I’m out in Manchester, NH this weekend.  Last night I attended a dinner hosted by Americans for Prosperity.  Today, I’m was at the We The People Forum at Southern New Hampshire University.  Last night, five candidates spoke (Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Tim Pawlenty), today three spoke (Romney, Pawlenty and Bachmann).

Out of all of those candidates I listened to this weekend, I was most impressed with former Senator Rick Santorum.  I can unequivocally say that he gave the best speech Friday night.  Herman Cain I would place right after him.  Pawlenty’s content in his speech was good, but he didn’t have the passion that Santorum had.  Romney’s was milquetoast and uninspiring (I plan to do a post on him later)  Bachmann’s speech on Friday was… meh, I’ve seen her give much better.  On Saturday it was much improved and I saw a stronger connection with the audience.  Several people I spoke with thought she gave the best speech today.  Overall I would give the weekend to Santorum.

Last night and today he harkened to our founding documents.  Santorum called the Constitution the “how” of our nation, and the Declaration of Independence as the “why.” He said that if America was going to be a prosperous nation it had to embrace the why – that “all are created equal and that God gives us inalienable rights.”

He criticized President Obama’s recent comments about Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.  In those remarks President Obama said we as a nation are great because of the big three entitlement programs.  Santorum said, “America was founded great, it was created great.”  At the heart of American exceptionalism Santorum said it was the recognition that our rights come from God, not from a foreign sovereign.  Santorum noted that “the role of government is to protect those rights.”

He said Obama “didn’t believe America was great until government grew big.”

He said also that our liberty doesn’t mean license.  The founders recognized, he noted, that freedom is about doing what “God called you to do, to do what you ought to do,” not just to do whatever you want.

He said that we can’t set moral issues aside because our founding was a moral enterprise.  Earlier he said that “we have a group in Washington, DC have a different vision of what America is… and have a different point of view of what America is supposed to be.”

He also discussed economic policies heavily as every candidate did, but for me what stood out and set him apart this weekend was his focus on our founding principles.  That’s something I want to see in a candidate.

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