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May 3rd, 2011

Santorum says Obama was wrong about Gitmo, Enhanced Interrogation

By Kevin Hall

U.S. officials say enhanced interrogation techniques at the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison helped lead to the capture and kill of Osama Bin Laden.  During one of his stops in Iowa Tuesday, former senator and likely presidential candidate Rick Santorum says President Obama needs to admit he was wrong for opposing both Gitmo and enhanced interrogation.

“I hope the president will stand up and finally admit that he was wrong and that this in fact was beneficial to our country,” Santorum told TheIowaRepublican.com prior to a speech in Pella.  “It’s interesting that if the enhanced interrogation techniques result in capturing Bin Laden, (Obama’s) great foreign policy victory would not be something that he would be able to have, but for something that he found to be a great problem within the Bush administration.”

Santorum congratulated Obama and our military for capturing Bin Laden, but believes the current administration’s policies have made us less safe.  “This president has not done what he promised to do, which is to improve America’s standing in the world, to improve our safety and security,” Santorum said.  “As a result of that, if anything, his actions have undermined our relationships with our allies and have given our enemies a reason not to respect us or fear us.”

Santorum was the fourth presidential candidate to take part in The Family Leader’s “Presidential Lecture Series”.  His appearance drew the smallest crowd so far in Pella, as just over 50 people showed up.  Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, and Michelle Bachmann each had over 100 attendees for their events in Pella, but the crowd size has dwindled each time.

The small crowd could indicate a lack of interest in Santorum.  However, much of the blame should fall on The Family Leader.  These events are designed for their supporters.  When the “Presidential Lecture Series” was announced in January, CEO Bob Vander Plaats called it “a focused strategy to facilitate meaningful exposure to our constituents.”  Rick Santorum is one of the most “pro-family” candidates in the race.  He has been one of the nation’s leading voices for social conservative issues.  Santorum is the type of candidate that would seem ready-made for The Family Leader’s events.  For whatever reason, the Pella event was largely a failure.

Perhaps the mostly empty auditorium became a distraction, because Santorum’s speech was not nearly as sharp as the one he delivered in Cedar Rapids last week, nor the one he delivered in Waukee in March.   There were only two applause lines. They did not come until the final two minutes of the speech, when Santorum talked about the Born Alive Infact Protection Act, which he sponsored.

Santorum’s anti-abortion message that he delivered in Waukee during the IFFC event might have been a better choice that the one he gave Monday.  The former Pennsylvania Senator focused the majority of his 22 minute speech on Constitutional issues and criticisms of Obama.  While those are certainly important, the crowd was clearly more interested in social conservative topics like abortion.  That is an issue Santorum could use to separate himself from the crowd.  He should have focused on it more Monday.

Santorum readily admits that his speeches are designed to make people think, not for applause lines. However, he tends to meander at times and will need to sharpen his message and learn to speak in soundbites.  Santorum claims the Republicans will need a “good communicator who can paint a compelling message” in order to defeat Obama.  He believes he can be that candidate.  Monday’s performance did nothing to prove him right.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for TheIowaRepublican.com.




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