- (Photo: John Gress/Reuters)
Rick Santorum is widely seen as sharing the GOP front-runner title with Mitt Romney, but has his recent series of verbal gaffs hurt his campaign?
The former Pennsylvania senator seems to be experiencing a next-day case of buyer's remorse – judging from his interview remarks – over his harsh criticism of former President John F. Kennedy's comments about separation of church and state.
"I wish that I had that particular line back," admitted Santorum on Laura Ingraham's radio show on Tuesday.
The popular conservative radio host reprimanded Santorum, saying, "I mean, as a Catholic, he's a revered president of the United States, assassinated, I probably wouldn't have gone down that road with JFK and I was growing to throw up," Ingraham said during the interview.
Ingraham added, "We generally don't want to hear presidential candidates talking about throwing up at all in any context."
During an appearance on Sunday's "This Week," Santorum strongly opposed President John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech about the separation of church and state being absolute.
"I don't believe in America the separation of church and state is absolute," Santorum said during the interview. "The idea that the church can have no influence or involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country."
Santorum went on to say that Kennedy's remarks made him want to "throw up."
"To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you want to throw up," said Santorum when he was responding to a question.
Besides Ingraham, other Republicans have also criticized Santorum for his remarks.
It was a "remarkable speech," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said during an interview with Fox News Tuesday. Gingrich, who like Santorum and Kennedy, is also Catholic, went on to defend the former president by saying that Kennedy was only implying that his "first duty as president" was to do the job of president, "and I think that's correct." Many people were concerned at that time that Kennedy, the first Catholic U.S. president, would take orders from the pope.
Although Santorum's church-state gaffe made the most headlines this week, the former senator also has other ones to deal with.
Santorum also called President Obama a "snob" after the president said he wanted everyone in America to have access to a college education.
It appeared Santorum was trying to defend those individuals who chose career paths outside of a college education. He also called into question Obama's desire to build a philosophical base of supporters that would favor what are known as traditionally Democrat positions.
"Barack Obama is a person of the left," Santorum said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "He is someone who believes in big government. He believes in the values that are, unfortunately, the dominant values, and political values, and overly politicized values, and politically correct values that are on most college and university campuses."
However, some of Santorum's fellow GOP governors rushed to the defense of President Obama. Talking with a group of reporters outside the White House while they were in town for a governors meeting, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia balked at Santorum's comments.
"I wish [Santorum] had said it differently. I'm pushing in Virginia this year 100,000 new degrees over the next 15 years. I want more college graduates. But that means community college and four-year universities, but not to the exclusion of realizing that some people (high school graduates)…will be in the trades."
Recently elected GOP Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant agreed. "Bob is right. If a child decides that he does not want to go on to higher education, we should not somehow think he has failed. He or she can do a great job contributing to this economy coming out of a community college."
Currently, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is leading in the latest Gallup tracking polls taken before Tuesday's contests, 31 percent, to Santorum's 26 percent. Romney edged out Santorum in both the Arizona and Michigan primaries on Tuesday evening.