Santorum wants boots on ground to fight Islamic State group

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum pauses as he speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Friday.

OXON HILL, Md. — Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is considering another presidential run, called for 10,000 sets of boots on the ground to fight the growth of the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State.

Speaking in front of conservative activists at the annual CPAC convention in Maryland on Friday afternoon, Santorum accused President Barack Obama of failing to understand the gravity of the threat.

He called for a two-prong strategy that includes boots on the ground to coordinate airstrikes and provide advice, training and intelligence.

He also called for additional airstrikes.

“We need to hit ISIS, to defeat them. If ISIS wants to establish a 7th century caliphate, well let’s oblige them by bombing them back to the 7th century,” he said to applause.

The reaction from the libertarian-leaning crowd was less enthusiastic when he called for the arming of Kurds in Iraq and an increase in foreign aid to Jordan and Egypt to help with the fight.

Santorum spoke following Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who had argued that American taxpayer dollars should not be going to nations that challenge the United States.

Santorum won 11 states when he ran in the 2012 primary, and said he’d stood out from his rivals because of his focus on the working class.

“I won because I stood for someone: the little guy, the American worker,” he said. “And if we’re going to win in 2016, we need to stand for the little guy too.”