Santorum himself seemed cheerful and upbeat, no doubt at least in part due to news that his three-year-old daughter's health has been steadily improving since her hospitalization last week. His speech was animated and impassioned, his demeanor buoyant and jovial. He hit on the major issues and drove his points home with shrewd assessments and the occasional wisecrack.
Some highlights of the speech:
- A solemn promise (with a wink and a smile) to never blame any of his problems once elected on the previous administration. "Anyone who is elected to the office of President should take responsibility for doing the job once he gets there."
- A need to get rid of corporate taxes - especially for businesses that are trying to bring their companies (and the jobs that go with them) back into the United States.
- A need to scale back the regulations that strangle small businesses as much as they help larger ones.
- A commendation to Obama for doing what he said he would do when he campaigned in California. "He has certainly succeeded in raising the cost of energy. But in every nation in the world, the cost of energy is directly related to the quality of life. If we produce more energy in America, we will improve the quality of life in America. Oh, and we could do that by...building the Keystone Pipeline!"
- The fact that American success really just comes down to the basics. Three basic qualifications: 1)work hard, 2)graduate from high school, 3)get married before you have children. They seem simple enough, even silly. But the fact is that people who meet all three of those qualifications have only a 2% chance of ever living in poverty and a 77% chance of being in the top 50% of earners in America. People who only meet two of those qualifications increase their likelihood of living in poverty to 74% and reduce their chance of being in the top 50% of earners to only 4%.
- One third of American students will not graduate from high school. "We are raising a generation of Americans who don't know what America is anymore." And this is because our education system is built to cater to bureaucrats in the Department of Education and the Teacher's Unions rather than to help parents educate their children.
His final assessment:
"If a Republican is not elected this time - and I mean a real, conservative, principled Republican - then I fear that Obamacare will go into effect. Dodd-Frank will continue to wreak havoc. And we will become an America that is completely dependent on our government.
We need to fix our economy. But we can't have a strong economy without strong faith and strong families."
And after the speech, once the crowd had dissipated, I got to say hello to Senator Santorum with Martin Baker, 2012 candidate for Missouri District 1. I got a smile and a heartfelt "thank you" when I handed the Senator a chain mail rosary for his daughter. Martin got a hearty handshake and a "best of luck running against Clay," and Santorum was out the door en route to Minnesota.
For more on Rick Santorum, tune in to The Dana Show on 97.1 FM Newstalk in St. Louis tomorrow from 12-3 Central or stream it live at 971talk.com.