Rick Santorum says cursing at reporter shows he’s ‘real Republican’

Michael A. Memoli, LA Times

Rick Santorum on Monday wore his angry tirade against the media Sunday as a badge of honor, joking that his use of a curse word in an exchange with a New York Times reporter showed he’s “a real Republican.”

Speaking on Fox News Channel this morning, Santorum claimed he was being harassed when he said it was “bull—-” how Times reporter Jeff Zeleny was, in his view, distorting his comments during a campaign rally in Wisconsin while discussing healthcare reform.

At a campaign rally in Wisconsin, which holds the next big GOP primary a week from Tuesday, the former Pennsylvania senator had said that Mitt Romney “is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama” on the issue.

As Santorum was greeting supporters after, Zeleny put this question to him: “You said that Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country. Is that true?

“What speech did you listen to?” an incredulous Santorum fired back.

After Zeleny him again, Santorum jabbed his finger in Zeleny’s direction as he urged him to “stop lying.” Romney is the “worst” on healthcare reform “because he fashioned the blueprint.”

“I’ve been saying it in every speech. Quit distorting my words. If I see it, it’s bull—-. C’mon man, what are you doing?” he said.

Clearly riled, Santorum continued to shake his head and glare at Zeleny even as he interacted with voters along the rope-line.

“What are you guys in the business of doing, reporting the truth? Or are you here to try and spin and make news? Stop it,” he said.

This morning, a more jovial Santorum laughed the incident off while speaking with the crew on “Fox and Friends” on Fox News Channel.

“If you haven’t cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you’re not really a real Republican is the way I look at it,” Santorum said.

“It was just one of these harassing moments. After having answered the question a few times, he sort of comes back with the same old question, the same old spin, I just said, I’ve had enough of this you-know-what.”

The Romney campaign, one week after the “Etch-A-Sketch” storyline blotted out what should have been a favorable news cycle for them, has now seized on the Santorum tirade. One Romney aide called it “angry” and flailing” — a “Tantorum.”

Romney’s team certainly has an incentive to push the idea that Santorum is feeling the heat, as it seeks to rally the party behind the former Massachusetts governor in hopes of bringing the internecine battle to an end.

And more leading conservatives are coming around to Romney. Al Cardenas, the chair of the American Conservative Union, writes in an op-ed for the Daily Caller that “it’s time to unite behind a worthy presidential candidate, build our organization and raise the resources necessary to defeat the liberal electoral machine.”

The endorsement from Cardenas, who also supported Romney in 2008, is as much about the reality of the GOP race as it is about Romney’s credentials. Cardenas writes that it’s clear that neither Santorum, Newt Gingrich nor Ron Paul could win enough delegates to claim the nomination, so their only path is a “contested, anarchic floor fight just weeks before Americans vote.”

Romney, he adds, is an “honorable, worthy, competent, conservative candidate.”

Also endorsing Romney today are California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the third-ranking Republican in Congress, and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a tea party favorite who unseated fellow Republican Robert Bennett in 2010.

Lee said Romney is the one candidate who will be able to win in November and implement policies that “conservatives like me have been fighting for.”

Here’s the CBS video of Santorum’s exchange with Zeleny, followed by a transcript, and Santorum’s comments this morning on Fox News Channel.

Read this at LATimes.com

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Rick Santorum: I Would Consider Being Vice President To Mitt Romney

Elise Foley, Huffington Post

Rick Santorum would consider being vice president to Mitt Romney, a man he’s consistently attacked during the campaign, he told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody on Monday.

“Would you even consider it?” Brody asked Santorum, after suggesting he might laugh off the question.

Former Sen. Santorum (R-Pa.) responded that “of course” he would think about it because of the magnitude of the election, calling it the “most important race in our country’s history.”

“I’ll do whatever is necessary to help our country,” he said.

If Romney becomes the GOP nominee, it seems unlikely that he would pick Santorum, given the vitriolic attacks the two have exchanged. Last week, Santorum said Romney and the president were so similar on health care that “we might as well stay with what we have,” which the Romney campaign claimed was an implication that he would “rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican.”

Santorum made a similar remark on Sunday when he called the former Massachusetts governor the “worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama,” again in reference to health care.

