Santorum in N.H.: 'Nothing' in healthcare law worth saving

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) told a group of New Hampshire Republicans on Monday that the key to reining in the nation's debt is repealing the healthcare law, emphasizing that "nothing" in the law is worth saving.  

Santorum's visit Monday to the Granite State was his seventh in just the past year as he continues to test the waters for a possible run at the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.   

The former senator, who lost his seat to Democrat Bob Casey in 2006, was quoted by The Morning Call as saying that even some of the more popular provisions of the law must be scrapped.  

"First, get rid of Obamacare," Santorum said. "Repeal it. There is nothing, nothing there that is worth saving, in my opinion."

Most calls for repealing the law exclude provisions such as stopping insurers from rejecting clients because of pre-existing conditions or allowing children to stay on their parents' plan until they are 26 years old. Polls show wide support for those provisions. Voters do not like the law's mandate that everyone must buy insurance.

Asked for clarification at an evening event, Santorum stood by his earlier remarks. He said the pre-existing conditions clause in the law doesn't work because it allows people to wait until they get sick to buy insurance, which he said would cause insurance premiums to "skyrocket."

Santorum also expressed support for eliminating earmarks, something he admittedly embraced during his two terms in the Senate.

"I think the American public has spoken and they don't want Congress doing it," he said of earmarking.  

Without naming names, Santorum said he had some concern over whether anyone in the current field of rumored Republican hopefuls is the right candidate to take on Obama two years from now.

"One of the reasons I'm here and kicking this around is because I'm concerned that we may not have the right person who can do those things, because we're going to be competing against a hell of a good communicator," Santorum said, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader

Santorum said he expects to make a final decision on a run sometime next year.