GOOSE LAKE, Iowa — Potential presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Monday that Democrats want to get Americans hooked on entitlements much like a drug pusher tries to gain control over a junkie.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, embarked on a three-day tour of Iowa with a speech to about 135 people attending the Clinton County Republican Party’s spring fundraising event.

He said Democrats believe that once an entitlement is put in place, it can’t be taken away. And he warned of dire consequences for the United States if the health-care reform law, passed a little more than a year ago, is fully enacted.

“They know this is the ultimate addiction. They know if Obamacare is implemented, the game is over. And ladies and gentlemen, listen clearly: You will be the generation that lost America,” Santorum said.

Santorum is one of several potential GOP candidates for 2012. He told the crowd Monday he is seriously considering a bid, and most experts believe it’s only a matter of time before he announces a run.

The former senator also praised U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the architect of the House Republicans’ 2012 budget plan that seeks to cut spending by $5.8 trillion over the next 10 years, in part by changing Medicare into a voucher-like program for people who now are 55 and younger.

Democrats charge that would shift the burden of health insurance costs to beneficiaries, but Santorum said it would provide consumers “choice.”

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He warned the country is heading for a fiscal wreck unless controls are put in place.

Santorum’s bleak prognosis for the country, should the health reform law be implemented, rang true for Dorance Calhoun, a 69-year-old from Clinton.

“I don’t think it would be the end of the country, but it would change the country as we know it,” he said.

Calhoun said he liked Santorum and he would be a candidate he could consider supporting during the caucuses next year. “He says what he believes with a smile,” he said.

In addition to this stop, Santorum is slated to make appearances in Dubuque, Dyersville, Cedar Rapids and Marshalltown.

Earlier Monday, Santorum met with activists in Tipton and Davenport. This is his second visit to the Quad-City region in about four months.

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