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Caucus 2012 voter's guide: Rick Santorum

BY KRISTEN EAST | DECEMBER 12, 2011 7:20 AM

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In addition to supporting continued troops on the ground in the current U.S. conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is open to entering another conflict in the region.

Santorum's plan to stop Iranian aggression includes isolating Iran from other countries by neutralizing Iran's relationships with its closest allies and promising to enforce military action if Iran refuses to prove it isn't developing nuclear weapons.

"I've been out here talking about [national security] for a long time," he said.

He sponsored the Iran Freedom and Support Act in the Senate in 2005. With his foreign-policy plan, he said, he would reinstate full funding for the bill that provides funds to assist pro-democracy groups in Iran. Santorum also sponsored the Syria Accountability Act in 2003 — a bill aimed to end Syria's presence in Lebanon and the country's alleged development of weapons of mass destruction.

The debate over whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons has been a pressing issue in the news recently.

A September report from the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran is not implementing "a number of obligations" and is not providing "necessary cooperation" to the agency. Iran reported to the agency 15 operating nuclear facilities and nine facilities in which nuclear material is present.

"If Iran does not open up its facilities to make it very, very clear to U.S. inspectors and other inspectors to get in there and examine exactly what's going on, we will at some point take out that [nuclear] capability," Santorum said.

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who focuses on Middle East society, said he doesn't think there has been enough discussion about foreign-policy strategies during current or past presidential campaigns.

"Every candidate should answer the question, 'What do you want the Middle East to look like two years from now?' and outline goals," he said. "I don't know any Democratic or Republican president who has done that."

In addition to extensive talk about foreign affairs, Santorum's stance on most social issues has also been a focal point on his campaign — he supports a Human Life Amendment and has sponsored anti-abortion legislation in the Senate.

And at the Family Leader Thanksgiving forum in Des Moines last month, Santorum compared gay marriage and slavery.

"Gay marriage is wrong," he said. "As Abraham Lincoln said, the states do not have the right to do wrong… just like the states didn't have the right to do slavery."

A recent poll conducted by the Des Moines Register reported Santorum tied with Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 6 percent among Republican voters in Iowa. That puts him below everyone in the Register poll except former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

However, recent polling numbers haven't fazed Santorum's campaign staff.

"When it comes time to vote, we're supremely confident that Rick is going to shock a lot of people. People are just beginning to pay attention," said Hogan Gidley, the senior communications adviser for Santorum's campaign. "These polls only reflect, at this point, whose name is in the news. We think this race is fluid; we think this race is ever-changing."

Gidley said Santorum's visits to all 99 counties in Iowa will help him in the long run.

"We'll do very well, having built the base of the 99 counties," Gidley said. "That's our opportunity to really show Iowa what Rick is really all about. He's outlining a vision for the people of the state."


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