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Santorum defends 2008 speech about Satan's sights on U.S.

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at Froehlich's Classic Corner, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, in Steubenville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

PHOENIX ­– Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum on Tuesday criticized a report about a 2008 speech in which he said “Satan has set his sights on the United States of America,” calling it a “a joke” and that he believes in “good and evil.”

“You know, I’m a person of faith. I believe in good and evil,” he told reporters following a rally in Phoenix. “I think if somehow or another because you’re a person of faith you believe in good and evil is a disqualifier for president we’re going to have a very small pool of candidates who can run for president.”

“If they want to dig up old speeches of me talking to religious groups, they can go ahead and do so, but I’m going to stay on message and I’m going to talk about things that Americans want to talk about which is creating jobs, making our country more secure, and yeah, taking on the forces around his world who want to do harm to America, and you bet I will take them on,” Santorum said Tuesday.

Santorum, a Catholic who attended Carmel High School in north suburban Mundelein as a teen, is heard in a 2008 speech to students at Ave Maria University describing how “Satan [has been] attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality.” The speech at the Florida university was posted on The Drudge Report on Tuesday.

“This is a spiritual war,” he says. “The Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies, Satan, would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country – the United States of America.”

Santorum goes on to say that Satan has been “most successful and first successful” in attacking academia because “he understood the pride of smart people.” Then, he said, Satan went after the church, and now “we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”

Satan’s success can be seen in pop culture, Santorum said.

“Whether it’s sensuality of vanity of the famous in America, they are peacocks on display and they have taken their poor behavior and made it fashionable,” he said. “The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.”

Sun-Times staff and wire reports