Exclusive interview: Second look at Rick Santorum?

posted at 2:35 pm on November 21, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

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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Not a chance. Just because he’s honest about not recognizing American’s right to privacy doesn’t make his attitude any less contemptible.

MadisonConservative on November 21, 2011 at 2:37 PM

His Mr. Sourpuss profile and his big government positions on limiting human rights make him a non starter

georgealbert on November 21, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Now it’s Ricky’s turn on the roller coaster.

pedestrian on November 21, 2011 at 2:38 PM

He deserves a look. He has a conservative record with a few blemishes such as Med Part D and supporting Arlen Specter. He may be the bridge between grassroots and the establishment that we need.

dforston on November 21, 2011 at 2:41 PM

I’m thinking “no”. Does “no” work for you? Great! Well then I’ve got you down for a “no” then. What’s that? Do we have a “hell no” option? Why yes we do! Are you interested? Excellent! I’ll be sure to send that right away!

Irritable Pundit on November 21, 2011 at 2:41 PM

No.

Next question.

Bat Chain Puller on November 21, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Must… resist… urge…

JohnGalt23 on November 21, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Can’t beat Obama. All that matters.

Meredith on November 21, 2011 at 2:44 PM

As a pastor, perhaps.

President? No way.

stenwin77 on November 21, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Why not?

Give specifics.

dforston on November 21, 2011 at 2:45 PM

My stomach is still queasy from our second look at Jorge Huntsman.

How about Bob Dole? Bob Dole says Bob Dole deserves a second look.

NotCoach on November 21, 2011 at 2:46 PM

Dont put all your Pawlenty eggs in a Santorum basket…

Jeddite on November 21, 2011 at 2:46 PM

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmno.

cjtony97 on November 21, 2011 at 2:46 PM

Rick “Whine” Santorum. Notice how Newt didn’t whine when his campaign was moribund? Santorum hasn’t stopped whining since he announced his campaign. Also, if nominated, has zero percent chance of winning. His moral demagoguery mean certain death from Indies. In 2000, he might have a chance, but in 2011, slim to none and slim went missing.

andy85719 on November 21, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Nope. Nice guy, great Senator. No thank you on President.

gophergirl on November 21, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Why not?

Give specifics.

dforston on November 21, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Homosexual agenda would be my guess.

Thats usually what it is when they won’t say.

sharrukin on November 21, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Not a chance. Just because he’s honest about not recognizing American’s right to privacy doesn’t make his attitude any less contemptible.

MadisonConservative on November 21, 2011 at 2:37 PM

A political right to privacy or a constitutional right to privacy? Because there is no constitutional right to privacy despite bad SOTUS rulings in support of.

NotCoach on November 21, 2011 at 2:48 PM

…and I say that as a Christian conservative Pennsylvanian.

cjtony97 on November 21, 2011 at 2:49 PM

A guy who lost his last reelection bid by a historic margin probably shouldn’t get any look. But, that’s just me…

joejm65 on November 21, 2011 at 2:49 PM

LOL, no. Mr. “I’ll die on that hill” can join Crazy Eyes in the dunce corner.

mythicknight on November 21, 2011 at 2:50 PM

The simple fact is that Santorum’s “strengths” — if you want to call them that — are entirely on issues that nobody cares about this cycle. I was willing to give him a chance until he attacked Perry for promoting “bi-national health insurance,” completely mischaracterizing a free-market initiative as some kind of government health care plan.

Sorry, but we don’t need someone who attacks free-market solutions right now.

Caiwyn on November 21, 2011 at 2:51 PM

I’d worry that he’d come off angry in debates vs. Obama’s “cool”.

He’s not a happy warrior. I appreciate him fighting on the social issues, but the left will have a field day with that. Make him attorney general or a supreme court justice.

Iblis on November 21, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Not a chance. Just because he’s honest about not recognizing American’s right to privacy doesn’t make his attitude any less contemptible.

