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As he tests the waters by visiting the early battleground states, Rick Santorum appears eager to take a plunge into the 2012 presidential race. The former Pennsylvania senator, whose Fox News contract was suspended pending his decision on a presidential run, announced last week that he would participate in the first presidential debate on May 5 in Greenville, South Carolina. The chairman of the political action committee America's Foundation was on his way to Le Mars, Iowa, the self-described ice cream capital of the world, when he spoke with CT about Muslims in America, being targeted by gay activists, and why he gives President Obama credit on one issue.

If you ran for President, how would you distinguish yourself from other candidates?

I had the courage and the conviction to stand up, particularly to a lot of the multicultural issues that folks tend to shy away from. You pay a price when you stand up and fight the abortion culture and the gay community, and the media tries to paint you as a fringe character when you fight on these issues. The family needs a voice, the unborn need a voice, those who are going to be victims of healthcare need a voice, and those who are disabled need a voice. I was always the one to take a bullet to get something done that I thought was important for the moral future of our country.

How much do you think Christians should consider a candidate's faith when deciding whether to vote for them or not?

Voters should consider the candidate's moral framework and what they believe about right and wrong. Obviously your faith has a role in that, in constructing your moral view and your worldview, your ethical code. As far as theological tenets goes, those don't necessarily affect the public discourse. It's important to understand and know the tenets and teaching of the faith with respect to how people live their lives. That's why, for example, if someone were a Muslim [who] believes that women should live by Shari'ah law, that's helpful in knowing how they would approach their job and what they would like to see the laws of this land look like.

Rep. King recently held hearings to investigate Shari'ah law and radical Islam. Do you have similar concerns?

Look. We have ignored the reality that we're in an ideological battle. This is a battle of the world of ideas, a war of ideas, not just a war against people who use terrorism. These are jihadists. They are religiously motivated. If we don't explore that world and understand what they think and why they think, we're not going to be able to confront it and defeat it. We're not going to be able to persuade those who have a sympathetic ear toward it that this is a dangerous thing that is not compatible with our country and our culture.

Do you have any concern that the hearings could unfairly lump Muslims together?

I assume Muslims come to this country because they want to live in America. I suspect that they would be as much opposed to folks who want to come here and impose Shari'ah law as anybody else. They would be as interested in folks who want to distort the faith that they adhere to as much as—if not more than—other Americans. I wouldn't think that they would be concerned about it.

What do you think is the most pressing issue for the nation at this point?

If we don't appeal Obamacare, then I believe America as we know it is gone. The government will have the grand pipeline into your wallet, will have influence and control over your lives, will be able to take away your economic freedom, and you will be dependent upon government for your very survival. There are moral issues with respect to how we'll treat people on the margins of life when we talk about abortion, about euthanasia, [about] money and rationing care. So there are all sorts of reasons—economic, political, and moral—that Obamacare must absolutely be repealed.

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