National Jewish Democratic Council President and CEO David A. Harris issued the following statement in response to presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accepting the endorsement of former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). Harris said:
“Mitt Romney accepting Rick Santorum’s endorsement today shows yet again that Romney has no qualms about hitching his campaign to the extremist social conservatives within the Republican Party. Romney’s decision to seek Santorum’s support will be just the latest action from Romney to repel even more Jewish voters away from him and his party.
“Santorum was one of the most extreme presidential candidates in recent memory and stands in binary opposition to the issues that matter to Jewish voters—including choice, the separation of church and state, and equal rights for all. From saying ‘we always need a Jesus candidate’ to belittling education to attacking the First Amendment, Santorum has done just about everything to offend Jewish voters—as demonstrated by the three-fourths of Jewish voters said they hold an unfavorable view of him.
“Given Santorum’s shocking success in the Republican presidential primaries this year, it is clear that the ‘severely conservative’ Romney has opted to embrace Santorum’s extremist positions in order to unify his party—moving his candidacy further away from the Jewish mainstream. Romney’s successful receipt of Santorum’s endorsement demonstrates yet again that Romney will say anything and associate with anyone to win—even if it widens the distance between him and the overwhelming majority of Jews and other Americans. Clearly, the only constituency that seems to matter to Mitt Romney is Mitt Romney.”
Santorum’s policies and beliefs stand in sharp contrast to the values held by the broad majority of the Jewish community:
* Santorum took pride in being the most anti-choice candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries [The Jewish Daily Forward, January 3, 2012], and even invoked the Holocaust in attacking Planned Parenthood [NJDC, February 24, 2011]. His offensive anti-choice rhetoric has included racial attacks on President Barack Obama in which he compared abortion to slavery. [NJDC, January 20, 2011] According to polls, American Jews are perhaps the most pro-choice demographic group in America today. [2012 Jewish Values Survey, Public Religion Research Institute]
* Santorum was an ardent opponent of the President’s contraception compromise, while Jewish organizations from across the religious spectrum praised it. [JTA, February 10, 2012] Santorum also repeatedly attacked contraception coverage, saying that the cost is “minor” and is “something that just costs a few dollars.” [ThinkProgress, February 10, 2012]
* During his campaign, Santorum launched an assault on the public education system[The Hill, January 8, 2012], calling the system “anachronistic.” [The New Republic, February 20, 2012] He called colleges “indoctrination mills” [National Journal, February 23, 2012] and said that the President’s goal of sending more Americans to college made him a “snob.” [The Huffington Post, February 25, 2012] Santorum also declared that preschool is nothing more than a scheme to “indoctrinate your children.” [NJDC, August 3, 2011]
* Santorum has a shameful history of inappropriately abusing the legacy of the Holocaust in political speech. [Washington Post, February 21, 2012] During his campaign, he even equated perceived threats posed by President Obama’s agenda with the threats posed by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan [Politico, February 20, 2012]
* Santorum does not believe in an absolute separation of church and state [National Journal, March 5, 2012] and views the idea as “antithetical” to his vision of America. After reading President John F. Kennedy’s speech on the First Amendment, Santorum said that he “almost threw up.” [Washington Post, February 26, 2012] The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) responded to Santorum’s comments by saying they were “deeply disturbing and show a profound misunderstanding of the First Amendment.” [ADL, February 27, 2012] American Jews believe strongly in the separation of church and state, with 74% of Jewish voters saying they prefer the Democratic Party on the issue. [2012 Survey of American Jewish Opinion, American Jewish Committee]
* Santorum has gone on record saying that “we always need a Jesus candidate” [ABC News, January 5, 2012]— a remark that also drew the ire of the ADL [ADL, January 6, 2012].
* Santorum has come out strongly for the repeal of Obamacare, even asserting that the health care law requires prenatal testing because it is a “means to cull the ranks of the disabled in our society.” [CBS News, February 18, 2012] Rather than propose a realistic alternative to Obamacare, Santorum instead floated a “pay-as-you-go” program. [CBS News, February 15, 2012] In contrast, American Jews have proven to be broadly supportive of Obamacare and support the Supreme Court’s upholding of its constitutionality, with many Jews citing its passage as one of the “most important accomplishments” of the Obama administration. [2012 Jewish Values Survey, Public Religion Research Institute]
* Santorum is one of the most vehement opponents of marriage equality in the country[ThinkProgress, June 6, 2011], going as far as to compare gay marriage to bestiality and incest. He pledged to reinstate the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy [Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2011], called for gay marriages to be invalidated [Huffington Post, January 1, 2012], and even compared his anti-gay crusade to Abraham Lincoln’s fight against slavery. [ThinkProgress, October 17, 2011] Meanwhile, 81% of American Jews support the legalization of gay marriage nationwide. [2012 Jewish Values Survey, Public Religion Research Institute]