The most famous segment of one of the best-known speeches in modern American history:
Many find these words inspiring. They make Rick Santorum violently nauseous:
In remarks last year at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner, N.H., Santorum had told the crowd of J.F.K.’s famous 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, “Earlier in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.”...On Sunday, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Santorum whether he stood by his statement...Santorum defended his remarks...“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” Santorum said. “The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”...
Stephanopoulos asked Santorum, “You think you wanted to throw up?” “Well, yes, absolutely,” Santorum replied. “To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up.”
One of Santorum's most striking characteristics as a politician is a willingness to own his most controversial remarks. Most politicians running for president wouldn't have criticised JFK's speech in the first place, JFK being the iconic figure he is for Americans across the political spectrum. Neither would they have used such extreme language. But if they had, they would definitely find a way to "walk it back" when asked about it on national TV. Santorum doesn't do that. He repeats, explains, and intensifies. He doesn't succumb to pressure from advisers, because he doesn't have any advisers, at least not in the professional sense. He can truly claim to be "unspun"; an honest politician.
There are plenty of people who find this approach honourable and refreshing, and it certainly makes for a stark contrast with Mitt Romney. I find it increases my appreciation for shiftiness and spin.
(More on Santorum here).