Santorum courts Idaho conservatives in Boise

Rick Santorum had a Boise crowd in his hands Tuesday, affirming his faith, ripping his GOP opponents and President Obama, and setting high stakes.

“We have a duty to leave this country better than we found it,” Santorum said. “I believe that if we are unsuccessful in this election that we will have failed in that duty and it will have horrendous consequences. ... It will be the end of the great experiment in the order of liberty and freedom.”

Santorum filled the 1,300-seat Capital High School auditorium, and more than 1,000 more listened in the gym. The crowd was a big part of the event — booing U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., calling Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “traitor!” and reminding Santorum that American revolutionaries had more than muskets.

“And God!” said a voice from the crowd, prompting one of a dozen standing ovations during Santorum’s 75 minutes on stage.

“Well,” replied Santorum, “They believed. They believed and they went out and did extraordinary things.”

Santorum said Obama is following the “FDR playbook,” determined to succor public dependency on government.

“We are reaching a tipping point, folks, when those who pay are the minority and those who receive are the majority. Freedom in an election process is not something people will care about. They’ll care about whether they get their piece.”

Wearing his signature sweater vest, jeans and worn cowboy boots, Santorum waved a copy of the Constitution, which he called “the operator’s manual of America.”

But he said many Americans neglect another founding document — the Declaration of Independence.

Santorum began reciting, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their — ” but paused for the crowd to shout “Creator!” — before continuing, “with certain unalienable rights.”

“That is who we are, that’s where our rights come from,” he said, eliciting “Bless the Lord!” from the audience.

Santorum said the Obama administration believes it has the right to force the Catholic Church to hire women priests. “They’re going to fight because they believe their secular values should be imposed on people of faith.”

He added, “Don’t you see how they see you? How they look down their nose at the average Americans. These elite snobs!”

Santorum said he’s happy to be called the “social conservative in the race” but that he talks about all the issues.

Without naming them, Santorum dug at Mitt Romney for his Massachusetts top-down government health plan and Newt Gingrich for his former belief in human-caused global climate change.

He noted his longtime call of alarm about the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, saying the Cold War arms race that checked the Soviet Union won’t work with the mullahs.

“Mutually assured destruction worked. Why? Because they didn’t want to die. Because when atheists die, that’s it. Or, maybe better stated, they think that’s it.”

But in Iran, “They believe these end of times (are) a good thing for them, that’s the time they will conquer the world and rule it for Allah. ... Bringing about Armageddon for them is not a deterrent. It is an inducement.”

During a 28-minute question-and-answer session with the audience, Santorum said he would separate the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals from Idaho and other Western states, leaving it to cover only California. He also said he would sell millions of acres of federal lands.

His first questioner didn’t have a question at all. She told Santorum, “I love you with all my heart. I’ve been praying for you since the first time I laid eyes on you.”

Another invited him back after he becomes president.

“If this is the reception I’m gonna get,” he said. “I’ll definitely come back.”

To read more, visit www.idahostatesman.com.