Santorum in '08: "Satan is attacking" America

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at Froehlich's Classic Corner, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, in Steubenville, Ohio. AP Photo/Eric Gay

Controversial comments made four years ago by Rick Santorum are making waves ahead of a key election next Tuesday in Michigan, where the conservative former senator from Pennsylvania is in the midst of tight race against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president.

Santorum said in August 2008 that "Satan has his sights set" on the United States of America, adding that "the Father of Lies" is using vice to go after the nation's great institutions.

"Satan [has been] 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," Santorum said at Ave Maria University in Florida in 2008.

The remarks appear to have first resurfaced last Thursday on rightwingwatch.org, and are now being highlighted by powerful conservative aggregator Matt Drudge, who is widely seen by GOP insiders as an ally of Mitt Romney.

"This is a spiritual war," Santorum said in 2008. "And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies, Satan, would have his sights on: A good, decent, powerful, influential country - the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States."

Santorum goes on to say that Satan has been "most successful and first successful" in attacking academia, saying Satan exploited the "pride of smart people." Then, he said, Satan went after the church, and now "we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it."

He then said Satan has also gone after popular culture - which he discusses below - before saying politics "is falling too."

"Whether its sensuality of vanity of the famous in America, they are peacocks on display and they have taken their poor behavior and made it fashionable," he said. "The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display whether it's the NBA or whether it's a rock concert or whether it's on a movie set."

Santorum, who has risen to the top of national polls of Republican presidential candidates, has faced increased scrutiny in recent days for his suggestion that President Obama's policies are grounded in a "phony theology... not found in the Bible," his suggestion that Mr. Obama's health care plan amounted to a program to abort disabled children, and his questioning of the value of public education.

The Santorum campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment on his claims that Satan is targeting the United States.

Attention to the audio falls on the same day that the university where Santorum made the remarks - Ave Maria University - announced it is suing the Obama administration over its policy mandating that employees at religiously-affiliated universities have access to free contraceptive health care coverage. 

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