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Rick Santorum: Focus on Freedom, Not Unemployment Rate

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(MOLINE, Ill.) -- During a rally in Moline, Ill., Monday afternoon, just miles away from where he won the Iowa caucuses in January, Rick Santorum suggested that his campaign is focused on preserving freedom, not the economy. This argument is not new for Santorum, but on Monday he said he didn’t “care what the unemployment rate’s going to be,” a point he later attempted to clarify to reporters.

“We need a candidate who’s going to be a fighter for freedom. Who’s going to get up and make that the central theme in this race because it is the central theme in this race. I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates,” said Santorum at the Moline Club. “It’s something more foundational that’s going on. We have one nominee who says he wants to run the economy. What kind of conservative says that the president runs the economy? What conservative says I’m the guy because of my economic experience that can create jobs? I don’t know. We conservatives generally think that government doesn’t create jobs. That what government does is create an atmosphere for jobs to be created in the private sector.”

Santorum was asked by reporters to clarify what he meant when he said he did not care about the unemployment rate.

“As far as my political campaign, of course I care about the unemployment rate, I want the unemployment rate to go down, but I’m saying my candidacy doesn’t hinge on whether the unemployment rate goes up and down, our candidacy’s about something that transcends that; it’s about freedom, it’s not about you know Governor Romney’s idea that he’s going to fix the economy which is something that of course we as Republicans don’t believe that presidents fix the economy, we believe that we try to do things to create an atmosphere for the economy to fix itself,” said Santorum.

In the final push before Tuesday’s Illinois primary, Santorum stressed the importance of the freedom agenda in his campaign. At his first stop of the day, he suggested that the main concern of the 2012 race is not the economy and argued for a strong national defense as well as strong family values.

“The issue in this race is not the economy. The reason the economy is an issue in this race is because the federal government is oppressing its people and taking away your freedom and the economy is suffering as a result,” said Santorum at the Venetian club in Rockford.

He also painted Mitt Romney as the candidate who is “uniquely disqualified” to promote the freedom agenda and argued that he “abandoned freedom” during his time as governor of Massachusetts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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