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Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

Former Senator, Pennsylvania

Republican

The Popular Vote

0 77 100 76
77%
Average based on 76 scores
  • Free Market
    31%
  • National Security
    33%
  • American Exceptionalism
    36%
  • Consistency
    36%
  • Ethics
    37%
  • Principles
    36%
  • Accomplishments
    29%
  • Political Skills
    27%
  • Communication
    30%
  • Viability
    21%

Rick Santorum

Out of the running Last modified: February 3, 2016

LPA's Final Grade: C+/78(Why this Grade?)

Free Market
6
National Security
10
American Exceptionalism
9
Consistency
8
Ethics
9
Principles
8
Accomplishments
9
Political Skills
8
Communication
8
Viability
3

Leadership MatrixCandidate grading is a dynamic process and is subject to change according to ongoing evaluation using the criteria of the Leadership Matrix.

Rick Santorum is a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania who announced his second campaign for president of the United States in May of 2015. He became the principal rival to Mitt Romney in the 2012 nomination process, surprising many with an underfunded campaign that drew primarily from the social conservative wing of the Republican Party.

As a senator, Santorum’s signature achievement was the 1996 welfare reform legislation that he played a major role in crafting and getting passed in the Senate. Santorum’s economic policies largely mirror those of most conservatives, with some notable exceptions, including trade, where first as a representative and later a senator he favored trade policies that protected his home-state steel industry.

Santorum’s focus in 2012 was on social issues, and voters who rank those issues highly formed the core of his support. He also advocated for tax cuts, including a lower tax rate for corporations and eliminated corporate taxes for domestic manufacturers, something that was heavily criticized by free-market and low-tax advocates for favoring one type of industry over others. The Tax Foundation, normally a fan of tax cuts, gave his plan a D+.

Santorum has both won and lost highly competitive campaigns, starting with his long-shot victory over an incumbent Democratic member of Congress in 1990 and ending with a crushing defeat in his 2006 re-election bid to the U.S. Senate and then his competitive but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination in 2012. These races have given him significant experience on the campaign trail.

Santorum is a talented politician who has the ability to appeal to many Republicans, but he has struggled in his campaign for the 2016 nomination with low poll numbers and poor fundraising. This is partly because many of his rivals have equally strong appeal to the same social conservatives who propelled his previous campaign. He remains a long shot for the Republican nomination and will need several candidates who appeal to similar constituent groups to stumble in order for him to even move into the second tier of candidates – those with an outside but realistic shot at the nomination.

Out of the running Last modified: February 3, 2016

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Santorum released his tax reform plan in October 2015, calling for a flat tax of 20 percent for both individual and corporate income. Capital gains and dividend income would be taxed the same as other income under Santorum’s plan, and the inheritance tax and alternative minimum tax would both be eliminated. All deductions for individuals would be scrapped except for charitable giving and the mortgage interest deduction, which would be capped at $25,000 per year.

His plan would also eliminate corporate taxes on manufacturers for the first year, have a reduced rate the second year, and phase in to the 20 percent rate in the third year. Capital costs would be fully expensed and repatriated corporate profits would be taxed at a 10 percent rate.

On the corporate side the plan is very similar to the tax plan Santorum called for in his 2012 campaign, which had a 17 percent flat corporate rate (except for a 20 percent credit for research and development costs). His 2012 plan also called for cutting capital gains taxes to 12 percent, eliminating the alternative minimum tax, and two personal income tax rates of 10 and 28 percent.

Santorum’s voting record on federal tax policy has been in line with conservative policy priorities. He supported a 3-year moratorium on the Internet tax (states’ ability to impose taxes on the Internet), supported a two-thirds majority requirement of Congress to pass tax increases, supported elimination of the marriage penalty tax and supported the Bush tax cuts.

Santorum supported a new multi-government authority in the Pittsburgh area that would have built a new baseball park, football stadium and convention center. It involved hiking taxes and the use of eminent domain to obtain the land needed to build the facilities. Voters in all 11 counties that would have been part of the authority rejected the tax hikes needed to create it, so Santorum then went to the state legislature for help and then lobbied for the federal dollars. The project fell apart a few years later.

Santorum voted against the “windfall profit” tax on oil companies in 2005 at a time when oil and gasoline prices began to climb.

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Santorum has been critical of President Barack Obama and the number of regulations his administration has imposed. During the 2012 campaign he promised to repeal Obama regulations that created more than $100 million in economic burdens, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule on carbon emissions that has caused the shutdown of at least six power plants.

He has also opposed the federal regulation of fracking to extract natural gas from the ground, a growing industry in Western Pennsylvania.

Santorum has been as a critic of the EPA and regulations that address “climate change.” Like many others on the right, he has advocated for requiring the EPA to use a cost/benefit analysis when considering regulations.

