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4/2/2012 6:44:00 PM
Santorum visits the Little White Schoolhouse
Rick Santorum, his wife and Secret Service officers walk toward the Little White Schoolhouse Monday.
Rick Santorum, his wife and Secret Service officers walk toward the Little White Schoolhouse Monday.
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Rick Santorum gives another of his trademark thumbs-up to the crowd.
Ian Stepleton

It was supposed to be a quiet, private visit to Ripon. No publicity, no fanfare.

But by the time GOP hopeful Rick Santorum arrived in Ripon Monday afternoon, the area around the Little White Schoolhouse was packed.

For the first time in years, a major candidate for president of the United States visited Ripon during his campaign for the White House.

Santorum spent an hour – longer than his campaign had scheduled him for – at the Little White Schoolhouse, learning about the Birthplace of the Republican Party, speaking with supporters from Ripon College and taping an interview for CNN's Piers Morgan.

But in a surprising turn of events for even those in the know about his visit, Santorum also spent 15 minutes outside greeting well-wishers, shaking hands and signing autographs.

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“We were surprised he went outside,” a Secret Service member said, referring to when Santorum exited the Schoolhouse halfway through his visit and – much to the Secret Service's dismay – started mingling with the crowd that had gathered around the area.

Santorum's trip to Ripon was the last in a series of Wisconsin campaign stops on the final day before Tuesday's critical state primary.

In his final hours of trying to encourage Wisconsinites to choose him at the polls, Santorum's campaign picked Ripon as possibly his last stand before Tuesday's vote.

Why? “He wanted to come see this,” said Alice Stewart, Santorum's national press secretary, of the Little White Schoolhouse. “What else? It's pretty cool.”

Santorum expressed interest in the history of the Little White Schoolhouse while taking a tour from the schoolhouse's lead docent, Sue McConnell.

Read the full story in the April 5, 2012 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Article comment by: Ray Finkle

What a wonderful event. How exciting to see Rick Santorum and his many supporters!

But regrettably, it was embarrassing the way that certain people behaved — attempting to disrupt Santorum’s visit and ruin this rare experience for everyone else. These clowns ought to get a job and a life.

During Santorum’s stop, it was interesting to see the difference between his supporters and the detractors. Santorum’s supporters were overwhelmingly educated, well-dressed, mature-looking people. On the other side were those idiotic protestors — a random bunch of yahoos, presumably from Ripon College or whatnot, wearing nose rings, holding crude signs and acting like fools.

Do you ever see Republicans behaving this way at Democratic events?

Yes, obviously these children have a First Amendment right to demonstrate, shout and stomp like spoiled brats. That’s not the issue. Their behavior was boorish, obnoxious and inconsiderate of others. Ask any intelligent person who was there.

Furthermore, their silly chants made no sense. Some memorable lines were:

1. “Don’t pick Rick!”
Who then, Romney? Gingrich? News flash, people: Tuesday was the Republican primary. Either way, the GOP was going to win.

2. “Women are people, too!”
No kidding. Who exactly said they weren’t?

3. “We support human rights!”
Great. So does everybody in this free country called America.

4. “Lincoln was a liberal!”
Really? According to whom? Republicans are “The party of Lincoln.”

5. “Health care is a right!”
Correct. But free health INSURANCE funded by the government is not. The same goes for birth control. If you want unlimited health insurance, birth control and abortions, then open your wallet like everyone else.

If these college children ever enter the real world and the real workforce (unlikely), they’ll begin paying real taxes. Then they’ll gain an understanding of what it’s like to work hard, earn money, and have the government take it away and redistribute it to others or some failing program. Until that day, it’s clear these kids will continue to live in a fantasyland where all conservatives are evil, everything is free, and Obama forgives their elitist college loans. Grow up already.

Our apologies, Rick! What an absolute embarrassment for Ripon and this college.

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