Rick Santorum

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Rick Santorum served in the House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 18th District from 1991 to 1995 and was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served two terms from 1995-2007. He ran for re-election in 2006, but was defeated. While in office, Santorum served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Committee on Banking, and the Senate Finance Committee. After leaving the Senate, Santorum worked for the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank, where he headed a program called “America’s Enemies”. He ran for President in 2012, notably finishing second to Mitt Romney in the Iowa Caucus. He announced his campaign for the 2016 Republican nomination in May from a factory in Cabot, Pennsylvania.  

On the Issues

AAI tracks statements, non-statements, and the track records of each presidential candidate on the issues we care about most. Click on an issue to read what Rick Santorum has said on the campaign trail.


Foreign Policy     

Domestic Policy


U.S. Role in the Middle East 

Voting Rights 


U.S. Response to ISIL

Civil Rights + Civil Liberties








Community Policing




Bigoted Speech


Iran Negotiations 

Immigration Reform

Key Advisors

  • John Brabender: Chief Strategist. Brabender advised Santorum on the campaign trail for years, including his House and Senate runs and his 2012 presidential bid.
  • Jessica Colόn: National Political DirectorColόn previously served Santorum as Texas State Director during the 2012 Republican primaries. She previously served as the Campaign Manager for Joan Huffman’s race for Texas State Senate in 2008. Colόn has also worked as the Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation from 2007-09 and as the Campaign Manager on Tom Reiser's 2002 campaign for the House of Representatives. 


The U.S. Role in the Middle East

"So Obama throws Mubarak under the bus, the new military regime in Egypt brokers a deal between Hamas and the PA and now the President rewards that by saying we’re going to go back to the 1967 borders. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist if you’re sitting in the Arab-Muslim world thinking, ‘Well how do we deal with this guy?’” (June 2011, campaign stop in Iowa)

U.S. Response to ISIS

"They know who I am. No other presidential candidate has been featured in an ISIS magazine, and unfortunately no other president has been featured in ISIS magazine.” (September 2015, Ohio campaign event)

"If ISIS wants to establish a seventh-century caliphate, well, let's oblige them by bombing them back to the seventh century."(February 2015, CPAC)


"I would have no problem with… boots on the ground in Syria in a training capacity.  I do not want American troops on the front line in Syria because I don't believe that that would serve to the interest." (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

"I have proposed 10,000 troops, I did so about six or seven months ago, that we needed to deploy additional troops to do exactly what Lindsey said, arm the Kurds...I’ve said — I’ve said 10,000 and, if more is necessary, look, the answer is this, once ISIS established a caliphate, the game changed because once you establish a caliphate, you have an area of control, you have to take ground from that caliphate, because if you don’t, then, in the Islamic world, it’s seen as a legitimate caliphate. As long as they have territorial integrity, and even expand it, they have legitimacy and much of the Muslim world to call people to join their jihad here in America as well as in Iraq and in Syria. So we must take their ground." (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

"We have no moral obligation to use military force when it comes to a humanitarian situation [in Syria]." (September 2013, CNN)


"It's our anchor in the Middle East. It's a strategic ally for us. It's also -- it's also essential for the Jewish people. I mean, we can't - we can't ignore the history of the Jewish people and understand the significance to the world of having a Jewish homeland. So, it is a strategic ally for us…As long as the Palestinian Authority, as long as the others in the Middle East refuse to accept Israel's right to be there, then there can be no peace. And we should not force Israel to any negotiation until that condition is met." (June 2011, Interview with Glenn Beck)

"All the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they're not Palestinians. There is no 'Palestinian.' This is Israeli land." (November 2011, Campaign stop in Iowa)


No statements recorded. If you'd like to submit a statement to appear on this website, please email Kristin McCarthy.

Iran Nuclear Deal 

"As you know, Hugh, 12 years ago I authored the Iran Freedom Support Act, which put sanctions on the Iran nuclear program as we came within four votes of passing a very strong version of that. The four people who opposed on the floor: Joe Biden, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And we came four votes short. But for 12 years, I have been laser-beam focused on the issue of Iran with a nuclear weapon. Why? Because I understand who they are. Yes, they are radical Islamists, that’s true. But their particular version of it, which is an apocalyptic version, which is a death cult, they believe in bringing about the end of the — end of the world. If you — if you poll Iranians and Iraqis, Shiites in the region, more than two-thirds of them believe that the end of the world is going to come within their lifetime. Why? Because their regime preaches it. They believe in bringing about the end of times. That’s their theological goal and we are in the process of giving them a nuclear weapon to do just that. That’s why, on day one, I would say to the Iranian government, you open up all of these facilities for inspection, you make them available to the U.N. and to the U.S., everything, we can go everywhere or else we will take out those facilities. And when people say, you’re going to start a war — — my response is, no, I’m going to stop a war because a nuclear Iran is the end." (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

