NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – When Rick Santorum declared his candidacy for president of the United States May 27, the former Pennsylvania senator generally steered clear of social issues, but it took little time for the liberal news establishment to come out strong against him.
Santorum, known for his conservative Catholic views on the family, has always made abortion and same-sex marriage key components of his campaigns, making him a pariah to many left-leaning journalists and celebrities.
The actions of one, gay rights activist Dan Savage, caused a significant Internet search engine problem for Santorum in 2003 when he associated the candidate's name with homosexual intercourse. The problem grew worse after the candidate announced his first presidential run in 2012.
Now, Savage and others are back in force, criticizing the candidate for his political thought derived from the teachings of his faith.
Rolling Stone was first out of the box when it published a list of 10 "vile" things Santorum has said on abortion, homosexuals and even global warming. The magazine, still reeling for the fallout over its concocted story on rape at the University of Virginia, claimed Santorum is a "known right-wing extremist."
"This time around he's trying to be a voice for America's 'working families.' That might sound downright wholesome to someone who doesn't know what he actually believes," the magazine claimed.
Among the "vile" comments the Republican candidate has made, the magazine included Santorum's assertion that approval of gay marriage would open the door to legal recognition for other forms of non-traditional relationships.
"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," Santorum said in a 2003 interview with the Associated Press.
On this point – removed from its context in the interview – Santorum foreshadowed comments made April 28 by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito during oral arguments for Obergfell v. Hodges, a case many believe could open the door to same-sex marriage nationwide.
During the arguments, Alito asked attorney Mary Bonauto, "Suppose we rule in your favor in this case and then after that, a group consisting of two men and two women apply for a marriage license. Would there be any ground for denying them a license?"
Bonauto said "yes," but Alito and Justice Antonin Scalia found the answer lacking, indicating they believe a right to same-sex marriage will eventually lead to other forms of legally-recognized marital union.
According to Rolling Stone, Santorum also took on Planned Parenthood, an organization responsible for most abortions in the United States. In 2011, Santorum said the organization had "poisonous roots" in the eugenics of Margaret Sanger, who wanted to annihilate "weeds" or substandard humans from the population.
"Its origins are horrific. You can say well, it's not that anymore. It's not far from where it was in my opinion in its activities and its motivations," Santorum said in 2011.
In addition to the article from Rolling Stone, CNN asked in a report if Santorum could "overcome" his past and drop conservative social planks of his campaign platform. And the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin listed seven reasons why Santorum would lose.
"Rick Santorum has decided his party and country need him, so he's throwing his hat into the ring for 2016. So for the Republicans who want to win the White House, don't worry — he won't come anywhere close to his success in 2012," Rubin wrote.
Among her seven reasons why Santorum would lose, she wrote, was "Satan."
In 2008, Santorum spoke to students at Ave Maria University and said Satan was targeting the United States and its institutions "using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition."
"This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country — the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost 200 years, once America's preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers," Santorum said.
Americans, according to Rubin, will find the comment as off-putting as his views on birth control, also derived for his traditional Catholic beliefs. In the past Santorum has said he believes a state should have the right to pass laws preventing the distribution of birth control. He did not say, however, that he would seek to have it banned.
Instead, Santorum said he would, if elected president, be the first president to discuss how artificial birth control and abortion harms families and society at large.
Still, columnists like Rubin and Savage continue the narrative that Santorum has advocated outlawing both birth control and abortion.
"President Santorum will ban abortion," Savage wrote on his website after Santorum's announcement Wednesday. "That will benefit the unborn and the rapists who impregnate their victims—that's a Republican win/win. He'll also make birth control illegal so, hey, lots more unborn will benefit from being born under President Santorum. Many will be born to teenagers and women and men who don't want to be parents or are already parents and incapable of taking care of more kids. But let's not dwell on that!"
Savage also blasted the Republican candidate for his pledge to defend those whose religious convictions lead them to believe homosexuality is wrong, and who also believe faith impacts the operation of a business (presumably a reference to Hobby Lobby v. Burwell where the Supreme Court ruled an employee, motivated by religious conviction, does not have to cover abortion-inducing drugs in its help plan).
Few supporters have risen to Santorum's defense so far, save columnist Ben Crystal. Writing at the website Personal Liberty, Crystal wrote that Santorum's announcement for office was greeted "with cheers by unlikely cheerleaders."
"Leftist hate blogs breathlessly resurrected an attack aimed at Santorum. Back in 2003, a leading Democrat 'intellectual' named Dan Savage conducted what's known as a Google bomb, the purpose of which was to link Santorum to a particularly loathsome definition," Crystal wrote.
"What should have been dismissed as bigoted bile was instead deployed across the liberal spectrum with twisted glee. And now that Santorum is back in the race, Savage's crude barb has reemerged."