With the parade of boomlet candidates rising and falling in the primary polls, one candidate that has yet to catch fire is Senator Rick Santorum. Even though Santorum regularly asserts himself in debates and has a fairly long track record of political activism in and out of office, the media has paid little attention to Santorum. One researcher reported today that in each of the last five months, Santorum has scored last or next-to-last among active candidates in media attention.

I reached out to Santorum’s campaign for an interview, and asked Santorum if now would be a good time for voters to take a second look at his candidacy.  He replied, “They haven’t really taken a first look,” which seems true.  Santorum expressed a little frustration with the coverage that he has received, which has focused on social conservatism but has ignored the breadth of policy that he discusses on the campaign trail.  His eight years on the Armed Services Committee gives him a better background for understanding military and foreign policy than all of his competitors, Santorum argues, plus the years he has spent after the end of his Senate term working with think tanks on policy.

When I asked him what went wrong with the supercommittee, Santorum immediately answered, “What went wrong was the President of the United States abdicating his leadership,” and argued that Obama didn’t really want an agreement at all.  “What this President did was play class warfare to divide America,” Santorum stated.  “It’s not just a lack of leadership,” Santorum continued, “it’s an intentional political device to divide America for political purposes, and it is resulting in a deeply and increasingly divided Congress that can’t work under this President.”  The consequences of the failure would be devastating to the military, Santorum warned, stating that we already put “far too much of a burden” on our men and women in the armed services thanks to underresourcing and over-rotation, which he called “inhumane.”

Santorum also said that today’s announcement of coordinated sanctions against Iran would not be enough.  We need to support the Green Revolution and other potential forces of liberalization in Iran to “create instability” in the mullahcracy.  Santorum also insisted that we needed to be “very clear that we are openly working with Israel” to target Iranian nuclear sites for military attack, unless the mullahs reopen their facilities to inspectors and start dismantling their nuclear-weapons programs.  He also proposed to treat foreign scientists working on the Iranian program “like members of al-Qaeda” and warn them that we will consider them enemy combatants as long as they contribute to Iran’s nuclear program.

It’s a good look past the social-conservative-only mantle that we sometimes place on Santorum, and a reminder that he has quite a lot to offer in this race.  While conservatives fret over Mitt Romney and try to see if they can live with Newt Gingrich’s baggage, this may be a good time for a first real look at Rick Santorum.

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