Santorum: 'Town Hall crowds are getting a little bigger'
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will be in Iowa for all but three days between now and the Jan. 3 precinct caucuses.
Speaking in Le Mars Monday, the former Pennsylvania senator asked how many of the 30 people listening to him had been to all of Iowa's 99 counties.
"I have," Santorum quickly answered.
He is counting on a good showing on caucus day, he said.
"Our crowds are getting a little bit bigger, so we're pretty excited about that," he said.
He also said the November 2012 election will be the most important in the country's history.
"We've been losing our way," Santorum said. "Government has gotten bigger and bigger and people have gotten smaller and smaller."
He said government, especially the federal government, is involved in almost every aspect of people's lives from what light bulb they can buy to health insurance.
"I think the tipping point was the passage of Obamacare where now every single American is gong to be dependent upon the federal government for their health," Santorum said.
If he is elected president, repealing the health care reform law would be a priority for Santorum during the first 90 days he'd be in office, he told the Le Mars group.
Five trillion dollars in cuts over the next five years would be No. 2 on his agenda for the first 90 days in office, Santorum said.
Those cuts would include everything from entitlement program reform to spending cuts on domestic spending, he explained.
Entitlement programs are government programs providing payments to those who meet requirements which means they are entitled to the benefits.
"I will freeze defense spending, but I will not cut defense spending, which is the highest and most important priority of the federal government," Santorum said.
About 20 percent of the federal budget is for national security compared to 60 percent 50 years ago, he said.
Santorum told the group he would cut the food stamp program, describing it as one of the fastest growing programs in Washington, D.C.
Forty-eight million people are on food stamps in a country with 300-million people, said Santorum.
"If hunger is a problem in America, then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger program?" Santorum asked.
The possibility of a nuclear weapon in Iran was also the focus of Santorum's Plymouth County town hall meeting.
He said he's make the Iranian nuclear issue a priority as president.
"We need to go out and fund, actively support anybody in or outside of Iran who wants to overthrow that government," Santorum said.
If he is elected, Santorum said he'd use every means necessary to stop a nuclear program for Iran from developing.
A four-point plan he outlined to deal with Iran also includes sanctions on the country's oil revenues.
"I will not be concerned about the economic impact of that because the economic impact of a nuclear Iran purveying terror and having terrorist attacks on a regular basis in the U.S. will do more to shoot up the price of oil than any sanction on Iranian oil would ever hope to," Santorum said.
He also proposes to dismantle Iran's nuclear capacity through air strikes unless Iran agrees to allow in nuclear weapons inspectors from the U.S.
When an audience member asked about illegal immigration, Santorum said he takes the same position as Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron).
"I believe that the law needs to be enforced and that's the law to build the fence to secure the border," Santorum said.
He also backed enforcement of immigration laws related to employment.
Six Republicans remain in the race for the Republican nomination for president and a recent Des Moines Register newspaper poll put Santorum in sixth place in the state.
With about four weeks remaining before caucuses, Santorum said a lot of Iowans are very much up in the air as to what they're going to do.
"I feel confident they're going to support the most consistent conservative across the board who has been able to win tough elections against Democrats," Santorum said of his candidacy.
Santorum repeatedly said he has a track record showing he won't be "sucked into the Republican or Washington establishment."
"I was part of the gang of seven that blew the lid off the House Bank scandal, I instituted term limits when I came to the U.S. Senate, I called for the resignation of the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a Republican, because he voted against the balanced budget amendment that cost us the amendment," Santorum said.
He told the audience he was running a grassroots campaign where their help means the most in the upcoming caucuses.
"Put Rick Santorum at the top of this list (of candidates) and you will fundamentally change the election -- you will put forward the most consistent conservative candidate in this race," he said.