Santorum: Freedoms at stake in presidential election

Local Democrat chairwoman says GOP candidates support an economy that benefits super-rich.

During his first day of campaigning in Ohio, Santorum painted President Barack Obama as an elitist who wanted to strip citizens of their freedoms and rights.

Before his visit to Warren County, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine endorsed Santorum, changing course from an earlier endorsement of rival Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

“I’ve known Rick many years and I’ve always been impressed by his intelligence, his drive, and his passion,” DeWine said. “When I endorsed Romney I felt he was the strongest candidate to beat Barack Obama. Subsequent campaigns have gone to prove that’s not true. (Romney’s) campaign is flat. He doesn’t appeal to the average person. Rick Santorum does.”

During a 30-minute speech to a gathering of Warren County Republicans, Santorum berated Obama for trying to give government too much control in the running of everyday life.

“We have to look at the root cause of why the economy is struggling as much as it is,” Santorum said. “Government intervention. Government regulation. Government taxation. Government is crushing and destroying the American spirit and the American free enterprise system.”

Santorum said that government spending was impinging on personal freedoms and ultimately chipping away at what made the country great.

“When the government gets as big as it’s gotten and starts to take over more of your life, then you get smaller as the individual, you get weaker, you lose control over your lives. You lose the rights that were guaranteed you. That is what’s at stake here.”

Santorum said the current administration had exceeded the authority given it by the Constitution and that Obama believed only “the snobs of our country who are the well-bred, the well educated have the ability the to rule from on high.”

Santorum spoke little about Romney during his speech, only once chiding the Massachusetts governor for supporting Obama’s health care plan.

Democrats responded that the Republicans were out-of-touch with the suffering of everyday people.

Santorum pledged to repeal Obama’s health care plan, painting the program as one that would further strip individuals of their rights and increase government power.

“If Obamacare goes into effect, every single American will be dependent on the government for your care and they will make you pay tribute to them,” Santorum said.

“(Romney and Santorum) support an economy that benefits the super-rich and well connected and cuts critical investments for middle class families and those struggling to stay there,” said Beth Goldenfield, head of the Warren County Democratic Party.

Romney’s camp used Congressman Mike Turner, R-Centerville, to rebut DeWine’s endorsement.

“Everyone knows that you don’t hire a consultant to run your company,” Turner said, in reference to Santorum’s occupation. “You interview a consultant, you take their advice, throw out half of it and then you turn to managers like Gov. Romney to get the work done, and to chose what needs to be done.”

Barry and Jenny Shivers of Loveland said they were impressed by Santorum and his belief in returning America to the land promised in the Declaration of Independence.

“I don’t want to denigrate his opponent, but he seems to be a clear choice to take the country back in a direction it needs to go,” Barry Shivers said.

Bill Leff, of Dayton, said he hadn’t made up his mind on who to support but felt that Santorum was a man who stuck to his convictions.

“Warren County plays a pivotal role in Ohio politics,” said Warren County Republican Party Chairman Jeff Monroe. “In recent years, Republican candidates have found they need Warren County’s high numbers to help them get elected.”

In the 2010 gubernatorial race, Republican John Kasich received 31,603 more votes in Warren County than his opponent, a number that was approximately one-third of Kasich’s total margin of victory.

Monroe, who is also a Lebanon city councilman, said he expected several more presidential candidates to visit Warren County as the election season progressed.

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