Santorum warns of events in Egypt

Rick Santorum

Charlie Neibergall

Possible Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum warned that the chaos in Egypt could open the door for radical Islamists to take control of the country, and he criticized President Barack Obama's response so far.

"The difference between al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood is one thing. Al-Qaida wants to use terrorism as a tactic to impose Sharia law and conquer countries," he said. "The Muslim Brotherhood wants to use the system to spread Islam. ... They'll use popular elections."

Santorum noted that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler took power during a democratic election in Germany "and that was the last democratic election."

"Let me assure you that when the Muslim Brotherhood, if that occurs, takes power in Egypt, it will be the last popular election," he said. "They will impose Sharia law. There are no elections in Sharia. There are no man-made laws in Sharia."

Santorum criticized Obama's handling of the crisis so far and warned that it could turn out like the Iranian Revolution that occurred in the 1970s under President Carter. "Barack Obama is doing the best imitation I've seen since Jimmy Carter of being Jimmy Carter. Showing weakness. Creating a void. Telling our allies we're not going to be with them."

Santorum spoke to more than 100 people Wednesday evening at a Charleston Tea Party meeting inside North Charleston City Hall, and he spent much of the time talking about national security. He also emphasized the need to produce more energy in the United States and to cut government spending.

While he has not declared himself a candidate for president, most of the audience treated him as if he were in the race.

Santorum noted that every Republican presidential nominee during the past 30 years first won South Carolina's GOP primary, and he said that gives the state's Republicans a special burden, responsibility and privilege.

Santorum, who represented Pennsylvania for two terms in the U.S. House and Senate, said the tea party movement inspired him to re-enter the political arena in 2009, three years after he lost his re-election bid.

He contrasted the tea party protests with recent protests in Greece. "At the same time they were protesting in the streets about the government doing too little, you were protesting in the streets about the government doing too much," he said.

One of his biggest applause lines came when he praised U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., for his work on entitlements and Social Security.

Santorum also joked with the audience at times. When one questioner began, "Could you briefly give us an idea..." Santorum interrupted him by saying, "No. ... I'm just being honest."