Santorum Says ND Will Play Key Role in PrimaryFARGO – Hundreds flocked to Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s two stops in North Dakota, where he arrived to standing ovations and voters wanting to hear his take on the future of conservative government and the oil industry in North Dakota.
By: Wendy Reuer, Amy Dalrymple, Forum Communications
FARGO – Hundreds flocked to Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s two stops in North Dakota, where he arrived to standing ovations and voters wanting to hear his take on the future of conservative government and the oil industry in North Dakota.
Close to 1,000 comprised the standing-room-only crowd inside Fargo’s Holiday Inn where the Pennsylvania senator, clad in jeans and cowboy boots, was glitter-bombed as he made his way to the stage.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he has invited all four “major presidential candidates” to North Dakota, and Santorum was the first to accept. Dalrymple said the federal government needs to look no further than his home state to see how to prosper in difficult economic times.
While Santorum drew applause while touting his ability to bust big government if elected and how he would use his Christian faith as a guidepost for leadership, it was a University of North Dakota hockey jersey that drew the biggest round of frenzied applause from the crowd.
A gift presented to him from North Dakota Public Services Commissioner Kevin Cramer, Santorum held up the Sioux jersey and said, “I sort of like that logo. What do you think?”
Earlier in the day Santorum and his campaign – which included two of his children, John, 19, and Elizabeth, 20 – toured oil country and stopped into the heart of Bakken country, Tioga.
”On day one, we will sign the order to begin the commencement of the production of the Keystone Pipeline,” Santorum told hundreds of students, community members and business leaders gathered in the Tioga Public School gymnasium.
Santorum also said North Dakotans won’t have to worry about a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing if he’s elected president. Hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking, is used to capture oil from shale stone deposits deep in the Bakken.
“Under a Santorum ad-ministration, this is not a concern. But under his (Obama’s) administration, it will be,” Santorum said. “It won’t be because of science. It will be because of politics.”
Prior to the town hall meeting in the school, the senator from Pennsylvania held a roundtable discussion on energy at the Tar-get Logistics man camp near Tioga.
Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petro-leum Council, asked what Santorum would do for industries of all types that are facing new regulations from the Obama administration.
“We are just being pounded with new regulations,” Ness said.
Santorum said he would repeal or replace all of Obama’s regulations and allow decisions to be made at the state level.
“I believe, as you do, that people at the local and state level care as much and certainly more about their water and their land and their air than people in Washington, D.C., who don’t live in northwest North Dakota.”
Visiting North Dakota oil country created some challenges for the cam-paign.
Santorum told the Williston mayor he wanted to stay there, but they couldn’t find hotel rooms. A campaign staff member spent the night in the Tioga radio station to do advance work for the stop.
Santorum thanked the crowd at the town hall meeting for tolerating the growing pains that have come along with the oil boom.
“What you’re doing here is producing the resources that fuel the nation,” Santorum said.
Steve Fretland, a production supervisor for Hess Co. and lifelong Tioga resident, said he likes Santorum’s views on the Keystone Pipeline and fracking.
“It’s a whole lot of common sense,” Fretland said. “I think we’ve got a winner.”
Jeff Zarling, president of DAWA Solutions Group in Williston, said he meets with a lot of potential investors who are worried about the uncertainty of a possible moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.
“They want to know how long this is going to last,” Zarling said.
Alison Kelly, communications director for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, said it’s oversimplifying the issue to say Obama is standing in the way of oil production.
“He oversimplifies an issue in order to grab votes,” Kelly said.