Satan, Via Santorum, Makes Another 'Appearance' In A GOP Primary : It's All Politics Then-candidate Mike Huckabee brought the devil up in a GOP primary four years when he asked aloud if Mormons believed Jesus and the devil were siblings. He apologized. Santorum is standing by his 2008 Satan comments, though it's clear he would like the matter to go away.
NPR logo Satan, Via Santorum, Makes Another 'Appearance' In A GOP Primary

Satan, Via Santorum, Makes Another 'Appearance' In A GOP Primary

Rick Santorum, with ash on his forehead, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. Eric Gay/AP hide caption

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Eric Gay/AP

As Rick Santorum undergoes scrutiny for a 2008 speech in which he said the U.S. was under attack by Satan, the Father of Lies, it's worth recalling that Lucifer also popped up in the GOP primary four years ago.

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, created a stir when it emerged that he had asked a journalist who he said seemed knowledgeable about Mormonism whether it was true that Mormon theology held that Jesus and Satan were brothers.

Romney, a Mormon, objected shortly thereafter, to what he said was an attack on his faith and Huckabee later apologized to him.

So far, Santorum appears unapologetic about the fuss that's been created by the emergence of his 2008 speech at Ave Maria University in Florida in which he said:

"And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country - the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America's preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers."

Right-Wing Watch, a project of the left-leaning People for the American Way, has a lengthier excerpt from the speech on its website. Drudge Report made the speech go viral Tuesday.

Santorum's initial defense after the speech started to get wide attention Tuesday was to accuse his media questioners of chasing an irrelevancy.

"You guys are asking questions that are not relevant to what's being discussed in America today. What we're talking about in America is trying to get America working, that's what my speeches are about, that's what we're going to talk about in this campaign. If they want to to dig up old speeches when I'm talking to a religious group, they can go right ahead and do so but I'm going to stay on message, I'm going to talk about what Americans want to talk about, which is creating jobs, getting our country safer and secure and yeah, taking on the forces around this world who want to do harm to America. You bet I will take 'em on."

Gov. Chris Christie, a New Jersey Republican and Romney surrogate, tried to keep Santorum on the hook (or should it be pitchfork?)

From a post by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos who interviewed Christie Wednesday:

"Listen, I think anything you say as a presidential candidate is relevant. It is by definition relevant. You're asking to be president of the United States. I don't think [Santorum's] right about that. I think it is relevant what he says. I think people want to make an evaluation, a complete evaluation of anyone who asks to sit in the Oval Office," the New Jersey governor said.

Santorum may want to talk about something, anything other than his Satan comments of four years ago. But if his opponents and the news media have any say in the matter, it will continue to bedevil him, so to speak.