"I would start on the first day after the election. I'd be talking to our allies and say, 'Look, there's a new sheriff in town.' There's no doubt in my mind that Iran will be in violation of numerous provisions of this agreement. They will probably expand their terrorist activity and network. We will see a move on the part of the rest of the Middle East to try to get a nuclear weapon, to try to counter Iran. I'd say, 'Whatever our role is in this agreement, we're not going to play it anymore.'" (July 2015, U.S. News)

When asked if the U.S. should encourage regime change in Iran, “With president Santorum that’s definitely a possibility. We will certainly do everything we can to encourage that regime change.” (July 2015, CNN

"It's [the deal] going to give them the opportunity to have a financial resurgence ... to move forward, and to do even more dangerous things." (April 2015, Face the Nation)

“Iran is an expansionist Islamic theocracy whose objective is not to survive, but to spread radical Islam, Shia Islam, throughout the world. That’s why you see Sunni countries reacting so negatively, that’s why you see Israel reacting so negatively…[Iran] cares about bringing about the end of times so it can conquer the world, and this is a dangerous country to be messing with nuclear weapons.” (April 2015, Face the Nation)

“The only alternative is to ramp up those sanctions as congress has been wanting to do for quite some time and drawing clear lines in the sand saying you will shut down these centrifuges or sanctions will continue and other things will be put on the table. and unless you start putting those things on the table, drawing lines in the sand and saying you either comply with these things or not we’re not going to get any movement on the part of Iran.” (April 2015, Face the Nation)

Voting Rights

No statements recorded. If you'd like to submit a statement to appear on this website, please email Kristin McCarthy.

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

"The fact of the matter is, Islam is different... Islam is not just a religion. It is also a political governing structure. The fact of the matter is, Islam is a religion, but it is also Sharia law, it is also a civil government, it is also a form of government. And, so, the idea that that is protected under the First Amendment is wrong." (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

"I don't think we should be able to deny someone's constitutional rights based on a list kept by the government that nobody knows how they get on it, or how they get off of it. If you're going to make that list public, if you're going to put criteria out there as to how you're going to get on it, if you're going to deny someone's constitutional right, than I think there has to be more transparency." (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

"We're not allowed to ask any questions or really pursue, whether there's any mosque that they're attending that could be spreading Jihadism, and we know that in this country there are Imams that are doing that.  But we're not allowed to ask those questions, we're not allowed to pursue to those things because we have a president who denies the reality of the enemy we confront" (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

"First, I believe we have to pass the First Amendment Defense Act, which provides that room for government officials and others who do not want to be complicit in what they believe is against their faith. Second, we need as a president who’s going to fight a court that is abusive, that has superseded their authority. Judicial supremacy is not in the Constitution, and we need a president and a Congress to stand up to a court when it exceeds its constitutional authority." (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

"Martin Luther King wrote a letter from the Birmingham jail. And he said in that letter that there are just laws and there are unjust laws. And we have no obligation to — to condone and accept unjust laws. And he — and they — then he followed up and said what’s an unjust law? An unjust law is a job that — a law that go against the moral code or God’s law or the natural law. I would argue that what the Supreme Court did is against the natural law, it’s against God’s law and we have every obligation to stand in opposition to it." (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

“I think we need to take a serious relook at our criminal justice system and particularly some of these crimes related to drugs…I think we are filling up our prisons with nonviolent offenders.” (July 2015, CNN)


"I would make the argument that the more data we can collect that's anonymous that we can through, through using algorithms, the less we need to involve people in and imposing themselves in people's privacy." (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

"I think it's been very effective in keeping Americans safe," he stated. "I remember when [the] Patriot Act was put forth. There [were] concerns about repeated terrorist attacks going on on a constant basis and that's not happened as much as anyone predicted during that time.” (May 2015, Fox News interview)

"I'm not aware of any abuses of the Patriot Act that cause any undue fear about invasion of privacy." (May 2015, NBC News interview

Community Policing

No statements recorded. If you'd like to submit a statement to appear on this website, please email Kristin McCarthy.

Bigoted Speech: Instances of Condemnation and/or Use

*The Arab American Institute is leading a campaign to hold public officials accountable for their bigoted rhetoric this election cycle. Join us by signing our Pledge to Combat Bigotry, and use #NoBigotry on social media to hold candidates accountable and thank candidates who stand against it.*

"What Donald Trump was saying was nothing against Muslims, his comment was against this administration who doesn’t have a policy to properly vet people coming into this country... But he brings up a legitimate issue. The fact of the matter is not all Muslims are jihadists ... but the reality is that all jihadists are Muslim." (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

When asked if the U.S. is “at war” with Islam, “The fact of the matter is that whether it’s ISIS or Islamic jihad or the wahabbists, who are all extremists in their ideology, it’s just how violent they are. But their ideology is all the same. And it is a very fundamentalist view of Islam that dates back to the time of the creation of Islam. These people are citing the Quran. To suggest that this is not a part of Islam, that Islam is not a contributing factor is really not honest, is not discussing what needs to be discussed. When the president says that this has nothing to do with Islam he gives the Islamic world a pass, and we can’t do that.” (February 2015, World Over)

