Santorum Plays Up "Jesus Candidates": "There's More To The Greatness Of America Than The Economy"

January 09, 2012 9:06 am ET — Julia Krieger

Rick Santorum

In the wake of a surprise neck-and-neck eight-vote loss to longtime frontrunner Mitt Romney in Iowa, Rick Santorum's national polling numbers have nearly doubled, earning him one of the top slots among the GOP presidential contenders — not to mention $2 million in two days. Three days after his win, a surging Santorum took a few minutes to reassure his "values voters" supporters on a Faith and Freedom Coalition tele-townhall call that his priorities are in order. According to Santorum, when he was told by a voter on a Boston radio show that "we don't need a Jesus candidate, we need an economic candidate," he shot back with, "Sir, we always need a Jesus candidate."

Santorum went on to say that "we've been successful" because America "is based on Judeo-Christian principles of Western civilization" and concluded that "we better have someone who understands that there's more to the greatness of America than the economy of this country."

SANTORUM: It's funny, I was just here in New Hampshire and they tell me, you know, don't talk about faith here. And I stood up and repeated a question that I got earlier today on a radio show in Boston. And he said, you know, well, "Let me summarize," he said. This guy called in and he said, you know, "Let me tell you what we need. We don't need a Jesus candidate, we need an economic candidate." And I paused and I said, "Sir, we always need a Jesus candidate." And I said, you know, "I don't mean doesn't mean necessarily that we need someone who's a Christian, but we need someone believes in something more than themselves, who has a set of values that are, you know, that are based on something that's deep and eternal and then true." And I said to him, and this is on a Boston radio station. And I said, "Do you say 'God bless America?' And when you do, do you mean it? Or is this just something you say?" I said, "The bottom line is this country is based on the Judeo-Christian principles of Western civilization, and we do it better and we've been successful because of it. And sure, do we need to focus on the economy? Absolutely. But we better have someone who understands that there's more to the greatness of America than the economy of this country."

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Later in the call, Santorum underlined his belief that American prosperity results from the country's religiosity, saying God will continue to bless America "if this country continues to bless God and live by his commandments and his teachings."

I do believe that God has blessed this country and will continue to bless this country if this country continues to bless God and live by his commandments, and by his teachings. And so for me, you know, I'm the President of the United States and I have a responsibility to this country. But you know, you also have a responsibility as a person, as a leader, to God and his will, and I don't see them as in conflict.  

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It's worth noting that this isn't the first time the gaining candidate has emphasized an economic approach based on his personal belief system. A few months ago, Santorum said the best way to "snap your finger and change things in America to eliminate poverty" is to have two-parent homes. That will "turn this economy around," he said, "as much as any tax plan or spending plan."

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