MadisonConservative on November 21, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Among other things. He’s an embarrassment. If he ever got the nod the GOP would get obliterated in the general. I’d have to switch to 3rd party or independent.

Dash on November 21, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Dear Rick,

Please return to Pennsylvania and run against Bob Casey.

Sincerely,

Me

SouthernGent on November 21, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Homosexual agenda would be my guess.

Thats usually what it is when they won’t say.

sharrukin on November 21, 2011 at 2:47 PM

I’m not sure what a “homosexual agenda” is, other than to have sexual relations with people of the same sex.

But given the level of idiocy and, frankly, bad manners with which he has dealt with homosexuals, some of whom are in fact members of his political party, makes his position untenable, IMHO.

That, and the fact that he lost his own state, a pretty important swing state at that, by 18 points the last time he ran.

That’s a negative, Ghostrider…

JohnGalt23 on November 21, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Ditto GG

cmsinaz on November 21, 2011 at 2:55 PM

SouthernGent on November 21, 2011 at 2:53 PM

+1000000

ConservativePartyNow on November 21, 2011 at 2:55 PM

That, and the fact that he lost his own state, a pretty important swing state at that, by 18 points the last time he ran.

That’s a negative, Ghostrider…

JohnGalt23 on November 21, 2011 at 2:54 PM

This. He was kicked out of the Senate by the constituents who know him best. His candidacy is a vanity project if I’ve ever seen one.

Caiwyn on November 21, 2011 at 2:56 PM

A political right to privacy or a constitutional right to privacy? Because there is no constitutional right to privacy despite bad SOTUS rulings in support of.

NotCoach on November 21, 2011 at 2:48 PM

There’s an inherent right to privacy that has been established in American society. Santorum’s stated refusal to recognize it, combined with his musings of federally outlawing things like homosexuality and adultery, along with his history of big-government measures like the WRFA/NWS Duties Act/Pet Animal Welfare Statute/etc, speak to the mind of a theocrat.

MadisonConservative on November 21, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Two words: Arlen Specter

Darksean on November 21, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Last thing we need is a guy whose #1 and #2 issues are gays and gays.

angryed on November 21, 2011 at 2:58 PM

I’m mixed on Santorum. He says a lot of right and good things, but I fear he would pull the right-leaning version of statism that our statist and leftist president does today.

If he were running against Obama, you betcha.

Is he our best candidate? I’m thinking not… but Mark Levin had a great discussion with him last week, if you care to catch it.

beatcanvas on November 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM

As an alternative to Ron Paul, sure. As the GOP nominee, probably not.

John Deaux on November 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM

WTF ?

jake-the-goose on November 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM

He is literally the only candidate I wouldn’t hold my nose and vote for against Obama. If republicans seriously put him up as the best and brightest, then I cease to be a republican until they return to conservatism.

thphilli on November 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Don’t like Sanitorium. He always looks like he’s ready to cry. He’s a whiner and he has a short temper.
No need to have any more looks at this guy. I could never understand why he decided to get in in the first place.

exceller on November 21, 2011 at 3:00 PM

It’s true Santorum hasn’t gotten a first look but much of the lack of press attention and voter consieration can surely be attributed to him. Until he spoke so movingly about his family’s experiences dealing with his baby daughter Isabella’s terrible illness, I had no idea Rick Santorum had any social gears other than ‘complain’ or ‘stridently complain’.

Santorum’s a capable, intelligent candidate, easily Newt’s intellectual peer and as much (or more) a policy wonk than Romney, with socially conservative roots that Bachmann must envy. He’s shown considerable political courage in the past, taking unpopular and uncompromising stands on abortion, for example, when others on the right would waffle and hedge.

