GOP Contenders Say Religious Freedom at Stake in November Election

Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum blame Obama for declaring a 'war on religion' during appearance at faith-based forum in Waukesha. Event tops a full day of campaigning in Wisconsin.

Religious freedom and the American Dream itself are being threatened by the current administration under President Barack Obama — at least according to the three Republican presidential candidates who spoke before a largely evangelical crowd Saturday in Waukesha.

It’s been some time since Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum gathered together at the same event, but the Faith and Freedom Coalition made it happen inside a packed hall at the Country Springs Hotel.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Romney supporter, also spoke and received a raucous reception from the crowd.

The event was the first of numerous stops in Wisconsin this weekend for the GOP contenders just four days before Tuesday's presidential primary.

After speaking in Waukesha, Romney and Ryan went to nearby Muskego to take part in a town hall meeting, while Santorum traveled 140 miles west to make an appearance at a bowling alley in Platteville, WI. Romney also visited a phone bank for the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker in a a Madison suburb.

By the end of the day, both candidates were scheduled to return to the hotel where they started the day — for the Waukesha County GOP Lincoln Day dinner.

Candidates blast Obama on religion

In Tuesday's primary, 42 delegates are at stake in a winner-take-all primary election that many experts say could be a game-changer for the Republican primary race. Santorum is trailing Romney in and many say a Santorum loss here would pretty much seal the GOP nomination for Romney.

However, at their first event of the day, all three candidates focused on Obama and the November election, telling the captive audience that November's race is a make-or-break election for the country.

Candidates cast a bright spotlight on religious freedom and liberty during the event, which opened with songs praising the Lord, and ended with a prayer to vote Obama out office.

For the most part, the candidates avoided exchanging barbs among each other, and instead placed the target on the Obama administration, which they blamed for attacking American principles.

“We are endowed by our creator with our rights. Not a king. Above all those rights would be life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Romney said. “Those rights are under attack by this administration and that’s why we need to replace this administration.”

Romney said Obama’s policies are taking power from individuals to chart their own path toward prosperity, and instead citizens are being encouraged to rely upon the government to cope in a difficult economic environment. Romney claimed that more than 30 percent of the U.S. economy is sunk into the government, and if Obama’s health care law isn’t repealed that could swell to 50 percent.

He added that the president’s health care law assails religious freedoms by requiring private employers to provide products and services that violate deeply held religious beliefs.

“It is time for economic freedom, not a government-dominated society,” Romney said. “I will restore and protect religious freedom. We are one nation under God and that must be maintained.”

Santorum on the offensive

Santorum also emphasized the incredibly important obligation of any Republican candidate to repeal Obama’s health care law if elected. He said it is a central issue in his campaign. While much of Santorum's speech focused on Obama, he also went on the offensive against his fellow Republican from Massachusetts without actually saying Romney's name.

As he has done on the campaign trail, Santorum accused Romney of providing the blueprint for “Obamacare,” which he said is evidenced by health care reforms in Massachusetts.

“We have one person who can make that case to repeal Obamacare, and one person who will not,” Santorum said. “He (Romney) is uniquely disqualified.”

Santorum said the path to revitalizing the country is through the family. He cited the government assistance benefits given single mothers as charted by state Sen. Glenn Grothman as evidence that the concept of family in America is eroding. He said if elected, he would strip funding from Planned Parenthood.

“We’ve destroyed the opportunity for marriage. Government is doing things they think are helpful but aren’t,” Santorum said.

The last chance?

Political experts have said that the final nail in the coffin for Santorum’s bid as the Republican presidential candidate could be . In February, Santorum held a 16-point advantage in two statewide polls. However, four polls released this week show Romney with a solid edge.

“Some are saying it would take an act of God for Rick Santorum to win the Republican nomination” Santorum told the crowd. “I don’t know about you, but I believe in an act of God.”

However, Ryan, who introduced Romney, said it was time for Republicans focus on the November election.

“I think this primary has been healthy. But I think it comes to a point where this primary can become counterproductive,” he said. “The longer this continues the less focused we are on taking on Obama.”

A critical election ahead

All three candidates didn’t mince words when it came to describing the significance of the November election. They claimed the country is at a tipping point, and the upcoming election could have lasting impact for generations to come.

“This is the most important election of your lifetime. The re-election of Barack Obama would be disastrous for this country,” Gingrich said. “This is a historic cultural fight for the very survival of the American way of life.”

