BOSTON – Jewish groups slammed Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum
on Friday for telling listeners of a Boston radio show that “we always need a
Jesus guy” in the campaign.
Santorum, formerly a Pennsylvania senator and
the second-place winner of the Iowa caucus, made the remark Thursday after being
asked about a listener’s comment that “we don’t need a Jesus guy this election.
We need an economics guy this election.”
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Santorum continued, “Do you
stand up and say, ‘God bless America?’ Do you mean it? Are you just saying it?
The idea that we don’t need someone with a moral compass, is that what we’ve
come to? Is that what the Republican party is? No, it isn’t.”
candidate, who then went on to campaign in New Hampshire, which will hold its
first-in-the-nation primary on Tuesday, reportedly repeated the conversation
later in the day, relating that he had said, “We always need a Jesus
Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman told The Jerusalem Post
that Santorum’s remarks were “totally inappropriate. It’s crossing the
“It says to Jews, to Muslims, to Buddhists, to non-believers,
you’re not part of this country,” he added.
“I think the average Jew
hears it as religiously exclusionist,” National Jewish Democratic Council
president David Harris said, though he added that he didn’t think Santorum had
meant it that way.
“It helps remind American Jews of the yawning gap
between them and today’s Republican Party,” continued Harris, whose partisan
organization backs US President Barack Obama.
But Foxman pointed out that
Democrats had also invoked Jesus in their campaigns in past elections, and noted
Santorum has not been the only candidate in this election cycle to bring
Christianity into the public conversation.
The Santorum campaign did not
respond to requests for comment.
However, at a later event, he reportedly
clarified his statement.
“I said we always need a Jesus candidate,” he
was quoted as saying. “I don’t mean necessarily that we always need a Christian,
but we need someone who believes in something more than themselves.”