4 Rick Santorum Positions From 2012 That Just Won't Fly In 2016

The GOP presidential primary field is already expected to be something of a wild fracas, with as many as 18 candidates considered likely to throw their hats in the ring. And now, an old friend has made it official — former Pennsylvania Senator and 2012 candidate Rick Santorum is running for president again in 2016. He'll once again be starting the process from a long shot position, with polling numbers in the low single-digits.

On its face, it seems like an obvious enough move. Santorum, after all, was the first runner-up for the GOP nomination in 2012, winning 11 primary states before bowing out to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. In other words, you could argue he's got a clear base of support, left over from his last run, and therefore could have a leg up in a sprawling field. Somebody's got to win this thing, after all.

But on the other hand, it's worth wondering what, if anything, could really go all that differently, because Santorum isn't exactly the sort to reinvent himself politically. Quite the contrary, in fact — he's a hardline conservative candidate and a staunch Catholic, and some of his resulting views on morality and social issues are aging quite poorly. Here are some of the issues Santorum encountered in 2012, all of which could figure to be huge stumbling blocks going forward.

Americans Are Okay With Same-Sex Marriage, Santorum Not So Much

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If there's one issue that most Americans have gotten over in recent years, it's same-sex marriage. Sure, a significant portion of Americans still don't like it, but according to Gallup that's been a minority position since 2012, and the numbers are trending in a positive direction.

But for Santorum, this isn't an issue of convenience, it's one of heavy spiritual import. Like many dogmatic Christians, Santorum opposes same-sex marriage, and has likened it to polygamy and bestiality (though he contests his phrasing).

He Opposed Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," And Wanted It Reinstated

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The thing about telling America's gay and lesbian servicemembers that they can be finally be honest about who they are is that you can't really take it back. At this point, it's been over four years since DADT was repealed, so a lot of folks have been out of the closet for years. But, in 2012, Santorum was still advocating for reinstating the policy, an almost unthinkable notion, especially considering none of the problems critics warned about actually happened.

He voiced this opinion while running in 2012, on a Republican debate stage no less — he went so far as to chide a gay soldier who submitted a video question asking about it, calling the DADT repeal "social experimentation," as detailed by The Huffington Post.

What we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now, and that’s tragic. I would just say that going forward we would reinstitute that policy if Rick Santorum was president, period. That policy would be re-instituted as far as people in, I would not throw them out because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration. But we would move forward in conformity with what was happening in the past. Which was — sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual.

He Thinks That Contraception Is "Not Okay"

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While you might not like Santorum's vehement anti-abortion views, you can kind of take them for granted. A Republican, a conservative Catholic and a darling of the GOP's religious base? Probably anti-abortion. But in 2012, before his campaign really started to surge, Santorum did an interview with an evangelical blog which revealed the true extent of his views on reproductive health, as detailed by Time.

One of the things that I will talk about that no President has talked about before is, I think, the dangers of contraception in this country. The whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.”
It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. ... And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it — and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong — but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

His Backers Might Say Something Wildly Inappropriate

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Who could forget Republican billionaire and Santorum backer Foster Freiss' cringe-inducing turn on MSNBC in early 2012? Appearing opposite veteran anchor Andrea Mitchell, Freiss' response to a question on birth control didn't exactly help his candidate of choice's cause.

This contraceptive thing, my gosh it's so inexpensive. You know, back in my days they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly.

If Freiss throws his support behind Santorum (or any candidate this cycle, for that matter), suffice to say he'd be well advised to keep media appearances to a minimum.

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