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Senator Santorum Addresses the Pennsylvania Press Club

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Location: Harrisburg, PA


Senator Santorum Addresses the Pennsylvania Press Club

August 28, 2006

On August 28, 2006, Senator Santorum addressed members of the Pennsylvania Press Club in Harrisburg, PA. Below is the text of the speech:

Thank you very much, Pete. I appreciate it. I appreciate the opportunity to be here this morning and thank you all for coming out. It's a wonderful opportunity to come here and speak to members of the press and have an opportunity to speak directly to my constituents through the miracle of PCN. So I appreciate all of you coming out and look forward to your coverage of this speech.

For the last 12 years, I fought very hard for the people of Pennsylvania. I've got a long road of accomplishments; in fact, I think we have as big a record of accomplishments as any United States senator of recent history. I've led the way on issues like welfare reform; in fact, I was one of the principal authors of welfare reform. Just last year I fought again to take up the task of an extension to that and adding very important components, like the healthy marriage and healthy fatherhood initiatives, which I think was the missing key of welfare reform.

I've worked a lot in the area of urban poverty, trying to ... revitalize some of these inner-city areas, particularly in the city of Chester, where I've spent a lot of time, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, here in Harrisburg. We worked hard to try to represent all of the people of Pennsylvania. I've worked on the American Community Renewal Act, which just got passed, housing, transit, you name it. As a senator, I have focused and made sure that the priorities of our toughest neighborhoods in Pennsylvania have had a chance in the United States Senate.

But I haven't just worked in the inner cities. I've worked all across the commonwealth. Did you know that I've been to every single county every year? And a lot of the rural counties, well, they're occasionally forgotten by elected officials, whether they're here in Harrisburg or in Washington, D.C. Not me. I get to every one of those counties and work diligently. I'm the first United States senator in 100 years from Pennsylvania to serve on the Ag Committee, the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee. And I've done as much, if not more, for farming here in Pennsylvania, whether it's specialty crop reforms that I've put through, crop insurance or the work that we've done in the MILC program for our dairy farmers, landmark dairy farm legislation to try to help our small producers here in Pennsylvania; the work that I've done on open space, farmland preservation, all of that to try to help our rural economies.

Health care - the biggest single employer in most of our rural counties are the hospitals, and again I'll match my record up against anybody to try to help hospitals in our rural areas ... So we've been out there in the rural areas trying to make a difference. And I've delivered for all of Pennsylvania. Whether it's the transportation bill - If you ask Gov. [Ed] Rendell; just the other day, he said something about somebody in the United States Senate delivering for Pennsylvania. He might have been referring to the Medicare bill that we passed that wrote language in there that saves Pennsylvania almost $200 million a year as a result of language that we put in there that allows you to wrap around [Medicare prescription drug] benefits to folks who are on the prescription drug program here in Pennsylvania. And he might have been talking about the work we did on the transportation bill, where everyone in Harrisburg anticipated that ... we would have tremendous cuts to our transportation budget. Just the opposite. We went from where every dollar we send in, $1.13 comes back, we went to $1.19 this year. No one expected that. One person delivered that, and you're looking at him. Something that made a difference for the people of Pennsylvania and I've done it.

For our defense industry, a vitally important sector of our economy, our manufacturing economy, no one has done more for our helicopters division in the southeast, ... for our laser-guided bombs and ammo up in northeastern Pennsylvania, we've been out there making sure our suppliers get what they need and making sure that we can stay competitive and continue to manufacture for our military here in Pennsylvania. Same thing is true when it comes to our bases. Again maybe the governor was talking about the fact that when the base closures came around, Pennsylvania had a big bull's eye on its back, and we were going to get hit with a variety of closures. Well, it didn't happen in Carlisle. They tried to do it out in Pittsburgh ... but I made sure that that didn't happen. ... And the one place that we took the hit in Willow Grove, I've been working with the governor to try to make sure that doesn't happen. That's deliverance; that's concrete deliverable; that's things that take time, and it takes energy, and it takes experience, and it takes a hard work ethic to be able to deliver for the people of Pennsylvania. And I think whether you agree with me on a lot of the issues that we face, there's one thing that I think most people [can agree on], that I work my tail off every single day, I look you in the eye and tell you what I believe in, and I work to make sure that the people of Pennsylvania are represented aggressively in Washington, D.C.

