10 things you didn't know about Rick Santorum...

...but might like to know in the wake of his Iowa surge.

Rick Santorum, Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator, may be relatively unknown but he almost beat GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney in yesterday's Iowa caucus, trailing Romney by a mere eight votes. Let's be clear: Santorum won't be the Republican nominee come November. But he will now be the subject of countless media profiles, debates and discussions - as well as a bunch of vicious, attack ads from the Romney machine in New Hampshire.

So, here are ten things you might not know about Richard John "Rick" Santorum but might like to know:

1) Santorum, the most belligerent of the ultra-hawkish GOP presidential candidates, has said that if he's elected president, he would order the bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities unless they were opened up to international arms inspectors and then dismantled.

2) Santorum is a friend and ally of U2 front man and anti-poverty campaigner, Bono, who told the New York Times in 2006: "I would suggest that Rick Santorum has a kind of Tourette's disease; he will always say the most unpopular thing. But on our issues, he has been a defender of the most vulnerable."

3) Santorum, an evangelical Catholic, supports a blanket ban on abortion without exceptions for rape or incest, and has compared homosexual relationships to "man on child, man on dog" relations.

4) The afore-mentioned comments by Santorum resulted in a notorious Google-bombing of the then US senator in 2003. (Caution: only click on the previous links if you have, ahem, a strong constitution...)

5) Santorum could be considered an Islamophobe: he has called for the profiling of Muslims and told Bates College students in March 2010 that Islam is stuck in the seventh century and beyond reform or modernisation.

6) As a young lawyer, prior to being elected to Congress, he represented the World Wrestling Federation, arguing that professional wrestling should be exempt from the regulations on anabolic steroids because it wasn't a real sport.

7) Santorum has advocated bigger and faster cuts to government spending than most of his right-wing rivals for the Republican nomination: $5 trillion of cuts in federal spending in the space of just five years. (Yet, curiously, he has still been labelled as a "big government conservative" by Telegraph blogger James Delingpole.)

8) When his baby Gabriel died at childbirth, Santorum and his wife spent the night in a hospital bed with the body and then took it home where, joined by their other children, they prayed over it, cuddled with it and welcomed the baby into the family.

9) Santorum believes that "there is no such thing as global warming"; it is "junk science". He supports a policy of "drill everywhere" for oil and gas.

10) Santorum wasn't always so opposed to current rival Mitt Romney; in February 2008, prior to the last presidential election, he said: "If you're a conservative, there really is only one place to go right now...I would even argue farther than that. If you're a Republican, if you're a Republican in the broadest sense, there is only one place to go right now and that's Mitt Romney."

Given the result in Iowa, we can only assume now that Republican primary voters in 2012 will heed Santorum's 2008 advice and pick Romney.

 

 

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Commons Confidential: Dave's picnic with Dacre

Revenge is a dish best served cold from a wicker hamper.

Sulking David Cameron can’t forgive the Daily Mail editor, Paul Dacre, for his role in his downfall. The unrelenting hostility of the self-appointed voice of Middle England to the Remain cause felt pivotal to the defeat. So, what a glorious coincidence it was that they found themselves picnicking a couple of motors apart before England beat Scotland at Twickenham. My snout recalled Cameron studiously peering in the opposite direction. On Dacre’s face was the smile of an assassin. Revenge is a dish best served cold from a wicker hamper.

The good news is that since Jeremy Corbyn let Theresa May off the Budget hook at Prime Minister’s Questions, most of his MPs no longer hate him. The bad news is that many now openly express their pity. It is whispered that Corbyn’s office made it clear that he didn’t wish to sit next to Tony Blair at the unveiling of the Iraq and Afghanistan war memorial in London. His desire for distance was probably reciprocated, as Comrade Corbyn wanted Brigadier Blair to be charged with war crimes. Fighting old battles is easier than beating the Tories.

Brexit is a ticket to travel. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is lifting its three-trip cap on funded journeys to Europe for MPs. The idea of paying for as many cross-Channel visits as a politician can enjoy reminds me of Denis MacShane. Under the old limits, he ended up in the clink for fiddling accounts to fund his Continental missionary work. If the new rule was applied retrospectively, perhaps the former Labour minister should be entitled to get his seat back and compensation?

The word in Ukip is that Paul Nuttall, OBE VC KG – the ridiculed former Premier League professional footballer and England 1966 World Cup winner – has cold feet after his Stoke mauling about standing in a by-election in Leigh (assuming that Andy Burnham is elected mayor of Greater Manchester in May). The electorate already knows his Walter Mitty act too well.

A senior Labour MP, who demanded anonymity, revealed that she had received a letter after Leicester’s Keith Vaz paid men to entertain him. Vaz had posed as Jim the washing machine man. Why, asked the complainant, wasn’t this second job listed in the register of members’ interests? She’s avoiding writing a reply.

Years ago, this column unearthed and ridiculed the early journalism of George Osborne, who must be the least qualified newspaper editor in history. The cabinet lackey Ben “Selwyn” Gummer’s feeble intervention in the Osborne debate has put him on our radar. We are now watching him and will be reporting back. My snouts are already unearthing interesting information.

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution