Top donor: You just watch, Santorum will be frontrunner "very soon"

The foremost funder of Rick Santorum’s Super PAC, says Santorum will be in or near the lead of the GOP primary “very soon.”

“I believe Rick Santorum will become one of the front-runners very soon,” Foster Friess, a major donor to the Red White and Blue Fund, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

True, that’s not a particularly daring prediction: At this point, any one of the GOP Final Four could claim to be an overall “frontrunner.”  Even the last-place finisher in Florida could claim to be “near” the lead. But that’s obviously not what Friess meant.

The businessman has donated $700,000 to Santorum’s political campaigns over the years and now says he has an “open checkbook” from which he’s willing to draw continually for the sake of Santorum’s presidential bid. At the same time, though, he’s prepared to donate in the general election to whoever becomes the GOP nominee. He just prefers Santorum, he said, because he has known him for more than 15 years on a personal basis.

Meantime, even though Rick Santorum won Iowa and performs better and better in debates, the former Pennsylvania senator hasn’t received the kind of media scrutiny to which Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are routinely subjected. For a brief period of time after his win in Iowa, a number of critics accused him of “big government conservatism,” but, since then, Santorum-specific news has been fairly scarce.

Yesterday, though, someone called my attention to this 1994 article, which seems to suggest that Santorum at one time did favor requiring individuals to purchase health insurance. That’s important because, in recent days, Santorum has made a point to draw a contrast between himself and his competitors on this issue, saying that he has never supported an individual health care mandate. You’d think his competitors’ opposition researchers would have said something if Santorum did, in fact, support a mandate in the past — but, then again, you’d also think Santorum’s then-staff wouldn’t have let this article go at the time without asking for a correction if, in fact, it falsely portrayed Santorum’s positions. I’ve reached out to the Santorum campaign to see what Santorum’s response to that long-ago story is, and will let you know what I find out.

Update: Thanks for all the comments and especially for the link to the video at The Right Scoop. The article appears to be a one-off misinterpretation of Santorum’s positions and, according to an initial quick response from Santorum’s campaign, has a number of holes in it. That was my hunch, but I wanted to verify. Again, I appreciate your responses.