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June 25th, 2010

Santorum’s Message to Iowa Republicans: “You’ve got to bury the hatchet and focus your arrows on the other side, not each other.”

Former United States Senator Rick Santorum will be in Iowa today helping Iowa Republicans.  Santorum is scheduled to attend a luncheon for the Scott County Republicans at noon before heading to Washington, Iowa, to headline a fundraising event for State Senate candidate Sandy Greiner.

Santorum will be the featured guest at the State Convention lunch that is being sponsored by TheIowaRepublican.com, the Iowa Progress Project, and the American Future Fund. The lunch is free of charge to all convention delegates and will be located in Hall C of Hy-Vee Hall.  In addition to Santorum, the event will also feature Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn, and Craig Robinson, the Editor-in-Chief of TheIowaRepublican.com.

In recent months, Santorum has been a regular visitor to the First-in-the-Nation caucus state.  In March, Santorum headlined the Iowa Christian Alliance’s spring kickoff event, the same event at which Mike Huckabee spoke a couple years before he eventually asked Iowans for their vote in the caucuses.  Santorum has visited Des Moines, Dubuque, and Council Bluffs since last fall.

TheIowaRepublican.com interviewed Santorum in advance of his latest trip back to Iowa.  In addition to talking about what Iowa Republicans should be focused on, he also provided commentary about recent current events, including the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the controversy surrounding the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal from his command in Afghanistan .

Santorum was traveling in his car with two of his children to go a Major League Baseball game.  Santorum was excited to see Washington Nationals’ rookie phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg go against the Kansas City Royals.  Our conversation was diverted to baseball when I told Santorum that I hoped Strasburg didn’t do too well since I was playing against him in my fantasy baseball league,

Santorum then admitted that he is a 16-year veteran of fantasy baseball.  Santorum plays in a 12-person, American League only league.  His team, “For the Glory,” has won the league championship in seven of the league’s 16 years of existence.   His team is named after the Penn State alma mater.

Santorum’s competitive nature showed through we he was talking about his fantasy baseball team, at one point he said, “Everything I do, I play to win.”

While Santorum has found success in fantasy baseball, Republicans have not found much success as of late.  The message that Santorum plans to share with convention delegates this weekend is how important this election is and how we have to pull together and win.

After describing the current political environment in Iowa, I asked Santorum if he thought what was going on in Iowa was anything like what happened in his home state of Pennsylvania after the Toomey/Specter primary in 2004.

Santorum said, “In some respects, I was Vander Plaats.  I was the first socially conservative candidate elected to stat office since before the great depression.” Santorum described the Republican Party in Pennsylvania as being very moderate and compared it to New York politics, where there is a Republican Party, but then there is also a Conservative Party.

“I can understand the angst conservatives have in dealing with moderates, but you have to be a team and stand together.  Duke it out in the primaries, I have no problem with that.  If you’re a conservative and you’re not happy with the Republican you have, run against them or find someone else to run against them.  But no matter what happens, you’ve got to bury the hatchet and focus your arrows on the other side, not each other,” Santorum added.

Santorum doesn’t believe that a nasty primary will necessarily stand in the way of Republicans uniting this fall.  “In 2008, the other side was able to rally everyone together, even though they had a nasty primary.  The Democrats came together to win because they believed there was a lot at stake. I would argue there is even more at stake now.   So we owe it to America and to Iowa to stop this fundamental shift that is changing our country at a foundational level,” he added.

Santorum on Other Topics:

Gen. Stanley McChrystal Controversy:

“McChrystal made the fatal mistake with Obama, and that is he criticized Obama.

You can always get away with doing just about anything or saying anything or doing anything, but if you offend him, you’re toast.

To me, it’s the Rev. Wright thing all over again.  It’s all personal.  He just simply cannot stand criticism.  If had taken him on the substance and not made any comments about Obama or of a personal nature, he would have been fine.  But once it was a personal affront, it’s over.”

Gulf Coast Oil Spill:

“This is a man who believes in the power of government to do everything, and what we see is the power of government to do everything, it’s pretty clear they can’t handle a lot of things, this being one of them.”

“It just shows He is completely focused on ideology.  He takes the gulf oil spill and he turns it into a crusade for cap and trade, which has to do primarily with electric generating power, which has nothing to do with oil. “

“He [Obama] is a committed leftist.  Who tries to take everything and put it into this framework of ‘How do I get more government’ and ‘How do I get more control of the levers of power in the United States and centralize them in the hands of the government,’ I think this is just another example of that.”

On President Obama

Santorum recommended reading a recent article in the Wall Street Journal written by Dorothy Rabinowitz entitled “Alien in the White House.”

“Obama is detached form the American experience.  He just doesn’t identify with the average American because of his own background.  Indonesia and Hawaii.  His view is from the viewpoint of academics and the halls of the Ivy league schools that he went to and it’s not a love of this country and an understanding of the basic values and wants and desires of it’s people.  And as a result of that, he doesn’t connect with people at that level.

He connects with the soaring rhetoric, and the great promises and this ideological utopian vision.  He didn’t connect with people because he felt their pain or he cared about them or he understands them.  It’s been, to me, a very important understanding of who this guy is, and I think that’s become evident through this crisis.”

Need another reason to attend the Republican State Convention?

Matt Strawn and the Republican Party of Iowa may want to consider selling tickets to this weekend’s Republican State Convention.

Rumors run rampant about what the supporters of former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats will do this weekend.  Some sources tell TheIowaRepublican.com that Vander Plaats’ name will be put into nomination for Lt. Governor.  Others say that Vander Plaats has already decided on a third party run.

To prove how crazy the rumor mill is, one person has told TheIowaRepublican.com that Vander Plaats recently met with Rob Tully, the former Democrat Party Chairman who is behind a group called Iowans for a Responsible Government, to discuss a potential third party run.

It is likely that we will know more about Vander Plaats’ intentions after his radio interview on WHO Radio with Steve Deace at 5:00 pm tonight.  If he or his supporters try to nominate him for lieutenant governor, the 2010 Republican Convention might be the most interesting in history.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson serves as the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheIowaRepublican.com. Prior to founding Iowa's largest conservative news site, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. In that capacity, Robinson planned and organized the largest political event in 2007, the Iowa Straw Poll, in Ames, Iowa. Robinson also organized the 2008 Republican caucuses in Iowa, and was later dispatched to Nevada to help with the caucuses there. Robinson cut his teeth in Iowa politics during the 2000 caucus campaign of businessman Steve Forbes and has been involved with most major campaigns in the state since then. His extensive political background and rolodex give him a unique perspective from which to monitor the political pulse of Iowa.




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