Santorum in St. Charles
5:52 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Santorum brings small government message to St. Charles

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum brought a small-government, family-centered message to St. Charles on Monday - marking the first appearance by a Republican presidential candidate in the state this election cycle.

A crowd of 300 packed into an auditorium that at the St. Charles Community College campus in Cottleville that's meant for 270. Hundreds more could not get seats and waited for the candidate outside.

Santorum says as president, he'll focus on making sure that government takes actions that make it easier for American companies to compete globally.

"I'm happy that wages are higher here in America," Santorum said. "But the government's got to get out of the way and let those other costs not be an impediment to make things here in America."

Santorum says he'd eliminate the current 35 percent corporate tax rate on manufacturers and processors. But he'd level a new 35 percent tax on profits that American companies make oversees, unless they reinvest the money in American facilities. He also pledged to eliminate all regulations implemented by the Obama administration, and to enforce current trade laws.

"We need to confront China on a variety of fronts," Santorum said, adding that he's taken heat from fellow Republicans for supporting tariffs. "I as president will enforce the laws that are on the book to make sure that American manufacturers and American businesses are not being run over by unfair competition from China or any other country in this world."

Santorum also proposed turning funding for primary and secondary education into block grants that would go to local agencies and businesses, who he says are best equipped to know what makes a student competitive. The current system, he said, is "top-down and government-run," and leading to a system in which students don't know what it means to be American.

The former Senator kept his fire trained mostly on the President, though he did criticize his Republican opponents for a scorched-earth campaign that he says  keeping the focus away from serious issues like the economy and education. He told the crowd that a GOP victory is necessary in the fall is necessary to keep America from turning into a “dependency” society.

"And if that happens - when that happens if we lose this election - then we will be the generation of Americans that gave up on what made America the greatest country in the history of the world," Santorum said.

Missouri was an odd choice for a campaign stop the day before the Florida primary. But Santorum says the Show-Me State is a good place for him to stand out because its Midwestern values closely match those in Iowa, where Santorum pulled off a 34-vote victory.

"We need the bellwether state of Missouri to stand up and say we want a strong, principled conservative," Santorum said.

His message appealed to Karla Kramer, who couldn't get into the speech but waited outside with her three daughters. Kramer says she's excited for Santorum's future in the race, and says he'll become more appealing as more people learn about him.

"Newt Gingrich has been around forever, and Mitt Romney ran four years ago," she said. "And obviously it's money. Mitt Romney has more money than God."

Missouri's primary is next Tuesday, but votes won't be awarded until caucuses in March. Santorum is trailing badly in Florida and his campaign is also short of cash.