Now, I could spend the rest of the time - in fact, I'd love to spend the rest of the time - talking about all the other accomplishments that we've put forward, but to be honest with you, that's not the most important issue facing this country. Those issues that I've talked about or those issues that are generally associated with me, like the concern I have about the American family, the concern I have about the direction of our culture, which I am often quoted in the media about, or the fact that we are in a very tough global economy and that we need to remain competitive, whether it's improving the quality of our education or keeping our tax rates down. I've been in the Congress and the Senate 16 years and have never voted for a tax increase; I've consistently voted to make sure that we have fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C. I've voted against trillions of dollars of increases to the budget, almost every year, certainly every Congress.

I'm not going to talk about those issues. Because the first order of business of any elected official in Washington, D.C., is the first order of business of the federal government, and that is the national security of this country, and we are at war. And all those other things, while very important, will pale in comparison as to whether we are secure as a country, whether we will experience, as we have, all of the benefits of the programs that I just talked about. And we are at war. Some people would say we're not; some people would say it's not really serious, that the enemy isn't really something that we should be too concerned about; some have called for withdrawal of our troops; some have indicated now that we're just aggravating and antagonizing the other side to hate us more, that we're creating more terrorists. I disagree. Some say we're at war in Iraq. I disagree. Some say we're at war in Afghanistan. I disagree. We're at war with Islamic fascism, and Afghanistan and Iraq and Southern Lebanon and every country around the world is a front. It is not a separate war, any more than during World War II, we were at war in North Africa and a separate war in Italy ... They were the same war because they were a common enemy. Were they the same? Were the Japanese imperialists, were their mindset and their ideology the same as the Nazis? Obviously not. Were they the same as the fascists in Italy? Obviously not. But they were still a common enemy. And so we got bogged down with Sunni and Shiite, with secular governments and non-secular governments, and we say, 'Well, they're all different.' No, they're not; they're a common enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And the enemy of all those, whether it's Iran or Syria or Islamic Jihad or Al-Qaeda or Hezbollah or Hamas or Somalia or Syria - the enemy is the West, us, the infidels.

And I know that's a hard thing for us to grasp because, you know, we're a nation that's a tolerant nation. We like to think that people can be negotiated with and that people can be agreeable and that we can discuss these things in a rational way. I think it's hard to discuss in a rational way with people who don't think rationally like we do here in the West. They have a very different mindset. We have to come to terms with the fact that we may not think that we're in some sort of war against fascist Islam, that we're in a war against radical elements of Islam, because it's uncomfortable, because we have tolerance of religion, and we have dialogue with religion, but that's where we are. They're in a holy war. If we don't want to accept the fact that we are, that's totally up to you. But the reality is what it is. These people are after us not because we've oppressed them ... it's because we stand for everything they hate: we stand for modernity, we stand for freedom, we stand for choices, and they don't. They want to destroy everything we have built here in the United States, and this is not new. This has not just happened since Al-Qaeda hit us on Sept. 11. This happened since Iran took our embassy in Tehran in the late 1970s; and they have continued, whether it's the Marines being killed in Beirut, ... the U.S.S. Cole, and on and on, they hit us, they attacked us; the World Trade Center in 1993, they attacked us. And for 20-some years, we did nothing. For 20-some years, we didn't oppress them, we didn't aggravate them, we didn't show up in their community and cause problems. No, we were the enemy because of who we are.

Now the president and I agree on a lot of things. You'll hear that from my opponent all the time. And we do agree that we need a presence and we need to fight this war. We disagree on one very important thing, and that is what we tell the American people what this war is all about. The president terms this as a war on terror. This is no more a war on terror than World War II was a war on blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg is a tactic; it's not our enemy. Terror is a tactic; it is not our enemy. Our enemy are people who have an ideology. We need to understand that ideology; we need to focus our attention as Americans to understand that the ideology and the tactics are both important, but the foundation is the ideology. The tactics are important; terrorism is important; understand it is. It's how they intend to defeat us. They intend to defeat us with every single day making sure that it is really hard for you to turn that television on, to turn on the news, or to open up the paper, because they know if they can kill just one civilian - they don't care who it is - if they can kill just one civilian or one person from the military every single day, it'll be on the newspaper, it'll be on television, it'll be on the radio. And if they keep that timing up every single day - they know they're not going to defeat us on the battlefield. You talk to our men and women coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, they are proud; they know what war we're in; they see; they experience. And they know they're not going to defeat them on the battlefield, but that's not their intention. Their intention is to make it so painful for you to wake up every morning and look at what's going on over there, that you'll finally say to your elected leaders, 'We've had enough. Leave them alone; maybe they'll leave us alone.'

