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Santorum sees Obama administration as hostile to Christians

February 06, 2012|By Michael Finnegan
  • Rick Santorum speaks during the Colorado Election Energy Summit at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo.
Rick Santorum speaks during the Colorado Election Energy Summit at the… (Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images )

Reporting from Golden, Colo. —

On the eve of Republican presidential nomination contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, Rick Santorum tore into the Obama administration Monday over new rules that will force many religious employers to provide contraception to their workers.

"That's just a bunch of poppycock," Santorum told reporters when asked about White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's statement that the administration was willing to work with religious groups to address their concerns. "I mean that's just ridiculous. Mr. President, we're not that stupid."

Santorum's outburst could appeal to some of the Christian conservatives who will make up a substantial share of the voters in Tuesday's contests. The former senator from Pennsylvania hopes that a strong finish in any of the three states will help him recover from defeats in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada.

For Santorum, Carney's remarks at a White House briefing offered an opening to press his case that Obama administration rules on government-mandated health plans will force the Catholic Church and other religious employers to provide birth control despite moral objections.

Carney said misreporting had led some to overlook an exemption for churches and houses of worship. He also said the administration would work with religious groups to strike a balance between healthcare for women and the religious tenets of their employers, a pledge that Santorum dismissed as bogus.

"The administration saying, 'Oh, it's just a misunderstanding,' is just a bunch of bull," Santorum said, adding: "Guess what? They do provide some protection for some religious groups -- just not Catholics."

Santorum called Obama's administration "hostile to people of faith, particularly Christians, and specifically Catholics."

"I'm not going to stand for it," he said.

The remarks came after back-to-back appearances by Santorum and Newt Gingrich at an energy conference at the Colorado School of Mines here in this Denver suburb.

In comments later to reporters, Gingrich said Santorum was likely to "have a pretty good day" in the three contests on Tuesday, although no delegates will be awarded.

Gingrich also castigated his rivals for criticizing his plan to colonize the moon, which has drawn widespread ridicule since he announced it at a stop near Cape Canaveral days before the Florida primary.

"I am amazed that Gov. Romney, and to a lesser extent Sen. Santorum, are being so cheap and so lacking in any sense of vision," Gingrich said. "And if you read Romney's comments on the Space Coast, he's going to assemble a group of experts who will give him advice. The guy's been running for president for six years. Give me a break. So what's his plan for space?"

Gingrich also said he was not bothered by a "Saturday Night Live" skit mocking his moon plans.

"They used to make fun of me all of the time when I was speaker," he said. "And I took great pride in the fact that they made fun of me."

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