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Santorum Challenged on Gay Marriage, Iran in Visit to Iowa City's Hamburg Inn

Continuing an extensive tour across Iowa, former Senator Rick Santorum stopped in at the historic Hamburg Inn No. 2 to place his coffee bean vote for himself and speak to the people eating there. Some of them were supportive, others not so much.

Ahh, Iowa caucus season. Nothing like frigid air, a cup of coffee, and a political debate to start your day.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was challenged about his stance on Iran and gay marriage on a chilly Thursday morning visit to the in Iowa City.

Santorum, a former Pennyslvania senator, often touts his conservative stance on a wide range of issues, including an aggressive foreign policy stance toward countries like Iran and opposition to same-sex marriage. It was because of his well-known stance on these issues that Santorum was gently ambushed as he was just starting his journey around the moderately busy breakfast joint, shaking hands and greeting customers.

Christopher Patton, a Gary Johnson supporter, stopped Santorum as he approached his table and asked the candidate if he really felt he could "turn back the clock" on progress for gay marriage, considering that some polls show that a majority of Iowans under 30 years of age support it.

Santorum paused.

"Yeah, I do," he replied.

Immediately afterward, Santorum was drawn into a spirited dialogue by Drew Hjelm, a 27-year-old student, about the existence of a nuclear weapons program. Hjelm contested that there was no evidence that such a program exists, whereas Santorum contested that there is good reason that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, citing several points that left Hjelm unsatisfied.

(Hjelm posted a recording of the conversation here to our Iowa City Eyes and Ears Citizen Journalism page)

"You believe what you want to believe," Santorum said, ending the mostly civil exchange before heading on to the next table.

It wasn't all antagonistic for Santorum, who was making an appearance at the Hamburg as another stop in his extensive tour of Iowa, which has included visits to all 99 counties.

University of Iowa freshman Danijel Pejkanovic, a member of the UI College Republicans who is currently undecided on who to caucus for, stopped by to ask Santorum about his foreign policy stance. In a marked contrast to Hjelm, Pejkanovic said Santorum's views on Iran were exactly what he was looking for.

"I liked what he had to say, because he supports America having a strong foreign policy," Pejkanovic said.

Santorum's views may not play well in certain segments of mostly liberal Johnson County, but he is hoping they will help him as he continues to fight for support among conservatives in the state.

Santorum told Iowa City Patch that he is proud of his conservative record, and he believes patience and hard work will win the day, even though he has had trouble up to this point gathering cohesive support from influential voting blocs in Iowa such as social conservatives and the Tea Party.

"I'm the strongest conservative candidate across the board," Santorum said. "I'm just going to keep working and trust the people of Iowa."

He said this weekend's held by the socially conservative Family Leader organization will be another great opportunity for him to share his story with Iowans.

"I talk about my record because I'm proud of my record," Santorum said. "The other candidates talk a lot about the future because they find it difficult to talk about their pasts."

With everyone greeted, and a coffee (to go) in hand, Santorum placed a coffee bean vote for himself. Then, he, his staff, and his daughter, Elizabeth, set off to give a speech at the Coralville Marriott. Santorum, true to his hard working and heavy travelling ways, was scheduled to speak in Des Moines later in the day, before finishing his Thursday visiting a private house party in the Quad Cities. 

Hamburg Inn general manager Liz Sanders said Santorum and Gov. Rick Perry are currently the only candidates to make the visit to the Hamburg Inn so far this caucus season, although restaurant owner Dave Panther continues to reach out to campaigns. Sanders said while they are welcome at the Hamburg, this lack of Republican visits to the Iowa City location is perhaps understandable.

"This isn't exactly their prime territory," she said.

Nick Lahanas November 17, 2011 at 10:58 PM
Why do Republicans believe that the only strong foreign policy is a militaristic one?
Tonto November 18, 2011 at 02:33 AM
200 years of trial and error :)
Alex Scotta November 18, 2011 at 06:31 AM
Google Santorum
David Leonard November 19, 2011 at 03:24 PM
While I would never vote for him, I can't understand why Santorum has never had his day in the sun as most of the other candidates have. His views seem to be very close to those of Iowa's evangelicals and to the Tea Party.
DJ December 01, 2011 at 02:19 AM
"Turn back the clock" on same-sex marriage, the boy interrogator asks? Advocates of SSM are trying to turn back the clock to Sodom. A civilized society has a responsibility to uphold marriage in its universal and timeless form-one man and one woman.
American Steve December 25, 2011 at 12:51 AM
DJ, This is American Steve: Married (to a woman), with children, pay my taxes, vote, work hard, love America, believe in free enterprise and capitalism. Now, about your problem with gay marriage: If gay marriage becomes legal, my marriage is not the slightest bit threatened. I married a woman because I love women (my wife in particular)! If the law allowed me to marry a man I just wouldn't do it. Yuck!! But that's just me, and America is a free country, so if some guy wants to marry a guy that's his problem, not mine. So what is this "Defense of Marriage" thing about? Do you really believe that if men are allowed to marry men, then law abiding men will divorce their wives and stampede off to marry men, so that marriage as an institution will collapse? I'm calling you out DJ. If you think marriage is threatened by gay marriage, then you're gay. Yep, you, you're gay. You can only feel this fear, this lack of confidence in the heterosexual preference of the great majority of us, if deep inside you're gay. Time to "come out" DJ! You'll be happier! Most of your straight friends will still be your friends! You probably won't get lynched or lose your job, because this is America! I say that opposition to gay marriage comes from: 1) Gays like yourself who don’t know that they’re gay; 2) Politicians (straight or secretly gay) who exploit the fears of confused people such as yourself. Has anybody else had this same thought?
CFBusinessOwner December 25, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Yes, American Steve, after hearing how fixated Santorum, Bob Vanderplaats and Company are on gay marriage---it does make one wonder. I don't think about the sex lives/marital states of my heterosexual friends OR my gay friends. I've got better things to do! (And politicians who do so will never get my vote.)
Terry Jones December 25, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Wow, i believe American Steve hit the nail on the head. Thank you.

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