the Republican party, and if he turns out to be their nominee….he will lose his proverbial hair shirt to President Obama!  Let’s get down to the REAL issues at hand; i.e., economy, jobs, etc., and quit going on and on about religious beliefs….WE DON’T CARE!!!  We want to know how you’re going to fix the REAL problems out there!

I live in the foothills of the Allegany Mountains in NY state- a very red voting area.

Many cannot listen to NPR in their homes—only when we drive around in our car the car antenna picks up NPR.  There are several repeater stations in our hilly county that report from Ithaca, Binghampton, Rochester, Buffalo—and yet—many towns and villages all located in valleys away from the cold winds—we have no cities, do not get NPR into the home.

I live on top of a hill and I could get a repeater station at my property that would provide message of NPR to 3 towns all in valleys of course and all together about 15,000 people—but that is what is needed to educate people as well as the make them happier—knowledge brings inspiration…..

Right now I am discussing with my local nursing home to simply install a simple antenna on their roof and telling them I will not be checking in to their place because when I am old and decrepid, I plan to stay in bed for hours and turn on the radio with classical music, opera, jokes and educated news and then have meetings with other old fogies to discuss what I have heard—and I will be an informed voter. Right now the nursing home is packed with uninformed voters who never see anything but Fox TV and guess what they all vote by absentee ballot that is hand delivered to basically cancel my vote—they have all already received several color brochures from the GOP hypocrites like Santorum and others like him.

If time permits, you might make it a New Year’s resolution to go visit your nursing home and volunteer and organize with the Democrats to bring a brochure of the choices that the voters have.

Thank you Santorum for mobilizing an opposition for Nov 2012—I am calling the flawed but only choice the Nancy Pelosi crowd that does contain several awesome figures such as Whitehouse, Franken, Kohl etc etc that we need more of in Congress…..plan to work with the local party even if they have been pretty frustrating….....

@ Grudun - If you can afford it, satellite radio is the way to go.  I know what you are experiencing from driving across the country in rental vehicles for over 40 years (all you can get on the radio are right wing nuts and religious crackpots).  Hang in there.

This man is no different than Newt G., Obama, Romney, Perry or any other Progressive in the fields. Ron Paul is the only man who stands steady with the laws of the Constitution, his foreign policy is better than what we have has for decades. Our troops agree but the MSM will not tell their story. You can write any real truth from the MSM, they are nothing but a arm of the Dictators running this Nation. The Banker Controled government is so scared of Americans doing the same as the Arabs & Europeans, taking to the streetsa they have to fast tract and pass NDAA, FATAC & up next will be SOPA.

I read this & feel Americans should learn more about this man & what he does. http://armstrongeconomics.files.wordpress.com/201201/armstrongeconomics-make-the right-decision-010311.pdf.  If our people in the Military who have doing all of hard lifting & have lived amoung all of our so called enemies and fought then also feels our policies only do more harm than good , we should listen to them, but the MSM always finds away to cut off or make up some bull crap that this is only one person, well it’s not, millions in the military feel the same way & that’s why they support Ron Paul.

Ralph Chernoff

Jan. 5, 2012, 1:57 p.m.

I distinctly rememjber that, while in the Senate, reporters covering Congress voted him “dumbest Senator”. I don’t find that quote in this ProPublica art. but I’m quite sure It’s correct. And this was a time, mind you, when Strom Thurmond was still in the Senate. In any case, Santorum made no pretense - in those days at least - to intellectual eminence. I woulld urge the writer of this art. to try to dig up that “dumbest” quote. His performance in the Iowa silliness certainly confirmed it.

Pete Peterson

Jan. 5, 2012, 9:12 p.m.

Is this the best the US of A can do? A man in love with himself (Gingrich) ,
a religious fanatic with a subnormal I.Q( Santorum), A Wack job who thinks he has the answers and does not even know what racist crap is published under his name (Paul) and a chameleon who changes colors every day Romney. This is a list of losers and woe unto the world if any of these idiots is elected POTUS.

Here’s an idea. I think this guy is running just to gather all the support and get the religous right involved in the election. Eventually he will cede to another candidate and tansfer his supporters to someone else.

I think your article here skirts the most frightening aspects of Santorum but at least some of your reader have hit upon it.  Yes, for me he has some frightening views that the Christian right embraces.  His views on homosexuality being equivalent to beastiality and pedophilia are part of the American evangelical taliban.  But the real Santorum, like Gingrich, really boils down to corruption.  His personal enrichment from the companies he “supported” while Senator and his “K-street project” background should scare the pants of anyone with the slightest common sense. 
Another reader asks of the candidates - “is this really the best we can do”.  Sadly in so many elections in America, the answer is yes.

Jonathan Bonde

Jan. 11, 2012, 11:46 p.m.

For me Rick Santorum represents another supporter of perpetual war, liberty for those who believe exactly as he believes, tyranny for everyone else and Big Government (i.e. big money for big corporations, especially banks, insurance and military contractors).  He is no conservative, not in the traditional meaning of that word as I used to understand it.  But it seems the definition of that word has moved on and I haven’t.  Not that it matters, the Republican field will be decided by the time primaries come to Texas, but I won’t be voting for Senator Santorum.