AUDIO: Santorum still has disagreement with McCain over waterboarding

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is standing by his assertion that the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee doesn’t understand the value of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques used to elicit information from captured enemies of the country. Arizona Senator John McCain was held captive in North Vietnam for five-and-a-half years and endured brutal treatment as a prisoner of war. McCain has repeatedly called on both the Bush and Obama Administrations to refrain from so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding.  Santorum maintains information gleaned during the “enhanced interrogation” of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed led to the discovery of Osama bin Laden.

Santorum bristled today during a news conference in West Des Moines when a reporter asked about the controversy.

AUDIO: 30 sec

Reporter: “John McCain recently said you made a mistake when you said you didn’t understand how torture works. Do you regret making those statements?

Santorum: “With all due respect, if you’re going to quote me, please quote me.  Don’t paraphrase and then put some sort of twist on what I said.  I didn’t say that and I think you should go back and you should read what I said and you should read the article on how I said it. What I said was that we have a very different opinion on how the enhanced interrogation program works and I’ve been very clear about that and we still have that disagreement.”

Non-candidate Thune headliner at Sioux City event

South Dakota Senator John Thune announced several weeks ago that he would NOT run for the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nomination.  But Thune has agreed to follow in the footsteps of people like Newt Gingrich (thinking about running in ’12), Rick Santorum (thinking about running in ’12), George Pataki (not running in ’12) and John Ensign (really not running in ’12; just resigned from US Senate) and headline an event for the American Future Fund.

AFF Announces Lecture Series Event with Senator John Thune
US Senator John Thune to speak in AFF’s Conservative Lecture Series in Sioux City
 
American Future Fund announces the kick-off of their Conservative Lecture Series for 2011 with guest speaker US Senator John Thune scheduled to speak on May 31 in Sioux City.
 
Senator Thune (R-SD) was first elected to Congress in 1996 and then to the Senate in 2004.  In 2009 he was elected by his colleagues to serve as Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the US Senate.  Senator Thune has been a leader in the fight against ObamaCare and the potentially catastrophic cap and trade legislation.  He is a strong advocate for a balanced federal budget and reforming the budget process.  Senator Thune strongly believes in and advocates for the basic principles of liberty, freedom and small government that our founders built this great country on.
 
AFF Founder Nick Ryan stated, “It is an honor to have such a distinguished member of the US Senate join our lecture series in Iowa.  We look forward to hearing Senator Thune speak on our nation’s most pressing concerns.”
 
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What the “candidates” are saying

Here are the statements on Osama bin Laden’s death from three four potential GOP presidential candidates. 

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Santorum: war on terror is not over

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rich Santorum just called me to talk about Osama bin Laden’s death and his three-city lecture tour in Iowa today.  He delivered a lecture in Iowa City early this morning. He’s in Pella over the noon-hour as part of The Family Leader’s presidential lecture series.  Santorum will speak in Sioux Center late this afternoon.  Here’s a transcript of our telephone conversation.

Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson (me): What are your thoughts on bin Laden’s death and what do you see as the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan?

Santorum: “I’m as energized as anybody that we were able to take this man whose mere existence was a sign of defiance to the United States, that we were actually able to take him out and prove that his comments in the past were saying, ‘The Americans, they’re weak…They won’t be diligent in fighting us.’  I think we’ve shown that in fact we will be and we are and we did and hopefully the lesson learned is that diligence does pay off and that this war is not over and that the threat has not been subdued, but that our actions, our continuing vigilance in Afghanistan and in Iraq and, hopefully, in other places around the world and in this country will continue to keep us safe and…ultimately be victorious in subduing this threat.”

Henderson: Some are starting to talk about bringing the troops home.  Is there an ongoing mission in Afghanistan?

Santorum: “One of the things we’ve learned is that when you have — particularly in the Muslim world — you have failed states that can be occupied by religious fanatics, you create an atmosphere for bad things to happen not just around that region but in our country and so we need to remain vigilant that we don’t leave in Afghanistan what caused the events of 9/11 which is a failed state that can be run and supported by terrorist organizations.”

Henderson: In 1991, George H.W. Bush was seen as a shoe-in for reelection in 1992 because of the way the Gulf War had been prosecuted and many Democrats who were mulling a run for president didn’t run because of that impression.  How does bin Laden’s death impact Republicans like yourself who are thinking about running for president?

