Santorum: Iran nuclear program is top priority on first day as president

The first thing Rick Santorum would do on his first day in the White House would be to put in place a plan to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions, the former Pennsylvania senator told Jewish Republicans on Wednesday.

Santorum laid out a plan for aggressively confronting Iran over its nuclear program, calling it the biggest existential threat not only to Israel, but also to the United States.

He called for saying "very clearly that we will use covert activity," labeling all Iranian nuclear scientists as enemy combatants, working publicly with Israel to persuade Iran to abandon its program and threatening airstrikes and military action.

"This president, for every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, he has had nothing but appeasement," Santorum said at the Republican Jewish Coalition's forum for presidential candidates. "In the entire region now, we see evidence of the president's policies of ignoring the threat of radical Islam."

Taking another strike at the Obama administration, Santorum said the proper approach to foreign policy in 100 percent of cases is to start with whatever position Vice President Biden takes and assume the exact opposite. He also lashed out at the State Department, which he said works continually against American interests. 

"They need to have a meat ax taken to them," he said.

While Santorum has frequently couched his support for Israel in religious and biblically tinted terms, he focused squarely on the national-defense implications and security threat to Israel in making his case to Jewish Republicans that he is the best candidate to lead the country through a tumultuous period in the Middle East and around the world.

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