Mary Katharine Ham

It’s been billed as the top race of 2006.

The Senate race in Pennsylvania features a rising Republican star-- an outspoken, staunch conservative Democrats would love to claim as an electoral prize. Facing him is a legacy politician whose father was governor of the state, and who’s been embraced by the Left as the key to ridding the U.S. Senate of a powerful advocate of traditional values and a muscular stance on national security and the war on Islamic fascism.

Sen. Rick Santorum vs. Bob Casey, Jr. Liberal blogs have called the race a “clash of the Titans,” and Santorum has found himself unexpectedly vulnerable at times, according to polls, which have shown him down as much as 20 points.

A little less than three months from Election Day, the Santorum campaign is catching a bit of momentum. A recent poll showed Santorum down only six points, and late-summer ads on his tough immigration position seem to be paying off.

The Senator took a few minutes, while on the campaign trail this week, to talk to Townhall about his race, and what conservatives can do to make sure this “very solid, very committed vote for victory in the war and clarity about our enemies” stays in the Senate this fall.

Q: Let’s start with the big news of the day. In light of the foiled terrorist plot in Great Britain this week, tell me a little bit about your vision for how we should fight the war on Islamic extremism, and how it differs from your opponent’s.

A: The difference between where the Democratic Party is and where my opponent is on this issue and me, is that my opponent runs around and talks about the 9/11 Commission and talks about how we have to spend more money on homeland security. And, he criticizes me for not spending money on homeland security on a variety of different fronts.

That approach to me is basically the approach of “garrison America” or “fortress America.” that the way to fight this war against Islamic fascism is to defend against it. I think that is a fundamentally flawed strategy. It’s flawed because, while we have to take prudent measures to defend ourselves, the idea that focusing our attention on a defensive struggle against Islamic fascism is a failed strategy.

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

Be the first to read Mary Katharine Ham's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.