Gingrich said the Supreme Court has taken too much power from Americans, and is attempting to define the values of the country. He said Obama is stripping religious values from the country while at the same time taking an apologetic tone toward Muslim nations.

If elected, Gingirch vowed to remove all of Obama’s “czars” from the White House, and focus on a foreign policy that protects American interests. He said tapping domestic energy sources would lower fuel costs, decrease dependence on foreign aid, and could help eliminate the country’s debt.

“If you want to take on radical Islam you need an energy policy to become self-sustaining and never bow to a Saudi King again,” Gingrich said.

The significance of the November election wasn’t lost on Ryan either. He first reaffirmed his support for Romney, and then claimed the country is at a crossroads.

“Our country is on the wrong track. America is going in the wrong direction if we stay on this path of debt, doubt and decline,” Ryan said. “This election will put in place a trajectory that will last a generation. It will be difficult to reverse.”

Ryan said that rather than working to rebuild the American idea, Obama has worked to divide the country in order to distract.

“He is committed to his ideology. He is committed to moving from the American idea,” Ryan said. “We can do this, we can turn this around. People know in their guts what’s at stake.”

Candidates hit the trail in Badger State

After taking part in the Waukesha event, Romney and Paul headed to the InPro Corp. in Muskego, .

Again, Romney used the forum to attack Obama and his policies.

"People are wondering about our future," he said. "You look at our president...he's out of ideas, out of excuses, and in November, he'll be out of office."

Romney added: "Obama broke a lot of promises, including bringing unity. We need a leader who will call on the greatness of America to make us a world leader."

In Wauwatosa, Santorum’s wife, Karen, spoke just after noon to the Wisconsin Conservative Leadership Conference after a rousing introduction by conservative columnist and FOX News contributor Sandy Rios.

Rios warmed up the crowd with a passionate testimonial to Rick Santorum’s firmness of character — and a scathing attack on Washington Beltway Republicans promoting “pretend conservative” Mitt Romney as the “inevitable” candidate.

Karen Santorum  about her husband as a devoted father of seven, and spoke of her extreme reluctance to see him run for president.

That changed she said, when “Obamacare” came into being and she, as a former neonatal nurse, decided that her husband should lead the fight to overturn it, with her “100 percent behind him.”

GOP Lincoln/Reagan Dinner

Santorum and Romney were back at the Country Springs Hotel Saturday night as they were speaking before the Republican Party of Waukesha County’s Lincoln/Reagan dinner. Hundreds of people who couldn’t resist groaning anytime President Barack Obama’s name was mentioned were energized as notable Republican political figures Congressman Paul Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker spoke during the event.

Both Santorum and Romney spoke about why they feel Obama needs to be removed from office. Romney criticized the president’s stimulus plan as he called for an end to a “government-centered society.”

“The stimulus protected government and not the American people,” Romney said. “… His stimulus failed the American people.”

Romney’s verbal attacks on the president only energized the conservative crowd as he called Obama “disconnected.”

“His economic strategy has been a bust, and that is one of the reasons why I am convinced that the American people are going to turn him out of office in 2012,” Romney said. “The astonishing thing is, by the way, is he thinks he has done a good job.”

Santorum again touted his conservative approach to politics, calling for fundamental change in government. The president, Santorum said, “describes an America foreign to my ears.”

“Our constitution was founded on the constitution of ‘We the people’ … that we were the people in charge,” Santorum said. “Not like our founders came from where they were subjects of the crown. No, this is a different country. One that the rights didn’t come from the king. Our rights came, as our declaration declared, from our creator. It made us different. It made or relationship different with the government different from any country in the world, and as a result, we transformed the world.”

Denise Konkol, reporting from Muskego, Sarah Millard, reporting from Waukesha, and Jim Price, reporting from Wauwatosa, contributed to this story.

