Ask What Rick Santorum Will Do to Your Country
In 1960, during his Democratic campaign
against Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy made his views on the First Amendment's
establishment clause known to a group of Texas ministers by saying he supported
an "America where the separation between church and state are absolute." That tidbit of jurisprudence was the target of attack for Rick Santorum in Mobile, Alabama last night in a speech to the Alabama Policy Institute.
The presidential candidate is trying to get on the conservative evangelical Christians' good side. With just a few days remaining before the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, he again went after his favorite President to criticize (after Barack Obama, of course) -- J.F.K.
"That's not America," he said. "That's France. That's a naked public square where people of faith are out of bounds."
Putting any attempt to decipher that aside, this is not the first time Santorum has gone after our 35th President. Last week, he referenced the same line by Jack and said it stirred nausea: "To say that people of the faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up."
But this time around, Santorum admitted that the "throw up" bit crossed the line a little -- "The language that I used was at a minimum inarticulate" -- so he decided to instead use the country we love to hate and hate to love, France.
Santorum's loose interpretation of the separation between church and state, which has come under intense fire for his views on abortion and birth control, is no coincidence at this time in the election season.
After Super Tuesday, with rival Romney's major wins in six different states, most importantly Ohio, the quasi-frontrunner needs a new angle to pick up the Southern states and regain momentum in a race that is decided and undecided every other week.
With heavily religious populations at the coat end of the Bible Belt, Santorum, as well as Gingrich, have been playing the Catholic card and pushing as far right as possible to win
over the remnants of the Moral Majority. Romney, standing on the sidelines with his Mormon background, has been making an economic case to Gulf Coast voters rather than attacking the sacrilegious.
Luckily, we'll have plenty of religious extremism to go around for a while. Santorum has no intention to stop talking about his faith, unless, of course, he backs out of the race. And, with the way the delegates are working out, that doesn't seem like it's in the near future.
At least Rick has hope: "Please pray for me that I [speak about faith] more articulately in the future." Fingers crossed.
Follow John Surico at @JSuricz