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Interview with Santorum: ‘Very frustrated’ with debate

DES MOINES — Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum sounded off Friday morning aboutThursday evening’s GOP presidential debate in Ames, where many analysts and pundits characterized him as more of a bystander than a participant.

Within the debate’s first 45 minutes, Santorum had received roughly one minute of face time, and finally, appearing frustrated, the former Senator raised his hand and remarked, “I haven’t gotten to say a lot.”

Rick Santorum

But Friday, Santorum, appearing casual and relaxed in a Penn State University polo shirt, said he felt “really good about last night.”

Not that he was without some contention on points he would have liked to see addressed more in-depth, he told The Iowa Independent exclusively.

“It would have been nice to talk about health care” more, Santorum said, taking the chance to throw barbs at his opponents, particularly former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“I believe in a market-based, market-driven, consumer-driven health care system. I don’t believe in a government-run health care system,” Santorum said. “Mitt Romney and [former Minnesota Gov.] Tim Pawlenty and [former U.S. House Speaker] Newt Gingrichhave all advocated for individual mandates. In Mitt Romney’s plan, he tries to draw this distinction, ‘well, it’s right for Massachusetts.’ No, it’s wrong for Masachusetts, and it’s wrong for any state. We’re seeing that it’s bankrupting the state of Massachusetts, and it’s going to bankrupt this country, just like it has every other country that has gone to socialized medicine.”

Santorum called government-driven healthcare “a black hole of waste, fraud and an inefficient use of the health care system.”

The former Senator said last night was the not the first time debate moderators have shut him out.

“Gov. Romney needs to be taken out on this, and he wasn’t last night,” Santorum said, meaning the issue of socialized medicine and President Barack Obama‘s healthcare reform bill, oft referred to as “Obamacare.”

“It’s very frustrating again, for the second debate in a row, not to have the opportunity to get involved and debate something which I’ve been a leader on,” he said.

Santorum will take The Des Moines Register’s soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, where Thursday, Romney encountered aggressive heckling and questioning. The former Senator appeared unfazed.

“I’ll be ready for whatever they want to throw at me. You don’t understand, I come from Pittsburgh. I’m a conservative in a big steel union worker town,” he said. “I’ve been there before. I’ll give people the opportunity to say what they want to say, then have respect enough to let me to answer the question.”

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