Santorum: “This is one moment, a very welcome moment.  It’s an important moment in the fight but there are a lot of issues that we have to deal with going forward in other places around the world as this fight continues. And we’ve seen the president of the United States and the actions he’s had to deal with de novo as a president, which is places like Iran and their revolution, Egypt, Libya, Syria, other places around the Middle East — the president has handled all these situations poorly and as a result I believe we are less safe as a result of that and those are the issues that are going to be most important to the voters. As we saw in 1992, ‘what have you done for me lately?’ is a very important and, I think, appropriate way the American public looks at these situations.  It’s not what you’ve accomplished — that’s certainly a factor — but ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘What will you do?’ that’s much more important.”

Henderson: As a Pennsylvanian, did you feel at all compelled to cancel your appearances in Iowa today and go to Shanksville instead?

Santorum: We’ve got some serious issues that we’ve got in this country with the continuing battle with the jihadists and I’m not happy with the way we’re dealing with those and so I’d rather continue to go out and talk about the future. I certainly share in the enthusiasm and the support for our team that was able to kill bin Laden, but you know, my job is to focus on where our country is going in the future.”

Santorum’s lectures are focused on America as a “moral enterprise” with people “molded by faith”.

The Palin rumor

About 600 pastors are meeting in Des Moines, part of the Renewal Project.  Last year’s event attracted potential presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich & Tim Pawlenty.  Those three men are speaking at this year’s event, along with Haley Barbour, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.  A source who is familiar with the line-up and the event itself says: “there is now a rumor that Sarah Palin will stop in at the last minute.”

Media, by the way, are not allowed into this event.  And some of the speakers (I don’t know which ones) may be appearing digitally rather than in person.  So Palin could do a digital drop-in without flying into Des Moines.

Trump to headline Iowa GOP fundraiser

Another sign from The Donald.  Read the Iowa GOP news release below:

Donald Trump to Headline Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Dinner

Continues tradition of high-profile speakers at Iowa GOP events

DES MOINES- Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn today announced that Donald J. Trump will headline the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual Lincoln Dinner. The event is scheduled to take place on Friday, June 10 in Des Moines and will be Trump’s first visit to Iowa this caucus season. 

“Mr. Trump’s speech at CPAC earlier this year caught the attention of many political observers and as the ‘First in the Nation’ caucus state, we extended an invite to allow Mr. Trump to introduce himself to Iowa Republicans,” Strawn said. “We are excited to have Mr. Trump share his vision for a better America through his experiences as an individual who has made a career as an entrepreneur and job creator.”

Strawn went on to say that Mr. Trump’s appearance is the latest in a long line of political leaders the Iowa GOP has hosted during his leadership of the party.

“As Chairman, I have made it a priority to deliver interesting and high-profile national Republican leaders to speak at our events. Mr. Trump’s appearance in June is the latest instance of the Iowa GOP working to provide value to its activists, donors and supporters.”

Iowa GOP officials noted that since January 2009, national leaders including Governor Haley Barbour, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Congressman Mike Pence, Governor Mitt Romney, Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul, Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Rand Paul have each headlined an Iowa GOP event. 

Further details will be released closer to the event.

Audio from Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event

Five prospective/potential/probable presidential candidates spoke this evening in Waukee, Iowa to a crowd of about 2000 who turned out for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event.  Each man was given 10 minutes to speak to the crowd. 

Listen to former Godfather’s Pizza president & CEO HermanCain (mp3 runs 9 minutes 20 seconds) and read about his remarks.

Listen to former House Speaker NewtGingrich (mp3 runs 10 minutes 48 seconds) and read about his remarks.

Listen to former Louisiana Governor BuddyRoemer (mp3 runs 17 minutes and 7 seconds)  and read about his remarks.

Listen to former Minnesota Governor TimPawlenty (mp3 runs 13 minutes and 32 seconds ) and read about his remarks.

Listen to former Pennsylvania Senator RickSantorum(mp3 runs 20 minutes and 22 seconds) and read about his remarks.

Rick Santorum @ Iowa Faith & Family Coalition event

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is the fifth and final potential presidential candidate to speak at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event this evening in Waukee, Iowa.  (Listen to his speech)

“Steve, good to be with you, Steve.  That’s cheap,” Santorum said after he was introduced, referencing former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s faux pas  just a few seconds earlier, as Pawlenty had mistakenly called Steve Scheffler (president of the Iowa Faith & Family Coalition) Chuck rather than Steve. (Pawlenty told the crowd he knows a Chuck Scheffler from Minnesota.)

