Italian Relatives Tell Magazine That Santorum‘s Grandfather and Uncles Were ’Red Communists’

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santourm appears to have found a niche for himself among blue-collar social conservatives representative of his western Pennsylvania upbringing. But according to the Italian magazine Oggi, the former senator may not be too popular in the Italian town of his forefathers. The Daily Beast reports that 83-year-old matriarch Maria Malacarne tells the Italian Magazine Oggi that her late husband's cousin Rick was a delight when he visited the family in the tiny northern Italian town of Riva del Garda during his law internship in Florence in 1985, and when he came back in 1986 and 1989. That said, Maria doesn't understand how Santorum diverged so much from his grandfather Pietro and uncles who were "'red communists' to the core." Oggi journalist Giuseppe Fumagalli likens the Italian Santorum clan to famous fictional Italian communists when compared to their cousin Rick, as "on the other side of the ocean, it’s like his family here doesn’t exist. Instead he draws crowds as the head of the ultraconservative faction of the Republican party, against divorce, gay marriage, abortion, and immigration.” In addition to hyperbolizing Santorum's conservative philosophy, the Oggi piece goes on to quote an angry cousin who prefers to remain unnamed when claiming that he remembers a time when high-ranking Communist Party members frequented the Santorum household in the ultraliberal town of Riva del Garda. “There are Santorums who would roll over in their graves to hear [Rick’s] rhetoric,” the cousin said. The Daily Beast concludes that at the end of the day "the family seems content to turn a blind eye to their American cousin’s political persuasion," and one cousin Bruno expects that, after this lovely article, “When he wins, he will send the American presidential airplane and take all the Santorums to the White House.” We'll have to look forward to that possible family reunion.

While the opinions of Santorum's living Italian relatives may be somewhat irksome for his campaign, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette makes the important note that Santorum's grandfather, who the candidate often acknowledges on the campaign trail, was communist in 1925 Italy when the alternative was Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party. Rick's father Aldo Santorum passed away in January 2011, but was active in his son's early congressional career and successful run for U.S. Senate. Aldo served in the South Pacific during WWII and became a clinical psychologist thanks to the GI Bill, going on to work for the Veterans Administration.

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