Cover Story

Penn station

"Penn station" Continued...

Issue: "Rick Santorum: Penn Station," April 30, 2005

Then it was on to a 90-minute whirlwind of more meetings, greets, and drop-bys.

One Pennsylvania contingent that resembled the Lollipop Guild of Oz said, "We want to thank you for your support. . . . We as partners want to partner with government so we can provide appropriate services." (Response: "Let me know about the legislation. Sounds like something I can support." Ba-da-dum.)

Another visitor spun a tale of Washington outrage, to which the senator replied, "That's how bureaucracies function. . . . Makes me ashamed to be part of the federal government." Ba-da-dum.

One of his last "greets" was with an opponent of legislation that would allow religious anti-poverty groups to hire only within their own religion and still be eligible for federal funding. Sen. Santorum retorted, "Religious freedom is a higher order of freedom than economic freedom. If we restrict the belief rights of organizations, we're putting economic rights above them." Asked why anti-poverty workers in these groups need to express their beliefs, he responded, "Why should we deprive them of using the medicine that will heal people?"

Then it was downstairs to the Senate barbershop and WORLD's questions about why faith-based-initiative legislation for four years has stalled in the Senate. Would a tax credit emphasis rather than a grants-making approach work better? "Sure, tax credits are the most efficient way to get it done," he said, "but Democrats want tax increases and the government making grants . . . and Republicans don't like tax credits because they complicate the tax code . . . and a lot of the nonprofits don't want a special credit to help the poor-everyone wants it to help their program, they say what they're doing is just as important as helping the poor."

How can Christians be more effective in defending marriage? "We can't go around and speak against same-sex marriage without talking about the divorce culture," he said. "Anytime I speak in front of any groups, I always say we need to talk about first things first. Marriage is in trouble because of divorce. We've turned marriage into something about adults, not kids."

And what about last year's Senate campaign, when Mr. Santorum angered many conservatives by backing social liberal Arlen Specter over conservative Pat Toomey in the Republican primary? "Two words: fifty-five."

Mr. Santorum argued that the GOP achieved that senatorial number by "minimizing our tough races in blue states. We didn't spend a penny of national funds in Pennsylvania, and that allowed us to use those resources in South Dakota" and other close states. He acknowledged that Mr. Toomey might have been able to win, but "the resources we would have had to expend would have been enormous."

At 4:36, haircut done, Mr. Santorum headed for his last three scheduled appointments for the day and then to the Senate floor for debate about Social Security. He usually leaves for home around 6:30 p.m., driving himself and wearing a telephone headpiece that allows him to return calls that have come in throughout the day; a staffer at the office does the dialing.

Then he has family time. The six Santorum children stay up to 10 or 11 p.m. because Karen Santorum homeschools them and allows them to get up much later than their dad.

But on this day, with a trip to Rome for Pope John Paul II's funeral coming up soon, he didn't leave until 9:30 and didn't get home until 10:30, nearly 18 hours after he had left. "Not exactly a family-friendly job," he said wryly, "but if you're a football player every play may be your last. I'm here to serve. I have no problem getting out of bed every morning."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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