Santorum quizzed on praise for ‘get out of US’ rant

Republican White House hopeful Rick Santorum was under pressure yesterday to explain why he applauded a ranting evangelical pastor in Louisiana who told non-Christians to get out of America.

Santorum denied he had clapped during the speech, but video footage showed him applauding the Rev Dennis Terry.

Terry said: “I don’t care what the naysayers say. This nation was founded as a Christian nation. The god of Abraham and the god of Isaac and the god of Jacob. There is only one god. There is only one god, and his name is Jesus.

“I’m tired of people telling me that I can’t say those words. I’m tired of people telling us, as Christians, that we can’t voice our beliefs or we can’t no longer pray in public. Listen to me. If you don’t love America, and you don’t like the way we do things, I’ve got one thing to say: Get out!” Terry proclaimed at the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church.

“We don’t worship Buddha, we don’t worship Mohammed, we don’t worship Allah. We worship God. We worship God’s son Jesus Christ.”

Santorum later received a personal blessing from the preacher, who called on God’s will to be done in the forthcoming election.

Quizzed about backing the pastor’s words, Santorum said: “I didn’t clap when he said that. I do remember him saying that. I said, well, I wasn’t quite sure he was saying it for himself, I wasn’t quite listening to everything, to be honest with you. But I wasn’t sure whether he was speaking for himself or speaking generally, but I didn’t clap when he said that because it’s not how I feel.”

Video footage of the speech appeared to show otherwise as Santorum listened to Terry’s words.

The pastor said people should pray for God’s forgiveness. “I believe the church is to be the conscience of the nation. The church needs to be the conscience of our state and our local community.

“As long as they continue to kill little babies in our mothers’ womb, somebody’s got to take a stand and say it’s not right. God be merciful to us as a nation.

“As long as sexual perversion is becoming normalised, somebody needs to stand up and say God forgive us, God have mercy upon us.

“As long as they continue to tell our children that they cannot pray in public schools or pray in open public places today, somebody’s got to take a stand and say God forgive us, God have mercy upon us.

“As long as they continue to tear down traditional marriage, listen, God intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman and as long as they continue to attacks marriage, somebody’s got to take a stand and say no, no, no.”

Romney later embroiled himself in further controversy, saying he did not care about the US unemployment rate, despite being embroiled in a campaign largely focused on the economy.

“I don’t care what the unemployment rate is going to be. It doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates,” Santorum said in Illinois, which yesterday held a contest in the state-by-state battle for the Republican presidential nomination.

Santorum is battling Mitt Romney, the frontrunner in the race to oppose President Barack Obama in the November election.

Santorum used his economic comments to attack Romney as not being a true conservative. “We have one nominee who says he wants to run the economy. What kind of conservative says the president runs the economy? What kind of conservative says: ‘I’m the guy because of my economic experience that can create jobs?’ I don’t know. We conservatives generally think government doesn’t create jobs.”

Romney, a former private equity executive, has made his business experience the centrepiece of his campaign, contending that it makes him the best candidate to steer the economy. His campaign leaped on Santorum’s remarks, saying it added to Romney’s contention that Santorum is an “economic lightweight”.

Santorum rowed back on his comments later: “As far as my political campaign... of course I care about the unemployment rate. I want the unemployment rate to go down, but I’m saying my candidacy doesn’t hinge on whether the unemployment rate goes up and down. My candidacy is about something that transcends that; it’s about freedom. It’s not about governor Romney’s idea that he is going to fix the economy.”


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