Rick Santorum’s grandfather knew Adolf Hitler. And he thought he was a jerk.
During an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller on Monday, Santorum discussed his immigration views, and his own family’s immigration history.
The story of how Santorum made this discovery is interesting. On the campaign trail, Santorum got a question about how his grandfather, Pietro Santorum, a coal miner, was able to legally immigrate to America in 1923 — after the Emergency Quota Act of 1921. “The ’21 immigration act was an act clearly designed to stop southern Europeans and Jews — that’s who was targeted,” Santorum said. “The reason he got in,” Santorum later discovered, “is when he was born in Riva del Garda in the 1880s, that was a part of Austria.”
“He fought for Austria-Hungary in the first world war,” Santorum continued. “He knew Hitler. ‘[Hitler] was a loudmouth, idiot — nobody paid any attention to him,’ that’s what he told me.”
Santorum made another interesting observation when looking at the pictures of his grandfather’s regimen. “They all had these little mustaches.”
Because Pietro’s family members were Italians, not Austrians, they couldn’t immigrate to America until he became a U.S. citizen seven years later. Did Santorum’s father resent America for keeping them separated? “He always said, ‘No,’ America was worth the wait.'”
It’s unclear what Pietro, who died in 1975, would think of his grandson today. Pietro was both a liberal and a devout Catholic. “He was a Democrat and always voted Democrat. Above the kitchen table was a picture of the pope, Jesus, and John F. Kennedy,” Santorum said.
The Daily Caller’s interview was wide-ranging. Stay tuned for more from Santorum’s sit-down with TheDC.