Gay rights, immigration dominate Santorum stop
As GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum wrapped up his stump speech and opened the floor for questions, the focus of his event in Spencer quickly turned to gay rights and immigration.
"How do you remain toward homosexuals while strengthening the traditional family structure?" Greg Rasch asked the former senator from Pennsylvania.
"People should have a right to live the life they want to lead, but that doesn't mean we have to adopt as matters of public policy, policies that change the basic value structure of our country to accommodate that lifestyle," Santorum responded.
He went on to tell the room of about 30 potential voters that homosexuals have worked for him and he does not believe they should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
"But, that doesn't mean we should change the laws of this country to destabilize the American family, to change the way we look at religious liberty in this country, to accommodate a different value structure," Santorum added.
He went on to say America is built on Judeo-Christian values.
"Laws should try as much as possible to comport with the higher law and also should comport with what reason would dictate. And what reason dictates is that children need mothers and fathers," Santorum said. "What we're doing by changing the laws of marriage is denying children the opportunity to have a mother and a father. Some say, 'Well, through technology, same-sex couples can have children.' Well they can, through either adoption or artificial insemination ... but they don't get the mother and the father. ... Every child has the right to have their mother and their father."
Later, reporters asked Santorum about President Barack Obama's decision to promote gay rights abroad using American foreign aid dollars.
"I would suggest that we give out humanitarian aid based on humanitarian need, not based on whether people are promoting their particular agenda," Santorum said. "Obviously, the administration is promoting their particular agenda in this country, and now they feel its their obligation to promote those values not just in the military, not just in our society, but now around the world with taxpayer dollars."
Santorum accused Obama of saying he is for traditional marriage, while fighting against it in the courts and promoting gay lifestyles and gay rights.
In addition to that line of questioning, Santorum answered questions about immigration, saying that a private contractor could create a better system than E-Verify and blaming Obama for not wanting to solve the immigration issue.
"He didn't even try to pass one (immigration plan) ... when he had the time to propose pretty much anything he wanted and get just Democratic votes to pass it," Santorum said. "And then after Republicans took control of the House in 2011, the first thing he said was, 'Republicans are blocking immigration.'"
When asked how to handle someone who is brought to the country illegally by their parents, Santorum said they continue to break the law by having fake documentation and also accused fellow presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich of having "false compassion."
"You can't be here for 20 years and commit only one illegal act ... because everything you're doing while you're here is against the law ..." Santorum said. "I understand Congressman Gingrich saying, 'Well, you know, people have been here and they've been good citizens and paying taxes.' Yeah, under somebody else's Social Security number because you stole it."
Families should be broken up when the law is broken, which includes illegal immigration, he added.
When asked about "anchor babies" who are born in America to illegal immigrants, Santorum said he was torn on the issue, but that it is a symptom of a porous border which must be addressed first.
In his speech, he recommended turning entitlements over to the states.
"I want to make (Rep.) Jeff (Smith) a really busy guy because I want to take these federal program, cut all the strings, block grant it, give it back to them and let them design a program," Santorum said, referencing the man who introduced him Tuesday afternoon.
Though his poll numbers remain in the single digits, Santorum said he is building momentum slowly and refuses to stop emphasizing social issues.
"The concept that we can have a strong country and strong economy without a strong family unity is a lie," Santorum said. "If you don't have a strong family structure, you're going to have more problems."