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Santorum, explaining anti-abortion stance, says God looks at him as 'disabled'

Jason Reed / Reuters

Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum speaks to a forum Saturday at the Cathedral of Praise in Charleston, S.C.

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Rick Santorum gave an emotional speech to over 900 people at Cathedral of Praise church, where he shared stories of his daughter, Bella, and son, Gabriel, who lived for only two hours, to explain his anti-abortion position.

"I decided to run for president not because I had this idea I needed to become president of the United States, but one of the reasons Karen and I decided to do that in the face of having this child who needed so much care and help was because we wanted to make sure that we had a healthcare system and we had a society that respected the dignity of every human life."


Santorum emphasized his daughter's disability to the congregation and said God looks at him as "disabled."

"The gift that Bella gave me was the gift of looking at this disabled child who in the world's view will never be able to do anything for me other than love me. She is just a font of love as far as I' m concerned. And she made me understand that that's how the Father looks at me, disabled. Unable to do anything for him except love him. And he loves me unconditionally."

The former Pennsylvania senator had some lighter moments as well, at one point sharing a story of being invited to a Bible study that meets every Thursday in the Senate when he first arrived at the congressional body.

"I said, 'well, I'm a Catholic, study the Bible, maybe I should do that.'" The audience laughed and Santorum followed up by saying, "I know a lot of you folks don't think Catholics study the Bible, but we do."

He also told a story of how his wife, Karen, took care of Bella after she almost died and his daughter Sarah Marie told him, "Mom saved Bella ... you didn't do anything."

The father of seven then joked "that's sort of what Dad's do when it comes to kids," to a roomful of laughter.

Santorum briefly spoke about the marriage debate, saying the institution is "older than government" and that those who stand up for traditional marriage are called "bigots."

He closed by downplaying the expectations of a win, instead saying his message is what matters.

"We have hundreds and thousands of people praying for us and we feel very blessed to be on this journey. We don't know where this journey is going to take us. But we know that if we are faithful, that in God's eyes, we'll be successful. And that's all that matters. Thank you very much and God bless."

"That is, ladies and gentlemen, the first time in the history of the world that a politician has made me cry," Pastor Mike Lewis, tears in his eyes, said on stage after Santorum's speech.

"They have made me mad, never made me cry."