As he campaigns in New Hampshire, Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has spent as much time arguing with prospective voters as he has asking them for support. The former Senator was challenged Friday about his opposition to gay rights and President Obama’s health care plan.
“I have a question and it’s about gay people,” asked the first man to be called on at a town hall meeting. “They are children of God too. Do they have the right to marriage? Do they have the right to serve in the military? Should they be treated like any other citizen? Under your Presidency, would you protect their rights or would you diminish them?”
Mr. Santorum said he doesn’t believe marriage or serving in the military are inalienable rights, but “privileges,” adding, “It’s not discrimination not to grant privileges.”
A woman who had a college-aged son with a preëxisting medical condition asked Mr. Santorum whether he thought it was right for insurance companies to discriminate against her son. The candidate did not address her question, but rather discussed market-based solutions to the lack of insurance coverage for some Americans and said Pres. Obama‘s health care plan has not fixed the problem.
Things didn’t get easier for Mr. Santorum. At a town hall meeting at a college prep school, students asked him repeatedly about gay marriage. At one point, Mr. Santorum said, “I think I answered that question. I’m not too sure I can add anything more to it.”
Santorum offered the crowd there a more passionate version of his opposition to same-sex marriage than he had earlier in the day. “You’re robbing children of something that they need, they deserve, they have a right to. They have a right to be know and be loved by their dad or their mom,” he said. “That’s what marriage is about. It’s not about two people loving each other.
“There’s nothing hateful about that. There’s something true about that.”
Later, a woman holding a Bible asked how his “war mongering” reconciled with his faith.”Jesus said to love your enemies and feed them, not blow them up!” she said.
On Thursday, Mr. Santorum tangled with gay rights supporters at a college convention, defending his opposition to liberalizing marriage laws by raising the specter of polygamy. “What about three men?” he asked.
The comment evoked memories of the ex-Senator’s controversial statement to the Associated Press in 2003, when he associated gay sex with incest and bestiality.
Also Thursday, Mr. Santorum said he wouldn’t mind being known as the “Jesus candidate.” In response to a suggestion that the race didn’t need a “Jesus candidate,” he said, “We always need a Jesus candidate. I don’t mean necessarily that we always need a Christian, but we need someone who believes in something more than themselves.”