Stormy Weather April 01, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Tosa720 - I see your not smart enough to address the fact that your liberal buddies are trying to divide the country and yes, your race baiter President is doing wonders for our country! I just spent $70.00 to fill up my vehicle and my husband just spent $140.00 to fill up his truck. Yes, the country is heading in the right direction under his watch!
Randy1949 April 01, 2012 at 04:34 PM
@Stormy Weather -- And I see you're not smart enough to remember gasoline prices at this point back in 2008 and the pundits at Fox falling all over themselves to explain how the President had absolutely no control over it. Our President stopped the market in its free-fall plunge and got us moving back upward, too slowly for some, but better than just pouring on more of the same. For that, I am grateful to him. And finally, it's '_you're_ not smart enough.' Shall I blame public, private, or home schools for that?
Randy1949 April 01, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Religious freedom for whom, I might ask? Does an individual lose his or her freedom of conscience simply by working for the wrong boss? It would be one thing of the job market were such that we could all pick and choose, but it isn't.
upset father April 01, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Well if you want to pay for their birth control fine . And you can also pay for their sexually transmitted diseases . Oh that's right condoms protect against them . And birth control doesn't . So if we pay for your birth control you pay for your H.I.V . And so on how about that . Oh that's right you cant take responsibility for your own actions . Have fun transmitting sexual diseases !
Stormy Weather April 01, 2012 at 04:59 PM
@Randy - You can blame Public Schools, but actually it's my fault. You see, unlike liberals like you, I accept responsibility for my mistakes! :) Now... Please accept responsibility for voting for an incompetent President! He is leading us down a dangerous path - High gas prices, lack of jobs, racial divide, class warfare, making underhanded deals with the Russian President, bowing to a Saudi King! I could go on and on, but I have to leave, because I'm volunteering to help out with a kid's group for a few hours today... Have a wonderful spite filled day!
Randy1949 April 01, 2012 at 05:10 PM
@upset father -- Jeez -- don't you comprehend that that we pay for everyone else's activities one way or another? Either through higher insurance premiums, higher medical costs, or through taxes in the case of the truly indigent. Anyone with insurance pays indirectly for all of Mrs. Santorum's deliveries. They pay for the months of neo-natal ICU care the Duggars' baby required. I'd rather 'pay' for a years worth of BC pills than that. I'm married. I've been monogamous since 1975. There was a time when our insurance plan through work covered oral contraceptives -- just like any other prescription drug. HIV and other STDs were never a concern for this married couple, but effective family planning was.
James R Hoffa April 01, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Ah yes, MrsPeel, my #1 fan! Your admiration of "the GREAT HOFFA" continues to grow I see. I really should try and come up with a colored 8x10 that I could autograph and send to you. Really, I'm flattered, but there's no need to call Hoffa "GREAT," as that goes without saying and Hoffa is a truly humble kind of guy! As to AFP, an organization is only as strong as the membership that comprises the organization. AFP is much bigger than just Charles and David Koch, as the 1000+ that were in attendance at last weekend's AFP Summit in Milwaukee, including yours truly, conclusively proves. And one thing I didn't see in the parking lot were any Rolls Royces, Bentleys, or Aston Martins - go figure, right? That is the 'grassroots' element to which I was speaking of - did I really have to explain that, especially to my #1 fan? Signed - the GREAT HOFFA! ;-)
Randy1949 April 01, 2012 at 05:16 PM
What a load of manure. How about you take responsibility for a President who turned a surplus into a huge deficit, gave us the 2008 recession, gave us the same gasoline prices we're seeing now, and held hands with a Saudi prince? It's your side that makes a big deal about the color of his skin. Oddly enough, I'm spending my day taking care of a child too -- my little grandson, while his parents work to make their house livable again after a fire. We're raising him liberal, just like his dad. :)
James R Hoffa April 01, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Wow, all this love for Hoffa - it's good thing for you boys that there's enough of Hoffa to go around! @Ron Clone - I'm guessing that a predisposition to logical rational argument and the truthful realities of situations isn't a prequalification to earning a teaching position within the RUSD, is it? That's partially why the District is currently facing the problems that it does! Don't worry, once Mr. Dey is elected to the Board of Education this coming Tuesday, the house cleaning will begin and the District will begin to heal once the cancerous elements are swiftly removed. I just hope you have a backup or contingent plan in place, as Hoffa hates to see people unemployed for very long! Cheers!
James R Hoffa April 01, 2012 at 05:34 PM
@Lyle - How exactly is Stormy advocating for "limiting women's reproductive freedom," by merely expecting the woman to exercise self responsible and sufficiency while in engaging in such freedom? If others are forced to pay so that a woman might be able to practice her "reproductive freedom," then aren't we financially enslaving others and treating them as chattel in prioritizing a deference towards such freedom? Come on - REALLY??? It would appear that both of our games are suffering on this board if you honestly thought anyone would buy that assessment and justification!
