News Column

Santorum Talks Foreign Policy, Sweater Vests in S.C.

Jan. 13, 2012

Patrick Donohue

Rick Santorum

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told a crowd of about 200 people Thursday in Beaufort that President Obama does not trust the American people to solve the country's economic and social problems.

"The president would have you believe that if there's a problem, Washington will fix it," Santorum said. " 'This world is too complex for you. You're incapable of deciding anything for yourself so you need the government to do it for you.' There's a lack of belief in the American people. It's pathetic."

Santorum was flanked by his wife, Karen, and three of his seven children at a town hall meeting at the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club on Lady's Island, where the former Pennsylvania senator took Obama to task for making Americans too reliant on government. The Beaufort stop was the last of Santorum's three appearances Thursday in Beaufort County. He hosted similar town hall meetings in Sun City Hilton Head and on Hilton Head Island.

Santorum tied for fourth in the New Hampshire primary, which was won this week by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, an outcome Santorum described as "fait accompli."

"We didn't spend a dime in New Hampshire," Santorum said. "Now we look to South Carolina ... and there's no home-field advantage in South Carolina. You have to earn it here, and we've been here since day one."

After speaking for about 20 minutes, Santorum opened the forum to questions and was quizzed about his thoughts on Social Security reform, the country's relationship with China and the article of clothing that has become a symbol of his campaign -- the sweater vest.

Santorum said he owned three vests when his presidential campaign began but started wearing them superstitiously after gaining momentum in the polls leading up to the Iowa caucuses. He now owns many more.

"It sort of took a life of its own ... and the vest gave me this power," Santorum quipped. "When you're sitting at 2 percent in the polls, any recognition is a good thing."

Santorum impressed some undecided voters in attendance Thursday, including John Buffet of Ridgeland, who said he is now likely to vote for Santorum.

"He's a politician, but he doesn't seem like he's saying whatever he has to say to get the job," Buffet said. "He seems to be genuine in what he believes to be right for America."

Source: (c) 2012 The Beaufort Gazette (Beaufort, S.C.)

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