So why hasn’t it come together for Santorum? It’s his public manner, I think, which comes across as an abrasive and needlessly combative. Rick Santorum is the buddy you don’t want to be with in the bar. You see a local chapter of the Hell’s Angels over by the pool tables. You notice the club president has the ugliest girlfriend you’ve ever seen, and you know without doubt before the night is over your buddy is going to say something about the girlfriend. He can’t help himself.

troyriser_gopftw on November 21, 2011 at 3:04 PM

He comes across as not very intelligent, and a bit of a goof.

If we nominate him he will lose.

Why are you pushing a loser, Ed?

Nessuno on November 21, 2011 at 3:08 PM

What about Arlen Huntsman…?

/

Seven Percent Solution on November 21, 2011 at 3:12 PM

troyriser_gopftw, I think you’ve got the best response here on this.

michaelo on November 21, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Dear Rick,

Please return to Pennsylvania and run against Bob Casey.

Sincerely,

Me

SouthernGent on November 21, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Dear Rick,

Please please do this.

Signed,

Pennsylvania Democratic Party

AngusMc on November 21, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Gosh, Ed, you really don’t want Newt, do ya.

fossten on November 21, 2011 at 3:22 PM

WTF ?

jake-the-goose on November 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM

This.

Tim_CA on November 21, 2011 at 3:34 PM

Bwaa haaa haaa haaa!!!

No.

portlandon on November 21, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Someone needs to tell Rick to knock it off with the

“I’m the only candidate here that….”

Every time it’s used it’s a sour note and ultimately ineffective. And he uses it alot.

aquaviva on November 21, 2011 at 3:37 PM

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.

And that tells you everything you need to know about Rick “10 Commandments Preempt the 10th Amendment” Santorum’s chances with Tea Party voters. Add in his atrocious record on fiscal issues and his perpetual, self-righteously indignant tone, and it becomes clear why One-Percent Rick can’t even get a first look. Sheesh, at least Huntsman is pulling around 7% in New Hampshire, Santorum is so toxic that he can’t even get a foot in the door in Iowa. Its time for this gasbag to drop out of the race, why are you giving him free media Ed?

Lawdawg86 on November 21, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Wow…

Probably the most sincere, moral man/woman running and whoever said he doesn’t have a chance against Obama is probably right. Rick Santorum truly stands for his convictions and we can’t have that in this libertine culture we’ve devolved into.

And everyone acts as though he’s some radical with ideas that were somehow foreign to our country, when his positions were the law less than 40 years ago. Horrible…

I’ve said before that I believe this is the crossroads for this country. If we don’t have a clear choice, (good/evil, life/death…) we, as a nation, have already chosen. I’m not saying all of the other candidates are ‘evil’. Not at all, but none would give us the clear, cut and dry choice that Rick Santorum would against Obama. I felt that way about Sarah Palin, too… But clearly, we are no longer a Christian nation, when a man like Santorum gets this sort of treatment on a relatively conservative site. Shame… It was a great experiment.

pannw on November 21, 2011 at 3:53 PM

I have taken a first look. I even tweeted once that he might make a good candidate if he weren’t such a social statist theocrat. It would be an Obama landslide. No thanks.

TedInATL on November 21, 2011 at 3:55 PM

While we are discussing why not a second look at Rick Santorum, let’s not forget that Santorum opposes E-Verify, which stops the illegal aliens from getting jobs. E-Verify will help reduce illegal aliens being in the country better than any fence will.

It’s worth repeating how Santorum bigotry against gays would seriously wound the GOP. It’s quite common for heterosexual 18 years olds to be as zealous about gay rights as gays themselves are. We can’t write off the future.

thuja on November 21, 2011 at 4:04 PM

No. Santorum is a nonstarter for so many reasons…. A decent man, but a nonstarter. He couldn’t even hold onto his Senate seat…

CatoRenasci on November 21, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Santorum is getting less traction at HotAir than Pawlenty. Pawlenty bangbangoneone

Jeddite on November 21, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Santorum’s a capable, intelligent candidate, easily Newt’s intellectual peer and as much (or more) a policy wonk than Romney, with socially conservative roots that Bachmann must envy. He’s shown considerable political courage in the past, taking unpopular and uncompromising stands on abortion, for example, when others on the right would waffle and hedge.

