July 24, 2005

Santorum book keeps 2008 White House talk alive

By Patricia Wilson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iowa and New Hampshire, where
presidential possibles go to test the political waters, are
practically foreign territory for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

But the Pennsylvania Republican's name keeps popping up --
in spite of a tough Senate re-election fight next year -- fed
by his "never say never" response to whether he'll be a White
House contender in 2008 and publication of his first book, a
conservative manifesto on family and values.

So even before "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the
Common Good" is officially released on Monday and Santorum hits
the talk-show circuit, opponents have pored through its 428
pages in search of controversy -- and struck gold.

One of the more ideologically and outspoken conservative
members of the Senate, Santorum argues that fostering a culture
in which the traditional family -- a married man and woman with
children -- is preferable to government intervention as a way
to replenish what he sees as America's dwindling stocks of
social, moral and cultural capital.

"It started really focusing on how conservatism works to
help those who are less fortunate," Santorum said in an
interview with Reuters. "And as I got into it, I realized at
the core of so many of the problems we're facing was the
breakdown of the family."

He acknowledged that critics had pounced on passages in
which he criticizes the "weird socialization" children get in
public schools, argues for making divorce much harder, blames
"radical feminism" for encouraging women to work outside the
home and questions whether a college education can really help
the poor.

High on the Democratic Party's list of senators to defeat
in 2006, Santorum knows he faces "a grueling campaign" and
that's where his focus remains.

"I've been very clear that I never say never," he said.
"But I've got six little kids at home and you know the idea
that I'm going to turn around and hop on a plane to Iowa ...
I'd be betraying everything I believe in this book."

Still, almost everything about "It Takes a Family,"
including the title, is a direct rebuttal of Sen. Hillary
Rodham Clinton's defense of liberal values, "It Takes a Village
and other Lessons Children Teach Us." The New York Democrat is
another frequently mentioned 2008 presidential candidate.

"I've learned in politics you get in trouble saying no but
right now my own focus is on being a good senator, husband and
father," Santorum said. "You know, I've been to Iowa twice in
my life and I've been to New Hampshire once and all three times
were to campaign for the president (George W. Bush)."


In his book, the 47-year-old senator, a Roman Catholic and
an unyielding foe of abortion, asserts that abortion puts the
rights of the mother before those of her child just as in
earlier times the rights of slave owners superseded those of

"But unlike abortion today, in most states even the
slaveholder did not have the unlimited right to kill his
slave," Santorum writes.

He blasts the sense of no-fault freedom that has produced a
"me-generation" and directly criticizes Clinton's talk of moral
values as "little more than feel-good rhetoric masking a
radical left agenda."

"Privacy has been seen as autonomy," Santorum said in the
interview. "That's not the freedom our founders wrote in the
Constitution. It was a bigger vision of freedom. More of an
'us' than a 'me."'

In a chapter called "Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll: Mostly
Sex," he lambastes the "hostile cultural climate" -- influenced
by television, the Internet and violent video games -- in which
parents have to raise their children.

Santorum practices what he preaches.

His children are home-schooled, have limited access to
computers and television and are encouraged "to get off the
chair, get outside and do something, read a book, take a walk,
go to church, but don't sit in front of a screen and veg out."

"I have one television that has cable on it and it's in my
bedroom and every single channel is pass-coded," Santorum said.
"We only have one computer right now that has the Internet and
they're not allowed on it unless we're there or we know what
they're doing."