Santorum raised eyebrows Feb. 25 when he called President Obama a “snob” for promoting higher education. He was speaking three days before the primary in Michigan, a state with a large working-class population.
“Not all folks are gifted in the same way,” Santorum told a crowd at an Americans for Prosperity forum in Troy, Mich. “Some people have incredible gifts with their hands.... President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.”
Santorum’s populist rhetoric has resonated with some conservatives, but has also met with push-back from top Republicans – and Mr. Obama.
In remarks to governors a few days after Santorum’s comment, Obama said that his vision for high school graduates is broader than just traditional universities.
“I’m not only talking about four-year degrees,” Obama said. “I’m also talking about going to community college to get a degree for a manufacturing job where you have to walk through the door to handle a million-dollar piece of equipment.”
Republicans also rejected Santorum’s characterization.
“I wish he’d said it differently,” Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) of Virginia, a Romney supporter, quoted in The Washington Post. “When you look at what’s going on in other countries, China, India, the premium they put on higher education – we’ve got to do better if we still want to be the global leader we are.”
Speaking on Fox News two weeks later, Santorum said he should have called Obama’s comment “snobbish,” rather than calling the president a snob.