Rick Santorum urges return to morals in speech at First Baptist Church of Naples

4:20 PM, Jan 25, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Santorum talks Florida plan and tax returns

Video: Santorum speaks after rally in Naples

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum speaks at Naples Baptist Church Wednesday morning.

Naples, Florida (News-Press) -- Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania Senator and current Republican candidate for President delivered a speech at First Baptist Church of Naples that was part sermon and part political stump speech.

"It was a little bit of both," said Winston Beers, 69, of Naples. "The general theme was a need to get back to a moral and economically viable country."

For more than an hour, Santorum blasted big government, President Obama's policies, strengthening the military and his desire to return to a more moral country.

Wearing a blue button down and khakis -- but no sweater vest -- Santorum said Obama's policies are job killers and accused the President of being in the pocket of Wall Street, and assailed him for killing a plan that would reduce dependence on foreign oil.

He also said if elected, he would repeal Obamacare.

And while Santorum said Obama is "twiddling his thumbs while Iran is working to build a nuclear weapon" and blasted him for negotiating with the Taliban, most of the speech Wednesday morning centered on the family.

Camille Laz, 72, of Naples and Carol Meli of Naples, said they liked what they heard from the candidate.

"He said some things that we wanted to hear that we hadn't heard before - values and the importance of family and the need to go back to where were were 50 years ago. No one takes responsibility for their actions anymore," Laz said.

Cutting taxes and the economy and jobs is what people want to hear, they say, but it's not what they need to hear, Santorum said.

"Our country would be better off if we had stronger families," he said. "If you look at the state of families in this country, it isn't healthy. It's not going to change overnight."

He then pointed out that in two parent households, the poverty rate is at eight percent. In single family households it's over 40 percent.

"I don't run away from the fact that the foundation of our country is built around family," he said, adding that the reason many around this country cling to guns and Bibles is because guns remind us of our rights and Bibles remind us of our morals.

Meli said Santorum has a point. She said there are too many single mothers who don't understand the hardships a mother faces with raising a child on her own.

The two women said they believe in Santorum's message and his honesty and most in the cavernous hall did as well.

"I will always tell the American public what I believe is the truth," Santorum said.

Naples resident Lisa Passeri said she has followed Santorum's political career closely. "I already voted for him," she said. There's a lot to like about him - his character, he means what he says."

Passeri, a former Pennsylvania resident, said she doesn't like the other two candidates. "Romney is too polished, too rehearsed. Gingrich is intelligent, but he can be a loose cannon. He's a good debater, but that doesn't mean he's going to be a good leader."

David Passeri said the reason he likes Santorum is his consistency. "The only one who seems as consistent is Ron Paul, but I don't think he has the leadership it requires to be President," he said.

Others like Naples resident Rebecca Mallory is still undecided.

"It's down to Gingrich or Santorum for me," she said. "I like the intelligence of Gingrich and the morals and consistency of Santorum."

Mark S. Krzos, Fort Myers News-Press

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