Santorum: Obama's healthcare law a scheme to get Democrats reelected

Rick Santorum called President Obama's healthcare law a scheme to "hook" voters, who would reelect Democrats because they will have become dependent on the government for handouts.

“ObamaCare is a game-changer that makes every single citizen dependent on the U.S. government for their life,” Santorum said at a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire on Thursday. “That’s how they see you … as people to hook, as people to become dependent on them. There’s a push to get more and more people dependent. Why? Because [they say], 'Once we get you hooked, we’ll never let you go, and by the way, they’ll reelect us.' "

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Fresh off his surprising last-minute surge into the top tier of candidates following the Iowa caucuses, Santorum made clear that he views the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as an affront to personal liberty.

“It’s over, folks, let’s be very honest,” he said. “What your ancestors fought and died for, the ability to be free and independent and not hooked, not dependent on the federal government, will be given away.”

The healthcare law has become an election rallying cry for Republicans. The GOP presidential candidates have vowed to repeal it, and running against it helped Republicans take control of the House in the 2010 election.

It's also been an issue for GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, who beat Santorum by a mere eight points in Iowa. Conservatives have criticized Romney for signing Massachusetts's healthcare law, which has similarities to Obama's.

Romney has vowed to repeal Obama's law.

Santorum said healthcare reform was his primary reason for running for president, and would be his top priority if elected to office.

“I wouldn’t be in this race if it wasn’t for ObamaCare,” he continued. “It will be the biggest issue in this campaign … it is an issue essentially about whether we’re going to be a free people or not.

“One of the first things I’m going to do is repeal ObamaCare. I can repeal every ObamaCare regulation, every one of them. I’ll repeal them all so there’s no implementation of the bill; I can stop it right away.”