wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2

Four ways Rick Santorum is out of step with GOP

at 09:47 AM ET, 02/22/2012

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s staunch social conservatism has helped fuel his rise in polls, as religious and very conservative voters continue to view former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney with skepticism.

On some subjects, Santorum has moderated his views or simply avoided topics he discussed in the past — for example, he says that he has no issue with women in the workplace. But on a few issues, he remains to the right of most of the Republican Party.

A Santorum adviser argued that on all these issues, the candidate was taken out of context.

“When people look at the entirety of what Rick Santorum has said on any of the issues, I think the vast majority of Americans would find these positions not only extremely reasonable but prudent positions for a president to have,” said strategist John Brabender. “The liberal left, and the Obama administration and even Mitt Romney are trying to take small parts of what Rick Santorum said to distort their content.”

* Public education: Santorum has repeatedly disparaged public education and argued against federal and state control over public schools.

In a Feb. 19th speech he said that in the past, “Parents educated their children because it was their responsibility. . . .[T]he government can help but the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools, is anachronistic.”

A day earlier, he said, “Just call them what they are. Public schools? That’s a nice way of putting it. These are government-run schools.” Santorum promised to homeschool his children in the White House.

On Sunday, he explained that he supports public education but thinks parents should be in charge. “Local communities and parents should be the ones who are in control of public education. . .working with the local school district to try to design an educational environment for each child that optimizes their potential.”

While many Republicans (and Democrats) criticize the public education system, few support such a radical overhaul.

* Prenatal tests: Santorum opposes mandatory coverage of prenatal testing by insurance, a requirement of President Obama’s health-care law.

He suggested on Feb. 19th that the purpose was to increase abortions and cut costs. “Free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and therefore less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society. . . . another hidden message as to what President Obama thinks of those who are less able.”

“A lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero, and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions,” he told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday.

He did not provide any evidence for this claim; as Melinda Hennberger notes, statistics on the subject do not support it. While mandatory contraception coverage has become a controversial point, prenatal tests has not.

* Women in combat: Santorum told CNN earlier this month that he had reservations about women serving in combat because “other types of emotions that are involved.” He later explained that he meant the emotions of men, who might be distracted by their desire to protect female soldiers, but he added that there were “physical limitations” that should keep women off the front lines.

The candidate took heat from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), and polling shows most Americans disagree with Santorum on the issue. A Washington Post-ABC News poll last year found that 73 percent of the public supports the involvement of women in combat; 58 percent of “very conservative” voters feel the same way.

* Contraception: Santorum argued in late 2011 that contraception is dangerous.

While a widely-repeated claim that 98 percent of Catholic women have used some form of birth control turned out to be bogus, contraception is broadly popular and widely used. According to a recent Pew poll, only 8 percent of Americans think contraception is morally wrong.

“One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country,” he told an evangelical blog. “Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.’ It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Read more from PostPolitics

The Fix: Why the Arizona debate matters. A lot.

The kingmakers behind the GOP's millions

Fact Checker: Rick Santorum’s euthanasia fantasy

Meet Rick Santorum, opinion columnist

 
Read what others are saying