Santorum says Iowa Should Give Him Another Opportunity

Jun 15, 2015

These are the remarks, as delivered, by former Senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, at the Iowa GOP's Lincoln Dinner May 16, 2015.

Thank you very much. It’s always a pleasure to follow my former colleague Chuck Grassley and the great work he does. It is great to be back here in Iowa. Thank you for having me back.

I spent a little time here four years ago -- three-hundred and eighty-five meetings and speeches that I did across the state of Iowa. And I want to share with you my favorite story from that time. I was in Storm Lake and I had just finished a political meeting in the back, and I came out and I started working the tables at the restaurant. And I walked up to a booth and there was an elderly couple sitting there and across from that elderly couple was an even more elderly woman. And I walked up and I introduced myself to the elderly couple and then I turned to the elderly woman and before I could even reach out my hand she looked at me and she said, “STOP CALLING ME!” I said, “Excuse me?” And she goes, “YOU GUYS KEEP CALLING ME ALL THE TIME! ALL DAY, ALL NIGHT, ALL YOU DO IS CALL ME. AND HALF THE TIME YOU’RE CALLING ME, YOU’RE CALLING FOR MY HUSBAND, AND HE DIED TWO YEARS AGO!” And I said, “Well I’m very sorry to hear that ma’am.” And, she completely changed, she said, “Oh, don’t worry he was 95.” So, I looked at her and I said, “He must’ve robbed the cradle.” And, without missing a beat, she said, “You can call me anytime.” So, that’s the fun of campaigning in Iowa and I had a great time doing it. And this time around, you know we haven’t made any decisions yet, but let me just share with you what I think this country needs:

This country needs a president who understands that the greatness of our country comes from a free people, not an oppressive government. That our country is a great country, because we should have a president who understands and honors and supports the American military and the great work that we do. We have to have a president who understands the difference between a friend and an enemy. The president of this country right now is a president who appeases, a president who is afraid to call the enemy what it is. Twelve years ago, I gave a speech in Washington, D.C., where I even challenged the president back then to have the courage to go out and name the enemy. Ladies and gentlemen we are not at war with terrorism. We are not at war with radicalism. We are not at war with anything other than the truth. We are at war with radical Islam. We are at war with Jihadists. And we need to have a president that has the courage to say it. Let me just give a little primer to the president on who our enemies and who our friends are:  Iran -- enemy. Israel -- friend. It’s real simple.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to tell you that it’s important to hear people’s vision here tonight. You’re going to hear a lot of visions. Over the course of the next several months you’re going to hear people laying out their vision for this country. And that’s really important. But it’s also important to have policies that undergird those visions, someone who has the experience to go out and lay out how we’re going to solve these problems and look at national security. We are confronting two great evils in the Middle East right now. Or, I should say, we’re not confronting two great evils in the Middle East right now.

One is ISIS. One is a threat that is not just in that geographic area in Iraq and Syria, but is a threat here at home, as they call people from around the globe to Jihad. I’ve been very, very clear about how we’re going to deal with this. They want to bring back a seventh century version of Islam. And so here’s my suggestion: We load up our bombers and we bomb them back to the seventh century. We need to take them on and take them out. Why? Because the only reason they are able to appeal to people around the world to join them in their Jihad is because they control a state. Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda have never been able to call people to Jihad because they didn’t control land and establish a caliphate. That’s why it’s incumbent upon whoever the next president is to take that land back, to defeat ISIS. That means we need to not just bomb, but to arm the Kurds. We need to support the Iraqi Sunnis. And yes, we need to have people in place -- General Jack Keane has suggested 10,000. I support the idea. Not an invasionary force, but a force that says we are serious about defeating an enemy that is going to, and is, attacking the United States today.

Second: Iran. Iran is a country that is the most dangerous threat to our country today. Why? Because they are on the precipice of obtaining a nuclear weapon, and this president is doing nothing to stop them. If we do not do something to stop Iran, they will get a nuclear weapon. And this is a country unlike any in the history of our world that has had such a weapon. Why? Because they are not a secular power who is concerned first and foremost about their own safety and security. They are a theocracy that is concerned about bringing about their theocratic goal of bringing back their twelfth Imam. I met with a former CIA director and he told me the most serious threat we have is a nuclear Iran and what it will do, not just to its neighbors, but the potential to cause harm here to this country. That is a serious threat. The president is negotiating away. We dealt with this. I did, fourteen years ago.

You see, when you’re looking at someone who is going to solve problems you not just look at vision - look at problems and how they are going to solve them. But you also have to look at what experience they’ve had. You’re going to have a tough job to decide who the right person is that Iowa is going to set forth. And you can look at what they say. You can even look at what they propose. But the most important thing to look at is what they’ve done. Because I can tell you, too many times we’ve elected people who say they’re going to do one thing, and then they go to Washington, D.C. and do something completely different. So, the record matters. Twelve years ago, I introduced a bill on Iran to put sanctions in place. You know those crushing sanctions that brought Iran to the table? I was the author that put those sanctions in law twelve years ago. And I was opposed by none other than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the process. Now, that is a record and that is a vision that our country needs and a leader who is going to confront an enemy that is so dangerous to our country. You know, all the things I just talked to you about, four years ago wouldn’t have been talked about. Why? Because national security wasn’t important, but it is this time.

But still, the key issue is how we’re going to create jobs and opportunity for our people. And again - look at not just the vision, but look at the record. The vision is different than probably most who you’re going to see come through here. Yes, we’re going to have a pro-growth plan that is going to cut taxes. We’re going to make sure that not just those at the top of the income level are going to succeed, but we’re going to make sure that those who are hurting the most - the 74% of Americans who don’t have a college degree, who think we’re still in a recession - those are the ones who are hurting the most. And the reason is, is because that we as a country have given up our manufacturing base. We’ve given up on construction, manufacturing resources. All those jobs that used to create the opportunity for people to rise in this country. And we’ve turned our back with higher taxes and higher regulation, with trade laws that don’t allow us to compete. Ladies and gentlemen, we need trade laws. We need trade agreements. We need lower taxes. We need less regulation. But we need to focus on those being left behind. The bottom line is, if you look at the record, yes, I proposed that we fought for manufacturing when I was in the United States Senate. I was author of the welfare reform bill which did more to take people out of poverty than anybody else. We proposed and voted for every tax cut that there was and made sure to cut the cost of government. That’s a record that I’m proud of. And I did it representing not a conservative state, but a state like Pennsylvania.

This is an opportunity you have to put forth a leader. Four years ago you gave me that opportunity. Well, not quite exactly on the night of the caucus, but eventually you gave me that opportunity. And, I just want to leave you with a little factoid. Since Iowa caucuses began the process of electing people to, nominating people to the Republican Party through caucuses and primaries, as opposed to conventions, which was the case prior to the 1960’s, every nominee of the Republican Party, every single one of them has met one of three criteria: One, they were vice president; Two, they were a son of a former president; And three, they came in second place and then ran again and won. Well, we won eleven states last year, came in second place, and I would hope that Iowa would keep up a great tradition for our country. Thank you, and God Bless.