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Santorum stumps for Romney in Martinsville
Former senator urges voters to support GOP
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum meets Republican supporters Monday outside the Henry County Republican Headquarters on U.S. 220 South. He made the stop to urge voters to support presidential candidate Mitt Romney as part of a final push to secure the key swing state, which President Barack Obama won in 2008. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
By SAM JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign tour bus visited Henry County on Monday for the second time in a month. Romney wasn’t in it, but former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was.
Santorum, who was a candidate for the Republican nomination until he dropped out in April, visited this area during a string of stops in Virginia, where he advocated for Romney as the GOP makes a final push to secure the key swing state, which President Barack Obama won in 2008.
Santorum, who won primaries in 11 states, mostly in the South, before suspending his campaign, appeared at Henry County Republican Headquarters on Greensboro Road. He appealed to supporters to back Romney and knock the incumbent administration out of office.
“I need to talk to you,” Santorum said, “because we need to multiply our voices.”
“No,” a supporter in the crowd shouted, “we need to talk to you!”
To win Virginia, Romney must get strong support in this area “to overcome what’s happened up in Fairfax County,” Santorum said. Obama, a Democrat, carried Fairfax County with a 60 percent majority in 2008.
Santorum, a social conservative, also said voters needed to support “someone who stands up for what you believe in, someone who understands the value of all human life, both born and unborn,” against Obama, who is pro-choice.
He also said other fundamental principles of America need to be strengthened before the economy will grow.
“Our values are falling apart, and you’re seeing the effects of that,” he said. “We can’t have a strong economy until we have strong churches, strong civic organizations.”
Santorum addressed about 50 vocal supporters, who often shouted “yes!” after Santorum made a point. He asked them to “do whatever is necessary” to elect Romney between now and Nov. 6.
“Commit to putting up yard signs, putting bumper stickers on your car and you will not complain that you can’t get them off ... that you will eat only pizza, because that’s what they eat in there” in the Republican headquarters, he joked.
Keeping with the theme of most of the campaign, Santorum criticized Obama’s economic policies, accusing the president of undermining the middle class by pandering to foreign powers.
“We have a policy with this president who signs in with the internationalists, the Europeans on energy policies and manufacturing policies (and) is destroying communities like this all over America,” he said.
Santorum also warned that Obama has weakened America’s stature in the international community, making the country more vulnerable.
“We don’t have an ally in the world that is a better ally than it was four years ago,” he said. “That’s not a good position for America to be in.”
Asked about energy policies and the prospect of uranium mining in Pittsylvania County, Santorum blamed Obama’s energy policies for driving costs up and preventing fuels such as coal and nuclear from being feasible sources of energy.
“I believe energy polices should be driven by economics,” he said. “Nuclear is going to be tough because the government has made it so expensive to build a nuclear power plant.”
Santorum blamed lobbyists for bringing expensive litigation into the picture, preventing nuclear power from being a viable option.
“Obviously, we should have incredibly strong safeguards in place for nuclear power plants. We should not let crazy interest groups delay and drive up the costs of building one until you can’t build one,” he added.
Environmental regulations have made building new coal power plants prohibitively expensive, Republicans have claimed, and as a result, 106 coal-fired plants have either shut down or announced closure since 2010, according to several published reports. Santorum claimed that the expense associated with coal or nuclear plants has meant that only natural gas-fired plants currently are cheap enough to build or operate.
“The government’s policy is driving (energy production), and it shouldn’t be,” he said. “We should have reasonable regulations in place to make sure society and the marketplace is safe, and then let the market drive costs down.”
Santorum swatted aside critics’ claims that Romney has moved toward the middle.
“We have people on the left trying to create a wedge between Romney and his base, and it’s not going to happen,” he said. “He has not backed down from the policies he advocated in the primary, and that’s going to put him in pretty good stead in this race.”
One worry held by Republicans in Virginia is the presence of Constitution Party presidential candidate Virgil Goode of Rocky Mount, the former 5th District congressman, on the ballot. Some people speculate Goode will take votes away from Romney on Nov. 6, making him a de facto ally of Obama.
“I know Virgil, and he’s a nice guy,” Santorum said, “but I hope he votes for Mitt Romney when he goes into the booth on Nov. 6.”
The most important thing, Santorum said, is to defeat Obama. His final plea to supporters was to “do whatever is necessary to keep the last great hope of this country alive.”