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Santorum then said, apologizing to Pawlenty. “I’ve done that a million times, so sorry.”

Santorum began his remarks by telling the crowd: “This is not just another speech to me…This is a group that means a lot to me, because this is a group that I’ve been attached to the hip from, working in the vineyards.”

America isn’t about great wealth or great power, according to Santorum. “The purpose of America is to create an opportunity for each and every person…to live as they were called to live,” he said.

As for that “truce” on social issues that another prospective presidential candidate, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, has suggested? “You can’t,” Santorum told the crowd.

Santorum joked about being referred to as an “ultra-conservative” Republican. “My kids used to think my first name was ‘Ultra,'” Santorum said, to applause and laughter from the crowd.  “…Once you fight for the moral fabric of your country, you’re labeled.”

After a brief foray into foreign policy (the Obama Administration, according to Santorum, took the side of the mullahs), Santorum returned to the domestic issue of partial birth abortion.

“I’m Ultra,” Santorum declared. “Why? Because I share your values and I fought for them.”

“…We have an opportunity in this election to frame a great moral cause.  Everyone wants to talk about the economy…It’s vitally important to create jobs…repeal ObamaCare, but what’s the mission?” Santorum asked. “…We have to paint an America…where Americans believe in themselves again.”

Santorum, in hushed tones, urged the people in the crowd to “put your citizenship cap on” and be faithful, then closed with a story about the partial birth abortion debate in the U.S. Senate that he often tells in speeches.

Speeches over at 8:34 p.m. central time.

Santorum stresses stand against gay marriage, swipes at Daniels (VIDEO)

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is the guest on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program on Iowa Public Television (the video is already online). This afternoon’s taping started with questions about gay marriage, specifically President Obama’s recent directive to the Justice Department to stop defending the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” and Santorum took a swipe at another potential presidential candidate, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.  (Daniels has suggested it’s time to “call a truce” on social issues.)

Read the transcript of Santorum’s remarks below:

Santorum: I’m obviously very disappointed.  The President, when he was campaigning, was very clear about his support for a bill that passed with over 90 votes in the United States Senate, was signed by President Clinton, which did something very basic which was that states would not be bullied into changing their marriage law by other states and mostly other state courts like what happened here in Iowa, that state courts wouldn’t impose marriage on one state and then litigators from that state then go to other states to force them to recognize Iowa’s marriage law or Massachusetts’ marriage law.  So, this was a way for the federal government to preserve the sovereignty of the states.  And it was a way of being sort of neutral on the issue of marriage instead of favoring one side over the other, let the people decide.  And what President Obama has done is in a two year period of time he went from finding this law to be perfectly fine and constitutional to finding it to be somehow unconstitutional even though, to my knowledge, the language of the Constitution hasn’t changed any in the last two years, yet his interpretation of it has.  And I think it is driven by politics, not by any real change in the Constitution and its meaning.

AP’s Mike Glover: And you issued a statement harshly critical of the President at the time that he acted.  But there has been sort of a strange silence from a lot of potential republican presidential candidates.  I haven’t heard much from a lot of them.  Why not?  Why haven’t I heard more?

Santorum: Look, I mean, all I can say is that if we do not, as a party and as a people, stand behind the institution of marriage and understand its essential role as the glue that holds the family together, the family, the building block of society, the first economy, the first school, the first place where children’s character is formed we are going to destine our children and destine the future of this country for a lower standard of living and less free and prosperous country.

Glover: Should we hear more from the other potential candidates?  Would you ask them to address the issue?

Santorum: All I can say is I have spoken loudly and will continue to speak loudly and if others choose not to I think they have to take the pluses and minuses in not doing so.  But I am going to be and have been a vocal supporter of traditional marriage.  I believe it is essential.  I’m not surprised.  In the Iowa elections, as you know, there were three justices up for, um, retention, I’m sorry, couldn’t find the word, thank you, Dean, up for retention in the last election and of the potential republican candidates I was the only one that came into the state, jumped on the judge bus, talked about the issue of having people decide what marriage laws should be, not courts and no other republican potential nominee or candidate came in to do the same.  So, I think it shows that there are some people who are willing to stand up and fight for the family and others who would rather, to use the comment of one potential candidate, call a truce on these things.  Well, a truce, in this case, means ceding ground to the other side.

Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson: How do you think this issue will play out in the Iowa caucus campaign in the contest among you and other candidates?

Santorum: Obviously the issue of marriage is an important one.  Never before in the history of Iowa, I’ve been told, were judges up for retention thrown out, in this case all three of them thrown out.  It is clear why they were thrown out is because they abused their position and imposed a novel meaning of marriage on the Constitution.

Henderson: But do you think in 2012, whenever the Iowa caucuses may be, that Iowa republicans will go into those meetings and vote for a candidate based on this issue?

Santorum: I think it will be a factor just like the jobs bill, I mean, the jobs issue will be a factor, just like national security will be a factor but I think it will be an important factor.  It is a relevant issue, obviously, in this state and I think it is an important issue for our country in understanding how essential it is to have strong families and marriage being the glue that holds that family together.

Henderson: For Republicans in the general election in 2012, is it a relevant issue of contrast with President Obama?  Do you think it will be a motivating factor for voters in 2012, November?

Santorum: Obviously here in Iowa it was a motivating factor.  In other states where there have been fights on marriage, 31 states have had referendums on the issue of marriage and those who supported traditional marriage have won 31 out of 31.  So, it is a motivating factor, it is a debate that is worth having.  I think one of the reasons that it has won in all 31 states including states like California and Maine is because once the debate happens people begin to see the ramifications to society at large of what a change in the marriage laws will mean, what is means to education, what it means to people’s religious freedom, what it means to churches and what they can preach.  All of these things then come into focus and we realize this isn’t just a harmful thing that affects people that we want to be kind to.  I certainly want to be kind and if people want to love somebody else they are perfectly free to love whoever they want to love.  It’s different, though, if you’re asking us to change the law about marriage and the impact of changing that law is on our schools and our children’s education and on our religious institutions.

Glover: Is there a political risk to you in taking this position on same-sex marriage and maybe a reason some of the other candidates have been less vocal?  I have seen some polling suggesting that for people under 40 this is a loser of an issue and it doesn’t motivate people in the overall universe.

Santorum: Mike and Kay, Dean, I’m sure you’ve looked at my political resume and I think you have looked at the issues that I have taken on in the sixteen years I was in public life and I don’t think anyone would accuse me of looking at the polls and determining what positions I fight for.  I look at what I think is in the best interest of the future of our country and it is clear to me that the best interest of the future of our country is that we have strong marriages and strong families and we raise children in the best possible atmosphere for those children to be raised and that is highlighting and supporting a child being raised by a mother and a father.  That is the ideal place.  Can children be raised in a different environment?  Yes.  But we want to do what is best for children and what is best for children, by any measure, and even the left now admits this, scientifically, social science work, children raised in two-parent homes with moms and dads do better.  And so as a society it is in our interest to encourage that and I think be re-defining marriage we don’t encourage it, we discourage it.

Santorum on why ’12 race is slow developing (AUDIO)

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a potential candidate for president, suggests the reason there are no “declared” Republican presidential candidates today is because of the restrictions on fundraising and spending that fall upon someone once they become an “official” candidate for the GOP’s presidential nomination. 

“Look, I don’t really see any real reason to make a decision at this point. I mean, what’s the point of announcing your candidacy and putting yourself in a position where you’re under all of the FEC and all of the rules and regulations and funding restrictions and everything like that,” Santorum told three Iowa reporters late today. “…If you can go out and test the waters and get your message out and see — it sort of gets you a lot more flexibility than being under these restraints that McCain/Feingold put us under.”

Santorum also predicts the 2012 presidential race will be cheaper than 2008.  “Barack Obama raised $750 million.  I will predict to you today that he will not raise that amount of money, because it isn’t there,” Santorum said.  “…The economy’s taken a real hit and people don’t have disposable income like they d in 2007 and 2008 when folks were here running.  So, to say, ‘Why aren’t you running?’  Well, you’ve got to have fuel in the tank and right now there’s just not a fuel out there.”

Listen to his full remarks to reporters, including Santorum’s analysis of the decision facing both Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin about running for president in 2012:   Santorum

Santorum is the guest on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program on Iowa Public Television.  The program was taped this afternoon; he spoke with reporters after the taping.