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Santorum Answers Student Questions In Arlington Heights

Rick Santorum spoke at Hersey High School on Friday while campaigning to win the Republican presidential primary in Illinois Tuesday.

Former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum spoke to a packed theater of students and faculty at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights on Friday, ahead of Illinois’ primary on Tuesday.

Santorum criticized President Barack Obama for dividing the country and said this was, perhaps, the most important election since 1860. He said America was great, not as the president suggested because of its commitment to entitlement programs, but because of its founding principles.

“Without exception, we are the greatest country in the world,” Santorum said.

Earlier:

After completing about a 20-minute stump speech, Santorum answered three questions from students about education, healthcare and the economy.

Becky Pawels, a senior, asked Santorum if he thought, as a country, we should be expanding post-secondary educational opportunities. The Washington Post reported in February that Santorum called Obama a "snob" for wanting everyone to be able to go to college.

“Some people are academically inclined, and can, and do do well in college curriculum and pursuing those career paths,” Santorum said. “Others are inclined in different areas. And yet we see, particularly with more federal government control of education, a lack of opportunities for a lot of those students to get the kind of education they need at the primary and secondary level.”

Santorum said he understood the president as saying that he would emphasize college, instead of understanding that not everyone was meant to or needs to go to college.

“All work has dignity, and whether you have a blue collar job, or your first job [is] at McDonald’s, we need to affirm all work as valuable,” Santorum said.

Not Everyone A Fan

After the event, Maria Zoia, a junior, said she had a negative view of Santorum's positions on issues, and she thought Santorum avoided answering the students’ questions.

“He doesn’t come off as a very smart person,” Zoia said.

Santorum's appearance was the first Election Project event at Hersey this year.

The school has hosted other dignitaries including senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin as part of the annual project, which incorporates a focus on politics into curriculum.

Tina Cantrell, principal at Hersey, said she received many calls from parents who questioned whether Santorum should make an appearance at the school.

“It isn’t about him as a candidate,” Cantrell said. “It’s about respecting the political process. If you don’t expose the kids to all the ideas – political, cultural, etc. – you’re not doing your job as an educator.”

Heading Into Tuesday With Momentum

Santorum’s campaign experienced a boost Tuesday with wins in Alabama and Mississippi. But his stances on social issues continue to attract criticism.

On Thursday, Santorum was defending remarks he made to a local newspaper that Puerto Rico should make English its primary language if it applies for statehood. He alienated one of the delegates that had pledged to vote for him, the New York Times reported. Santorum said the local media misquoted him.

Santorum trails in delegates behind Romney, 184 to 388, according to the latest results reported on MSNBC. A total of 1,144 delegates are needed to secure the nomination.

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EvaLynn March 19, 2012 at 03:22 PM
The Headline should read........"Santorum TRIED to answer questions from students. If he had a hard time answering questions from students, how will he be able to hold his own with other government officials. DUH!

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