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Santorum hits Obama worldview

‘Radical’ environmentalism at issue, not president’s faith, he says

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Republican front-runner Rick Santorum on Sunday said he doesn't question President Obama's Christianity, but continued his religion-based attacks on the White House, saying the president's worldview "elevates the earth above man."

"I've repeatedly said I don't question the president's faith," Mr. Santorum told CBS' "Face the Nation." "I've repeatedly said that I believe the president is a Christian. He says he is a Christian. I am talking about his worldview, and the way he approaches problems in this country. I think they're different than how most people do in America."

Mr. Santorum's comments came a day after he raised eyebrows when he talked about Mr. Obama's "phony theology" at a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio.

"It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology," the former Pennsylvania senator said Saturday. "Not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology. But no less a theology."

"I think that a lot of radical environmentalists have it backwards," he said. "This idea that man is here to serve the earth, as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the earth. Man is here to use the resources and use them wisely. But man is not here to serve the earth."

The comments were condemned by the president's supporters Sunday, including Robert Gibbs, the president's former press secretary.

"It's just time to get rid of this mindset in our politics that, if we disagree, we have to question character and faith," Mr. Gibbs said on ABC's "This Week."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said that Mr. Santorum, who has charged to the front of the Republican presidential field by focusing on social issues, should apologize if he is questioning the president's religion.

"If what he's saying is he's actually questioning the president's faith, that is a new low in American politics, certainly something that has no place in our political dialogue. Again, if that's what he meant, he should retract and apologize for the statement," Mr. Van Hollen said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Mr. Santorum is leading in the polls. In Gallup's nationwide poll from Feb. 14-18, Mr. Santorum had 36 percent support from Republicans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 28 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 13 percent.

Mr. Santorum said his claim that Mr. Obama's health-care overhaul encourages abortions stems from the fact that insurance companies are required to pay for prenatal testing, which he said will result in more pregnant women having more procedures. He specified amniocentesis, a procedure that can identify physical problems in the unborn.

"The bottom line is, a lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero, and the customary procedure is to encourage abortion," he said.

A doctor recommended abortion when a sonogram discovered health problems for Mr. Santorum's youngest daughter, who was born three years ago with a genetic condition known as Trisomy 18, which typically proves fatal. She has lived longer than most children born with the condition.

Mr. Santorum said he's critical of the mandate in Mr. Obama's health care plan that insurers must pay for the tests, not of prenatal testing in general.

"There are all sorts of prenatal testing, which should be provided free. I have no problem with that if the insurance companies want to. I'm not for any of these things to be forced," Mr. Santorum said.

This article based in part on wire-service reports.

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