That's the tactic. Here's the problem: if it were just terrorists and all they cared about was land, that could be a successful strategy - leave them alone - but that's not what they care about. What they care about is defeating us. And as soon as we come back here, they will be right behind us. Instead of fighting a war in Afghanistan, on a front there, on a front in Iraq, we will be fighting it here, in the streets of America. That's the reality.

Who are these people? Who are these enemies? Well, the principal leader now of this Islamic fascist movement again is Iran. Iran, led by a man named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I've been talking about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for about a year now, and going around going to events saying how Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is one of the great threats this country has ever seen. And people look at me and say, 'Who is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? I can't even pronounce his name.' Let me make a guarantee: within a year, and probably less, every one of you will be able to pronounce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. You will know him and know him well. And once you understand what he believes in and what he wants to accomplish, hopefully you will have a very different view of what we're dealing with in the Middle East.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a radical Shia. He was put in by the ruling Mullahs, who are also radical Shias. They have a very, very interesting ideology, one that we need to understand. They believe, as all Shias do, in the Hidden Imam, the 12th Imam. I suspect most of you have not heard of the 12th Imam or Hidden Imam. But again, aside my conversation with you today, you'll know, soon. The Hidden Imam or 12th Imam was in the line of Mohammed ... The 12th Imam's name was also Mohammed. He disappeared when he was 5 years old in 874, the Ninth Century. The Shia believe that he is the Messiah and he is in hiding and that he will return. The question is when will he return. Well, what they believe is he will return with radical Islam, when Shia dominates the world. Well, for over 1,000 years, Shias just believed that over time that they would dominate the world, and you see, by the way, 1,000 years of wars in Europe, where Islam was at the border, a bloody border, with Europe. But see, the ayatollahs in Iran, and Ahmadinejad particularly, they believe it is their obligation to bring about the return of [the Hidden Imam]. They believe it is their obligation to conquer the West, to defeat evil, and they will use terror as that tactic. They have an interesting way of doing this. They will use terror as a tactic, the fact that they care not about death. In fact, if you remember when Al-Qaeda bombed the Madrid station that caused the Spainers to pull out of the war on terror, the communiqué from Al-Qaeda was 'You love life, and we love death.' Try to negotiate with those folks.

They use terror as a tactic; they have an ideology that says they are on a religious mission to defeat everything we believe in. And now they want to develop nuclear weapons. President Ahmadinejad has been very clear; in fact, he just christened yesterday, maybe earlier today, the heavy water reactor. They are months, years, who knows, our intelligence is so bulky ... we don't know how far away they are. But we know this: they are pursuing it. And we also know this: this enemy is different from any other one that has pursued nuclear weapons. Why? Because we love life, they love death.

President Ahmadinejad gives speeches. In fact, he gave one at the United Nations. He said, 'Is there an art that is more beautiful, more divine, more eternal than the art of a martyr's death?' The principle virtues, he says in his lecture in Farsi, not in English, to [60 Minutes interviewer] Mike Wallace, who calls him an 'attractive man'; in Farsi, he says, 'But the principle virtue of the Islamic Republic of Iran is martyrdom.' They want to die. Because they believe that dying with the jihad assures them a place in heaven. And from the Ayatollah Khomeini on down, they've all said the same thing: that death is the object, not life; life is just a horrible, squalid place to live, this is Khomeini's words; that the real life comes after death; and you're assured of heaven if you die in the fight against us. This is what they're teaching everywhere; this is what they believe in; and this is why they're focused on us.

And here's the problem: they know they have a very short timeframe in which to accomplish this. Remember, as I mentioned before, for about 1,000 years, the East and West fought, up until 1683, which was the high water mark of Islam into Europe. It wasn't in Greece or Turkey; it wasn't in Italy or Spain; it was in the heart of Europe - it was in Vienna. In 1683, not that long ago, the Islamists had surrounded the gates of Vienna and were on the verge of toppling it after a siege; and finally, after much bickering, after much indecision, the West united, with the exception of France, by the way [laughter] - some things never change [laughter] - but the West united, and led by the Poles ... defeated in a one-day battle on the plains outside Vienna. What was the high-water mark of this 1,000-year war? It was the day before. What was the date the day before? Sept. 11, 1683.

They know their history; they know what they're about; and they know what they want to accomplish. And they're counting on us either not to take them seriously, or what they really believe, if you read what they say, they believe modernity has made us soft, and we're not willing to fight and we're not willing to put up the struggle, that we will simply quietly acquiesce and let them spread their control to a point where it becomes too late. That's what they believe. So that's where we are. We are in a fight that has a very short timeframe. Why? Because of a three-letter word: oil.

