Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

ALBANY - Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential candidate, said Tuesday that “debate is being closed down” around issues such as same-sex marriage “because if you articulate a different vision, you’re a hater, you’re a bigot.”

Santorum, who ran second to Mitt Romney in 2012 for the GOP presidential nomination, is considering another bid in 2016 and said he would decide in “June, give or take a month.” He was in Albany to appear on a round of radio shows and address an evangelical lobby group.

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When asked on one radio show whether a candidate who opposes gay marriage can win, given the trend of states approving it and courts upholding it, Santorum said it was a matter of opponents more clearly articulating their position. He expanded on that later in a conversation with Capitol reporters. (The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a same-sex marriage case next month.)

“You go back 10 years ago, 12 years ago, people … were (saying) there’s no chance Americans are going to accept gay marriage,” Santorum said. “Yet people went out and made their case. I think that’s what America is about: people can go out and make their case and not be called haters and bigots and nasty names because they have a different viewpoint on some of these issues, but actually articulate why this is best for America. And have a debate.

“I think what’s happening right now is debate is being shut down because if you articulate a different vision, you are, you’re a hater. You’re a bigot,” Santorum continued. “You know, you’re the worst form of human being if you actually have a different view. That is a very dangerous thing to happen in this country when we silence the opposition on issues of great importance.”

Santorum said his remarks to the New Yorkers’ Family Research Foundation later Tuesday would focus on “the assault on free speech, the assault on freedom of religion and it’s growing … and it’s clearly here in the state of New York.”

Santorum also said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policies were “destroying the fabric” of the city but declined to give specific examples.

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When asked about George Pataki’s testing of the presidential waters, Santorum spoke kindly of the former New York governor, but seemed to dismiss his chances, saying that when the two last spoke Pataki “told me he was enjoying life on the farm.”