Rick Santorum photo

Remarks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC

September 25, 2015

Thank you. Thank you. [applause] Thank you very much, Gill. Thank you so much for being here. You know, I've been here to every single Value Voter Summit. [cheers and applause] And, you know, one of the things - I was in Iowa the other day, in Osceola, Iowa. Of course, all of you have been there, right? And I was introduced by Chuck Grassley. And Chuck got up and sort of hemmed and hawed a little bit about what to say. And he said, well, let me just say this: The one thing I can say about Rick Santorum is I've known him for 20 years and he hasn't changed a bit. [laughter] You know, I think that's about as high a compliment as you can get in this town of Washington, D.C., right? [cheers and applause]

We just had someone step down today who, in my opinion, changed a bit and it's probably time for him to have stepped down to start a new chapter here in Washington, D.C. [cheers and applause] I come here every year and I talk to you to thank you, to thank you for standing up and bringing to this city the issues that are at the core of the problems in this country. America is never going to be a great country if we're a country that kills our children in the womb, ever. [applause] We are never going to be blessed by God if we're a country that kills our children in the womb. We are never going to be a great country if we allow for the destruction of the American family that's what's happened over the past 50 years. And thank you for coming here and for standing for truth, standing for what you know is right and best for this country.

You know, we have a lot of candidates for president who will come up here on stage. And they'll rile you up and talk to you about all the things that they're going to do. But here's the best way to determine whether you can trust the person who's coming before you. Look at their record. Look at what they've accomplished. Look at what they've fought for. Look at what they have paid a price for. I came to Washington, D.C., and I'll have to be honest with you, I was pro-life - but I wasn't a pro-life warrior. It was only in a situation that's similar to what's happening here with Planned Parenthood, when we were made aware of this issue called partial-birth abortion, this horrific procedure.

I know about this procedure. I was on CNN the other day and we were talking about - I was talking with Chris Cuomo, not always a fun, necessarily, thing to do. And we were talking about the Planned Parenthood videos, and I said: Not only should we defund Planned Parenthood, we should be prosecuting Planned Parenthood. [cheers and applause] And he got very upset with me. Said, what do you mean? He said, what laws have they broken? I said, well, the procedures that we saw described in these videos I know very well, because they were partial-birth abortions. And he says, well, OK, but, you know, how do you know that that's against the law? I said, because I wrote the law. I know that it's against the law. [cheers and applause]

We have been fighting these battles, I have been standing in the forefront for year after year after year fighting the battles on life. And we see right now that we have people in Congress, we have people even in the leadership of our party who, when given the opportunity to raise up an issue and focus America's attention on the horror of abortion, they retreat and refuse to fight. They think they can't win the battle, so they give up before it's even fought. Ladies and gentleman, there are a lot of people going to come up here and ask you for your support, and they're going to tell you that they're with you. Here's what I would say, have you been disappointed enough by people who promise you things and don't deliver? Have you seen folks that you thought were with you, and then you realize when it got tough they weren't willing to get into the trenches and fight?

And here's what I would say. You know one person in this race who is always willing to fight for live, always willing to fight for the family. Every major piece of pro-life legislation that's passed in the last 20 years I was the author of and I led the fight on the floor of the Senate. And I didn't come from a safe state - [applause] - I didn't come from a safe state where you can easily vote that way, much less lead that way. Well, a lot of people come up here and tell you they're for marriage, but you know what? Ten of the 14 Republican candidates have said this: Oh, well, it's the law of the land. It's time to move on. Really? We have a United States Supreme Court that, according to several of the justice on that court in the dissent, acted unconstitutionally. [cheers] Oh, it's time to move on when the court acts unconstitutionally?

We have a United States Supreme Court who has directly assaulted the First Amendment of our Constitution. And 10 of the 14 candidates say, oh, it's time to move on. We have a United States Supreme Court that says marriage has nothing to do with children - [laughter] - that marriage is about adults. And 10 out of the 14 Republican candidates say it's time to move on. If you're not willing to fight for the Constitution, for the First Amendment, and for the American family, why are you running for president as a Republican? [cheers and applause]

