Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum focused more on social issues than economics during a campaign stop at Dalton City Hall Thursday morning.
“Unlike anybody else in this race, I’ve led the charge. It’s one thing to be pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage, taking on the issues of faith and freedom in our country, the core values of life. It’s one thing to vote that way. It’s another thing to stand up and fight and lead on those issues,” the Republican presidential candidate told about 300 people gathered in the City Council chamber.
That line brought a strong round of applause.
Santorum said the difference between him and the other Republican candidates is that they talk about such issues “but they don’t do anything about it.”
As a senator, Santorum sponsored legislation that banned partial birth abortion as well as several other pieces of legislation that would restrict abortions, and he voted for a federal law defining marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.
Santorum criticized his opponents for focusing on shrinking government while ignoring the rise in births to single mothers and to teenage mothers.
“Good luck over the long term keeping government small if families break down,” he said.
Santorum was accompanied by his oldest daughter, Elizabeth. He noted that he and his wife Karen have home schooled their seven children.
Georgia voters go to the polls on March 6, Super Tuesday, and Santorum said the most important goal is picking someone who can beat President Barack Obama in November. Santorum said he has demonstrated he can win the key swing states that a Republican must win to defeat Obama because he has taken on and defeated Democratic incumbents in Pennsylvania.
Santorum criticized “Obamacare,” the federal health care law passed by Congress two years ago. He said it saddled health care consumers and providers with numerous new regulations and mandates.
“That issue is at the core of the big issue in this race, and that is freedom,” he said. “The government is saying you are incapable of freedom. You are incapable of making these economic decisions for yourselves. You need the government to make these decisions for you. We need to tell you how much to spend on health care.”
He criticized one of his rivals, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, for backing a similar law that requires residents of the Bay State to buy health insurance or face financial penalties.
“We need someone with a strong track record of defending freedom, especially in health care,” Santorum said.
He also touched on his tax plan, which would eliminate the corporate income tax on manufacturing firms, such as the floorcovering companies centered in the Dalton area.
“We’re going to zero out the corporate tax for manufacturing activity and say, ‘If you sent your jobs overseas, bring them back.’ You won’t have to pay taxes on any of that money you made over there if you invest it in plant and equipment here in Dalton,” he said.
Santorum's appearance came just two days after former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich held a campaign rally in Dalton. Gingrich focused most of his time on economic issues, especially his energy plan. Gingrich claims that plan, which calls for opening up federal lands and offshore areas to drilling, could reduce America’s reliance on foreign nations for its energy and bring gasoline back down to $2.50 a gallon.
Gingrich criticized the Obama administration for its energy policies, especially for canceling a pipeline that would carry oil from Canada to refineries in Texas, and for the $500 million it pumped into Solyndra, a solar energy company partially owned by a contributor to Obama’s election campaign that declared bankruptcy last year.
Gingrich also hammered Obama for apologizing for the accidental burning of Korans by American soldiers in Afghanistan.
“No American president should apologize when young Americans are being killed,” he said.
Neither of the other remaining Republican presidential candidates — Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul — have announced any stops in the Dalton area so far.