TAMPA, August 29, 2012, ( – In a variation on the acceptance speech he might have given if circumstances were different, Rick Santorum delivered a pitched defense of life, liberty, and family at the Republican National Convention’s opening night event.

Sounding a theme he repeated on the campaign trail – which was eventually picked up by Mitt Romney, he told young people to do three things: “Graduate from high school, work hard, and get married before you have children – and the chance you will ever be in poverty is just two percent. Yet if you don’t do these three things you’re 38 times more likely to end up in poverty,” he said.

“We understand many Americans don’t succeed because the family that should be there to guide them and serve as the first rung on the ladder of success isn’t there, or is badly broken,” he said. “The fact is that marriage is disappearing in places where government dependency is highest.”

“If America is going to succeed, we must stop the assault on marriage and the family,” he said to applause. “It’s a sturdy ladder to success that is built with healthy families, education, and hard work. But President Obama’s policies undermine the traditional family [and] weaken the education system.”

He briefly recounted the inspiring story of holding the hands of his special needs daughter, Bella, which elicited greater applause and emotion from the crowd in Tampa on Tuesday night.

“I thank God that America still has one party that reaches out their hands in love to lift up all of God’s children – born and unborn – and says that each of us has dignity and all of us have the right to live the American Dream,” he concluded.  “In November, we have a chance to vote for life and liberty, not dependency.”

Joan Walsh of accused Santorum of “race-baiting and lying” in the speech. “Santorum linked Obama’s waiving the work requirement [for welfare recipients]…to ‘his refusal to enforce the immigration law.’ Welfare recipients and illegal immigrants, oh my! Santorum made sure to scare the white working class with the depredation of those non-white slackers and moochers.”

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Walsh’s statements proved more incendiary than those of former Obama administration spokesman Robert Gibbs, who simply said the former Pennsylvania senator failed to connect with swing-voters. 

However, those issues allowed Santorum to score wins in states like Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado during the nominating process. Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania is considered safely in the Democratic column, but Republicans continue to dream of winning the statewide race there, a feat Santorum has accomplished. 

An unsigned article at called the speech “a slight concession to social conservatives by the GOP establishment.”

Santorum used it to emphasize issues of life and family, “issues that Romney’s establishment Republican advisors have studiously kept him away from so far.”

Santorum strayed into other issues dear to social and small government conservatives, as well.

Aside from dependency and immigration, Santorum said President Obama’s “solution” to plummeting test scores “has been to deny parents choice, attack private schools, and nationalize curriculum and student loans. Mitt Romney believes that parents and the local community must be put in charge — not the Department of Education.”

Santorum also sounded the alarm over President Obama’s readiness to rule by executive order. “America take heed, when a president can simply give a speech or write a memo and change the law to do what the law says he can’t, we weaken our republic,” he said.

Monday’s RNC program included conservative speeches from Santorum, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and Texas U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz, a Tea Party favorite who upset an establishment favorite. Santorum and Cruz, stated, represent the wing of constituents that “make Washington’s establishment Republican political class nervous as the devil – they actually mean what they say about the conservative agenda.”


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