Tell you a little story. Four years ago I was in one of these meetings with all these big donors in New York. And they had gone through all the Republican candidates, I was the last one that they had. And I sat down with them and they were interviewing me like they had all the other Republican candidates. And they asked me a question on abortion. I answered it. They asked a second question on abortion. I answered it. Then they asked a third question on abortion. I said, wait a minute. I said, you've had all the other Republican candidates up here. I said, why are you asking me - I mean - excuse me - have you asked any of the other candidates about abortion? Silence. And one of them said, no. I said, well, wait a minute. They all have the same positions I do. They all say they're pro-life. I said, but you asked not any of them one question, you've asked me three? I said, why are you asking me questions and not them? And the answer was, because we know you mean it. [cheers and applause]

You want a fighter you can trust, then go with a fighter you trusted, who was there. On marriage - I hear a lot of people talk about marriage now. I said, four of the Republicans have said they're going to fight for marriage. But when I was in the United States Senate, I stepped out on the issue of marriage way before anybody else, even before they started to approve gay marriages in the courts. I criticized the Supreme Court. I said we needed to pass a federal marriage amendment. Republicans and Democrats alike said - called me all sorts of names. You're just trying to pick on these people. We don't need to deal with this. There's no issue here. There's no problem here. I said, we'll have gay marriage within 10 years. I said this 11 years ago and I was wrong. I missed by a year. [laughter]

But we drafted an amendment to the Constitution and I forced a vote on the floor of the United States Senate. And let me tell you, in the rooms outside of the view of the public, I was getting beaten up. Why are you forcing us to vote on this thing? We're going to look like haters and bigots. So all these folks who come here, some of them today who stood here and talked about how they're for you, behind closed doors were kicking my - well, you know. [laughter] We forced that vote. And guess what? It's the only vote that's ever been taken. When I left, so did the effort to make marriage between one man and one woman in the Congress. You want someone who's going to fight for you? Look at their track record. Look what they fought for. Look what they lost over. And look how successful they are. [applause]

You want someone you can trust, like you could trust Ronald Reagan in 1980 that when he came into office he was going to stand up against the evil of communism and defeat them? Then look at their record. The greatest threat to a country today overseas is a threat of radical Islamic terrorism. Ten years ago - you know, I have a lot of people come up here and say, we need to name the enemy. We need to go after who the enemy is. I encourage you to go back and look at a speech I gave 10 year ago at the National Press Club, in which I said: We need to identify the enemy and call them who they are. And I didn't just give speeches. Iran - we put nuclear sanctions on Iran 12 years ago. I authored that bill that put the nuclear sanctions on Iran. [cheers and applause]

And for 12 years, I've been talking here in this country, on the floor of the Senate, across this country afterwards, talking about the threat of not just radical Islam but, in the case of Iran, what I call apocalyptic Islam - Islam that is about bringing about the end of the world, because that's what they believe. How many times does America have to pay the lesson of not listening to what despots say they want to do and not believing them? We have a regime in Iran that says they want to bring about the end of the world to bring about their return of their savior, called the Mahdi. And we just gave them the opportunity to have a nuclear weapon. That, ladies and gentlemen, is suicidal. And that, ladies and gentlemen, will not happen if you elect me president of the United States. [cheers and applause]

Day one - day one - I know all these people say, oh, you can't tear this up and you can't do this. Let me tell you what you can do. When the president of the United States doesn't have the guts to bring a deal to the Congress for ratification it's his deal, not our deal, and it won't be our deal when I become president of the United States. [applause]

I will tell the Iranians simply this - and they know I mean it. I wrote an op-ed last year about this negotiation, and the Iranian government responded to it. They know who I am. In April of this year, I was in ISIS Magazine. [laughter] It was the centerfold. [laughter] It was a nice picture, nicer than I usually get in most of the mainstream media around you; tells you how far gone they are. And next to it was a quote underneath the headline in the words of our enemies was my picture and my quote defining - describing who they were. I know who they are and they know who I am. No other presidential candidate has been in ISIS Magazine. [laughter, cheers, and applause]

We can't risk any misperception. When the next president raises his hand, our enemies have to know who they're dealing with and our friends have to know who they're dealing with. I will stand with Israel. [cheers and applause] I will stand with our allies. [cheers and applause] And I will defeat radical Islam. [cheers and applause]

Ladies and gentlemen, if we're going to win this election we have to take actually some of the words of what Pope Francis was talking about yesterday. He was talking about the poor, the workers, the people who are being left behind in society. All of the things he talks about is all focused on the idea that there's an unequal distribution. There's environmentalism that is - environmental waste that's hurting the poor.