Santorum is alone in the Republican field in calling for a higher minimum wage, suggesting in 2014 that a series of 50 cent per hour raises spread over several years would have minimal impact on employment while benefiting low-wage workers. He opposes the much bigger increases proposed by Democrats, which have ranged from setting a new minimum wage of $10.10 per hour to $12 per hour or higher.

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Santorum has a mixed record on labor issues. As a congressman from a blue-collar, pro-union part of Pennsylvania, he voted with congressional Democrats in support of a bill that prohibited employers from permanently replacing striking workers. In 1995, Santorum voted against a national right-to-work law as he felt it would be an infringement on states’ rights. But during his presidential campaign in 2012 he said he would support a national right-to-work law.

He also stated during his 2012 campaign that public sector employee unions should be eliminated. He supported a bill that allowed employers to form “labor-management cooperative organizations” with employees without the presence of a union.  The bill amended the National Labor Relations Act and allowed these cooperative bodies to discuss “matters of mutual interest” such as safety, health and efficiency. It does not replace unions, and these cooperatives cannot handle activities such as collective bargaining.

Santorum is alone in the Republican field in calling for a higher minimum wage, suggesting in 2014 that a series of 50 cent per hour raises spread over several years would have minimal impact on employment while benefiting low-wage workers.

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During the 2012 campaign he promised to repeal Obama regulations that created more than $100 million in economic burdens, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule on carbon emissions that has caused the shutdown of at least six power plants.

In 1999 he voted to defund renewable and solar energy programs and favored drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). He has also favored expanding offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico,  supports allowing the export of U.S. oil, and has stated that the Keystone XL pipeline is “absolutely essential.”

Santorum voted against the “windfall profit” tax on oil companies in 2005 at a time when oil and gasoline prices began to climb. He has also opposed the federal regulation of fracking to extract natural gas from the ground, a growing industry in Western Pennsylvania.

Santorum has been as a critic of the EPA and regulations that address “climate change.” Like many others on the right, he has advocated for requiring the EPA to use a cost/benefit analysis when considering regulations.

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Santorum has voted in favor of a balanced-budget amendment requiring that the federal budget be balanced each budget cycle and also supported allowing the president to have line-item veto power. He supported the debt limit increase in 2006 but also voted for a cut in discretionary spending to prevent a raid on the Social Security fund.

During the budget sequestration debate in 2013, Santorum accused Obama of trying to scare people regarding the impact of the spending cuts. He also said the cuts were a “pittance” compared to what was needed to deal with the debt, but he thought too much was cut from defense. He criticized the “fiscal cliff” deal in early 2013 and admonished Republicans to not approve any debt ceiling increase without also passing a balanced budget amendment.

National fiscal policy groups like Club for Growth, National Taxpayers Union and Freedom Works have criticized Santorum as being a big spender. He was criticized for using earmarks during his time in Congress even though on the 2012 campaign trail he opposed them.

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Santorum has been an outspoken critic of Obamacare and predicted it would fail on its own over time.In 2012 he proposed repealing Obamacare and replacing it with refundable tax credits that could be used to purchase health insurance.

Santorum was one of a handful of representatives who co-sponsored the first legislation creating Health Savings Accounts (then called Medical Savings Accounts), and during the 2012 campaign he advocated that people pay out of pocket for routine medical care and that insurance be used only for catastrophic care.  Santorum voted for the Medicare prescription drug program in 2003 (which included his HSA legislation), but he later said he regretted it because the program was universal instead of targeted and it wasn’t fully paid for. He also supports ending Medicaid as a federal entitlement and instead proposes to provide block grants to states to design their own programs.

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Santorum was the one of the principal authors of the 1996 welfare reform act that implemented a work requirement for welfare recipients and a five-year limit on benefits, and gave states more flexibility, among other changes. He managed the reform bill on the floor of the U.S. Senate, an unusual honor for a freshman senator. He has recently proposed putting time limits and work requirements on other programs for the needy, such as food stamps, Medicaid and housing assistance.

He has also supported the creation of personal retirement accounts as a way for people, particularly young people, to control their own retirement futures but also as a way to sustain the Social Security system. He has also supported Paul Ryan’s plan to offer private health insurance options to Medicare recipients. More recently, he proposed raising the retirement age to qualify for Social Security benefits, pegging the increase to improvements in life expectancy. He also suggested some form of means testing could be included in a reform plan.

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Santorum’s positions on international trade policy have evolved since his early days in Congress. In his early years as a congressman from Pennsylvania, he opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement. Later in his career, as a senator, he supported the Central American Free Trade Agreement despite union opposition to the agreement and followed suit by supporting trade agreements with Oman, Singapore and Chile. Since then, he has stated he is “skeptical” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, explaining that it would hurt American workers and ignore what he termed “non-tariff barriers” to trade, such as currency manipulation.

Santorum voted for and co-sponsored a bill to put tariffs on imported steel and often supported measures in Congress to protect the steel industry. As The New York Times wrote in 2012, “Again and again, as Big Steel faced crippling competition from abroad during the 1990s and early 2000s, Mr. Santorum joined Democratic and Republican lawmakers from steel-producing states to seek special protection in Washington for the industry, including direct subsidies, trade tariffs and import quotas.”