upset father April 01, 2012 at 05:43 PM
How come liberals think that everyone owes them and can't do for their own self . I never thought is hear an older person make excuses for a lazy younger generation . I feel sorry for your grand kid if that's the way you are raising him . Let me guess you'll still be wipeing his ass when he is an adult .
upset father April 01, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Randy there are old age home where they will take care of you like you want . And they will hold your hand also .
James R Hoffa April 01, 2012 at 05:46 PM
@Randy1949 - What surplus are you speaking of exactly? And who's making a deal out of Obama's skin color exactly, as both the article and the comments from conservatives appear to focus on his ineptitude. In fact, the first comment playing the race card in relation to Obama on this board appears to come from Keith Schmitz, and it's no secret what side of the fence he falls on, is it?
Randy1949 April 01, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Seriously, upset father, I hope I die in my sleep like my father did, or in my own bed, taken care of by family like my grandfather. Assuming you aren't so lucky, do you intend to pay for the nursing costs during your dotage and your final illness completely out of your own pocket? Generally, the costs of that get spread around to the rest of society. Let me ask you how come conservatives use the insurance they get through their jobs to take care of their needs and then act like it's courageous self-reliance? You honestly remind me of Ayn Rand's idiot hero in Anthem, who runs away from the Collective, finds a house already built and still standing in the wilderness, complete with still intact library and a full wardrobe of clothing for his girlfriend and then pats himself on the back for doing it all on his own. And then he builds an electric fence to keep the Evil Collectivists out. I hope he had the sense not to pee on it.
upset father April 01, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Sorry but life is what you make it . You ate responsible for your own life . I was there for my grandma to the end . I chose to do right by her . Other reletives that are liberal only thought of them selfsame as usual . And afterwards stood there with their hands out . With the weres mine mentality as most liberals do. I will do what ever I have to for me and my family . I will make my own future .
upset father April 01, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Can you say the same ?
Randy1949 April 01, 2012 at 06:41 PM
No, upset father, there are some things that are beyond your control. No one wants cancer or Alzheimers, but they happen. No one wants to lose a job and be unable to save for retirement as well as they'd hoped to, but it happens. No one wants to be without health insurance, but that happens too, for a variety of reasons. I hope you can make your own future, but you need to realize it's possible to do everything right and still have outside influences make a comfortable future impossible on your own. I can say the same. in fact, I can say that throughout my life I've shared my resources with others for the good of society, sometimes even more than I was able, only to be told I'm on my own now and should have planned my life better.
mau April 01, 2012 at 06:51 PM
"Wow, all this love for Hoffa - it's good thing for you boys that there's enough of Hoffa to go around!" Aw Jimmy, I'm feeling disenfranchised :( What about us girls?
Randy1949 April 01, 2012 at 07:31 PM
@JRH -- I'm talking about the federal budget surplus that GW Bush decided to first give back in rebates and then in tax cuts. Are you saying that didn't happen? Yes, I know we were at the end of the Dot.com boom, but that made giving money back even stupider, given that we're supposed to have our panties in a twist about deficits now. Back then, they didn't matter. Now, OMG -- the sky is falling! I don't know about Schmitz. I was addressing Stormy Weather's charge that the president was guilty of furthering the racial divide. I'm not sure how. I haven't seen him doing it.
James R Hoffa April 01, 2012 at 07:34 PM
@mau - You know I save the very best of Hoffa for the ladies! ;-)
James R Hoffa April 01, 2012 at 08:48 PM
@Randy1949 - Well, 9/11 changed everything for good ol GW, didn't it? And if it wasn't as big of deal as it turned out to be, then Obama would have ended the war on day 1 of his administration as he originally promised when campaigning, right? And yet, I still see troops on the battlefield, not to mention his further expositions into Northern Africa. Again, the only reason Clinton experienced any surpluses was because of the raids he allowed by Congress on the supposedly segregated SS fund. The only President we've had in modern times that truly balanced a budget, ran a surplus, and used that surplus to pay down some of the accumulated debt early was Carter, but even he had a tax problem caused by high levels of spending.
William Eib April 01, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Adam W.: Not that it matters, FASCISM; "A governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.)" (American College Dictionary). SOCIALIMS; "a theory or system of social organization which advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means or production, capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole" (American College Dictionary). I would not be proud of citing Jonah Goldberg as your source, so assume that is why you left it out of your silly premise of modern progressiveism is rooted in Fascism. If I were to guess, I'd say the more knowledgeable history would land on the side of modern conservatism having it's roots in Fascism. Jonah Goldberg is a big skull filled with a small jealous, envious, brain. He could have been a liberal if he cared to learn how life works. But, alas as a less knowledgeable sort, he found refuge in Conservatism.
