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Santorum enters race blasting Obama

Former senator courts Tea Party

Former senator Santorum of Pennsylvania charged that Obama has worked to undermine Americans’ liberties. Former senator Santorum of Pennsylvania charged that Obama has worked to undermine Americans’ liberties.
By Kevin Begos
Associated Press / June 7, 2011

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SOMERSET, Pa. — Former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a blunt talker who is popular among social conservatives, plunged into the 2012 Republican presidential sweepstakes yesterday, saying he wants to protect American freedoms he says are under threat from President Obama.

Once the number three Republican in the ranks of the Senate GOP leadership, Santorum charged that Obama has worked to undermine Americans’ liberties and has imposed a national health care plan that saps individual choice. He accused Obama of spending billions of dollars that will add to the debt of future generations and said the president lacks faith in the nation’s potential.

“I’m ready to lead. I’m ready to do what has to be done for the next generation, with the courage to fight for freedom, with the courage to fight for America,’’ Santorum said, speaking on the sun-splashed steps of a county courthouse in Somerset, Pa. “That’s why I’m announcing today that I’m running for president of the United States of America.’’

Santorum, who enjoys strong support from the antiabortion rights bloc in the Republican Party, nodded to the social conservatives who have huge sway in early nominating states Iowa and South Carolina.

He also pitched himself to Tea Party movement activists who have yet to rally around a single candidate.

“The principal purpose of America was to make sure each and every person was free. Ladies and gentlemen, that is at stake now,’’ Santorum said, pointing to a Democrat-pushed health care law that conservatives loathe.

“Every single American will be hooked to the government with an IV,’’ Santorum said.

“They want to hook you. They don’t want to free you. They don’t want to give you opportunity . . . This president does not trust you to make a decision on your health care plan.’’

He also said that Democratic spending has put the country on a dangerous path, and Santorum blamed Obama for an economy that collapsed in 2008 before he won election.

Santorum enters the race four days after Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, formally declared his candidacy and as Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota are strongly weighing bids.

Santorum, 53, has been out of elective office since 2007 and lacks the robust fund-raising or personal wealth of his likely rivals.

He is a tough campaigner, unafraid of fiery rhetoric.

“I believe now, that Americans now are not looking for someone they can believe in,’’ Santorum said in a mocking reference to Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan, “Change You Can Believe In.’’

“They’re looking for a president who believes in them,’’ Santorum said.

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