Rick Santorum's moving speech caps Iowa caucuses: 'Those hands dug freedom for me'

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 4 2012 11:28 p.m. MST

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum addresses supporters at his Iowa caucus victory party Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Johnston, Iowa.

Associated Press

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Late Tuesday night in Iowa — after temperatures dipped below freezing but before the final crucial votes from the Iowa caucuses had been counted — Rick Santorum provided the American public a great moment of political theater with a rousing address draped in emotion and patriotism.

"Santorum's speech after Iowa (is) very inspiring," RedState.com opined. "Wow! He brought in optimism that he has not shown in the debates. He showed pride in America, our heritage, his heritage, and the fight against fascism. … He argued the morality of allowing people to make their own decisions to control their lives and how tax policy is from our conservative values not greed or practicality. His speech personalized these values and avoided slogans or one-liners."

Santorum started his de facto victory speech simply by saying, "Game on." He then segued into the story of his late grandfather who immigrated to the United States in 1925 from Italy and subsequently spent decades working in the coal mines of southwestern Pennsylvania.

"He ended up continuing to work in those mines until he was 72 years old, digging coal," Santorum said, wiping away tears. "I'll never forget the first time I saw someone who had died. It was my grandfather. And I knelt next to his coffin, and all I could do at eye level was look at his hands. They were enormous hands. And all I could think was, 'Those hands dug freedom for me.'"

Huffington Post's Andy Ostroy riffed about the significance of the "those hands dug freedom for me" line.

"If Rick Santorum should win the Republican nomination for president next November, much of the credit should go to those six powerful words he delivered in an emotional victory speech in Iowa."

Video of Santorum's entire speech:

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