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Santorum raises rhetoric in attacks on Obama

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says the Pledge of Allegiance on Tuesday during a campaign stop in Phoenix. The GOP candidates debate tonight in Mesa, Ariz.

Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says the Pledge of Allegiance on Tuesday during a campaign stop in Phoenix. The GOP candidates debate tonight in Mesa, Ariz.

PHOENIX — A surging Rick Santorum is making increasingly harsh remarks about President Barack Obama, questioning not just the president's competence but his motives and even his Christian values.

Mitt Romney also is sharpening his anti-Obama rhetoric. He said Tuesday the president governs with "a secular agenda" that hurts religious freedom. In general, however, the former Massachusetts governor has not seriously challenged Obama's motives, often saying the president is decent but inept.

But Santorum has heightened his attacks ahead of the GOP presidential debate at 8 tonight on CNN and the primaries in Michigan and Arizona on Tuesday. The debate will be held in Mesa, Ariz.

Santorum says Obama cares only about power, not the "interests of people." He says "Obamacare," the health care overhaul Obama enacted, includes a "hidden message" about the president's disregard for impaired fetuses, which might be aborted.

Santorum even seemed to compare Obama to Adolf Hitler, though he denies trying to do so.

Recent examples of Santorum's remarks:

• Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, Santorum criticized Obama for requiring health insurance plans to cover prenatal testing. He said such tests lead to "more abortions and therefore less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled."

• On Monday in Steubenville, Ohio, Santorum said Obama "talks about how he's going to help manufacturing, after he systematically destroyed it. You pick any area. Financial services. One after another, where he has this ideology of government-centralized control. Not worried about the interests of people. He's worried about the interest of power so he can dictate to people what he believes is best."

• Also in Steubenville, Santorum said Obama encourages a trend in which the church, religious-affiliated colleges and civic institutions grow weaker while government grows stronger. "We all know that one of the ways that government has been able to accumulate power is to do so by weakening the institutions that people rely upon," he said.

• Speaking Sunday at First Redeemer Church in Cumming, Ga., Santorum said people who shrug off troubling signs about Obama are like those Americans who ignored the growing fascist menace in Europe before World War II. "Your country needs you. It's not as clear a challenge," Santorum said. "Obviously, World War II was pretty obvious. At some point, they knew. But remember, the Greatest Generation, for a year and a half, sat on the sidelines while Europe was under darkness, where our closest ally, Britain, was being bombed and leveled, while Japan was spreading its cancer all throughout Southeast Asia. America sat from 1940, when France fell, to December of '41, and did almost nothing. Why? Because we're a hopeful people. We think, 'Well, you know, he'll get better. You know, he's a nice guy. I mean, it won't be near as bad as what we think. This will be okay.' Oh yeah, maybe he's not the best guy, and after a while, you found out things about this guy over in Europe, and he's not so good of a guy after all."

Asked Monday if he was comparing Obama to Hitler, Santorum said: "No, of course not."

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined Tuesday to get drawn into a point-by-point rebuttal of Santorum's comments. He said Obama "is focused on his job as president.

Santorum raises rhetoric in attacks on Obama 02/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:22am]
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