GROSSE POINTE, Mich. - Grosse Pointe Public School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Harwood says former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's speech will happen in the district, after a brief cancelation and a few ruffled political feathers.
Wednesday, Santorum had accused school officials of cancelling his planned visit, saying educators didn't agree with his politics.
Santorum was scheduled to speak on leadership at Grosse Pointe South High School's assembly on April 24th. That engagement is now back on.
School officials said the address was cancelled after a request to obtain an advance copy of Santorum's speech was denied.
In response to the cancelation Santorum issued a statement saying: "It's a sad day when liberal educators are allowed to influence young minds - extending free speech rights only to those who share their liberal views. I support traditional marriage; I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. I'm not sure what the administrators in the Grosse Pointe Public School System are afraid of, but these students deserve the respect to form their own opinion on this important issue. "Furthermore, anyone who has ever seen me speak knows I rarely use prepared text. In the case of Grosse Pointe High School - I was never asked for a copy of a speech, nor did I send one. This has nothing to do with the content of a speech, but rather the context of my convictions."
Harwood says parents will now be able to sign a permission slip to decide if students can attend the event to hear Santorum speak.
This compromise was reached between the school administration and the South student club Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), the event organizers.
The district says students participating in YAF raised $18,000 to bring Santorum to Michigan.
Monday, South's Principal, Dr. Outlaw, sent an email to parents informing them the assembly was canceled. This school says they asked a national YAF representative, if Santorum had ever spoken to a high school before and if he would provide a copy of his speech to ensure the message was focused on leadership.
The school says the answer to both questions was "no", prompting the cancelation.
More on Santorum:
Santorum, who says he's open to another White House bid and already speaks like a candidate, told CNN the GOP's focus on the economy and taxes, instead of social issues, was what led to presidential losses for the party in the last two cycles.
"That's exactly why the establishment Republicans supported Romney and McCain, because they didn't emphasize these positions, and they were going to run on one issue, which was limited government and lower taxes," Santorum said. "All of which are good things, and I support them, but I think what they showed is that they're insufficient."
And while some national Republicans say honing in on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion alienates certain demographics, Santorum argued the GOP could gain supporters by emphasizing family values.
"The issues they say need to be de-emphasized are some of the issues we can actually reach out to Latinos and engage them on when it comes to the family," Santorum said. "In the course of the campaign, I always felt the family was key."
In a speech next week to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, Santorum will argue that Republicans should meld economic and social issues, making the case that focusing on both is critical to scoring votes. A press release says his "remarks will focus on the future of the Republican Party and what must be done to ensure our party's future viability."
"We need someone who's willing to go out and make the case for the values that made this country the greatest country in the history of the world," Santorum said. "Weave them together in a picture that makes sense, that can talk to average Americans about the policies that will make their lives better."
Whether or not he's that candidate, Santorum said it's too soon to decide - though recent trips to early voting states like Iowa and South Carolina point to presidential aspirations.
While he agrees with the Republican National Committee's recommendation that the party convention be moved earlier in the summer, Santorum said a push to condense the 2016 primary voting calendar was misguided. After all, his 2012 campaign didn't truly gain steam until he swept votes in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri all on the same day, changing the trajectory of the race.
"Certainly we want to keep our name out there, in the mix. It's something that I'm open to," he said of a run in 2016. "But obviously it's a little too soon to make any concrete decisions."
"I think we provide a very clear voice on the right answers to get this country going again, and get the party back on the victory trail," he continued.
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