6 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Rick Santorum

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ricksantorum

1. He once gifted a sweater vest to Jay Leno

Back in 2012 Santorum appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and presented the host with “ the uniform of the day, …the Rick Santorum Sweater Vest.” Both Santorum and Leno got a good laugh out of the exchange before diving into important policy topics. He once gave his sweater vest to Jay Leno: Santorum’s ubiquitous sweater vests became his unofficial campaign uniform when he ran for president in 2012, inspiring their own jokes and social media accounts. He embraced the outfit with a slew of colors, sold $100 versions on his campaign website and has gifted them to the likes of Jay Leno and Stephen Colbert.

He once favored wearing Hawaiian shirts. While Santorum has become known for his trademark sweater vests on the campaign trail, his style hasn’t always been so traditional. In 2005, one of his cousins told the Philadelphia City Paper that when Rick was younger, “He sported a bushy moustache for a time, wore Hawaiian shirts and smoked cigars. He liked to laugh, drink and call things ‘horsey-assey.’” He also had a nickname at school: Rooster, because a strand of hair on the back of his head always stood up.

2. Santorum has seven children, including a daughter with special needs

He and his wife have enough kids—well, almost enough—to be on a reality show. Santorum met his future wife, Karen Garver, in 1988 when he tried to recruit her to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart while she was a law student at the University of Pittsburgh. The two married in 1990, and today are the parents of seven children: three daughters and four sons — ranging in age from 7 to 24. He practices what he preaches: Santorum and his wife, Karen, have seven children, and they’ve home-schooled them all. During his first presidential campaign, he ran an ad trumpeting that fact — but made clear their home-schooling philosophy did not extend to the family dog.

His youngest, Bella, was born with a condition called Trisomy 18, a rare and usually lethal disorder in which a child has an extra chromosome. It’s related to Down syndrome, but is far more deadly. Just half survive a week after birth, and fewer than 10 percent make it to their first birthday. Santorum spoke often about Bella on the 2012 campaign trail, giving his well-known opposition to abortion a more personal element. Earlier this year, he and Karen wrote a book called Bella’s Gift about their shared trials and triumphs as they cared for their daughter. It wasn’t the usual pre-presidential tome, instead offering rare insight into how his wife was frustrated in the way in which he introduced Bella into his campaign narrative — talking openly and honestly about how he initially treated her differently from his other children and kept her at a distance, hoping it wouldn’t hurt so much if they lost her. An eighth child, Gabriel, was born prematurely in 1994 and died at birth.

His daughter wasn’t expected to live past her first birthday: Santorum’s youngest daughter, Bella, was born in 2008 with a rare disorder called Trisomy 18, which takes the life of almost all children born with it before they turn one year old. During his 2012 campaign, he and his family kept her out of the public eye while they struggled with her care — until the Republican National Convention that year, where he spoke of Bella being “full of life” despite doctors’ earlier misgivings. In 2015, he and his wife authored a book titled, “Bella’s Gift: How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation.”

Originally, he didn’t even mention his daughter on the campaign trail. Then, when given the instruction to “bare your soul” during a 2011 “Thanksgiving Family Forum” for GOP candidates, he talked about how he convinced himself to try to not love his daughter in her fragile state. “I decided that the best thing I could do was treat her differently . . . it wouldn’t hurt as much if I lost her,” Santorum said. “I had seen her as less of a person because of her disability.” It was a powerful moment that captivated the Iowa voters in attendance, and propelled many parents of disabled children to go meet and support Santorum.

In 2015, after the campaign, Rick and Karen Santorum wrote a book called “Bella’s Gift: How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation.” In the book, Karen Santorum writes that her husband had “hardened his heart out of fear” after losing Gabriel. “Ever since that day, Bella has had Rick wrapped around her little finger,” she said. Bella has been a source of motivation behind the Santorums’ opposition to the Affordable Care Act. They argue that the law will result in disabled people being denied care as a result of health care rationing.

3. The Republican lost his Senate re-election bid in 2006 by nearly 18 points

Santorum’s bid for a third term ended up being a thumping. Running in a heavily Democratic year that was propelled by frustration with the Bush administration and the Iraq War, Santorum lost in a landslide to Democrat Bob Casey Jr., son of a legendary former governor. It was the first electoral loss for Santorum, who was first elected to the House in 1990 and then defeated moderate Democratic Sen. Harris Wofford in the 1994 GOP wave to ascend to the Senate. He easily won re-election in 2000 against nominal opposition, but six years later, his luck ran out. By then, the state was also changing — becoming more Democratic and diverse. He stuck behind his uncompromising social positions, but Casey successfully hammered him — painting him as having a rigid ideology and for his controversial comments on the family structure.

4. He runs a movie studio:

After his 2012 loss, Santorum got involved with a fledgling Christian film company called EchoLight, quickly rising to the role of its chief executive. The studio produces and distributes “faith-based, family films” like “The Christmas Candle” and “Beyond the Heavens.” The company meshes with Santorum’s profile as a Christian conservative seeking to promote faith in Americans’ lives.

5. He’s a longtime culture warrior:

A strident social conservative long opposed to gay marriage, Santorum told an interviewer in 2003: “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing.” Critics panned him for bringing up bestiality and pedophilia in the context of homosexuality, and the comments still stick with him.

