Rick Santorum: Marriage Decline Equals Economic Pain; Blame Obama

GOP hopeful points to wedded (economic) bliss, blames Obama for its decline.

By SHARE

MASON CITY, Iowa-- Voters right now care about the economy more than anything, so a record of consistent social conservatism may be less useful than ever to a candidate, even in an evangelical-heavy state like Iowa. Today, Rick Santorum killed two birds with one stone, tying his signature "family values" to economic well-being.

"There are two things you can do to statistically assure you will never be poor: graduate from high school and get married," he told a full ballroom at a stop on his Faith, Family, and Freedom tour.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

The former Pennsylvania senator chose to focus on the second half of that equation, citing an 8 percent poverty rate for married couples versus a 40 percent rate for single parents. He's mostly right--according to the Census Bureau, the rate is 8.8 percent for married couples with children, versus 37 percent for all single-parent families (40.7 percent for single mothers and 24.7 percent for single fathers).

Santorum acknowledged the struggle of single parents: "I have a tremendous amount of respect for single parents who do the job of two people." He added, though, that he believes non-traditional family arrangements--those with single parents or same-sex parents, for example--are simply not as economically stable. "This is what the left does. They create this utopia that doesn't exist anywhere in real life," said Santorum.

[Vote: Is Marriage a Dying Institution?]

Marriage is an especially touchy subject with the GOP in Iowa, where the state supreme court legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. Last year, Iowa Republicans successfully recalled three judges who overruled the state law prohibiting same-sex marriage. However, same-sex marriage remains the law of the land in Iowa.

Santorum, who has spent more time in Iowa than any other candidate this year, seems to understand this local GOP frustration all too well. After tying marriage to economic well-being, he also linked declining marriage rates to President Obama.

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"The bottom line is that marriage works," said Santorum, noting recent drops in marriage rates. A study released this month from the Pew Research Center shows that the marriage rate for people over 18 was 72 percent in 1960 and fell by 5 percentage points from 2009 into 2010.

"[Marriage rates] dropped 5 percentage points in the last three years. Gee, I wonder why?" said Santorum. "We haven't had a president out there talking about how important institutions are."

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