Santorum: Iranian president a ‘fraud’

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Ashley Killough, WASHINGTON (CNN) — There’s “no way” President Barack Obama should meet with newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United National General Assembly this week, former Sen. Rick Santorum said Tuesday.

“The president of the United States should never meet with someone who’s not the president of their country,” Santorum said on CNN’s “New Day,” arguing that the Ayatollah is the person who leads Iran.

One of the big questions at this week’s U.N. gathering is whether the president will partake in some exchange with Rouhani, who has signaled he’s ready to negotiate an end to Iran’s nuclear program.

But Santorum argued Rouhani is nothing but a mouthpiece.

“Rouhani is a puppet that they put up. The president of the United States should not meet with a puppet. That diminishes the presidency. It diminishes the United States even further,” he told CNN’s Kate Bolduan. “No way he should be meeting with this fraud.”

On domestic issues, the former senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 Republican presidential candidate applauded Sen. Ted Cruz’s controversial efforts to defund Obamacare in the current spending bill.

While House Republicans passed a measure that would keep the government running but strip funds for the health care law, the Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to remove the Obamacare language from the bill.

Cruz, despite pushback by some GOP senators, is fighting tooth and nail to get the Senate to keep the Obamacare provision in the bill, a move that will make a government shutdown more likely.

“I’ve been accused of putting my party in a bad spot repeatedly when I was in the Senate and sometimes you have to do that,” Santorum said. “You have to make people uncomfortable because people do get too comfortable and sort of cut the deal.”

Santorum said he “would be with Ted Cruz” if he were in the Senate. Both are considered potential 2016 presidential candidates.

“When you have a president and Senate controlled by one party, that means, generally speaking, if you want more limited government, it’s going to be a bad deal, unless someone can plant a flag and say ‘No, we’re going to pull this discussion this way a little bit and not just do business as usual.'”
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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