He also supported a 2005 bill that would put tariffs on all Chinese imports in an effort to pressure China to readjust its currency upward.

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During the 2012 campaign, Santorum made a promise to increase the number of deportations. He said in a January 2015 speech in Iowa that all “net new jobs” went to immigrants and that there are fewer native-born Americans working today than in 2000, and he has expressed concern about legal immigration as well. He has said that Republicans should view enforcement of immigration laws as a “rule of law” issue. During his 2012 campaign he did support a guest worker program aimed specifically at agricultural workers.

More recently, Santorum has said that legal immigration should be reduced by 25 percent, arguing it threatens the jobs and wages of native-born U.S. citizens, and he also advocated for securing the border and fully implementing the E-Verify system that requires employers to verify the legal status of workers. He is a longtime proponent of ending “birthright citizenship,” which gives citizenship to the children of illegal aliens born in the U.S.; changing that would require a constitutional amendment.

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Santorum has a somewhat mixed history when it comes to matters related to agriculture policy. In 2006 he supported an amendment that would direct $6 million of federal funds to sugarcane growers in Hawaii. He has also supported subsidies for the dairy industry (the number one agricultural business in Pennsylvania).

Santorum advocated for eliminating subsidies for ethanol completely, and in 2012 he advocated for ending farm subsidies within four years. However, at a 2015 Iowa event he pledged his support for the Renewable Fuel Standard, a mandate requiring fuel refiners include a certain percentage of ethanol in gasoline.

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Santorum supports keeping the Export-Import Bank, often referred to as a corporate welfare program, and in addition to supporting taxpayer subsidies for a stadium in the Pittsburgh area, Santorum also backed federal legislation offering tax credits to movie productions filmed in the U.S.

Santorum was very critical of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, often called a bailout of Wall Street. He also criticized the Dodd-Frank regulations on the financial industry,  and pledged during his 2012 campaign to repeal what he called the “burdensome” Sarbanes-Oxley law.

He has also stated he would support an audit of the Federal Reserve Bank and believes it should focus solely on fighting inflation.

In 2006 he supported an amendment that would direct $6 million of federal funds to sugarcane growers in Hawaii. He has also supported subsidies for the dairy industry (the number one agricultural business in Pennsylvania).

Santorum advocated for eliminating subsidies for ethanol completely, and in 2012 he advocated for ending farm subsidies within four years. However, at a 2015 Iowa event he pledged his support for the Renewable Fuel Standard, a mandate requiring fuel refiners include a certain percentage of ethanol in gasoline.

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Santorum was very critical of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, often called a bailout of Wall Street. He also criticized the Dodd-Frank regulations on the financial industry,  and pledged during his 2012 campaign to repeal what he called the “burdensome” Sarbanes-Oxley law.

He has also stated he would support an audit of the Federal Reserve Bank and believes it should focus solely on fighting inflation.

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In a 2014 speech at Northwestern University, Santorum advocated for a strong U.S. military and “peace by exerting strength,” although during the 2012 presidential campaign he advocated for freezing defense spending.

Santorum proposed to “fully fund and build a comprehensive missile defense system” during his 2012 campaign.

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Santorum was a supporter of the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and its reauthorization in 2006. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015, he proposed putting 10,000 U.S. troops on the ground to fight ISIS.

He has said that the U.S. already accepts 70 percent of the U.N. refugee population and said “we’re doing more than our share,” and suggested refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East flowing into Europe would be better off being housed nearer their home countries so they can be returned at a later date when it is safe. Following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris he reiterated his opposition to bringing Syrian refugees to the U.S., expressing concern that the refugees couldn’t be adequately screened to keep out terrorist infiltrators.

He has sharply criticized the Obama administration’s deal with Iran regarding nuclear weapons development, calling it the “greatest betrayal” of U.S. national security in history, and predicted Iran would violate the agreement and also continue to support terrorism around the world as a result.

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In his 2012 campaign Santorum said he would “abolish the state department and start all over,” and he has reiterated that view in 2015, citing his view that the department is filled with “internationalists” who “are not serving the interests of the American people.”

Santorum has advocated imposing tougher sanctions on Russia in response to its aggression in Ukraine, favored a conditional extension of most-favored-nation trade status for China, and criticized the Obama administration’s renewal of diplomatic ties and efforts to end the embargo on Cuba.

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Santorum has been critical of the role of the Supreme Court. In a speech to the National Right to Life Political Action Committee he asked, “When did it become the law of the land that the Supreme Court has the final say on anything? They do not have the final say on anything! The American people have the final say on everything!” He has similarly been critical of judicial activism, saying that it is a “serious problem in this country.”

He has promised that if elected president, he will “have a litmus test that they should follow the Constitution,” promising that “there will be no one stronger on judges than I am.”