So why hasn’t it come together for Santorum? It’s his public manner, I think, which comes across as an abrasive and needlessly combative.

I like Santorum’s positions on many issues, but he doesn’t present himself well in debates. Many times, when a moderator would be asking him a question, he would be frowning or grimacing at the camera, even if the questioner was not hostile to him. This turns off lots of voters, who want a candidate who seems interested in their questions, willing to listen to them.

Steve Z on November 21, 2011 at 4:34 PM

If we don’t have a clear choice, (good/evil, life/death…) we, as a nation, have already chosen. I’m not saying all of the other candidates are ‘evil’.

The choice is not “good/evil”, that is precisely the way to lose the nomination. If we want to win, the choice needs to be “big government, entitlements and less freedom” or “small government, individual responsibility, and states’ rights.” Santorum’s brand of big-government conservatism is the embodiment of all that went wrong with George W. Bush, it is amazing that some people still have not learned that lesson.

Lawdawg86 on November 21, 2011 at 4:38 PM

The choice is not “good/evil”, that is precisely the way to lose the nomination.

Sorry, I meant “election”, not “nomination.”

Lawdawg86 on November 21, 2011 at 4:38 PM

What is it time to let a whiny beta male speak now? Surely his unemployment checks have maxed.

Buttercup on November 21, 2011 at 4:40 PM

But clearly, we are no longer a Christian nation, when a man like Santorum gets this sort of treatment on a relatively conservative site. Shame… It was a great experiment.

pannw on November 21, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Personally, I like Santorum well enough but think he would be too divisive to be an effective president. After Obama, who wants more of the same? Besides, we were never a Christian nation, constitutionally speaking. While a majority of our citizens identify as Christians and many of us are active in our faith, it is a mistake in this instance to confuse people with polity.

Personally, I don’t think the Creator of the Universe much cares about modern nation-states or other societal structures we build to govern ourselves, except inasmuch as nations allow or restrict the hearing of His word. Nations come and go–whole civilizations come and go–but the souls comprising those nations and civilizations? I imagine He values those very much, indeed. Countries are ephemeral. Souls are forever.

I’m no theologian, but that ‘Christian nation’ business gets under my skin. Find another moral high ground from which to throw rocks, please.

troyriser_gopftw on November 21, 2011 at 4:45 PM

I think his constituents told us all we need to know.

Vince on November 21, 2011 at 5:00 PM

MadisonConservative on November 21, 2011 at 2:37 PM

georgealbert on November 21, 2011 at 2:37 PM

JohnGalt23 on November 21, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Meredith on November 21, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Dash on November 21, 2011 at 2:53 PM

I’m not pushing Rick, but I will defend him.

You’ve got to expound somewhat better than you did in your respective posts.

listens2glenn on November 21, 2011 at 5:04 PM

But clearly, we are no longer a Christian nation, when a man like Santorum gets this sort of treatment on a relatively conservative site. Shame… It was a great experiment.

pannw on November 21, 2011 at 3:53 PM

“It was a great experiment.”

… are social conservatives now disowning the Bush years? Bush’s presidency was the “great experiment” you refer to, Santorum’s epically-failing presidential bid is nothing more than the base passing its final verdict on the Bush/Santorum brand of big-government/”compassionate” conservatism. Y’all had your chance to do things your way, and your views undeniably brought the party to the brink of total ruin. The Tea Party salvaged the GOP, and fueled it to the largest midterm re-election wins in sixty years, by eschewing your brand of conservatism and rallying the party under the banner of the small government and the 10th Amendment.

Lawdawg86 on November 21, 2011 at 5:06 PM

His strong stance against gays will most certainly court the all-important Westboro Baptist vote.

stuartm650 on November 21, 2011 at 5:17 PM

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BIG GOVT CONSERVATISM!