“It’s a mistake not to identify the enemy. ISIS is laying out their game plan as to exactly what they’re doing. We can just go back 1400 years and see what they’re going to be doing because they’re trying to follow what Mohammed did. If you deny that that’s who they are…then you’re making a bad policy decision.” (February 2015, World Over)

“I’m not saying all Muslims are terrorists, but we have an obligation to face the truth about who the enemy is and what they want to accomplish. By not correctly identifying these Islamists for who they are, [Obama and Bush] have given all Muslims a pass for identifying a cancer within their own body.” (November 2014, Liberty University)

“Sharia law means women have to have head coverings and have no rights — and you don’t hear the President say a word about Sharia. You haven’t heard him condemn Sharia law or radical Islam.” (December 2012, Meet the Press)

Immigration Reform

"Immigration is about the people who broke the law, not the people who are obeying the law....Everybody’s for securing the border. But that’s not it. That’s a start. But as long as you continue to have the magnets here, the border is only part of your problem. And the magnet is, number one, the belief that there’s going to be amnesty....And it’s not just illegal. It’s both legal and illegal. We’re bringing in more legal immigrants in this country than ever in the history of our country, over a million a year. There’s only one candidate in this race who suggested that we eliminate a couple of worker — a couple of immigration categories and reduce the number of immigrations by 25 percent. Focus on making sure that we create a better opportunity for working men and women to get good-paying wages. Why? Because in the last 20-year period of time wages have gone up less than a nickel an hour per year. American workers know. American workers know that the policies of this country, the immigration policies, are hurting. And no one has talked about it yet. Almost every single person in this race is for more legal immigration. Some want to double it, including the senators who spoke here this morning. Some want to take some categories and increase them by 500 percent, like some of the senators who spoke here this morning." (September 2015, Values Voter Summit)

"If you look at, from the year 2000 to the year 2014, there’re 5.7 million net new jobs created. What percentage of those jobs are held by people who weren’t born here? The answer is all of them. The fact is, American workers are — are getting hurt by immigration…" (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

“We're a country of laws, Bill. We're a country of laws, not of men, not of people who do whatever they want to do... And when we live by those laws and we treat everybody equally under the law, that's when people feel good about being Americans. And I put forth an immigration policy that is as strong in favor of the folks who are struggling in America the most than anybody else…We're going to be tough at the border, we're going to be tough on all of the illegal immigrants that everybody else in this field -- we're going to be different. We're going to be actually out there trying to create a better life for hard-working Americans.” (August 2015, Fox News Debate)

“People are upset, and they're upset for a reason about the future of this country. Donald Trump actually seized on it when he talked about immigration. And I think the reason he did is because immigration is sort of an example of what's broken and what's wrong in Washington, D.C. You see, you have one side, the Democrats, and with immigration, all they care about is votes. They don't care about American workers, they just care about bringing as many people in so they can get as many votes as they can. ON the other side, you have so many Republicans, and what do they care about? Helping business make profits. There's nobody out there looking out for the American worker. I'm looking out for the American worker. I'm the only one on this stage who has a plan that's actually reduced -- actually going to reduce immigration.” (August 2015, Washington Post)

Regarding Donald Trump’s assertion that Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals “People who are coming illegally obviously are coming with a bad intent, let’s just be honest. They’re coming with the clear intent of breaking the law. I don’t think we can sugarcoat that but that doesn’t mean that everybody who’s coming across is a rapist or murderer or anything else.” (July 2015, Face the Nation)

“I believe immigration can be a very good thing. But as with anything, there can also be too much of a good thing. When our labor markets cannot manage the influx we are receiving, then it is time to recalibrate. This is not anti-immigrant; it is common-sense because stagnant wages and joblessness is not good for anyone regardless of race, gender or immigration status.”(July 2015, The Iowa Republican)

“We must also end the visa lottery system because America should be earned, not won. I am the grandson of an Italian immigrant who had to wait seven years to earn his citizenship before finally bringing my father to join him in America. Whenever I asked my father if he resented American laws separating him from his father at such an early stage in his life, he said no “America was worth the wait.” (July 2015, The Iowa Republican)

Other enticements to illegal immigration, such as birthright citizenship, should be ended. Only children born on American soil where at least one parent is a citizen or resident aliens is automatically a U.S. citizen. Of developed countries other than the United States, only Canada has birthright citizenship." (May 2015, Breitbart)

“Look, ISIS is talking about bringing a nuclear weapon, they believe they can smuggle it through our southern border — we need to have a much more secure border not just for immigrants who want to come here illegally, but for other people who want to do other things that are very dangerous to this country,”(May 2015, Fox News)