CUMMING, Ga. — Rick Santorum on Sunday condemned what he called President Barack Obama’s world view that “elevates the Earth above man,” discouraging increased use of natural resources.
The GOP presidential candidate also slammed Obama’s health care overhaul for requiring insurers to pay for prenatal tests that, Santorum said, will encourage more abortions.
A day after telling an Ohio audience that Obama’s agenda is based on “some phony theology, not a theology based on the Bible,” Santorum said he wasn’t criticizing the president’s Christianity.
“I’ve repeatedly said I don’t question the president’s faith. I’ve repeatedly said that I believe the president’s Christian,” Santorum told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“I am talking about his world view, and the way he approaches problems in this country. I think they’re different than how most people do in America,” he said in the broadcast interview.
The former Pennsylvania senator said Obama’s environmental policies promote ideas of “radical environmentalists,” who, Santorum argues, oppose greater use of the country’s natural resources because they believe “man is here to serve the Earth.” He said that was the reference he was making Saturday in his Ohio campaign appearance when he denounced a “phony theology.”
When pressed by reporters after he made the initial remark, however, Santorum made no mention of the president’s environmental policies. Instead, he suggested that Obama practices one of the “different stripes of Christianity.”
Santorum walked back those comments on CBS Sunday morning.
But later in the day, he again criticized Obama’s “theology” — with no reference to his environmental policies — while speaking to more than 2,000 supporters gathered at a suburban Atlanta megachurch.
The president is “trampling on a constitutional right,” Santorum said of the Obama administration’s recent decision to allow employees of religious schools and hospitals to have birth control covered by their insurance policies.
“It is imposing his ideology on a group of people expressing their theology, their moral code,” Santorum told those gathered in the First Redeemer Church, a megachurch that hosted former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee four years ago.
Obama’s campaign said Santorum’s initial remarks were another attack on the president’s faith by Republican rivals in a nominating contest that has grown increasingly bitter and negative.
“It’s just time to get rid of this mindset in our politics that, if we disagree, we have to question character and faith,” said Robert Gibbs, Obama’s former press secretary, on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Those days have long passed in our politics. Our problems and our challenges are far too great,” Gibbs said.
Santorum said his claim that Obama’s health care overhaul encourages abortions stems from the requirement for insurance companies to pay for prenatal testing, which he said will result in more pregnant women having more procedures. He specified amniocentesis, a procedure that can identify physical problems in the unborn.
“The bottom line is a lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero and the customary procedure is to encourage abortion,” he said.
A doctor recommended abortion when a sonogram discovered health problems for Santorum’s youngest daughter, who was born three years ago with a genetic condition known as Trisomy 18, which typically proves fatal. She has lived longer than most children born with the condition.
“This is typical,” Santorum said. “This is what goes on in medical rooms around the country.”
He said he’s critical of the mandate in Obama’s health care plan that insurers must pay for the tests, not of prenatal testing in general.
“There are all sorts of prenatal testing which should be provided free. I have no problem with that if the insurance companies want to. I’m not for any of these things to be forced,” Santorum said.