'Satan stalks America': Santorum words come back to haunt him

After four years, speech haunts the Republican front-runner as he tries to convert moderate voters

Mesa, Arizona

Rick Santorum, the front-runner in most national polls for the Republican nomination, was last night relishing controversy over remarks he made four years ago about Satan having “his sights” on America and accused Barack Obama of “crushing” the country’s Christian values.

As the candidates gathered her for last night’s Republican debate, Mr Santorum was drawing particular attention after the resurfacing of a speech he gave at a Christian university in Florida in 2008 that is highlighting his radical Christian stripes. His religiosity has 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 students at Ave Maria University 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, who for the first time was to take a centre spot on last night’s debate stage to reflect his new status in the race, faces key tests next 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 an election cycle that was meant to be all about the economy has veered into the tricky terrain of social issues.

Campaigning in Arizona ahead of last night’s debate, Mr Santorum turned the furore around to target President Obama.  “We see a president who is systematically trying to crush the traditional Judeo-Christian values of America. We saw it with Obamacare and the implementation of Obamacare, where his values are going to be imposed on a church’s values,” he told a Tea Party rally here.

“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.’

After rallies here this morning, both Mr Santorum and Mr Romney will fly across the country to Michigan where the battle between them is especially intense. A win for Mr Romney in the state where he was born and where his father, George Romney, served as governor, is indispensable if he is to regain momentum. Newt Gingrich, for whom last night’s debate was especially crucial, is focusing on states that will vote on Super Tuesday the following week.

In a preview of a speech on tax reform he will make in Michigan tomorrow, Mr Romney last night told voters that it will include a pledge “to lower rates across the board for Americans by 20 per cent”.

For now his stance on social issues may be helping Mr Santorum’s rise to the top of the Republican field. He has questioned Mr Obama’s religious devotion and spoken of his opposition to a 1965 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a ban on birth control. Contraception, he said last October is, “not OK. It’s a licence to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be”. Even sensuality is on his blacklist. In his 2008 speech he suggested that Satan was making inroads on America, “using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition”.

But in the longer term Mr Santorum may be sabotaging his chances of winning over moderate voters for whom religion and politics do not necessarily belong in the same sentence.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam