Santorum booed for his positions on same-sex marriage, legal pot

Amid boos and occasional cheers, Rick Santorum defended his views on same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana, as he was peppered with questions by a crowd of college students in New Hampshire on Thursday.

The conservative candidate did not sidestep a challenge issued by several members of the crowd on the subject, but instead asked students to break down their argument so he could reply at length.

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“Don’t you have to make the positive argument why the law should be changed?” he asked.

Santorum was speaking at the College Convention 2012, an event in Concord, New Hampshire planned ahead of Santorum’s recent surprise jump in the polls.

The initial question posed to Santorum was to explain how same-sex marriage “personally” affected him. Santorum has expressed his support of a federal ban on same-sex marriage.

Santorum noted that he was not surprised to take a question on same-sex marriage from a college-aged audience, and said he was “happy to engage in a discussion” but emphasized that it would be “civil” even as he faced interruptions from various members of the audience.

Santorum grilled one female audience member who chimed in on the subject, challenging her to defend her argument in favor of same-sex marriage by answering questions about whether the definition of marriage should be changed to reflect whatever makes various people happy.

"Are we saying everybody has the right to marry," Santorum asked.

"Yes, yes," a significant segment of the crowd responded.

"What about three men?" Santorum challenged. “If she reflects the values that marriage can be for anybody or any group of people, as many as is necessary, any two people or any three or four, marriage really means whatever you want it to mean.”

The student fired back a qualification that people should be allowed what makes them happy so long as it didn’t harm anyone else.

“Who decides that, though?” Santorum said.

Santorum concluded with a passionate defense of traditional marriage that included his argument in favor of a “birthright” of every child to know and be loved by a man and a woman. His argument earned applause.

Asked about laws to legalize marijuana, Santorum admitted he is not familiar with the nuances of medical marijuana laws. Marijuana use by prescription has been legalized in several states, with various restrictions. Santorum pushed back against rumbling in the already testy crowd, joking he knows he’s “supposed to know everything.”

But he said he believes marijuana use is dangerous, based on his personal experience of seeing it used. "I went to college, too,” he told the crowd.

Santorum hit the campaign trial in New Hampshire after a near-win in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, where Mitt Romney beat him by just 8 votes. Santorum is enjoying a slight bump in the most recent polls in New Hampshire as a result, hitting 11 percent and 8 percent in the most recent polls from Washington Times-JZ Analytics and Suffolk University, respectively. Santorum's win in Iowa was credited in part to the large evangelical voting population and Santorum's credibility with social conservatives.