Is Rick Santorum conservative or liberal? What are Rick Santorum’s political views?

Rick Santorum Iowa Caucuses
Rick Santorum Iowa Caucuses

Quin Hilyer explains, in the pro-Romney National Review, of all places.

Excerpt:

On taxes, for instance, Santorum has always been superb. The Club for Growth’s white paper on Santorum, calling his tax stances “very strong,” confirms that “Santorum has consistently supported broad-based tax cuts and opposed tax increases either by sponsoring key legislation or by casting votes on relevant bills.”

His record on a host of other conservative issues is as solid as that of any politician in the past two decades. He has been firmly and repeatedly against all sorts of regulatory abuse, against McCain-Feingold and other restrictions on political speech, for school choice, for tort reform, for a strong military, and for a balanced-budget amendment.

Obviously he has been as stalwart a defender of social conservatism, for 20 full years, as any other public figure. And as virtually every conservative involved in the judicial wars during Santorum’s time in the Senate has confirmed, in person or in print, Santorum and his staff were the go-to people in the Senate when you needed to find tireless, committed advocates for conservative jurists. Santorum is, wrote Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, “the candidate in whom I have by far the greatest confidence” in terms of how likely he would be “to appoint excellent Supreme Court justices and lower-court judges and to work tenaciously to get them confirmed.”

Meanwhile, as Santorum frequently (and entirely accurately) reminds anybody who will listen, his work on the single most important conservative policy reform of the past half century, the 1996 welfare-to-work effort that cut spending and poverty rates simultaneously, was seminal, indefatigable, and remarkably effective. Iowa’s Sen. Chuck Grassley explained to the Des Moines Register a week ago that he was unconvinced about welfare reform until Santorum paid him an office call and “took a lot of time to convince me of his point of view… The sincerity and effort that he has to get his point across in the presidential campaign is almost a total reflection of how he operated as a United States senator.” Grassley yielded and voted for reform.

More broadly, until Rep. Paul Ryan’s recent prominence, nobody in Congress has been as passionate and fearless an advocate for entitlement reform as Santorum. Medicaid block grants. Investment accounts for Social Security. Medicare payments controlled by the beneficiaries rather than third-party payers. Choice rather than government mandates. Indeed, Santorum was the first candidate this year to fully embrace Ryan’s proposed reforms — with this exception, as he reminded me in a phone interview on Thursday: “I’ve criticized Ryan on one thing: waiting ten years [for many of the reforms to kick in]. We can’t afford to wait. We’ve got to start now.”

[…]As for overall spending and his much-discussed history of support for “earmarks” (a position also shared by tightwad Ron Paul), conservative groups’ ratings show that Santorum was better than the average Republican, despite representing a state far bluer than those of most of his Republican colleagues. He demonstrated particular courage in his support for the Freedom to Farm Act and in frequent opposition to floor amendments that would have put additional spending in appropriations bills. Denizens of Capitol Hill in the 1990s fondly remember Santorum’s repeated use of a prop during floor debate called the “Spendometer,” which he used to make a persuasive (and entertaining) case against wasteful federal largesse.

Out of office, he vociferously opposed TARP, the various “stimulus” packages, and the bailouts of car companies and of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. All those stances were perfectly in line with the voting record he had established in the House and Senate.

Evangelical Christian stalwart Gary Bauer is endorsing Rick Santorum.

Excerpt:

Social conservative leader and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer will endorse Rick Santorum in South Carolina, he confirmed to The Hill on Saturday.

Bauer said that he didn’t want to get into the details of the endorsement since it was officially still embargoed, but confirmed his support and said he’ll work to get other social conservatives on board for Santorum.

“I want to do whatever I can to convince my colleagues that Sen. Santorum is the right man,” he told The Hill.

[…]Bauer has organized a Friday meeting with top social conservatives in Texas to see if they can coalesce behind one candidate. He said the point of the meeting is not to try to stop Mitt Romney from being the Republican nominee, but that he believes Santorum would be the best candidate to beat President Obama, as well as the best commander in chief.

It’s worth remembering what Rick Santorum did to encourage critical thinking in public school science education, too. This is good news for us who want to have evidence for and against things like naturalistic macro-evolution and anthropogenic catastrophic global warming presented to students. That’s above and beyond the basics of conservatism, right there – and he’s solid on school choice.

The best thing about Santorum, though, is that he has a working class background and he isn’t afraid to debate with people instead of just speaking about his beliefs and generalities. He tries to convince people, and to reason things out with them.

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