Santorum says Obama 'elevates Earth above man'

Mon, Feb 20, 2012, 00:00

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL candidate Rick Santorum accused US president Barack Obama yesterday of being beholden to “radical environmentalists” and said he had “a world view that elevates the Earth above man”.

Mr Santorum, who has emerged as the main challenger to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the Republican race, sought for a second day to explain his charge that Mr Obama practises “a different theology” that is “not a theology based on the Bible”.

Mr Santorum said on the CBS Face the Nation programme that he was not questioning Mr Obama’s Christian faith in claiming the president subscribes to a “phoney theology”, as he put it in a speech to Tea Party activists in Ohio on Saturday.

“I was talking about the radical environmentalists,” Mr Santorum said yesterday. “That’s why I was talking about energy. This idea that man is here to serve the Earth, as opposed to husband its resources and being good stewards of the Earth, and I think that is a phoney ideal.”

Mr Santorum’s explanation differed from the one he offered on Saturday, when he was asked to clarify his comments after a speech at an Ohio Christian Alliance luncheon in Columbus.

At that event, he said he was referring to the Obama administration’s rule that employers, including religious-affiliated groups, must provide coverage for contraceptives in healthcare plans.

“It is a different set of moral values that they are imposing on people who have a constitutional right to have their own values within the church,” Mr Santorum told reporters yesterday.

Robert Gibbs, an Obama campaign adviser and former White House press secretary, said yesterday that Mr Santorum’s attack on the president was “destructive” and was undercutting turnout among Republican voters in the party’s nomination contest.

“I can’t help but think that those remarks are well over the line,” Mr Gibbs said on ABC’s This Week program. “It’s wrong.”

Mr Santorum, on CBS, denied he was attacking Mr Obama’s religious faith. “I’ve repeatedly said that I believe the president’s Christian,” the former Pennsylvania senator said.

“He says he’s a Christian, but I am talking about his world view and the way he approaches problems in this country. I think they’re different than how most people do in America.”

Mr Santorum, who has won four primaries and caucuses, is vying for a win in the February 28th primary in Michigan, Mr Romney’s native state.

Former US House speaker Newt Gingrich, who won the South Carolina primary, is competing with Mr Santorum for support among anti-Romney voters.

Meanwhile, an Arizona sheriff resigned as co-chair of Mr Romney’s campaign in the state on Saturday after he was accused of threatening a former male lover with deportation to Mexico if he talked about their relationship.

In an embarrassing incident for Mr Romney’s campaign, Pinal county sheriff Paul Babeu denied he or his lawyer made the deportation threat, but he stepped down from helping the former Massachusetts governor in the border state.

Mr Babeu acknowledged at a news conference on Saturday that he was gay and had a relationship with the man making the allegations, whom he identified only as “Jose”.

The sheriff, a tough law-and-order advocate, was considered a rising star in state Republican politics and a strong candidate to win the Republican nomination for a congressional seat in Arizona this year. – (Bloomberg)