While in the U.S. Senate, Santorum voted in favor of confirmation for Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, as well as elevating Roberts to the position of chief justice. He has written that had he been in the Senate, he wouldn’t have voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she was nominated by Obama due to the high reversal rates of her decisions, and because she made statements stating that policy is made at the appellate court level. During the 2012 campaign, Santorum also stated he’d do away with the Ninth Circuit Court (the appellate court that includes California) because of its liberal leanings and the high rate of decision reversals by the U.S. Supreme Court.

He was highly critical of the court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage), stating that “five unelected justices decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input.” He went as far as to compare the Obergefell ruling to the court’s infamous rulings in Dred Scott v. Sanford and Plessy v. Ferguson.

He supports the court’s decision in the case of Citizens United v. FEC, and has called efforts to roll back the decision “horrible” and “against the right to petition your government.”

Santorum has been a pointed critic of the Roe v. Wade decision, calling it “the cancer that is infecting the body of America.” Additionally, he has blamed the Roe decision for leading to the court’s decision in Obergefell. He has called for it to be overturned.

On affirmative action, Santorum suggested in a 2005 interview there were more important issues and policies that would benefit minorities than “set asides and preferences” and that he thought it was “on its way out in most areas.”  He did state that he supported some level of affirmative action, however.

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Santorum has been a longtime supporter of individual gun rights and opposed most gun control measures. He voted against a waiting period and national background checks on gun sales in 1993, and voted to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits if guns they made were used in crimes. He has a concealed-carry permit and an A+ lifetime grade from the National Rifle Association.

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Santorum has been a leading advocate for pro-life legislation and made his opposition to abortion a major focus of his 2012 campaign. Pro-life groups National Right to Life and Susan B. Anthony List endorsed him in the 2012 primaries. He was the chief sponsor of legislation to ban on the late-term procedure known as partial-birth abortion. He has compared legal abortion to slavery, and he favors overturning Roe v. Wade.

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Opposition to same-sex marriage has been a prominent part of Santorum’s campaigns for president. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2015 on the issue, he pledged to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman in all 50 states, going further than those who want an amendment that simply overturns the court’s decision and allows each state to set their own marriage laws. While in Congress, Santorum voted in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for federal purpose as between a man and a woman and gave states the authority to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that might be performed in other states.  He has sharply criticized efforts to force business people to provide services to same-sex weddings, saying those who choose not to do so are being sent to “re-education camps.”

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Echolight Studios, a Christian production company for which Santorum is CEO, released a film about religious persecution. It focused on the Hobby Lobby case challenging the Obamacare requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in employee health insurance plans, regardless of the private employer’s religious beliefs. Santorum was also a co-sponsor of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, which would have limited an employer’s ability to decline accommodation for religious practices. He has said one of his first acts as president would be to sign an executive order protecting religious liberties from abuse and harassment by the federal government.

Santorum voted against McCain-Feingold, saying the campaign finance law infringed on First Amendment rights.

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Santorum voted against the 1995 National Right to Work law, stating it was a states’ rights matter, and when it came to bills that would require states’ adoption of certain blood alcohol levels (related to drunk driving laws) in order to get federal funds, Santorum voted against at least two  in keeping with his earlier actions to protect states’ powers. During a 2012 presidential debate he said the 10th Amendment doesn’t give states the right to do anything they want.

Santorum voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, a major federal education initiative championed by former President George W. Bush. During the course of his presidential bid, Santorum admitted that his support of the bill was a mistake.

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Santorum voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, a major federal education initiative championed by former President George W. Bush. During the course of his presidential bid, Santorum admitted that his support of the bill was a mistake. He is also opposed to Common Core because he believes the process wasn’t transparent and wasn’t subject to public or legislative review. Santorum’s younger children have been homeschooled, and his older boys attended a private Catholic school.

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Santorum released his tax reform plan in October 2015, calling for a flat tax of 20 percent for both individual and corporate income. Capital gains and dividend income would be taxed the same as other income under Santorum’s plan, and the inheritance tax and alternative minimum tax would both be eliminated. All deductions for individuals would be scrapped except for charitable giving and the mortgage interest deduction, which would be capped at $25,000 per year.

His plan would also eliminate corporate taxes on manufacturers for the first year, have a reduced rate the second year, and phase in to the 20 percent rate in the third year. Capital costs would be fully expensed and repatriated corporate profits would be taxed at a 10 percent rate.

On the corporate side the plan is very similar to the tax plan Santorum called for in his 2012 campaign, which had a 17 percent flat corporate rate (except for a 20 percent credit for research and development costs). His 2012 plan also called for cutting capital gains taxes to 12 percent, eliminating the alternative minimum tax, and two personal income tax rates of 10 and 28 percent.

