Politics

01.06.12

New Hampshire Teenagers Press Santorum on Abortion, Gay Marriage

A day after being hammered by New Hampshire college kids on social issues, Rick Santorum went for Round 2 with high schoolers, defending his stances on abortion and gay marriage. Lois Romano reports from Dublin, NH.

Rick Santorum faced another barrage of tough questions from students Friday on a wide range of hot button social issues, from gay marriage to contraception, that could matter to voters in a state known to be socially liberal.

A day after he was booed at a college event for comparing gay marriage to polygamy, the former senator from Pennsylvania was confronted by high school students on the same issue.

He answered by saying marriage was a privilege, not a right, and said gay marriage was “robbing children of the right to be loved by a mom and dad…Children want and need their mom and dad … And there’s nothing hateful about that.”

When a second student pressed him to explain why straight couples were more worthy of the privilege of marriage than gay men and women, Santorum said he had nothing more to offer on the subject.

A third student asked him to clarify his positions on contraception and abortion. “I read that you were against birth control and abortion,” said Alison Poirier. “So what happens when someone gets pregnant and can’t take care of a baby? What—only a straight couple can adopt them?”

“So what happens when someone gets pregnant and can’t take care of a baby? What—only a straight couple can adopt them?”

Santorum said that while his Catholic faith prevented him and his wife from using birth control—the couple have seven children—he would never impose that view on anyone else or ever try to restrict access to contraception.

Santorum has tried to avoid talking about social issues in New Hampshire, which holds its presidential primary Tuesday, although they were at the core of his Iowa campaign. He is anti-abortion, against gay marriage, and highly critical of gays serving openly in the military.

Another student said she had a disabled brother for whom federal benefits were cut last year. She asked what Santorum would do to help people like her brother.

The candidate said people with such problems should turn to their church and families for help. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction to say, ‘We have problems. What federal dollars can we get?’ ” he said.

Asked after the event whether he thought questions were getting tougher for him in New Hampshire, Santorum remarked, “It’s a school. You have to expect that.”