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February 20, 2012 - 12:48 pm

Rick Santorum seems to be ramping up the rhetoric against his two main opponents: Obama and Romney.

Lashing out on two fronts, Rick Santorum on Saturday questioned President Barack Obama’s Christian values and attacked GOP rival Mitt Romney’s Olympics leadership as he courted tea party activists and evangelical voters in Ohio, “ground zero” in the 2012 nomination fight.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator known for his social conservative views, said Obama’s agenda is based on “some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.” He later suggested that the president practices a different kind of Christianity.

“In the Christian church there are a lot of different stripes of Christianity,” he said. “If the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”

As one would expect, the left side of the web is lashing out against Santorum (I read these websites so you don’t have to):

ThinkProgress proclaims:

Santorum appears to be on a mission to be a one-man Council of Trent, the 16th Century Catholic ecumenical council that defined Protestants as heretics. In a 2008 speech rediscovered this week, Santorum said Mainline Protestants — about 45 million Presbyterians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Methodists and others — are “gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”

The first problem with this statement is that it’s been selectively cut to suit their storyline. Here’s the full quote, courtesy of our own David Swindle:

“We look at the shape of mainline protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it,”

Well, I am a protestant, and I agree, it’s in shambles. There’s an old joke about a Christian stranded on a desert island for years. When he’s rescued, he offers his rescuers a short tour of the island and what he’s built. “That’s my church,” he begins, “and that’s my smokehouse, and that’s my sleeping cabin, and that’s my church,” he says.

“Wait a moment,” one of the rescuers says. “You said that was your church over there.”

“Oh, I don’t go to that church anymore,” the stranded man replies.

With the many differences of opinion, even on what seem to me to be clear-cut theological issues, amongst churches that declare themselves mainline protestant, not to mention within churches (like the Anglicans), “shambles” seems to fit the current state of affairs pretty well in my humble opinion.

MSNBC, also jumping on the anti-Santorum bandwagon, wades in with (emphasis in original):

Rick Santorum took his rhetoric to a new level, trying to attack President Barack Obama over the controversy between religious freedom and contraception.

I’ll agree that Santorum’s comments are getting stronger, as I said at the start of the piece, but let’s remember, Obama himself opened the door to a religious response with his statement that Jesus would make the rich pay more in taxes, which our own Zombie took apart earlier this month.

If you’re going to use Jesus to make the case for your statist policies, Mr. Obama, you’d better be ready for someone to suggest that you may be following a different Jesus than the one in the Bible. Santorum didn’t start this argument, Obama did. Yes, Santorum is using that — along with the contraceptive mandate — to encourage conservative Christians to vote for him, but that’s part and parcel of the game of politics: get your base motivated.

In short, as combat pilots say, “when you’re taking flak, you’re over the target.” From the reaction of the lefties, I’d say Santorum may be over a big Obama target.

Back to the original piece, Santorum hit Mitt pretty hard too:

Even as he criticized Obama, Santorum also went after one of Romney’s most promoted achievements — his leadership at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

“One of Mitt Romney’s greatest accomplishments, one of the things he talks about most is how he heroically showed up on the scene and bailed out and resolved the problems of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games,” Santorum said. “He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake games — in an earmark, in an earmark for the Salt Lake Olympic games.”

The Romney campaign does not dispute that congressional earmarks helped save the games. But they noted that Santorum voted for those earmarks, among many others, when he was a senator.

“Sometimes when you shoot from the hip, you end up shooting yourself in the foot,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “There is a pretty wide gulf between seeking money for post-9/11 security at the Olympics and seeking earmarks for polar bear exhibits at the Pittsburgh Zoo.”

That’s actually a fairly professional piece of spin by the Romney camp, but that’s exactly what it is: spin. The earmarks Romney got for the Olympics went far beyond security (emphasis mine).

Romney sought congressional directed funds — known as earmarks — to help build transportation systems and augment security operations for the Games and argued that such money was vital to putting on the events.

“No matter how well we did cutting costs and raising revenue, we couldn’t have Games without the support of the federal government,” Romney wrote in his first book, Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership and the Olympic Games.

The federal government pumped more than $340 million into Utah in advance of the 2002 Games, funding about 18 percent of the cost, including funds for buses, light-rail construction and a host of security-related projects, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. If costs for rebuilding Interstate 15 and all of the light-rail expenses are added, the federal sum zooms to $1.3 billion.

Seems both candidates are vulnerable on earmarks, but Romney’s trying to get a pass on his, and he shouldn’t. If he thinks they were reasonable, he can explain that to the American voters and let them decide, not try to spin them.

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