Santorum’s voting record on federal tax policy has been in line with conservative policy priorities. He supported a 3-year moratorium on the Internet tax (states’ ability to impose taxes on the Internet), supported a two-thirds majority requirement of Congress to pass tax increases, supported elimination of the marriage penalty tax and supported the Bush tax cuts.

Santorum supported a new multi-government authority in the Pittsburgh area that would have built a new baseball park, football stadium and convention center. It involved hiking taxes and the use of eminent domain to obtain the land needed to build the facilities. Voters in all 11 counties that would have been part of the authority rejected the tax hikes needed to create it, so Santorum then went to the state legislature for help and then lobbied for the federal dollars. The project fell apart a few years later.

In his book It Takes a Family, Santorum describes his own policy positions as “Big Government conservatism.” The national libertarian think tank Cato Institute lists these endorsements of “Big Government” to include: national service, promotion of prison ministries, publicly financed trust funds for children, community-investment incentives, strengthened obscenity enforcement, and covenant marriage, among others.

Santorum has a mixed record on labor issues. As a congressman from a blue-collar, pro-union part of Pennsylvania, he voted with congressional Democrats in support of a bill that prohibited employers from permanently replacing striking workers. In 1995, Santorum voted against a national right-to-work law as he felt it would be an infringement on states’ rights. But during his presidential campaign in 2012 he said he would support a national right-to-work law.

He also stated during his 2012 campaign that public sector employee unions should be eliminated. He supported a bill that allowed employers to form “labor-management cooperative organizations” with employees without the presence of a union.  The bill amended the National Labor Relations Act and allowed these cooperative bodies to discuss “matters of mutual interest” such as safety, health and efficiency. It does not replace unions, and these cooperatives cannot handle activities such as collective bargaining.

Santorum is alone in the Republican field in calling for a higher minimum wage, suggesting in 2014 that a series of 50 cent per hour raises spread over several years would have minimal impact on employment while benefiting low-wage workers. He opposes the much bigger increases proposed by Democrats, which have ranged from setting a new minimum wage of $10.10 per hour to $12 per hour or higher.

Santorum has been critical of President Barack Obama and the number of regulations his administration has imposed. During the 2012 campaign he promised to repeal Obama regulations that created more than $100 million in economic burdens, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule on carbon emissions that has caused the shutdown of at least six power plants.

As a congressman and senator from an energy-producing state, Santorum maintained a track record that most conservatives would agree with as it relates to energy policy. In 1999 he voted to defund renewable and solar energy programs and favored drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). He has also favored expanding offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico,  supports allowing the export of U.S. oil, and has stated that the Keystone XL pipeline is “absolutely essential.”

Santorum voted against the “windfall profit” tax on oil companies in 2005 at a time when oil and gasoline prices began to climb. He has also opposed the federal regulation of fracking to extract natural gas from the ground, a growing industry in Western Pennsylvania.

Santorum has been as a critic of the EPA and regulations that address “climate change.” Like many others on the right, he has advocated for requiring the EPA to use a cost/benefit analysis when considering regulations.

Santorum has voted in favor of a balanced-budget amendment requiring that the federal budget be balanced each budget cycle and also supported allowing the president to have line-item veto power. He supported the debt limit increase in 2006 but also voted for a cut in discretionary spending to prevent a raid on the Social Security fund.

During the budget sequestration debate in 2013, Santorum accused Obama of trying to scare people regarding the impact of the spending cuts. He also said the cuts were a “pittance” compared to what was needed to deal with the debt, but he thought too much was cut from defense. He criticized the “fiscal cliff” deal in early 2013 and admonished Republicans to not approve any debt ceiling increase without also passing a balanced budget amendment.

National fiscal policy groups like Club for Growth, National Taxpayers Union and Freedom Works have criticized Santorum as being a big spender. He was criticized for using earmarks during his time in Congress even though on the 2012 campaign trail he opposed them.

Santorum has been an outspoken critic of Obamacare and predicted it would fail on its own over time.In 2012 he proposed repealing Obamacare and replacing it with refundable tax credits that could be used to purchase health insurance.

Santorum was one of a handful of representatives who co-sponsored the first legislation creating Health Savings Accounts (then called Medical Savings Accounts),

and during the 2012 campaign he advocated that people pay out of pocket for routine medical care and that insurance be used only for catastrophic care.  Santorum voted for the Medicare prescription drug program in 2003 (which included his HSA legislation), but he later said he regretted it because the program was universal instead of targeted and it wasn’t fully paid for. He also supports ending Medicaid as a federal entitlement and instead proposes to provide block grants to states to design their own programs.

Santorum was the one of the principal authors of the 1996 welfare reform act that implemented a work requirement for welfare recipients and a five-year limit on benefits, and gave states more flexibility, among other changes. He managed the reform bill on the floor of the U.S. Senate, an unusual honor for a freshman senator. He has recently proposed putting time limits and work requirements on other programs for the needy, such as food stamps, Medicaid and housing assistance.

