Santorum tempers Republican losses during visit to Greencastle

PAT FRIDGEN

Former Pennsylvania Senator, and 2012 candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, Rick Santorum made clear his intentions on any future political aspirations. The featured speaker at a Greencastle dinner Dec. 11 gave an emphatic "no" to any challenge to Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014, but left the door open for becoming a presidential contender again.

"I'm making no decision at this point," Santorum said during a press conference. "As in the first race, we will engage in the process and fight for the things that made this country great. There is only one thing I'll ever run for again."

He said Barack Obama won re-election because he energized his base and the people turned out to vote.

"He did not run to the middle," Santorum added. "He recognized that this country is divided in many respects. Republicans went after the middle. The  leadership is not comfortable in its own skin for who we are. We have to come to grips with that."

The party faithful turned out in greater numbers than those planning to attend the Oct. 29 Franklin County Republican Party Eisenhower Banquet. It was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, though party chairman Dwight Weidman held out until the last minute. He considered other ways to handle the banquet but decided he had to get Santorum back to town. They started negotiations again and found a suitable date. While 190 people purchased tickets for the first dinner, over 200 came to the rescheduled event at Green Grove Gardens.

"We had more time to sell it," Weidman concluded.

Santorum, 54, mingled easily with the crowd, posing for photographs and signing autographs. After the meal, Weidman opened the program commenting on the difficulty of hosting the banquet.

"We encountered a natural disaster. We also had a hurricane."

The audience caught his reference to the Nov. 6 election. He expressed optimism that Republicans could "claw our way back and fix our country."

Santorum speaks

The seasoned politician shared a story of his stumping for the eventual Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. An older lady in Iowa yelled at him, "Stop calling me!" She referred to the multiple telephone calls actually directed to her recently deceased husband.

Santorum apologized and offered condolences. The woman said her husband was 100 years old and had lived a good life, to which he replied, "He must have robbed the cradle."

The lady changed her tune. "You can call me any time!"

Santorum said his own candidacy allowed him to meet many people he called "great patriots. They understand the consequential times we live in." He was impressed with their passion. They inspired him to write "American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom" after he dropped out of the race. The book, released in October, was about 25 ordinary men and women who helped found the United States of America, but their stories are never told, he said.

He and his wife Karen also started Patriot Voices, a grassroots organization promoting faith, family, freedom and opportunity.

Santorum critized Obama, particularly his promise to transform America.

"Obama's vision is top down, because the people at the top know better. They decide your healthcare, which light bulbs to use, what gas to buy, because they can't trust you."

He said the election confirmed that vision "with eyes wide open." However, he challenged the audience to fight and be true to Republican values.

"Why would we want to transform America? Who ever leaves our country for somewhere else? We need to get organized. They are. America is at a tipping point. Make a pledge. Get involved."