His Congressional record: In the Senate, Santorum played a central role in passing a ban on “partial-birth abortions” that occur late in a woman’s pregnancy, reflecting his strong, pro-life beliefs. On the economic front, he helped shepherd welfare reform through both houses of Congress, setting the tone for years of Republican efforts to address the welfare system. He’s a proponent of a hawkish foreign policy centered on American Exceptionalism and a strong national defense.

Santorum remains staunchly conservative on every social issue, born largely out of his Catholic faith, and he has also gained some national infamy for those opinions. In a 2003 interview, then-Sen. Santorum likened homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery, but said he didn’t want to “pick on homosexuality” because “It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog.” The comments prompted gay rights activist Dan Savage to begin a campaign to link his name to a graphic sexual act, and the new “definition” dominated the politician’s Google search results for years.

That hasn’t changed his views over the years. Santorum actively advocates for defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman and has opposed civil unions for same-sex couples. He also said recently that he would not attend a gay wedding, a question that was put to several GOP candidates and would-be candidates in the last week.

Santorum has not, however, been critical of Bruce Jenner, the former Olympic athlete who recently came out on national television as transgender. “If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman,” Santorum told reporters recently. “My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people for who they are.”

He introduced legislation banning late-term abortion that passed in 2003 and during the 2012 campaign accused President Obama of forcing health insurance companies to include free prenatal testing as a way to weed out and abort disabled children. He also said the president was forcing a “new moral code” that was “intolerant” of the Catholic Church.

When he says he’s the most socially conservative of the major G.O.P. candidates, he’s not exaggerating. A devout Catholic, the former senator frequently cites his strong religious beliefs when explaining his views on social issues. All of the Republican contenders are against same-sex marriage, but Santorum is the only one who wants to invalidate all of the legal same-sex unions that have taken place in the U.S. since 2003. He also is the only major Republican candidate to speak out against contraception, saying in October that birth control, “[is] not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

He is perhaps one of the most reviled politicians among gay marriage advocates following a 2003 interview in which he said same-sex marriage was a gateway to condoning bestiality and pedophilia. Infuriated by the remarks, sex columnist Dan Savage held a contest with readers, asking them for suggestions for how to define “Santorum” as a lewd term.

6. His father’s name was Aldo.

He was born May 10, 1958, in Winchester, Va., to Aldo and Catherine Santorum, who both worked for the Veterans Administration. The second of three children, Santorum was known for being smart and outgoing in school. While he was growing up, his family moved to Pennsylvania and then to Illinois. He majored in political science at Penn State, graduating in 1980. He later received a M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, followed by a J.D. at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law. Shortly after graduating in 1986, he became an associate at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, a Pittsburgh law firm. Aldo and Kay later moved to Florida, where Aldo passed away last year.

He loves Schatzie. Schatzie is the Santorum family’s beloved German Shepherd and the reason he became an advocate for animal rights. As a senator in 2005, he introduced the Pet Animal Welfare Statute, a bill to regulate breeders and crack down on puppy mills. While it ultimately failed to pass, he received accolades from the Humane Society and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for his work.



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  • jpthomassen

    A man of character, credible.

    • Kimberly Hess


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  • Shaymamma8

    Santorum is an idiot, that’s why he was booted from Pa, he also lied about what school his kids were attending in order to get a subsidy. If you are going to print things about this clown, print the whole truth…

  • misterdawg

    He sued the school district in PA to get them to pay for his kids to go to a internet school, about $80,000.00 which makes him a asshole to me. Why didn’t he send them to a public school, but what congressman does that, they all go to private schools.

  • Jack Leonard

    Ricky couldn’t get elected dog catcher here in Pennsylvania. He had his chance and voted politics over principle. That’s why we threw him out. One such vote was NAFTA.

    • Theresa Erickson


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  • http://WWW.SPIRITOFAMERICAPARTYRADIOSHOW.COM TOM P O’DONNELL

    THE REASON SANTORUM HAS A TOUGH UPHILL FIGHT IS THAT HE IS TOO GOOD. HE WILL ONLY HELP US. WE DON’T WANT THAT. WE LIKE DOWNHILL.

  • http://WWW.SPIRITOFAMERICAPARTYRADIOSHOW.COM TOM P O’DONNELL

    I WATCHED THE COMMUNIST HOAX DEBATES LAST NIGHT. I COULD ONLY TAKE AN HOUR. MY BS METER HIT FULL. STALIN HAD BETTER DEBATES. HILLARY BLAMED 911 ON BUSH. TELL ME OH FAT ONE WHEN PRESIDENT PINOCCHIO PANTS WAS TOLD THE CIA HAD A CLEAR SHOT AT BIN LADEN BEFORE 911 WHY DID HE NOT TAKE IT? OH, THERE WAS AN EMIRATES PRINCE HUNTING WITH BIN LADEN AND CLINTON DECLINED TO TAKE THE SHOT. WHAT WAS THAT PRINCE’S NAME?

    WHAT WAS HIS FATHER’S NAME? WHAT WAS THE ALLEGED WIRE TRANSFER ACCT NO? OR WAS THE PAY OFF SPEECH MONEY?

    THOSE WERE CLINTON TOWERS THAT CAME DOWN. 911 WAS ALL ON CLINTON’S AND THEIR PARTY OF DEATH TO LITTLE CHILDREN.

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/spiritofamericapartybook/2015/11/15/cl.