EXCLUSIVE: Santorum the homebody?

Yesterday Rick Santorum disclosed that he’s never been to Afghanistan. In fact, he is one of the most lightly traveled modern presidential candidates. His campaign refuses to provide details, but in the last 20 years it appears the only places outside the United States to which Santorum has traveled are Italy and the Vatican.

The Congressional Record reports on House and Senate travels. In the Senate, quarterly reports reveal that Santorum made only two official trips (for which he was reimbursed). He went to Italy on Jan. 6-9, 2001, and again on April 6-8, 2005. In addition, he was reimbursed by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross Foundation for another trip he made to Rome or perhaps Vatican City to give a speech. That’s it.

Santorum served in the House from 1991-1995. Travel for House members is reported monthly. There is no indication he made any foreign trips anywhere.

In sum, because we assume Santorum complied with his legal obligations, we know that from 1991 through 2006 he never went to any country where we were engaged in hostilities or, for that matter, any place but his ancestral home of Italy.

Last night I asked Santorum’s senior adviser, John Brabender, if Santorum had made any other trips. He e-mailed, “Yes, he has taken other international trips.” However, when I asked what other trips and specifically whether he had been to China, Israel, Turkey, South or Central America or any other NATO country other than Italy, he refused to respond.

There is really no excuse for Santorum not telling the voters where he has traveled. He wants to project great authority on foreign policy matters, and it is relevant to the voters’ assessment whether he has widely or never traveled, and whether he has met with many foreign leaders or none at all. His aide’s refusal to explain suggests that for all of his purported foreign policy expertise, Santorum has never seen most of the world first-hand.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

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