Santorum: GOP needs to talk more about values

AP News
Posted: Nov 04, 2011 4:37 PM
Santorum: GOP needs to talk more about values

Rick Santorum on Friday proposed amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage and abortion as part of a broad appeal to social conservatives he's wooing in his race for the Republican presidential nomination.

He also proposed reinstating a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military as well as teaching abstinence-only sex education courses in schools and ending taxpayer dollars for contraception. And he promised to fund organizations that promote marriage and counsel against abortions.

"We have to have strong families and strong culture to have a free and prosperous and strong America," Santorum said.

While the GOP contest has mainly focused on the struggling economy and efforts to put Americans back to work, Santorum said the debate should not ignore cultural issues.

"If you want to get this economy going... having just a little bit of support for marriage and families and fatherhood would be a huge step toward that," Santorum said.

Trailing in the polls and looking at Iowa as the lynchpin to his strategy, Santorum is highlighting his long-standing positions on social issues in the hope of winning over Iowans. None of his proposals Friday came as a surprise but, when taken together, they represent the bedrock of what would be a deeply conservative Santorum administration.

If elected to the White House, Santorum said he would veto any legislation that provides money to organizations that provide abortions, citing Planned Parenthood specifically. While the group provides other health services, Santorum said it would receive zero taxpayer dollars under his administration for any of its work, such as cancer screenings.

Santorum also promoted a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman and to ban abortions. While he said he is not generally a supporter of changes to the Constitution, he said conservatives have no choice.

"Sometimes that's all you have left when the courts have run roughshod," he said. "We need to let them know exactly what our country wants."

Santorum also called on Congress to abolish the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which conservatives regard as the most liberal appeals court and criticize regularly. He said that would oust the current judges and give him as president the opportunity to appoint conservatives to the bench in two or three new appellate courts that would replace the Ninth Circuit.

And in a nod to the cultural role of the president, he said he would champion conservative values from the White House.

"When the president talks about something and drives home a theme," Santorum said, "America has that discussion."