The clip comes from Team Mitt, which has taken enough cheap shots from the Democrats and media quoting Romney out of context (most infamously when he said he liked being able to fire people) that apparently it felt it was justified pulling this edit on Santorum. The full quote, conveniently omitted here:

“We need a candidate who’s going to be a fighter for freedom. Who’s going to get up and make that the central theme in this race because it is the central theme in this race,” Santorum told a crowd of about 200 voters during a rally here on Monday. “I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. It’s something more foundational that’s going on.”

“I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be” is an exceptionally dumb way to make your point in the age of ubiquitous video editing software and YouTube, and Romney took full advantage in his own stump speech later today. But Santorum obviously didn’t mean that he doesn’t care about the unemployment rate in the abstract. He meant that, unlike Romney, his vision for the country is bigger than whatever the most important issue at this particular moment happens to be. Dave Weigel elaborates:

I’ve heard Santorum make this point in other speeches. Roughly: Mitt Romney can only win if the economy is lousy. I, a full-spectrum conservative, can win in any situation. Juanna Summers, a Politico embed on the Santorum campaign, clipped another line from this speech: “My campaign doesn’t hinge on unempoyment rates and growth rates.” Santorum’s meaning is pretty obvious. You can disagree with the theory that a guy who lost his last race by 18 points, when the economy wasn’t an issue, can more easily defeat Barack Obama than Mitt Romney. But that’s a different point than “the unemployment rate doesn’t matter to me.”…

The Romney campaign is attempting to press its rapid-response advantage, because the Santorum campaign isn’t ready to push back on this, and the media generally moves quickly enough for the bogus version of this quote (complete with a Romney campaign version of the clip) to traffic everywhere. It’s a meta-story, as if there were any other kind of story these days — Republicans should nominate the guy who can punch quickly, not the guy who brags about not needing a teleprompter and as a result can be easily taken out of context.

It’s also a way for Romney to try to pigeonhole Santorum as a niche “values” candidate for the benefit of undecideds who might be leery of all the time spent lately on social issues. Watch the clip and see for yourself: Why, Team Sweater Vest is so consumed with contraception and battling pornography that he doesn’t care about unemployment by his own admission! That’s what they want voters to take away, replete with Mitt sonorously reminding audiences at his town halls that he, of course, cares deeply about unemployment. On the other hand, Santorum’s attacks on Romney have gotten so sharp that he’s now taken to repeating Axelrod/Plouffe talking points about how Mitt has no “core.” You might see the clip of him saying that on CBS this morning in a Democratic ad or two this fall. They’re both fighting bareknuckle now.

I don’t want to leave you without an eyebrow-raising Santorum video, though, so watch the second one (via BuzzFeed) from 2008 for a quickie refresher on why libertarians loathe, loathe, loathe him.