He has also supported the creation of personal retirement accounts as a way for people, particularly young people, to control their own retirement futures but also as a way to sustain the Social Security system. He has also supported Paul Ryan’s plan to offer private health insurance options to Medicare recipients. More recently, he proposed raising the retirement age to qualify for Social Security benefits, pegging the increase to improvements in life expectancy. He also suggested some form of means testing could be included in a reform plan.

Santorum’s positions on international trade policy have evolved since his early days in Congress. In his early years as a congressman from Pennsylvania, he opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement. Later in his career, as a senator, he supported the Central American Free Trade Agreement despite union opposition to the agreement and followed suit by supporting trade agreements with Oman, Singapore and Chile. Since then, he has stated he is “skeptical” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, explaining that it would hurt American workers and ignore what he termed “non-tariff barriers” to trade, such as currency manipulation.

Santorum voted for and co-sponsored a bill to put tariffs on imported steel and often supported measures in Congress to protect the steel industry. As The New York Times wrote in 2012, “Again and again, as Big Steel faced crippling competition from abroad during the 1990s and early 2000s, Mr. Santorum joined Democratic and Republican lawmakers from steel-producing states to seek special protection in Washington for the industry, including direct subsidies, trade tariffs and import quotas.”

He also supported a 2005 bill that would put tariffs on all Chinese imports in an effort to pressure China to readjust its currency upward.

During the 2012 campaign, Santorum made a promise to increase the number of deportations. He said in a January 2015 speech in Iowa that all “net new jobs” went to immigrants and that there are fewer native-born Americans working today than in 2000, and he has expressed concern about legal immigration as well. He has said that Republicans should view enforcement of immigration laws as a “rule of law” issue. During his 2012 campaign he did support a guest worker program aimed specifically at agricultural workers.

More recently, Santorum has said that legal immigration should be reduced by 25 percent, arguing it threatens the jobs and wages of native-born U.S. citizens, and he also advocated for securing the border and fully implementing the E-Verify system that requires employers to verify the legal status of workers. He is a longtime proponent of ending “birthright citizenship,” which gives citizenship to the children of illegal aliens born in the U.S.; changing that would require a constitutional amendment.

Santorum has a somewhat mixed history when it comes to matters related to agriculture policy. In 2006 he supported an amendment that would direct $6 million of federal funds to sugarcane growers in Hawaii. He has also supported subsidies for the dairy industry (the number one agricultural business in Pennsylvania).

Santorum advocated for eliminating subsidies for ethanol completely, and in 2012 he advocated for ending farm subsidies within four years. However, at a 2015 Iowa event he pledged his support for the Renewable Fuel Standard, a mandate requiring fuel refiners include a certain percentage of ethanol in gasoline.

Santorum supports keeping the Export-Import Bank, often referred to as a corporate welfare program, and in addition to supporting taxpayer subsidies for a stadium in the Pittsburgh area, Santorum also backed federal legislation offering tax credits to movie productions filmed in the U.S.

Santorum was very critical of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, often called a bailout of Wall Street. He also criticized the Dodd-Frank regulations on the financial industry,  and pledged during his 2012 campaign to repeal what he called the “burdensome” Sarbanes-Oxley law.

He has also stated he would support an audit of the Federal Reserve Bank and believes it should focus solely on fighting inflation.

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In a 2014 speech at Northwestern University, Santorum advocated for a strong U.S. military and “peace by exerting strength,” although during the 2012 presidential campaign he advocated for freezing defense spending.

Santorum proposed to “fully fund and build a comprehensive missile defense system” during his 2012 campaign.

Santorum was a supporter of the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and its reauthorization in 2006. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015, he proposed putting 10,000 U.S. troops on the ground to fight ISIS.

He has said that the U.S. already accepts 70 percent of the U.N. refugee population and said “we’re doing more than our share,” and suggested refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East flowing into Europe would be better off being housed nearer their home countries so they can be returned at a later date when it is safe. Following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris he reiterated his opposition to bringing Syrian refugees to the U.S., expressing concern that the refugees couldn’t be adequately screened to keep out terrorist infiltrators.

He has sharply criticized the Obama administration’s deal with Iran regarding nuclear weapons development, calling it the “greatest betrayal” of U.S. national security in history, and predicted Iran would violate the agreement and also continue to support terrorism around the world as a result.

In his 2012 campaign Santorum said he would “abolish the state department and start all over,” and he has reiterated that view in 2015, citing his view that the department is filled with “internationalists” who “are not serving the interests of the American people.”

Santorum has advocated imposing tougher sanctions on Russia in response to its aggression in Ukraine, favored a conditional extension of most-favored-nation trade status for China, and criticized the Obama administration’s renewal of diplomatic ties and efforts to end the embargo on Cuba.

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Santorum has spoken favorably about the idea of American exceptionalism on multiple occasions. In 2011, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he said “I believe in [American exceptionalism] because it is based on our founders’ vision of this country. Our founders’ vision of this country was a country that believed in free people, it believed that if you provided people freedom… they could thrive and grow and change the world. And in fact, that’s exactly what happened in America because we trusted people for the first time in the history of the world, trusted you as opposed to trusting government.”

