Santorum Blasts Obama for Siding with Egyptian Protesters

Rick Santorum
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON -- Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a potential 2012 Republican presidential contender, blasted President Obama for siding with Egyptian protesters as they press for democracy, instead of the American-friendly authoritarian Egyptian government of President Hosni Mubarak.

"We've turned our backs on... almost all of our allies," Santorum said with respect to the president's foreign policy. As protesters voice their anger against Mubarak, "What does the president do? He sides with the protesters."

He qualified his statements to say that it was not necessarily bad to support pro-democracy protesters. However, he said it was a bad move in the context of the president's response to similar protests in Iran in 2009.

"When we turned our backs a year and half ago on Iran, there was a revolution," he said. "Did he call for the current regime to step down? No."

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Santorum was speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. an annual event that has drawn about 11,000 conservatives to the capital. He was the first speaker at the event to broach the ongoing protests in Egypt.

The president's approach to those separate uprisings, Santorum said, tell American allies "that when things get tough, we walk away." And it tells American enemies, he said, "that when things get tough, we'll be with them."

President Obama has, in fact, called for immediate change in Egypt, but he has stopped short of calling for Mubarak to resign.

"America will continue to do everything that we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt," Mr. Obama said today following reports that Mubarak may step down. "We'll have more to say as this plays out," he added.

In 2009, Mr. Obama gave similarly hands-off remarks regarding the situation in Iran.

"The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government," he said. "If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion."

It was generally thought that Mr. Obama's remarks were intended to avoid giving Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the ammunition needed to accuse the United States of interfering with their political process. Yet Santorum said that Mr. Obama's strategy lacked courage.

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The president, he said, "has refused to look at the sitaution in Iran and Egypt and around the world and do what Ronald Reagan would never be afraid to do - call evil, evil."

He criticized the president for not calling jihadism "evil" or sharia law "incompatible with with Western civlization."


Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here.

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