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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Santorum: Let’s Cut Off Iran’s Oil Supply

Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a Republican Presidential Debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

photo of Naureen Khan
December 7, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum moved to strike a chord with Jewish voters gathered at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s candidate forum with his aggressive posture toward Iran and a blistering critique of the Obama administration’s Middle East policies.

Like all the other GOP candidates, Santorum vowed to be a better friend to Israel. “We see this administration turn a blind eye toward radicals,” the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania said. “For every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, [Obama] has done nothing but appease them.”

 Santorum said that as president, he would put into effect the strongest sanctions against Iran, including cutting off their oil supply. “There is no greater purveyor of terror in the world than Iran,” he said. “There is no greater threat to the existence of Israel.”

 

 Santorum compared the current moment to the lead-up to World War II, when the United States tried to avoid war at all costs. He noted that today is Dec. 7, the 40th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. “I know people in this country are tired of war, but our Pearl Harbor already happened,” he said. “It happened 10 years ago on September 11.”

 When asked about his conservative stances on such social issues as abortion rights and gay marriage—areas where Jewish voters have traditionally been more liberal—Santorum did not back away. Instead, he took the opportunity to make a subtle swipe at the relatively more liberal positions of others in the Republican field.

“We’ve had presidential candidates who have been pro-life or pro-marriage who have been uncomfortable talking about it,” Santorum said. “I’m not one of them. … What people are looking for is authenticity.”

 Santorum was among six Republican candidates who spoke at the forum in Washington, D.C.

In an interview, Alan Solow, a longtime Obama supporter and the former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, defended the president’s record on Israel and pointed to statements from Israeli officials saying the relationship between the United States and Israel is as strong as or even stronger than it’s ever been.

He also denied that Obama has “done nothing but appease” Islamists, thugs and hooligans, as Santorum said.

“To suggest that he’s some kind of appeaser is preposterous,” Solow said.

Solow accused the Republican presidential candidates of using catchphrases instead of proposing solutions to the problems in the Middle East.

“They present no vision of their own,” Solow said.

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