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Santorum defends calling Obama a 'snob'

February 26, 2012|By Mark Z. Barabak
(John Amis / Associated Press )

Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. —

It's snobby to want everyone to go to college. It's not stuck-up, though, to pursue a higher education.

Rick Santorum parsed the difference Sunday morning on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Appearing at a campaign stop in Troy, Mich., Santorum -- his voice thick with derision -- said on Saturday: "President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob. There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard everyday and put their skills to test that aren't taught by some liberal college professor that [tries] to indoctrinate them."

Anti-elitism is a popular chord, especially for a candidate appealing for working-class and blue-collar support, as Santorum is doing in Michigan. But his remarks also seemed to clash with the American ideal of self-betterment and the fact that college graduates fared much better through the recession than those lacking degrees.

Asked Sunday on NBC to explain his remark, Santorum assailed the "overly politicized values and [politically] correct values that are on most college and university campuses." He said everyone should have the opportunity to go to college or acquire a "higher level of training skills."

"But it doesn't mean you have to get a four-year college degree," Santorum said. "The question is what is best for you."

He cited his seven children. "You know what, they have different skills, they have different things that they want to do with the lives and the idea of sort of saying, 'Well, unless you do this... you're not sort of living up to our goals,' I disagree with that."

Pressed by moderator David Gregory whether he encouraged his children to go to college, Santorum said he encouraged them "to get higher education."

"In fact, if college is the best place for them, absolutely, but you know what? If going to a trade school and learning to be a carpenter or a plumber or other types of skills or an artist... or musician, all of those things are very important and worthwhile professions that we should not look down our nose at."

Chris Christie, the outspoken New Jersey governor who has endorsed Mitt Romney, said Sunday that calling the president a snob was "probably over the line."

“Every kid doesn’t want to go to college, but I think we should aspire to let every child reach his maximum or her maximum potential,” Christie said on CBS' "Face the Nation." “… And I certainly don’t think the president’s a snob for saying that.”

mark.barabak@latimes.com

Kim Geiger in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

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