Rick Santorum warns of "hooks" of health care law at Aiken event

Former senator blasts Obama's health care law

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AIKEN — Calling President Obama’s health care law a “game-changer for this country,” former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum raised the specter of European unrest during a speech to more than 100 Aiken Republicans.

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A recent Winthrop University survey found 2.6 percent of Republicans favor Santorum.   ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
A recent Winthrop University survey found 2.6 percent of Republicans favor Santorum.

The GOP presidential candidate from Pennsylvania spoke at an Aiken Republican Club event at Newberry Hall on Wednesday.

“Once Obamacare is implemented, and every single American now has to look to the federal government for their health, it’s over,” said Santorum, 53. “They will have their hooks in you so deeply that they will be able to pull that string anytime they need you to do what they want you to do.”

He pointed to the turmoil in Greece, Italy and Spain as cautionary examples.

“The people are storming buildings because government is cutting their benefits,” Santorum said. “It’s pathetic. It cannot be us. We are different.”

Some GOP hopefuls have been trying to highlight their careers in the private sector, while downplaying the time they spent as elected officials and government employees.

For Santorum, however, any anti-establishment credibility is likely to come from his long-shot status within the eight-person field of Republicans vying to be the party nominee.

Santorum polled just ahead of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in a September survey by Winthrop University. It found that only 2.6 percent of Republican or Repub­lican-leaning voters favored San­torum. Of those who said they were definitely planning to vote in the 2012 GOP primary, only 1.5 percent named Santorum. The most popular candidates were Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Santorum frequently pointed to his record in public office, stressing his ability to win elections. In a jab at Perry, who used to be a Democrat, the former senator also touted his credentials as a consistent conservative.

When asked by an audience member whether the U.S. should withdraw from the United Nations, Santorum said he is “no fan” of the organization, adding, “I would retrench from our obligations and commitments there and see how that goes.”

If reforms don’t work, he said, he would be “very open to another type of international organization that could function more legitimately than United Nations functions.”

Early in his career, Santorum worked as the director of the Pennsylvania State Senate Local Government Committee and of the State Senate Transportation Committee. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1990 before starting his U.S. Senate career in 1995. In 2006, Santorum lost his re-election bid by 18 points to Democrat Bob Casey.


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