President Barack Obama was attempting to use Pope Francis to further his own agenda when the two met
at the Vatican on Thursday, former Sen. Rick Santorum says.
The White House and the Vatican released different versions of the meeting's focus. Santorum, a Roman Catholic, former Republican senator from Pennsylvania and ex-presidential candidate, said he finds the Vatican's version more credible.
"I don't think the Vatican has any political aspirations," he said Thursday on Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File."
Obama, on the other hand, is worried about his party retaining control of the Senate in November's midterms, he said.
The Obama administration said the meeting focused on income inequality, while the official Vatican statement makes no mention of that subject. Instead, the Vatican said the two leaders talked about life and religious freedom issues.
The Supreme Court just this week heard arguments from retailer Hobby Lobby
over its objection to providing insurance policies to employees that include forms of contraception that the Christian owners deem to be forms of abortion.
Obama "clearly went there to try to piggyback on some of the popularity of the pope in America," Santorum said, since Francis is more popular than any pope in recent memory.
Obama's statement is clearly trying to say there is "solidarity" between the president and the pope, he said. But, he added, Obama had to know the pope was going to bring up life and marriage issues.
Obama intended to use his "spin machine here in America to dominate the airwaves," Santorum said.
"His agenda is to try to take some of the things that the pope has said with respect to income inequality, with respect to capitalism, and try to tie into that," he said. "And it looks to me like the Vatican was having none of it."
Kelly asked whether Santorum plans to toss his hat into the presidential ring again in 2016. As usual with candidates two years out from the primaries, Santorum deferred, but did give a hint.
"I was in Iowa yesterday. Maybe that will give you some idea of what I'm thinking," he said.
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