Santorum stung by Satan warning

 

Rick Santorum, the frontrunner in most national polls for the Republican presidential nomination, was attempting to tamp down controversy over remarks he made four years ago about Satan having "his sights" on America.

The resurfacing of a speech he gave at a Christian university in Florida in 2008 has focused attention on the strong Catholic colours which have helped him to win the enthusiastic support of the Republican right but which could alienate moderate and independent voters if he were to become the nominee.

"This is not a political war at all, this is not a culture war at all, this is a spiritual war," Mr Santorum told Ave Maria University students in Naples. "And the father of lies has his sights on what you think the father of lies, Satan, would have his sights on. A good, decent, powerful, influential country, the United States of America."

Mr Santorum faces key tests on Tuesday when Arizona and Michigan hold primary elections. Some polls put him in a dead heat in both states with Mitt Romney. His surge has ensured that a cycle that was meant to be about the economy has veered into the terrain of social issues.

When pressed by reporters about his Satan remarks, he last night refused to take them back.

"I'm a person of faith. I believe in good and evil," Mr Santorum said.

"If somehow or another because you're a person of faith and you believe in good and evil is a disqualifier for president, we're going to have a very small pool of candidates who can run for president."

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