By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
Former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum came to Centerville Tuesday and by the end of the next day had completed his goal of visiting all 99 Iowa counties in his campaign to earn the Republican nomination to challenge Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
While in Centerville, Santorum talked about the U.S. economy, energy independence, "Obamacare," lack of a federal government budget, government regulation, federal spending and abortion.
"We need to end abortion in this country," Santorum said during the hour-long meet and greet attended by 16 at the Drake Public Library. "It's an abomination that 5,000 children are killed in America every day."
Santorum said he speaks often at crisis pregnancy centers and he called them "a beautiful face of the pro-life movement. They care about the mother and the children."
Santorum said all children should be respected in our society.
Santorum said the loss of manufacturing has unduly impacted employment in rural areas in the U.S. and in southern Iowa. He said manufacturing had been the backbone employer for Appanoose County.
"As we've lost those jobs rural Iowa has really taken a hit," he said. "I'm really the only one in the race that actually has a specific plan focused on manufacturing because I think it's the real key to our economy turning around in more ways than one."
Santorum said the percentage of workers involved in manufacturing has gone from 21 to 9 percent in the United States and has impacted individuals who do not have a college degree. He said manufacturing gives skilled and non-skilled workers access to jobs.
"The unemployment rating for college-educated people is about 1 percent," he said. "Compared to those who do not have a college education, it's about four or five times that."
Santorum said his goal is to rebuild the manufacturing base in the country and bring back the good wages those workers make.
"The average manufacturing job wage and benefits is about $77,000 a year," Santorum said. "So it's a big difference for people who are at the bottom end of the income economic scale."
On the issue of energy independence, Santorum said he wants to see more oil and gas exploration in the United States.
Santorum agreed with one man in the audience that federal government rules and regulations make U.S. products more expensive to sell overseas.
"That's why I talk about repealing the regulations that cost businesses and replacing it," he said. "I promise you we'll rewrite all those regulations that are necessary, but it has to be done in a way in order to maximize our competitiveness."
Santorum said if he is elected president, he would work to repeal "Obamacare."
"We can repeal that portion of 'Obamacare,' the financial part of it, through a process called reconciliation," Santorum said. "It's the only major way to pass legislation in the United States Senate where you only need 50 votes to pass. Everything else you have to get 60."
Santorum said if elected, the process to repeal the financial portion of "Obamacare" would take a few months, but some things would still remain.
On the lack of a federal budget, Santorum said Congress doesn't want to pass a budget because Democrats do not want Americans to realize how far in debt they are.
"So they just simply hide the ball from the American public by just allowing things to continue the way they are," Santorum said.
On federal government spending, Santorum said Democrats believe that's the way to grow the economy.
"They believe in government," he said.
Before leaving, Santorum donated a signed copy of his book, "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good," to the Drake Public Library.
Santorum issued the following statement as he neared the goal of visiting all 99 Iowa counties: "When I entered this race, I committed to holding campaign events in all 99 Iowa counties because I believe that all Iowans should have the opportunity to meet, question, and kick the tires of presidential candidates seeking their votes. Does not mark the end, but the beginning of the next phase in our campaign to win the votes of Iowa caucus goers — and we're just getting warmed up."