It wasn't until oil revenues started to flow in in huge amounts that they could begin to do the things they're doing, developing the technology. Since 1683, Islam, radical Islam, was not heard from because modernity had passed them ecologically in every way. For 1,000 years, that wasn't the case; they were, in fact, in many respects the leaders in culture and weaponry and military tactics. That changed. And the West has surpassed them and continues to. But now they have an opportunity. They have an ideology; they have a tactic; and now they have the resources to implement it from oil. So they're developing a nuclear weapon; they're buying ... technology anywhere they can get it so they can compete militarily with us. And remember, losing is not losing to them. Dying is not a tragic consequence to them; it's a desired benefit. That's why this is the greatest enemy that we will ever face. It's the enemy of our generation; it is the challenge of our time; and yet we tend to play politics with it here. Good men like [Connecticut U.S. Sen.] Joe Lieberman lose elections because of it.

We have an obligation to do something about it here, not just on the foreign policy front, which I've been very active on. My opponent says that I don't ask the tough questions; I'll send him a copy of this speech. I ask the tough questions, and I do more than that: I answer them. I have solutions to problems that are out there. I was the author of the Syria Accountability Act, which helped Syria move out of Lebanon, albeit too late because the administration opposed me. I'm the author of the Iran Freedom Support Act, which we had a vote on earlier this summer. And I was the only one to get up who spoke in favor of it, even though there were 61 co-sponsors, because we don't want to offend Iran. That was before the invasion of Hezbollah into Israel. No - and by the way, the administration opposed me, and I lost by four votes. So, yeah, I ask the tough questions, and I answer the tough questions, and we're going to have a vote again on the Iran Freedom Support Act, which puts increased sanctions on Iran, sponsors pro-democracy groups and calls for free and fair elections in Iran. We need a policy for this entity, this state that is a great threat to our country.

We need a policy on energy independence. It is unconscionable for us to be importing that level of oil and to have prices at this level that funds our enemy so they can turn around and kill our people. And so today I'm calling for a huge new initiative, a new initiative that applies to all fields of energy, the same kind of initiative that we did when it came to ethanol. We've done great things when it comes to producing ethanol: we've provided tax incentives, we've guaranteed a market for the product, and as a result, we've seen a 40-percent increase - and this just happened last year - we've seen a 40-percent increase in the amount of ethanol produced in this country, and probably another 40-percent next year. We're seeing an explosion of ethanol, which is great. Not enough.

We have 300 years of coal sitting in the ground in Pennsylvania, 300 years, and we need to produce it, and we need to turn it into liquid fuels, we need to turn it into natural gas, we need to turn it into fuels that we need that we import from other countries. As you know, if you watch my commercials, we have one such plant up in Schuylkill County; we're hopeful to get that deal closed by the end of this year, but that's not enough. We need to create incentives, not just to help build those facilities, but we need to guarantee that we'll purchase the product; yes, the federal government. I met with the DOD [U.S. Department of Defense] recently - in fact, often over the last couple years about this particular plant - they want this fuel because it's zero sulfur; it's higher, it's higher value; it's a better fuel for our jet engines than the fuel being produced by oil. So give me an opportunity to create energy here in this country, use it in our military that needs it and become more energy independent.

We need to get the best mines all over the country working on producing new energy sources ... And we need to produce more right now here in this country. Big difference between my opponent and me on this: he's against drilling in ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge]; he's against drilling offshore; he's against drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Yet he's OK when there's 3,000 gas wells drilled in western Pennsylvania every year. No problem with that. We can drill wells in our backyards. No problem with that. Want to go out 200 miles, 300, 400 miles away from any population where a few caribou roam around every couple months during the summer time, and we can't produce there! We can punch holes all over western Pennsylvania, but nope, can't touch Alaska; might disturb a caribou or two! People are dying! We are at war! This is serious business! This politics that we play on environmentalism! The time has passed! We need to aggressively go after the resources that we have! We need to become more energy independent! We need a Manhattan project! We need the best mines! And the government needs to be there and spend the dollars to make sure that if we're going to invest in those resources, we will not be left holding the bag if prices go down. [Applause.]

I'm gonna stop right there and just say that I know I'm known for a lot of things and foreign policy probably isn't one of them. Although, if you look at my record on foreign policy over the last several years, I've been very active, you just probably wouldn't know it from reading the papers. [Laughter.] ... But you'll be hearing a lot about what I think is a great issue that faces us, and whether I like it or not, this election is going to turn on this issue because this is the issue of our time.

http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.View&ContentRecord_id=1988&Region_id=0&Issue_id=0

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