Santorum, at Penn State, Speaks on Economic, Social Issues
August 31, 2011 7:12 AM
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This early in the 2012 U.S. presidential race, it's not so much about notching early wins or losses -- it's about meeting or exceeding expectations, Republican candidate Rick Santorum said Tuesday evening.

And when he placed fourth this month in the Ames (Iowa) Straw Poll, Santorum told an audience at Penn State University Park, he beat expectations. He had been pegged for an eighth-place finish.

"I'm not doing this for my health (or) my wealth," Santorum said, explaining his run for the Republican nomination in 2012. Concerned that the United States is facing its most critical point since 1860, he'll keep running for the White House as long he has money to do so, he added.

Specifically, he believes that the expansion of government power -- including through government-run health care -- threatens to "rob us of what made us great" and to "hook" citizens on entitlements, Santorum said.

Americans' ancestors "fought and clawed and struggled -- for you to be taken care of?" he asked rhetorically. "No. For you to be free."

A 1980 Penn State graduate, the former senator from Pennsylvania founded the current organization of the university's College Republicans in 1977. Well more than 100 people turned out to hear him speak Tuesday evening in the HUB-Robeson Center, where he appeared for about 90 minutes before departing for an interview on the Fox News Channel.

In the HUB, Santorum spoke for nearly a half hour before opening the floor for an hour's worth of unscripted, unscreened and sometimes-tense questions. Some 50 people filled a modest -- and sultry -- meeting room that had been reserved for his appearance, with dozens more spilling out into an attached hallway.

Anthony Christina, president of the Penn State College Republicans, introduced Santorum to the group. They were soon flanked by state Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, whose now-retired father, former state Sen. J. Doyle Corman, was once Santorum's boss.

Among Santorum's remarks:

Santorum's stop at University Park, hosted by the Penn State College Republicans, inspired a number of demonstrations in the HUB. About a dozen students with the LGBTA Student Alliance staged a silent protest before Santorum's arrival, expressing opposition to his anti-gay-marriage views.

"We're just making our presence known," said senior Lauren Rodriguez.

Later, as Santorum exited the event room, a group estimated at nearly 40 students -- including gay-rights advocates, supporters of the American Civil Liberties Union and members of an atheist-agnostic student organization -- chanted. "We are Penn State; we are not straight," they hollered.

Santorum left through a side entrance and did not appear to engage with the demonstrators.

"The goal was to show solidarity," said demonstrator Jeremy LaMaster, a Penn State senior. He carried a handmade poster objecting to Santorum's recent suggestion that he'd taken "bullets" over social issues.

The poster identified three people who've taken literal bullets over some social issues that Santorum campaigns on, LaMaster said. One image on the poster pictured George Tiller, a Wichita, Kan., abortion provider who was gunned down in church by an anti-abortion activist.

Santorum also stopped at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair -- in Centre Hall -- and in Toftrees on Tuesday. He's in Pennsylvania largely for a fundraising swing through the state, though his Centre County stops did not include any fundraising activity, according to local party officials.

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