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Santorum: 'The Constitution Is There to Do One Thing: Protect God-Given Rights

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum had several crowd pleasing remarks during Thursday's GOP debate from Jacksonville on CNN, a strong performance which many speculated was a must for the former Pennsylvania Senator to keep pace in the Florida primary race as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have begun to separate themselves in the polls.

When an audience member asked the candidates how their religious beliefs would affect their decisions as President, Santorum turned to the nation's founding documents to reference the relationship between faith and governance.

"The Constitution is there to do one thing, protect God-given rights," said Santorum. "That's what makes America different than every other country in the world."

"When you say 'faith has nothing to do with it'-- faith has everything to do with it," Santorum went on to say over applause. "If our President believes that rights come to us from the state, everything government gives you, it can take away.

"The role of the government is to protect rights that cannot be taken away."

USA Today notes that Texas Rep. Ron Paul answered the question by saying that his beliefs affect the way he treats people, and the only thing that affects him, as a congressman or president, is his oath of office. NPR reports that Romney concurred with Paul, but adds that he "would also seek the guidance of providence in making decisions."

Gingrich answered the question in three parts, saying that "anyone who is president is faced with decisions so enormous they should go to God," and that faith isn't just an hour on Sundays. Gingrich closed with a popular argument that he has made before, saying that one of the reasons he is running is because "there has been a war on religion, particularly on Christianity in this country.”

"I frankly believe it’s important to have leadership that says, enough, we are given the right for religious freedom, not religious oppression by the state.”

One last thing…
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