Election 2012: Rick Santorum’s Record and Your Vote

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Despite losing Arizona by a lot and Michigan by a hair, Rick Santorum’s standing has surged in the Republican nominating contests, going from being stuck in the single digits to giving frontrunner Mitt Romney a run for his millions.  But with this popularity comes a harsh spotlight on his sixteen year record in Washington as a Congressman, then Senator representing his home state of Pennsylvania.

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Santorum’s rise is largely attributed to his social conservative views which resonate with Evangelical Christians, in a way that Romney’s don’t.  He has expressed staunch opposition to same sex-marriage and women’s reproductive rights, although like his main rival, he was pro-choice; before running for Congress, he expressed support for abortion in case of incest, rape, or danger to the mother’s life, according to documents obtained by the Huffington Post.  Additionally, he endorsed then colleague Republican Senator Arlen Specter who supports abortion rights, as opposed to his anti-abortion challenger in the 2004 Pennsylvania GOP primary.

Santorum also gets props from Tea Party supporters whose main focus is less government spending and taxes.  The conservative non-profit Club for Growth gave him a 77% out of 100% in his last two years in the Senate, slightly higher than the average 73% for his Republican colleagues.  On taxes, this group has rated Santorum’s record “very strong,” voting for example “No” on the 1993 President Clinton tax hikes but “Yes” on President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.

He supports “entitlement reform”, specifically advocating Social Security become personal savings accounts.  He is opposed to President Obama’s Health Care Reform and supports overturning it in favor of allowing people to buy insurance across state lines and establish tax free health savings accounts.

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But Santorum’s long record is also “mixed” for conservatives.  He voted “No” on raising the minimum wage in 2005 while sponsoring an amendment that would increase it. He supports school choice and more local control.  But in 2001, the Senator voted for President Bush’s No Child Left Behind which expanded Washington’s footprint in education, chalking it up in the Arizona debate to politics “being a team sport.”  This statement is a reality check, perhaps, but one that doesn’t blow over well with many conservatives who doubt he is the outsider he paints himself to be.  They wonder if his years in Washington made him the ultimate Insider, one that represents everything critics say is wrong with the federal government, as the Romney camp has asserted with its claim that Santorum was a big supporter of ear-marks or money for local pet projects that cost tax payers millions.

To read Viviana Hurtado’s other Latina politics pieces, including the candidates records, click here.

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