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Rick Santorum: Boehner's Tea Party Criticism Unhelpful to GOP

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Monday, 16 Dec 2013 06:35 PM

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania on Monday bristled at House Speaker John Boehner for attacking tea party groups and blaming them for pressuring the GOP into the government shutdown.

"It really does show a little bit of a Beltway mentality that the leader of the Republican Party to … take the blame for a government shutdown, which was not his," Santorum told "The Steve Malzberg Show."

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"And [to] point the finger at the base of the Republican Party as the problem — that's just not a good idea. It was not helpful and hopefully he'll think better of it going forward."

Last week, Boehner enraged tea party and conservative groups by tearing into the Senate Conservatives Fund, Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and FreedomWorks for criticizing the bipartisan budget deal that passed the House without first reading it.

"Frankly, I just think they've lost all credibility," Boehner said.

Santorum says Boehner's unexpected criticism was unnecessary.

"It was not helpful and hopefully he'll think better of it going forward," Santorum said.

Santorum, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for president last year, expressed caution over a federal judge's ruling Monday that the National Security Agency's collection of domestic phone records is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who ruled in favor of five plaintiffs who challenged the practice, said the NSA program appears to violate privacy rights.

"I have some concerns with the NSA program but we have to do surveillance," Santorum said.

"I mean we have to be able to gather information … but we have to do it in a way that protects privacy and that's really the key here … To me it's a technology issue more than it is a constitutional issue.

"If we have technology that right now can't keep [citizen's] privacy, then we've got a problem. But let's put it this way, I'm confident that in the years to come, we're going to have the combination of good technology with keeping anonymity for people who shouldn't have their records available to the government."

Santorum said the government should not offer amnesty to Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who fled to Russia and has been revealing the agency's surveillance secrets.

"That's silly, is what that is … This is somebody who obviously you cannot trust and a deal that would simply just encourage him to do more things that will cost … the United States," he said.

"I don't think you take someone who in many respects you could argue is a terrorist and negotiate with that terrorist. You prosecute."

Santorum is now CEO of Echolight Studios, which has just released the new holiday film "The Christmas Candle," rated PG for mild thematic elements.

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