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Santorum: Whitney Houston's death 'disturbing'

Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum said Wednesday the circumstances surrounding Whitney Houston's death are "disturbing" because of the outsized impact that celebrities have on society in the United States. 

"In a sense, celebrities are the aristocracy of America. They're the kings, and the queens, and the princes of our society," said Santorum on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" Wednesday.

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"They have a huge impact on the rest of society. Much more than any other group, certainly much more than a politician does. And that's why this is so disturbing."

The former Pennsylvania senator told CNN that the behavior of celebrities in the United States, much like the royal family in Britain, can affect the behavior of society as a whole.

"You see in a sense the royalty of America, you know, setting such a poor example. And being troubled by these things, then obviously it's going to have a downstream effect, and a very harmful downstream effect," added the presidential hopeful. 

Houston was found dead last Saturday at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles. The music icon was 48. Houston had admitted to past struggles with substance abuse, but the Los Angeles County coroner's office has yet to rule on the cause of her death. An invitation-only funeral will take place Saturday in her home state of New Jersey.

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