Randy1949 April 01, 2012 at 11:33 PM
@JRH -- If, as you say, 9/11 changed things for GW Bush, then wasn't it kind of stupid to go ahead with tax rebates and tax reductions right at the time he's increasing spending? Even more stupid if, as you say, the Clinton surpluses came from raids on Social Security.
James R Hoffa April 02, 2012 at 01:16 AM
@Randy1949 - When a liberal (Obama) attempts to 'stimulate' the economy, they have government spend vast sums of money. When a conservative (GW Bush) attempts to 'stimulate' the economy, they return some of the tax revenues to the people from which it was collected from and allow them the freedom of choice of how to spend the money. After 9/11, the world slipped into a small recession, so Bush returned some money to the people and allowed them to do with it as they saw fit, thus avoiding falling deeper into recession. How did Obama's government stimulus work out again - in fact, I believe the President himself laughingly said "shovel ready wasn't as shovel ready as we expected," remember? So where did almost $1T of purely borrowed money go exactly? At least with Bush, it wasn't borrowed money and we know exactly where it went - right back into our pockets! That's not to say that Bush didn't have a deficit/debt causing spending problem, as he clearly did, but on that singular issue, I'll take the Bush approach over the Obama approach any day of the week - wouldn't you? Or do you honestly believe that the government better knows how to spend your money than you do? Class dismissed!
John T. Pokrandt April 02, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Talk about blatant pandering, please tell what religious freedoms have been attacked by the current administration? Oh, that's right, its back to the birth control issue. That will be a losing issue as the people who feel the provision violates their freedoms is a very small percentage of the population. Religion is a personal matter and in my mind when it becomes intertwined with fear politics the resulting mix is toxic.
Jory Pradjinski April 02, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Wow, lots of people on this one. Any of you who are asking "what religious freedoms have been attacked by the current administration" check out the website below. The fact is that Pres. Obama has blasted all religions except Muslim during his entire Presidency. Walter Reed even disallows the distribution and usage of religious materials during visits. Check out the following for some highlights: http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=106938 You can click on the sources to read up on each one if you'd like to get the facts. This country has been going down hill over the last four years and Pres. Obama's constant attacks on non-Muslim religion should be an eye opener for anyone who cares about the religious freedoms we are afforded in the 1st Amendment, look it up if you don't recall it fully. Pres. Obama's support of only the Muslim religion (and I have no problem with Muslim's) is directly against the Constitution which he doesn't seem to understand very well for being the President. The facts are there folks, please take the time to research instead of just blasting those who are providing the facts. (Boy, I can only imagine how some people will rip my little piece of freedom of speech :-)
Lyle Ruble April 02, 2012 at 08:12 PM
@Jory Pradjinski...Sorry Jory, but your references just don't cut it. Anything and everything can be taken out of context. Obama is only following the constitution and separating church and state. Next thing you'll be claiming is he's a Muslim.
wayne April 04, 2012 at 06:16 PM
What a pile of turds these three goons in the GOP Circus Show are. They can't talk about the economy anymore since Obama has the stock market up over 60% from where he started, unemployment is lower than where he started, and people are feeling better about things. So they have to bring up racial issues and other made up material to try to divide people. The Republicons only run on Division and Fear. Have you ever seen a Republican ad that wasn't negative? You will not. If there wasn't freedom right now these three goons wouldn't be able to run their mouths and spread the lies they are spreading!
bigmac April 04, 2012 at 06:17 PM
What a pile of turds these three goons in the GOP Circus Show are. They can't talk about the economy anymore since Obama has the stock market up over 60% from where he started, unemployment is lower than where he started, and people are feeling better about things. So they have to bring up racial issues and other made up material to try to divide people. The Republicons only run on Division and Fear. Have you ever seen a Republican ad that wasn't negative? You will not. If there wasn't freedom right now these three goons wouldn't be able to run their mouths and spread the lies they are spreading!
Randy1949 April 04, 2012 at 06:33 PM
@Jory -- Perhaps we should re-examine the ability of religious entities to make use of tax breaks to operate secular institutions and businesses. You want to accept the money from secular clients in hospitals and schools, and accept the efforts of your non-religious employees, then you need to follow the rules and stop hiding behind religion when it suits you.


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