Santorum has been critical of the role of the Supreme Court. In a speech to the National Right to Life Political Action Committee he asked, “When did it become the law of the land that the Supreme Court has the final say on anything? They do not have the final say on anything! The American people have the final say on everything!” He has similarly been critical of judicial activism, saying that it is a “serious problem in this country.”

He has promised that if elected president, he will “have a litmus test that they should follow the Constitution,” promising that “there will be no one stronger on judges than I am.”

While in the U.S. Senate, Santorum voted in favor of confirmation for Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, as well as elevating Roberts to the position of chief justice. He has written that had he been in the Senate, he wouldn’t have voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she was nominated by Obama due to the high reversal rates of her decisions, and because she made statements stating that policy is made at the appellate court level. During the 2012 campaign, Santorum also stated he’d do away with the Ninth Circuit Court (the appellate court that includes California) because of its liberal leanings and the high rate of decision reversals by the U.S. Supreme Court.

He was highly critical of the court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage), stating that “five unelected justices decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input.” He went as far as to compare the Obergefell ruling to the Court’s infamous rulings in Dred Scott v. Sanford and Plessy v. Ferguson.

He supports the court’s decision in the case of Citizens United v. FEC, and has called efforts to roll back the decision “horrible” and “against the right to petition your government.”

Santorum has been a pointed critic of the Roe v. Wade decision, calling it “the cancer that is infecting the body of America.” Additionally, he has blamed the Roe decision for leading to the court’s decision in Obergefell. He has called for it to be overturned.

Echolight Studios, a Christian production company for which Santorum is CEO, released a film about religious persecution. It focused on the Hobby Lobby case challenging the Obamacare requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in employee health insurance plans, regardless of the private employer’s religious beliefs. Santorum was also a co-sponsor of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, which would have limited an employer’s ability to decline accommodation for religious practices. He has said one of his first acts as president would be to sign an executive order protecting religious liberties from abuse and harassment by the federal government.

On affirmative action, Santorum suggested in a 2005 interview there were more important issues and policies that would benefit minorities than “set asides and preferences” and that he thought it was “on its way out in most areas.”  He did state that he supported some level of affirmative action, however.

Santorum voted against McCain-Feingold, saying the campaign finance law infringed on First Amendment rights.

Santorum voted against the 1995 National Right to Work law, stating it was a states’ rights matter, and when it came to bills that would require states’ adoption of certain blood alcohol levels (related to drunk driving laws) in order to get federal funds, Santorum voted against at least two  in keeping with his earlier actions to protect states’ powers. During a 2012 presidential debate he said the 10th Amendment doesn’t give states the right to do anything they want.

Santorum voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, a major federal education initiative championed by former President George W. Bush. During the course of his presidential bid, Santorum admitted that his support of the bill was a mistake. He is also opposed to Common Core because he believes the process wasn’t transparent and wasn’t subject to public or legislative review. Santorum’s younger children have been homeschooled, and his older boys attended a private Catholic school.

Santorum has been a longtime supporter of individual gun rights and opposed most gun control measures. He voted against a waiting period and national background checks on gun sales in 1993, and voted to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits if guns they made were used in crimes. He has a concealed-carry permit and an A+ lifetime grade from the National Rifle Association.

Santorum has been a leading advocate for pro-life legislation and made his opposition to abortion a major focus of his 2012 campaign. Pro-life groups National Right to Life and Susan B. Anthony List endorsed him in the 2012 primaries. He was the chief sponsor of legislation to ban on the late-term procedure known as partial-birth abortion. He has compared legal abortion to slavery, and he favors overturning Roe v. Wade.

Opposition to same-sex marriage has been a prominent part of Santorum’s campaigns for president. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2015 on the issue, he pledged to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman in all 50 states, going further than those who want an amendment that simply overturns the court’s decision and allows each state to set their own marriage laws. While in Congress, Santorum voted in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for federal purpose as between a man and a woman and gave states the authority to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that might be performed in other states.  He has sharply criticized efforts to force business people to provide services to same-sex weddings, saying those who choose not to do so are being sent to “re-education camps.”

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Santorum opposed a national right-to-work law as a U.S. senator, but during his 2012 campaign he changed his position to support the idea.

Santorum’s record and rhetoric on agricultural subsidies seem to shift frequently. During his time in Congress he was a supporter of agricultural subsidies, as were most Republicans, although he opposed subsidies for ethanol. By the time of his race for president in 2012, Santorum proposed eliminating all agricultural subsidies, a shift many Republicans had made by that time. But by 2015 Santorum was touting the Renewable Fuels Standard at an Iowa agriculture event, a form of subsidy that props up the ethanol industry.

