(Des Moines, IA) Yesterday afternoon, former U.S. Senator and 2012 Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum, held a brief meet and greet with several state legislators, hosted by State Representative Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls) who is the Iowa Chair for Santorum’s organization Patriot Voices.

Santorum said that he is seriously considering another campaign for President.  He said unlike in 2012, national security and foreign policy will be primary issues in 2016.  He stated that he called out President George W. Bush, as well as President Barack Obama, for not identifying the threat the United States faces with radical militant Islam.  He also stated one of the primary concerns about Iran having a nuclear weapons program is that they are a theocracy and their leadership holds to an apocalyptic brand of Islam.  He said that unlike other countries, they don’t have self-preservation in mind, which makes them far more dangerous.

He also addressed religious liberty (watch remarks here or below) as one of two social conservative issues he believed is “paramount” right now.

“I know you all as state legislators have seen what happened in Indiana and Arkansas.  What happened there was the media creating a firestorm and leaders didn’t lead.  I have been through that firestorm.  I can go back 13 years when I was in the United States Senate and stood up and said if the Supreme Court decides a case this way (decided Federal RFRA law could not be applied broadly to states) then all of these bad things are going to start happening and I said we would have same-sex marriage in 10 years.  I was wrong – it was five,” Santorum stated.

“I was put through a national wringer like no one had been put through and have been put through it over and over again because I am not going to back down from what I believe is the right course for our country.  And you learn that the media can be brutal.  It can be intimidating.  It can be overwhelming, and you can look folks and say, ‘That is a stand-up person, they are going to stand-up tall.  They are not going to back down when it gets tough.’  Then you realize, ‘Wow, that is not what I thought was going to happen.’  I share this with you because there is nothing… and this is what Walt (Rogers) was talking about… there is nothing that substitutes for experience, and particularly experience being in the middle of a vortex of a firestorm when your conservative principles and ideas are under the most intense scrutiny.  And you’re being called everything you can possibly imagine and they’re trying to intimidate you from backing away from your position,” Santorum said this as an indirect criticism of Governors Mike Pence (R-IN) and Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), who backtracked from their original support of their state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Acts as originally written.

“That is when you find out if the person has what is necessary to stand up and lead through a difficult time and not back down, not run for the hills, not bail out, but actually stand-up in a positive and hopefully winsome way and make the arguments.  I always say when it comes to religious liberty now or the marriage issue or a whole bunch of other things we are losing these arguments simply because we are not making them.  We’re not making them because we are intimidated from making them.  That’s just a… if that continues then life as we know it, particularly the family, is going to be on a very, very bad track in the world,” Santorum added.

Santorum also addressed Common Core with the group. (Watch remarks here or below)

“This also goes with the issue of Common Core which I know is a big issue in Iowa and a big issue for me.  I wrote a book called Blue Collar Conservatives where I talk about the importance of education.  Just in two books published that I talk about all of the time – one is from a guy from the far left named Robert Putnam, who wrote a book called Our Kids, he is a Harvard sociologist and is a liberal.    The other was written a few years ago by a guy named Charles Murray who is a libertarian from the American Enterprise Institute.  Those two books come to the same conclusion – that the principle problem of the hollowing out of America, the principle problem of children not achieving, the principle problem of us not being able to rise in the end and have the opportunity to pass centers around, primarily, the breakdown of the family,” Santorum explained.

“And these are things that I was talking about, as you know, talking about the American family is the basic small business.  It is the first economic unit, and it is fractured.  And as a result what we are seeing is the left and the right coming together saying ‘we don’t know what to do about it’ and both basically concede that, but they realize that – and this Putnam saying this – if you come from a two parent family, from a neighborhood of two parent families and you go to schools in that community where most two-parent family kids go the chances of you succeeding are incredibly high in America and it doesn’t matter your race, color or creed.  They’re the same.  Let me repeat that they’re the same.  There is no racial differentiation if you come from that neighborhood,” Santorum added.

“Conversely if you come from a single parent family in a neighborhood of single parent families – that is important – you can be in a single parent family in a neighborhood where there is a mix, but if you come from a single parent family in a neighborhood of single parent families and the school is single parent families the chance, according to Putnam, the chance that you will rise to the top 20% of income earners, which is not the top 1%, the top 20% is 3%.  Now I don’t know about you, but that is something, if I’m a Republican, if I’m a conservative, if I’m an American that’s not good enough.  That’s just not good enough,” Santorum said.

“We need to do something about that.  It means stepping on some egg shells and saying, ‘you know what let’s start talking about the family, we need to start talking about what government is doing to hurt the family, what it is doing to help the family, what we can do as a community at large to try and help to reinvigorate this vitally important thing for our children,” he shared.

“Finally on education, I said that we don’t need Common Core.  I don’t know of any teacher in America who thinks that the reason we have drop out rates of 50% in our worst schools is because of education standards.  Education standards is not the problem in the schools that are failing.  The problem is that we do not have parents who are engaged with the education enterprise in their home and in schools,” Santorum continued.

“I am as tough on public education as anybody, but I am sick and tired of the scapegoating of teachers and administrators as if it is their problem, and they’re the only reason schools are failing.  That is not true.  We all have to take and shoulder that responsibility.  We need to have an honest discussion about a revolution in education and the last thing that we need is elites in our culture telling us what should be taught in our schools.  What we need are parents to be fully engaged in that area, in every aspect, and begin to not just engage them, but talk about the importance of them for their children’s future and America’s future.”

You can watch Santorum’s entire remarks, as well as, a brief Q&A session here or below.

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