Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum rolled into Plano on Wednesday night for a campaign rally at Fairview Farms — a corral barn normally rented out for parties — in a Central Expressway mini mall next door to Party City and Duke’s Roadhouse.
In the 41-degree weather, a mostly white crowd in coats and knit caps stood huddled outside the Fairview entrances, standing on tip-toe, angling their cameras in the air and peering through window lattices to get a peek at the Pennsylvania senator.
WBAP Talk radio host Mark Davis, who hosted the rally, announced: “I am not here to introduce to you the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I’m here to introduce to you the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.” (Incidentally, Davis was recently a guest speaker at a meeting of Metroplex Republicans of Dallas, a gay GOP group.)
It seemed oddly fitting that Santorum should spill into Plano the day after his ideological opposite, Dan Savage, spoke at the University of North Texas’ 12th Annual Equity and Diversity Conference. Nine years ago, after Santorum compared homosexual relationships to bestiality, Savage led a successful campaign to redefine Santorum’s surname to mean a frothy by-product of anal sex. Both men call the others’ action vulgar.
“He’s not running for president,” Savage told Dallas Voice last week. “He’s running for a Fox News contract just like [Mike] Huckabee.”
The night before his rally in Plano, Santorum won primary victories in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri — his first victories since his initial one at the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. But he probably shouldn’t get too cocky.
One of his opponents, Newt Gingrich, is suffering from two recent bad debate performances as well as millions of dollars in negative advertising orchestrated by frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Throw in the fact that Romney will handily win his home state of Michigan — one of the last state primaries before the 10 scheduled on Super Tuesday, March 8 — and one can see that Santorum’s nomination is hardly a sure thing.
During his speech in Plano, Santorum said, “Barack Obama has systematically in every single way tried to destroy the very foundational elements of our country.”
He called the president’s economic views un-American and began to lament the erosion of faith that has occurred under Obama’s presidency.
Santorum mentioned that in his book It Takes a Family (his response to Hilary Clinton’s It Takes A Village), he affirmed his belief “as our founders believed … that each and every one of us are equal. Each and every one of us have God-given rights. And each and every one of us have those rights protected by a government that’s limited.”
He then alluded to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court’s ruling striking down California’s ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday — and people began to boo.
“You look and see what the left is trying to do … is oppress people of faith … as we saw in the 9th Circuit just this week,” Santorum said. “This is what the court said, that if you believe what’s taught in Genesis, if you believe what’s practiced biblically in generations since, then you are irrational. The only possible reason you could believe this, according to the 9th Circuit, is that you are a bigot and you are a hater.”
He then suggested that government-granted rights rather than God-given rights historically resulted in the French guillotine adding, “If we follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, we are headed down that road.”
Behind me, a child began crying.
In fact, what the 9th Circuit ruled was that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, saying there’s no rational basis to believe that denying LGBT people marriage equality does anything to protect children or marriage.
But as a law school graduate who rushed to sign two separate pledges promising to “appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters” and to end all federal and judicial protection of abortion rights, Santorum isn’t worried sharing legal particulars with his audience — just the bigger themes of faith and family upon which he has built his infamous political legacy.
Below are more photos for Santorum’s appearance in Plano, as well as video of his remarks about same-sex marriage at a meeting of pastors in McKinney earlier in the day.