Apr 19, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon
Politics

Rick Santorum: JFK Religion Pledge "Makes Me Want to Throw Up"

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Rick Santorum, well known for his pragmatism and measured rhetoric, recently addressed a pressing issue at a campaign rally in Michigan: 50-year-old speeches about the Pope.

Ever the diplomat, Santorum told the modest crowd that President John F. Kennedy's famous 1960 speech pledging to keep religion out of politics "makes [him] want to throw up."

George Stephanopoulos confronted the GOP Presidential hopeful with video of the speech and gave him the opportunity to backtrack, but Santorum decided to double down.

"I think it shows weakness," the former Pennsylvania Senator told ABC News. "I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up."

In the rest of the interview, Santorum played a veritable greatest-hits compilation of the intemperate remarks he has made on the campaign trail during his latest quest for the GOP nomination. In one, 15-minute Q&A session Santorum railed against Kennedy, apologies and college education.

In 1960, President Kennedy's now famous speech on religion was hailed as a political success. Then-candidate Kennedy had to reassure a nervous electorate that the nation's first Catholic President wouldn't be beholden to the will of a foreign Pope. Santorum seems to be taking a slightly different tack, implicitly promising papal involvement in almost every level of executive policy-making.

The hyperbolic rhetoric is red meat for the Republican primary electorate, but it doesn't play well with independents and even moderate Republicans. It's statements like this one that make GOP elders nervous about Santorum's prominence in the current field of nominees. He's like Sarah Palin with a better vocabulary.

Just to make sure no one missed his point, Santorum went on NBC to reiterate that "This idea that we need to segregate faith is a dangerous idea, and we're seeing the Obama administration not only segregating faith but imposing the state's values."

Whatever that means.

Santorum's views on the separation of church and state are odd enough on their own, but they are also strangely discordant with the Islamophobic themes he trumpets on the stump. When you synthesize the former senator's positions on religion in politics and the danger of Sharia law infecting our court system you begin to realize that Santorum doesn't want religion in government - he wants his religion in government.

Watch him try to explain to George Stephanopoulos why apologizing to Muslims is out of line, college is for elitists and JFK hated God.

Ladies and gentlemen, your GOP frontrunner.