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Why I Chose Newt Over Santorum

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
In 2008 -- when my wife, Gena, and I were on the campaign trail backing former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for president -- former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania was fighting to get former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney elected. (Go to to hear how Santorum passionately endorsed and elevated Mitt in his bid for the Oval Office.)

Just three years ago, in his interview with radio host and conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, Santorum also emphatically told millions of listening Americans, "If you're a conservative ... if you're a Republican ... there is only one place to go right now, and that's Mitt Romney."

Why an alleged conservative would fight for the flip-flopping Massachusetts moderate on the presidential campaign trail -- especially in light of the fact that Huckabee and even McCain were running then, both of whom had much clearer conservative records -- I will never know.

Even Santorum now admits that Romney "bragged he's even more liberal than Ted Kennedy on social issues."

So the question that keeps coming to my mind now is this: How can the "alternative to Romney" also be a Romney supporter?

Though I commend Santorum for some of his stands since leaving Congress -- for example, his opposing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the stimulus, the Fannie-Freddie bailout and the auto bailout -- I have a slew of problems with what he did while serving in the U.S. Senate from 1995-2007.

Here are the reasons -- as noted by the Club for Growth, Taxpayers for Common Sense, SCHotline and other watchdog and news sources -- that Gena and I gave our endorsement to Newt and not to Santorum:

--Santorum was a serial earmarker -- requesting billions of dollars during his time in the Senate and not reversing his position on earmarks until 2010, when he was out of Congress.

--Santorum voted to raise the national debt ceiling five times.

--Santorum voted for the 2005 highway bill that included thousands of wasteful earmarks, including the "bridge to nowhere."

--Santorum voted for the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, which removed duties on textile and apparel goods traded among participating nations, resulting in nearly all textile companies leaving the South.

--Santorum voted for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (though he now says he would repeal it), which imposed job-killing federal regulations on businesses.

--Santorum voted against the National Right to Work Act of 1995, which would have repealed provisions of federal law that require employees to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

--Santorum voted for taxes in the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act.

--Santorum voted for the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, which raised the minimum wage, allowed punitive damages for injury or illness to be taxed, allowed damages for emotional distress to be taxed, and repealed the diesel fuel tax rebate to purchasers of diesel-powered cars and light trucks.

--Santorum voted to confirm President Bill Clinton's nomination of Alan Greenspan to be chairman of the Federal Reserve System for a fourth four-year term.

--Santorum voted for the Medicare outpatient prescription drug benefit, known as Part D, though he's critical of it now. It was the largest expansion of entitlement spending since President Lyndon Johnson's administration, and it costs taxpayers more than $60 billion a year and has almost $16 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

--Santorum voted in 1997 to support the Lautenberg gun ban, "which stripped law-abiding gun owners of their Second Amendment rights for life, simply because they spanked their children or did nothing more than grab a spouse's wrist," according to a press release from Dudley Brown, executive director of the National Association for Gun Rights.

--Santorum voted in 1999 for a bill "disguised as an attempt to increase penalties on drug traffickers with guns ... but it also included a provision to require federal background checks at gun shows," according to Brown.

--Santorum "came to anti-gun Arlen Specter's defense in 2004 when he was down in the polls against pro-gun Republican Pat Toomey. Specter won and continued to push for gun control during his years in the Senate," Brown said.

--Santorum voted with Barbara Boxer in 2005 on the Gun Lock Requirement Amendment.

--Santorum voted for the No Child Left Behind Act.

--Santorum sponsored legislation to force companies to pay laid-off workers benefits.

--Santorum worked for an increase in funding Head Start and other big-government programs.

--Santorum voted for taxpayer money to go to Pennsylvania families for their heating bills.

--Santorum introduced and co-sponsored big-government health care bills.

--Santorum voted for HR 796, a bill that would have protected abortion clinics.

--Santorum actively supports The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which "channels a large portion of its funds through Planned Parenthood's affiliates around the world and through a British group Marie Stopes International (the largest chain of abortion mills in the UK)," according to a letter from the Gerard Health Foundation, which provides millions of dollars to pro-life groups.

--Santorum boasted of teaming up with Joe Lieberman, Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton in his 2006 political ad during his race for re-election to the Senate, which he lost to Democrat Bob Casey Jr. by the largest margin of victory ever for a Democratic Senate nominee in Pennsylvania and the largest margin of victory for a Senate challenger in the 2006 elections.

--Santorum opposed the tea party and its reforms in the Republican Party, saying, "I've got some real concerns about (the libertarian) movement within the Republican Party and the tea party movement to sort of refashion conservatism, and I will vocally and publicly oppose it."

It's no wonder that in January, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas accused Santorum of having a "very liberal" political record.

I'm bringing this up now because if Santorum were to win the nomination, President Barack Obama definitely would bring this up in the general election campaign.

And the question that keeps coming back to my mind about Santorum is: How can the "alternative to Romney" also be a Romney supporter?

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