Santorum says he will defend everything he says

 By NBC’s Andrew Rafferty


PHOENIX, AZ — Rick Santorum told a crowd of supporters here Tuesday tonight that “I will defend everything I say,” a comment that took on another layer of significance as reports surfaced of 2008 remarks in which he said Satan is threatening America.

“I’ve been told that when you don’t read off a teleprompter, they may find a thing or two and say, ‘Oh he said this and he might mean this’ and the media complains so much about these structured candidates and how they are all so robotic. And then of course when they have a candidate that doesn’t do any of those things they say, ‘Oh he’s really out there, you have to worry about what he says.’ No you don’t, because I will defend everything I say.”

The remark came after Santorum spent most of the day as the banner story on the Drudge Report website about a speech he gave at Ave Maria University in Florida in which he is quoted saying “Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.”

When asked to respond to the comments, he told reporters after the event “I believe in good and evil.  I think if somehow or another if because you’re a person of faith and you believe in good and evil is a disqualifier for president, we’re going to have a very small pool of candidates that can run for president.”

But pressed about the nearly four year old remarks, Santorum remained defiant. “Look, guys, These are questions that are not relevant to what’s, what’s being discussed in America today…If they want to dig up old speeches of me talking to religious groups they can go ahead and do so but I’m going to stay on message.”

The old comments add to a growing list and much more recent list of controversial things the candidate has said on the campaign trail.

Over the weekend in Ohio he questioned President Obama’s theology and suggested the president discriminates against disabled people.

The remarks have drawn scrutiny from the media, but have been untouched by his rivals in the presidential race because they are lines that many times draw applause from the conservative electorate they are all vying for.

Instead, the majority of scrutiny Santorum has received is over his record on spending and the 16 years he spent in Congress.

In front of about 250 supporters at Tuesday’s rally, he said his chief rival Mitt Romney “has run as a liberal, a moderate and a conservative.”

“I have never changed my views, ever,” Santorum said.  “See who will win and run as a conservative.  I will ensure you that I will actually run as a conservative.”