And here in America we see the middle of America hollowing out. I announced from a factory floor in western Pennsylvania. The reason I did was because I know who the Republican Party is. I know who the conservative movement is in this country. They're not Wall Street. They're not people who live in the big homes in the Hamptons. They don't vote for us anymore. Who votes for us are people who love this country, who want an opportunity to rise, who believe in faith and family and opportunity, and are looking for a party. They're looking for a movement who cares and talks about them.

And ladies and gentlemen, let's just be honest. We haven't done a very good job of that. And as a result, if you look at the last election, millions of Americans who didn't want to vote for Barack Obama just stayed home in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan and all the states where, if we want to win this presidency, we've got to. We've got to attract those votes.

That's why I announced from a factory floor and said that I would pledge to make America the number one manufacturer in the world again. You want to solve global warming? Get all those jobs from China that pollute unlimitedly. Bring them back to America, where we have cleaner energy and clean things, and we will create jobs and reduce global climate. [cheers and applause]

And another way that we need to put this framework of being strong for American workers is on immigration. When you think of the word immigration, most people, when you hear the word immigration, you think, oh, well, I think of that illegal person, and what are we going to do about them? Why? Because many Republicans and all Democrats have decided that's how we should frame this debate. The debate should be framed about what we're going to do about illegal immigrants in this country instead of what every other policy debate in America is framed around. You finish this sentence. Every policy we pass in America should be in the best interest of -

AUDIENCE: America.

MR. SANTORUM: There you go. But not immigration. Immigration is about the people who broke the law, not the people who are obeying the law. Why do we let them do this, ladies and gentlemen? Why do we even have our candidates up here let them do this? A majority of the people in this race, ladies and gentlemen, are not good on the issue of immigration. Oh, they'll talk about how tough they're going to be; secure the border. Look, let's just - let's just do a given. Everybody's for securing the border. But that's not it. That's a start. But as long as you continue to have the magnets here, the border is only part of your problem. And the magnet is, number one, the belief that there's going to be amnesty.

Now, you have a lot of people get up here and talk about how tough they are. But they actually support amnesty. The speaker who was just here before me running for president, he'll tell you how tough he is. But when he was in the Senate - he's in the Senate - he offered an amendment to allow people to stay in this country indefinitely. Now, for me that's amnesty. [applause]

We have to have a policy that says that we are going to make sure that everyone who broke the law in this country is, in an orderly fashion, returned to their country of origin and have to come in like everybody else in this country - legally. [applause]

And for those who say it can't be done, half of the illegal immigrants in this country are here on visa overstays. We know who they are. We know where they are. All we have to do is what we aren't doing right now, which is tell them to go home and return to their country of origin. [applause]

But it's not just illegal immigration. The place which is really harming the American worker - 90 percent, 70 to 90 percent of the workers who come to this country, both legally and illegally, are wage earners. That's why you see the angst in America about this issue of immigration. That's why it's caught on so much. Why? Because people realize that when you bring in 35 million people over the last 20 years, more than any other 20-year period in American history, and the vast majority of them are wage earners, fairly low-skilled, that it's going to have an impact on American wage earners.

And that's why they're frustrated. And they don't see either political party talking about them. And it's not just illegal. It's both legal and illegal. We're bringing in more legal immigrants in this country than ever in the history of our country, over a million a year.

There's only one candidate in this race who suggested that we eliminate a couple of worker - a couple of immigration categories and reduce the number of immigrations by 25 percent. Focus on making sure that we create a better opportunity for working men and women to get good-paying wages. Why? Because in the last 20-year period of time wages have gone up less than a nickel an hour per year.

American workers know. American workers know that the policies of this country, the immigration policies, are hurting. And no one has talked about it yet. Almost every single person in this race is for more legal immigration. Some want to double it, including the senators who spoke here this morning. Some want to take some categories and increase them by 500 percent, like some of the senators who spoke here this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are big differences. You have to make a decision here, and it's a tough one. Who are you going to support? Who are you going to trust? Who has the right vision to be able to capture the voters that we need in order to win?

And if you like the policies that I just laid out, then that's who you might want to vote for. But if you want policies that are going to go after working men and women in this country who want someone to stand for them against Wall Street, against the big employers who want cheaper labor in this country, then you've got one choice. And it's not a bad choice. It's a choice you can trust on the issues you care about at a time when we need strong leadership to put this country back on the right track.

Thank you all very much, and God bless you. [cheers and applause] Thank you.

Rick Santorum, Remarks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/311902

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