Santorum says Obama agenda not “based on Bible”

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum challenged President Barack Obama’s Christian beliefs yesterday, saying White House policies were motivated by a “different theology.”

A devout Roman Catholic who has risen to the top of Republican polls in recent days, Santorum said the Obama administration had failed to prevent gas prices rising and was using “political science” in the debate about climate change.

Obama’s agenda is “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology,” Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel. When asked about the statement at a news conference later, Santorum said, “If the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”

But Santorum did not back down from the assertion that Obama’s values run against those of Christianity.

“He is imposing his values on the Christian church. He can categorize those values anyway he wants. I’m not going to,” Santorum told reporters.

A social conservative, Santorum is increasingly seen as a champion for evangelical Christians in fights with Democrats over contraception and gay marriage.

“This is just the latest low in a Republican primary campaign that has been fuelled by distortions, ugliness, and searing pessimism and negativity – a stark contrast with the President who is focused everyday on creating jobs and restoring economic security for the middle class,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

The campaign‘s response signalled a new respect for Santorum. Until this week, the Obama campaign appeared exclusively focused on Mitt Romney. Republicans are waging a state-by-state contest to pick a candidate to challenge Obama in November’s election.

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