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Framing Rick Santorum

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 22, 2012 02:39 PM

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

But in politics, it’s the picture frame that makes all the difference in the world.

The secular media hounds (as well as GOP rivals) have framed Rick Santorum as a THEOCRAT! — and they’ll say and do anything to lock him in. He’s a God nut! A GOP mullah! He’s coming after your birth control! He “plays” with dead babies! He’s obliterating the wall between church and state! Run for your lives!

While the headlines trumpet Santorum’s 2008 remarks about Satan (gasp! a man who believes in God also believes in the devil! shocker!) and stir up anti-religious bigotry, Santorum has been zeroing in on the White House messiah’s destructive government policies.

Santorum recently delivered a scathing, detailed speech on government health insurance mandates that received scant national attention:

Santorum, who has touted free market health principles like health savings accounts as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, defended insurance industry practices the law eliminates, like setting premiums based on people’s health status.

Santorum’s point: Every time you add consumer protections — even the popular stuff — you make the health insurance more expensive.

In a speech that tied Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health plan to the federal health care reform law, Santorum also blasted Massachusetts and the federal law for eliminating lifetime and annual caps on health insurance coverage, something that will effectively end bare-bones insurance plans known as “mini-meds.” While consumer advocates have questioned the value of these plans, Santorum said doing away with them will boost insurance costs.

“Under Obama and Romney, they eliminate annual caps and therefore everybody’s insurance rate goes up,” Santorum said.
Santorum argued that consumers should take responsibility for preventive benefits, while the federal health care reform law eliminates cost-sharing for some. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll found that 53 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Independents favored the health care reform provision. However, Santorum made the point that auto insurance doesn’t cover basic car maintenance.

“How much more would you pay for your [car] insurance” if it covered oil changes and new tires, Santorum asked.

“If you have an accident, that’s what auto insurance is for,” he continued. “You have an accident and you have a cost you may not be able to pay.”
Santorum also blasted the health care reform law’s “guaranteed issue” provision, which bans health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with health problems. Santorum said the law’s penalty for not purchasing insurance isn’t strong enough to encourage young adults to buy it, meaning they’ll wait until they’re sick to actually seek coverage.

“That’s something that everybody thinks is so popular,” he said. “But it also leads to enormous cost.”

While the liberal media plays up Santorum’s “social conservatism,” he reiterated his core opposition to the bipartisan federal auto bailout in Michigan:

Rick Santorum stood by his opposition to the auto industry bailouts Thursday as he made a pitch to Michigan voters at the Detroit Economic Club.

“If we had just stayed out of it completely and let the market work, I believe the market would’ve worked,” Santorum said, adding that if the industry had just been left alone, it would’ve been “alive, and I believe, better.”

Santorum also drew a contrast with rival Mitt Romney, who he said opposed the auto bailouts while supporting the rescue of Wall Street.

“My feeling was that the government should not be in support of bailouts, period,” Santorum said.

The GOP presidential hopeful said President George W. Bush and President Obama set the “wrong precedent” with the bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors, decisions that he said would have negative “long-term consequences” for the country.

And as my column pointed out today, Santorum has been hitting the Democrats’ anti-science green cult hard on everything from Keystone to fracking and oil exploration. Along with Obamacare, this is a key policy issue where Santorum’s record rises above the Romney/Gingrich troublesome flirtations with eco-nitwittery.

This, not the hyperventilating of Beltway bigots, is resonating with voters in the heartland:

Although Obama has disappointed many in the environmental movement, and has expressed support for the controversial practice of hydraulic “fracking” for oil in shale rock, Santorum has been going after him in recent days for being a “radical environmentalist,” especially over the president’s decision to postpone approval of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada.

Two days ago, Santorum was quoted as saying that Obama adheres to “some phony theology,” remarks that were interpreted by some as an attack on the president’s faith. Santorum has since explained that he was referring to Obama’s views on the environment, which, he said, put more importance on the earth than on humanity.

He repeated that Monday, and criticized the Obama administration for recently imposing new environmental regulations on coal-fired power plants, causing some to close. He said the administration’s actions were based on “phony studies” and “a lack of scientific evidence.” He added: “I refer to global warming as not climate science, but political science.”

That line brought lusty cheers from the crowd, packed into a large banquet hall in a downtown restaurant.

Among them was Linda Kessler, a 62-year-old retired bus driver who recently signed an oil and gas lease to allow fracking on her family’s land. She said she could never vote for Obama, in part because of his energy policies. Of Santorum, she said, “He’s the one I like so far.”

Look for the liberal CNN debate “moderators” tonight to force their frame around Santorum.

And look for Santorum to cheerfully cast off their narrow-minded narrative and do the same thing he’s done successfully to challenge Mitt Romney’s front-runner status:

Offer no apology for his social conservatism, while sticking to his core fiscal conservative attacks on the Obama White House:

Rick Santorum offered no apologies Tuesday for a controversial speech he gave in 2008 when he talked about the threat of Satan in America.

“I’m a person of faith. I believe in good and evil,” Santorum said in response to questions from CNN.

…”If they want to go ahead and dig up old speeches to a religious group they can go right ahead and do so. I’m going to stay on message. I’m going to talk about the things Americans want to talk about,” Santorum said to CNN.

When pressed further if he believed Satan was attacking America, as he said in his 2008 speech, Santorum insisted the subject is not on the minds of voters.

“Guys these are questions that are not relevant to what’s being discussed in America today,” Santorum said.

“What we’re talking about in America today is trying to get America growing. That’s what my speeches are about. That’s we’re going to talk about in this campaign,” he added.

With Santorum now leading several national polls and moving within striking distance of two game-changing victories in next week’s Arizona and Michigan primaries, the rising GOP contender has seen his recent speeches subjected to increased scrutiny.

In a speech to a small crowd of supporters in Phoenix Tuesday evening, Santorum said he can handle the pressure.

“I’ll defend everything I say,” Santorum said.

Frame off. Game on.

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