In the run-up to the GOP presidential race in Michigan which is still too close to call, former Senator Rick Santorum has veered about as far to the right as possible on religious, social and moral grounds in a desperate attempt to topple Mitt Romney today in his home state.
Santorum’s provocative recent comments were red meat for the conservative Christians and activists who make up about third of Michigan Republicans. He accused President Obama of wanting to indoctrinate young people in secular values by encouraging them to go to college; declared that President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign pledge to separate church from state made him want to “throw up;” and belittled Romney as a fake conservative lacking in core beliefs.
Addressing a crowd of about 300 supporters in Lansing, the state capital on Monday, Santorum said he was the only GOP candidate who would provide a clear contrast with President Obama and offer a competing vision about where he wants to lead America.
In rekindling old cultural battles over abortion, contraception, the role of women in the military and the respective roles of church and state in society, Santorum is trying desperately to draw sharp contrasts with a top rival who generally agrees with him on most key policy matters.
With polls showing Santorum and Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, running neck and neck, Santorum needed to change the subject from what most Republicans in Michigan and Arizona (which also has a primary today) really care about – mainly, the economy, jobs, the deficit, immigration and gas prices.
A Public Policy Polling survey taken Sunday found that Romney was leading Santorum 39 percent to 37 percent among likely Republican primary voters. A similar poll conducted by the American Research Group over the weekend found Santorum leading Romney 36 percent to 35 percent.
Try as they will to set themselves apart on these and other weighty matters, Santorum and Romney agree on many issues, which was apparent during the GOP presidential debate last week in Arizona.
Read Santorum’s and Romney’s tax and spending cut proposals and you will see that they are remarkably similar. While they both decry an out of control national debt, both Santorum and Romney have outlined tax cut plans and defense spending strategies that could add trillions of dollars to the deficit in the coming decade, according to a study released last week by the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The plans did not include details on budget cuts that would be necessary to limit the damage to the federal budget.