THEY ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

Bush was a moderate, and that’s all his so-called ‘compassionate conservatism’ was.

listens2glenn on November 21, 2011 at 5:30 PM

His strong stance against gays will most certainly court the all-important Westboro Baptist vote.

stuartm650 on November 21, 2011 at 5:17 PM

‘Strong stance against gays’ has got to be elaborated upon.

Is he for rounding them up and putting them in an impoundment of some kind?
Is he calling for a wide-open, no-closed hunting season on gays?

In what way/how is he against gays?

listens2glenn on November 21, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Stalwart conservative-knowledgeable on a wide-range of issues, and knows why he believes what he believes. Unfortunately, he comes off like a giant ‘richard’, and likability matters.

sDs61678 on November 21, 2011 at 5:37 PM

‘Strong stance against gays’ has got to be elaborated upon.

Is he for rounding them up and putting them in an impoundment of some kind?
Is he calling for a wide-open, no-closed hunting season on gays?

In what way/how is he against gays?

listens2glenn on November 21, 2011 at 5:36 PM

He wants homosexual acts to be illegal. He was a strong supporter of the Texas law that criminalized homosexuality.

AngusMc on November 21, 2011 at 5:45 PM

Lower ACU rating than Lindsay Graham and Mel Martinez (among many others).

Hell to the No.

mankai on November 21, 2011 at 6:03 PM

As much as I can’t stand Santorum, even his tax plan is more conservative than Mitt’s.

mankai on November 21, 2011 at 6:03 PM

FEARLESS CONSISTENT CONSERVATIVE.

Is he any of these three?

Doesn’t matter, the fix is in. Trump or Paul will run third party and siphon votes away from the GOP.

OBAMA 2012……….because America still exists!

PappyD61 on November 21, 2011 at 6:26 PM

Nope. He lost his Senate seat and he’s too darned self-righteous for me. When he goes on about a stronger family unit I always wonder, what’s he going to do- legislate it?

kg598301 on November 21, 2011 at 7:08 PM

He wants homosexual acts to be illegal. He was a strong supporter of the Texas law that criminalized homosexuality.

AngusMc on November 21, 2011 at 5:45 PM

I’m guilty (if you can call it guilt) of being for the criminalization of sodomy. That means I was, and still am, for the Texas law as I understood it to be.
I don’t have any illusions that such a law is going to stop people from practicing it, anyway.
But such a law would have the effect of pushing the practice of sodomy BACK INTO THE CLOSET. And that’s the point.

I don’t believe Rick Santorum is for the Police barging into peoples homes for the porpose of putting an end to all sodomy.
Neither do I believe that Rick Santorum is for the placement of electronic (or other type) devices in private homes, for the purpose of micro-monitoring our lives to make sure none of us is engaging in any activity that he disapproves of.

My apologies for the delay in this response; I had to leave home around 17:00 EST, and just got back.

listens2glenn on November 21, 2011 at 10:20 PM

As much as I’d love to see the honorable Mr. Santorum in the Oval Office, especially with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, I’m thinking he’d make a heck of a Defense Secretary. Having served as a Marine, under the honorable Mr. Reagan, the honorable Mr. Cheney and the honorable Mr. Rumsfeld, I like the idea of having a good man, of Santorum’s caliber, between the self-serving politicians and the selfless serving troops. I wholeheartedly believe that Rick Santorum is worthy of ANY position of power and responsibility. I hope his integrity and consistency are examples to which all public officials will aspire. I’m glad we have outstanding and outspoken people like him in the running. It’s too bad that morally-straight integrity, principled honor and faith in an entity greater than one’s self mean SQUAT to the left half of the nation and not nearly enough to much of the right half.

Rugged Individual on November 21, 2011 at 11:43 PM

. . . . . . I’m thinking he’d make a heck of a Defense Secretary.

Rugged Individual on November 21, 2011 at 11:43 PM

Yes he would.

listens2glenn on November 22, 2011 at 9:09 AM