Santorum: JFK speech on church and state makes me want to ‘throw up’

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Sunday stood by his remarks that efforts to prevent religion from playing any role in public life made him want to “throw up.”

Santorum, speaking on ABC’s "This Week" on Sunday, was asked to respond to a video clip of him criticizing President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on separation of church and state.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country,” said Santorum.

“The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion. That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, faith is not allowed in the public square,” he continued.

Santorum said the government is now trying to impose its views on people over religion, and that people of faith should be able to argue their views in the public square.


RELATED: Santorum urges Michigan voters to 'shock the country'


“To say that people of faith have no role in the public square?” Santorum responded. “You bet that makes you throw up.”

Santorum also defended calling President Obama a “snob” for wanting everyone to go to college. In a prior interview he had described colleges as “indoctrination mills.”

Santorum used his personal experience to say colleges can discriminate against conservatives.

“You talk to most kids who go to college who are conservatives, and you are singled out, you are ridiculed,” he said. “I went through a process where I was docked for my conservative views. This is sort of a regular routine.”

Santorum also pushed back against criticism for his statement that he voted in favor of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) even though the education reform legislation was “against the principles” he believed in.

“Looking back on it, that was the case,” said Santorum.  But he also attempted to turn the tables on GOP rival Mitt Romney, saying that Romney continued to back the controversial education law.

Santorum said his record on education was better than Romney’s because he had continued fighting to get the federal government out of education.

“Here's the amazing thing, is that Gov. Romney supports No Child Left Behind,” said Santorum. “I looked at No Child Left Behind after it was enacted and saw what happened and saw the expansion of the federal government and the role of education.

“And I said, you know, that was, that's not what I believe in. And Gov. Romney still believes in that. Gov. Romney defends No Child Left Behind and supports it today. I don't, because it's against the principles I believe in,” he continued.


RELATED: Poll: Santorum closes on Romney in Arizona


During Tuesday’s Arizona debate, Santorum had said he backed the legislation, despite his misgivings, because “sometimes you take one for the team.” Romney has used the remark to hammer Santorum ahead of the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Tuesday. 

But on Sunday, the former Pennsylvania senator went on the attack against Romney over cap-and-trade, the Wall Street bailouts and the Massachusetts health care law, looking to deflect his debate remark by arguing that Romney’s principles aren’t as strong as his own.

“Gov. Romney is not only wrong on the issue of education with the federal government and the state government having, you know, basically micromanaged it from the top down, but he's also wrong on a whole host of other principles of government involvement,” Santorum said.

“When he was governor of Massachusetts, he proudly passed — and still defends — government-run health care in Massachusetts,” he added.


RELATED: Santorum-sponsored car unveiled at Daytona


More in Presidential races

Santorum: GOP needs foreign policy 'expert' like Clinton

Read more »