Santorum takes on social issues

Santorum

LIMA, Ohio — Rick Santorum sees an America in need of more than economic recovery, warning Saturday that the nation’s inattention to conservative social values is “damning people.”

“Folks if we know what works, why don’t we talk about what works? Why don’t we encourage it in our schools? Why don’t we encourage it in our culture?” the Republican presidential candidate asked hundreds of people gathered at the Allen County Lincoln Day dinner. “Why are we damning people? Why are we condemning them to a life just because we won’t talk about – we’ll talk about childhood obesity until the cows come home. But we won’t talk about one of the great underlying causes of childhood obesity, which is the instability of the community, the neighborhood and the family.”

Campaigning across Ohio this weekend, the former Pennsylvania senator has been calling for fewer children born out of wedlock and fewer single-parent families. He argues that communities where mothers raise children by themselves have less freedom than those where two-parent families are the norm.

The comments underscore Santorum’s commitment to social issues, which helped define his 16-year congressional career and distinguish his candidacy from that of rival Mitt Romney. Despite a pro-choice past, Romney is now just as socially conservative as his opponent on paper, but the former Massachusetts governor has almost singularly focused on the economy while campaigning.

By contrast, Santorum’s views on morality sometimes overshadow his prescriptions for the nation’s economy. And some Republicans – even among the hundreds waving signs at Santorum’s rally in Blue Ash Saturday morning – fear he’s gone too far.

“He needs to start talking more about the economy and get off the social issues, because I don’t think that’s what’s going to make him president. The economy is going to make him president,” said Joan Conradi, a 50-year-old nurse from nearby Mount Healthy, who was holding a “Santorum for President” sign.

Santorum did not say specifically how the federal government could address family values. He recently released a tax plan he plans to implement in his first 100 days that would triple the personal deduction for children and eliminate the marriage tax penalty throughout the tax code.

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