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9 controversial Rick Santorum quotes
As soon as the conservative ex-senator stepped into the national spotlight, critics began attacking Santorum's long history of odd claims and far-right beliefs
Rick Santorum is no stranger to controversial opinions, saying earlier this week, for instance, that he opposes welfare programs that "make black people's lives better."
Rick Santorum is no stranger to controversial opinions, saying earlier this week, for instance, that he opposes welfare programs that "make black people's lives better."
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ost pundits are attributing Rick Santorum's 11th-hour Iowa sprint from the back of the Republican presidential pack to a statistical tie for first place to something Santorum did right, says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. "But there's a simpler explanation, too: Santorum finished in the top three because he was lucky." Nobody took him seriously until mere days before Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, so Santorum never got the media scrutiny and voter vetting that sank his once-high-flying rivals. Well, people are taking Santorum seriously now, and he's getting all kinds of scrutiny. Here, nine of the zanier or more controversial things Santorum has said over the past decade:

1. Opposing birth control
Quote: "One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.... Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that's okay, contraception is okay. It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." (Speaking with CaffeinatedThoughts.com, Oct. 18, 2011)

Reaction: This is "pretty basic: Rick Santorum is coming for your contraception," says Irin Carmon at Salon. "Any and all of it." Threatening to "send the condom police into America's bedrooms" is pretty bad politics: More than 99 percent of sexually active women have used some form of birth control, and "helping people get access to birth control is actually a popular issue," supported by 82 percent of Americans. But a national contraception ban is "clearly the world Santorum wants."

2. Keeping moms at home
Quote: "In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might find they don't both need to. ... What happened in America so that mothers and fathers who leave their children in the care of someone else — or worse yet, home alone after school between three and six in the afternoon — find themselves more affirmed by society? Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism." (Santorum's 2005 book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good)

Reaction: Santorum is actually right, says Bonnie Alba at Renew America. Degrading "the stay-at-home wife and mother while idolizing women who chose careers" is "certainly part and parcel of the feminist ideology which has twisted our society into a pretzel of me-ism."

3. Re-spinning the Crusades
Quote: "The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American Left who hates Christendom. ... What I'm talking about is onward American soldiers. What we're talking about are core American values." (South Carolina campaign stop, Feb. 22, 2011)

Reaction: "If you were worried there wouldn't be a 2012 candidate touting the pro-Crusades platform, then today is your lucky day!" says Jillian Rayfield at Talking Points Memo. The religiously sanctioned European military campaigns were aimed at recapturing Jerusalem, and "along the way the Roman Catholic forces massacred thousands of Jews, among others." I know the Crusades predated the U.S. by a few centuries, but how exactly does this military campaign reflect "core American values"?

4. Rejecting the very idea of "Palestinians"
Quote: "All the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they're not Palestinians. There is no 'Palestinian.' This is Israeli land." (Campaign stop in Iowa, Nov. 18, 2011)

Reaction: "The striking thing about his comments is that they represent an even more conservative position than that taken by the Israeli government," says Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post. Israel's anti-Palestinian position itself isn't "accepted by much of the world, but it seems that the very least a potential U.S. president could do is accept the definitions used by the Israeli government."

5. Reminding America that some view Mormonism as "a dangerous cult"
Quote: "Would the potential attraction to Mormonism by simply having a Mormon in the White House threaten traditional Christianity by leading more Americans to a church that some Christians believe misleadingly calls itself Christian, is an active missionary church, and a dangerous cult?" (Santorum's Philadelphia Inquirer column, Dec. 20, 2007)

Reaction: Santorum was responding to Mitt Romney's famous speech reassuring evangelical Christians that he shares their values, and to be fair, "Santorum's ultimate verdict on Romney was more or less positive," says Dan Froomkin at The Huffington Post. But he draws plenty of "distinctions between Mormonism and Christianity that others have avoided lest they seem overly inflammatory."

6. Dissing welfare programs that "make black people's lives better"
Quote: "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money." (Campaign stop in Iowa, Jan. 2, 2012)

Reaction: "This is the sort of subtle racism" that should, but won't, harm Santorum among Republicans, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. Why did he single out black people when talking about cutting government aid?

7. Bringing race into Obama's abortion views
Quote: "The question is — and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer — is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no. Well if that person — human life is not a person, then — I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, 'We're going to decide who are people and who are not people.'" (CNS News interview, Jan. 19, 2011)

Reaction: Equating fetuses to slaves got Santorum some pretty bad press, says David Weigel at Slate. But critics don't "appreciate how mainstream Santorum's point is among pro-life activists" who commonly "consider their work a continuation of other movements that protected human life and elevated the status of people whom the law doesn't consider 'human.' In the 19th century, it was African-Americans; in the 21st century, it's children in the womb."

8. Equating gay marriage to loving your mother-in-law
Quote: "Is anyone saying same-sex couples can't love each other? I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?" (Santorum's Philadelphia Inquirer column, May 22, 2008)

Reaction: Did noted "homophobe" Santorum just admit to a "weird sexual relationship with his mother-in-law" and brother? says Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction. He may be atop the Republican heap, "but make no mistake about it, Santorum's still a bigot and a moron."

9. Comparing homosexuality to "man-on-dog" sex
Quote: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. ... That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing." (AP interview, April 7, 2003)

Reaction: "Rick Santorum has expended a great deal of thought and energy to finding new words to disparage gay marriage," says Daryl Lang at Breaking Copy. And even if you agree with Santorum, "would you really want a president who is this obsessed" with gay sex?

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