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Santorum: Obama administration 'has done nothing but appease the Iranians'

Rick Santorum stood by his comments that President Obama is appeasing terrorists, especially in Iran, where he said the White House isn't being tough enough.

"It's a very accurate word," Santorum said Sunday morning on CNN's "State of the Union." 

"What Obama was doing was continuing existing Bush policies with respect to al-Qaeda and in respect to Afghanistan," he said.

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"I'm talking about the new threats that have come up during his administration and at every single turn the president has appeased those who would do us harm."

Santorum called Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the biggest threat to Israel and U.S. national security and said that Obama "has done nothing but appease the Iranians." 

In a speech last Wednesday, Santorum had criticized the president, saying that "for every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, he has had nothing but appeasement."

The comments got a sharp rebuke from the president who stood behind his record of taking down some of the world's top terrorists. 

"Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaeda leaders who've been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement," Obama shot back in response. 

Santorum on Sunday said the president had failed to take the threat of Iran’s nuclear program seriously. He said the administration had failed to support "tough, meaningful sanctions" and had refused "covertly or militarily to try to stop the development of a weapon that will fundamentally change the national security position of this country and the world." 

If elected president, Santorum said he would fund the pro-democracy movement in Iran "which President Obama has not done." 

Santorum mentioned a bill he introduced in 2006 that he said would provide funding for the movement. 

"The president has not spent a penny to try to do that," he added.

He said Obama also should impose tougher sanctions, use "all of our assets to use covert activity to disrupt and destroy the capability of them to develop a missile technology as well as nuclear technology" in Iran. 

Santorum said his policy would be to work with the Israelis and publicly state that Iran must abandon its nuclear weapons program, must open it up to inspectors "or else we will work with the state of Israel to take out and degrade that capability via military force such as airstrikes."

He also criticized Obama for "recognizing the state of Syria" and for maintaining the American embassy calling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “real thug.”

U.S., European Union and Arab League leaders have been increasing their economic and political pressure to end violence in Syria that has put the nation on the brink of civil war. 

"There is a consistent pattern of contingencies that have come up under this administration where he has opposed the freedom fighters and gone with the radical Islamist," Santorurm said.

On other topics, Santorum said he hoped the debate moderated by Donald Trump would still go on even if the only participants were himself and Newt Gingrich. 

"Donald Trump I think would be fairer than a lot of the folks that have been moderating debates over the past few months," he said.   

He also mentioned reaching out to Sarah Palin recently to "thank her for her kind comments" and to tell her "I would appreciate any help she could give us" including an endorsement although Santorum noted that she hasn't made any decisions yet. 

“If voters start kind of shifting gears and decided they want ideological consistency, then they’re going to start paying attention to say, Rick Santorum,” Palin said in an interview with Sean Hannity on Dec. 2. 

She went on to commend his consistency on being a “hardliner against Iran to help protect Israel,” as well as sticking to his anti-abortion beliefs and his mantra to cut income tax.

Santorum said he didn't speak with Palin before her comments.