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Santorum appeals to Ryan fan base during visit

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ANN MARIE AMES
March 28, 2012
— Paul Kurtz said he would do whatever it takes to support Rep. Paul Ryan.

On Tuesday, that meant waving a huge green sign encouraging Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum to choose Ryan as a running mate.


Ryan is someone any presidential candidate should consider, Santorum said when The Gazette asked if he is considering seeking Ryan for a running mate.


"He's a bright star," Santorum said. "He's leading our country in dealing with these fiscal issues."


Santorum spoke Tuesday to a crowd of about 150 people at a rally at the Armory, 10 S. High St., Janesville. He was introduced by a string of state-level elected officials including Reps. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton; Joe Knilans, R-Janesville; and Evan Wynn, R-Whitewater.


Santorum didn't hesitate to appeal to Ryan's hometown supporters.


"It's great to be in the home of a Wisconsinite who is making a huge difference," Santorum said in his opening remarks. "Thank you, Janesville, and thank you, Wisconsin, for Paul Ryan."


Santorum appealed to attendees to spend the week leading up to Tuesday's primary election encouraging people to vote for him. He said he is the best candidate to beat President Barack Obama in the general presidential election. The crowed cheered when Santorum vowed to put Obamacare at the front and center of the campaign if he wins his party's nomination. He said his opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, supports government-mandated health care such as the Affordable Care Act, known to some as Obamacare.


A vote for Santorum is a vote against Obamacare, Santorum said.


"If it is a front and center issue, and I win this election, it will be clear that there is a mandate to repeal Obamacare," he said.


Santorum also criticized Romney for being too liberal and too much like Obama in his views on energy policy, his support of caps on carbon dioxide production and his opinion that global warming is a man-made issue.


After his 45-minute speech, Santorum autographed Kurtz's "Ryan for VP" sign as well as a number of yard signs, brochures, T-shirts and at least one baby's onesie. He posed for dozens of snapshots with fans.


Not everyone in attendance was a Santorum supporter. About 10 people protested on the sidewalk in front of the Armory before and during Santorum's rally. Most of the protest signs were pro-choice.


One of those signs belonged to former Janesville School District teacher Judy Vaughn. She said she was protesting conservative views on contraception and abortion.


"Like my sign says, pro choice is not pro-abortion," Vaughn said.


Many women can't afford to buy contraception to avoid having children they also can't afford, Vaughn said. She thinks conservatives such as Santorum don't want to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies and don't want to help them support unplanned children.


Most of the signs inside the rally were waved by Santorum supporters, although one man held a "Billionaires for Santorum" sign. He waved it when Santorum talked about creating incentives to bring more manufacturing jobs back to the United States.


Not everyone wore their political hearts on their sleeves—or on their Reagan/Bush '84 T-shirts—like Kurtz did.


Connie Zimmerman of Edgerton was among the crowd at Santorum's rally, but she wasn't ready to support any candidate.


"I'm just here out of curiosity," Zimmerman said. "Right now I'm undecided."



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