In a January 2015 New York Times article, Santorum said he has been consistent in supporting lower taxes, and his voting record supports that he has consistently voted for lower taxes.  However, Santorum’s support for a regional government authority in and around Pittsburgh that would have taxing authority in order to build a new football and baseball stadiums has raised some concerns about his anti-tax credentials.

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In 2004, both Santorum and his wife, Karen, received the Sovereign Military Order of Malta by the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. “The award is accorded to Catholics worldwide who have displayed exemplary chivalry, nobleness or service to the faith.” A Santorum aide once described him as a “Catholic missionary.”

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Santorum joined the Republican establishment in backing his liberal colleague Sen. Arlen Specter in 2004 against a more conservative primary challenger, Pat Toomey. Specter beat Toomey in the race but then switched his party affiliation to Democrat in 2009.

He has been characterized as by one of his former Senate colleagues, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, as “[a] tough fighter. A person not afraid to take on tough issues.”

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In 1996 Santorum was the chairman of the Republican Party’s task force on welfare reform and helped guide the transformative welfare reform bill that was ultimately signed by President Bill Clinton.

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Although it has been reported that Santorum wasn’t particularly popular among his peers in the U.S. Senate, in his second term he became chairman of the Senate Republican Conference – the third highest-ranking party leadership position in the Senate.

In his 2006 re-election campaign Santorum outraised his opponent by almost $9 million but lost by 18 points – the largest loss by an incumbent since 1980. The strong nationwide backlash against President George W. Bush, largely over perceptions of incompetence related to the Hurricane Katrina response and the Iraq War, played a role in Santorum’s defeat, but ultimately it was Santorum who failed to persuade Pennsylvania voters, who had elected him twice, to send him back a third time.

Jena McGregor, writing at The Washington Post’s Leadership Blog, described Santorum’s leadership abilities this way: “If there’s one leadership trait Santorum has in spades, it’s his resilient and dogged persistence. Despite being largely ignored by the media and by much of the Republican establishment up until the final hours before the Iowa caucus, Santorum indefatigably plugged along through all 99 counties in Iowa, holding more than 350 town halls. … Yet perhaps Santorum’s strongest leadership attribute is that he taps into a deeper sense of purpose. Almost everything the Catholic candidate believes is rooted in a set of moral values, and the idea that such principles underlie his actions and political views has helped attract followers and appeal to evangelical voters. Whether or not you agree with those values—some of them are even to the right of plenty of conservatives—there is a coherence to his platform and a consistency to his beliefs.”

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Santorum is a capable speaker and debater, although he has also been described as “arrogant and headstrong, preachy and judgmental” and a confrontational, “in your face” partisan politician.

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Some have called into question Santorum’s $2 million home located in Great Falls, Va. The house was purchased through a trust (which is an unusual way for someone to purchase their own home) following his unsuccessful re-election bid for the U.S. Senate in 2007. The trust was created with help from a top officer of a national homebuilder – NVR Inc. Some speculate that he purchased the house in this manner so as to hide the fact he was buying such an expensive home in a wealthy neighborhood.

In his first bid for public office against Democratic Rep. Doug Walgren, Santorum painted Walgren as out of touch with his constituents by spending too much time in Washington, D.C. A similar charge could now be leveled against Santorum, however, as when he became the U.S. senator for Pennsylvania, he located his family in the D.C. suburb of Leesburg, Va.

During the 2006 campaign for re-election it came to light that Santorum’s children were receiving tuition for their online school from the school district in Pennsylvania even though they were living in Virginia. The controversy forced Santorum to remove his kids from the online school.

He has also raised the ire of a prominent Pennsylvania conservative talk show host who says, “Rick makes things up,” suggesting he makes statements that are not supported by fact and at times reverses his own previous statements. He has also been described as “unstatesmanlike.”

It has been reported that Santorum has a very small group of advisers and that he tends to make policy decisions based on his own personal beliefs instead of a wider group of advisers that bring expertise to various key policy topics. This is strikingly similar to criticisms of President Obama, who was dubbed “the loner president” by The Washington Post.

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Rick Santorum receives high marks for character and accomplishments and a low mark for free markets.

Santorum is a strong social conservative and gets high marks for national security, ethics and American exceptionalism. However, his inconsistencies on right-to-work and agricultural subsidies affected his consistency score. Additionally, although a good communicator, Santorum is confrontational. He excelled in staying in the race in 2012, but he lost a crucial election in Pennsylvania despite raising significant funds for his campaign.

He got his lowest scores on free markets for supporting government protection through tariffs, raising the minimum wage and supporting the Export-Import Bank, as well as a handful of other issues. Finally, he scored lower on principles for supporting the very liberal Arlen Spector over another candidate in a federal election.

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Whatever appeal Santorum had in the 2012 presidential race is lost for 2016. His campaign fundraising is dragging, and he has struggled to regain his connection among voters in key primary states. Oddly, after eight years of Obama’s aggressive liberal social agenda, Santorum’s social conservatism has not caught fire with voters.

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