Still, Santorum fought back against the idea he would prefer Obama to Romney, cursing at reporter from The New York Times who Santorum said distorted his words on the issue.

In the Monday interview with Brody, Santorum pushed the message that he is more concerned about taking back the White House for Republicans than he is about becoming the president.

“I don’t want to be the guy who has to sit with my granddaughter, 20 years from now, and tell stories about an America where people once were free,” Santorum said. “I don’t want to have that conversation.”

Read this at HuffingtonPost.com

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Rick Santorum declares war on pornography: I will ban hardcore porn if I’m elected President

 
He wants a crackdown on the distribution of hardcore pornography on the Internet, in addition to material on cable/satellite TV, hotel/motel TV, retail shops and through the mail

Aliyah Shahid, NY Daily News

Rick Santorum is declaring a war… on porn.

The Republican presidential candidate and staunch social conservative wants to ban hard-core pornography. He calls it “toxic to marriages and relationships” in a new statement posted on his official website.

“America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography,” the former Pennsylvania senator writes. “It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.”

He demands a crackdown on the distribution of hardcore pornography on the Internet, in addition to material on cable/satellite TV, hotel/motel TV, retail shops and through the mail.

What qualifies as “hardcore” remains unclear.

Santorum points to a “wealth of research” showing pornography causes “profound brain changes in both children and adults,” and rips President Obama for not doing enough.

“The Obama administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws,” he writes. “While the Obama Department of Justice seems to favor pornographers over children and families, that will change under a Santorum administration.

The White House hopeful isn’t the first to sign off on such measures this election cycle.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who dropped out of the race in January, previously signed a pledge pushed by influential Christian conservative group, the Family Leader, that among other measures, calls for banning all pornography.

In July, Mitt Romney — Santorum’s rival and GOP frontrunner — refused to sign the pledge. It also stated homosexuality is a choice and health risk, banned gay marriage, and called for appointing faithful constitutionalists as judges.

Romney’s spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said at the time that the oath “contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.”

On Tuesday, Santorum won primaries in the socially conservative states of Alabama and Mississippi. Romney and Santorum are both stumping in Puerto Rico ahead of the U.S. territory’s contest on Sunday.

Read this article at NYDailyNews.com

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Mississippi, Alabama primaries give Republicans a two-man race

 
Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s twin wins in Alabama and Mississippi Tuesday night are almost certain to give him what he has long wanted: A one-on-one race with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

The victories by Santorum came in the political backyard of Newt Gingrich and are likely to symbolically — if not literally — end the former speaker’s hopes in the race.

“The time is now for conservatives to pull together,” Santorum urged in his victory speech Tuesday night from Lafayette, La.

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum greets supporters at the Original Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Monday, March 12, 2012. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Dusty Compton)

Gingrich has pledged to remain in the presidential race all the way to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and he still may choose to do that. “He is not going to drop out,” his daughter Jackie Cushman said on MSNBC on Tuesday night. “He is not interested in that.”

But Santorum’s wins on Tuesday are likely to trigger a rallying effect among conservatives, a movement that Gingrich was (barely) able to hold off on Super Tuesday when he won his home state of Georgia. (Aside from his home state, Gingrich has won only one other state — South Carolina — way back on Jan. 21.)

And, no matter what Gingrich does, the numbers from the exit polls in Alabama and Mississippi are a striking sign that Santorum is rapidly emerging as the preferred conservative choice.

Among those who said a candidate’s conservative credentials were the most important attribute in making their choice, 51 percent of Alabamians went for Santorum while just 34 percent voted for Gingrich. In Mississippi, it was 53 percent for Santorum to 34 percent for Gingrich. Roughly one in four Alabama voters said a “strong moral character” was the most important candidate attribute; Santorum took 61 percent to just 7 percent for Gingrich among that bloc.

For all intents and purposes then, the Republican race has narrowed to a two-man race with Illinois, which votes on March 20, looming as the next huge test for both Santorum and Romney.

Polling released over the weekend in Illinois shows Romney with the narrowest of leads over Santorum although it’s unclear whether the positive press coverage the former Pennsylvania senator will receive coming out of Tuesday night’s votes will alter the electoral calculus in the Prairie State.

Romney’s losses in both Alabama and Mississippi will further complicate his campaign’s efforts to focus the race solely on the delegate count, which continues to heavily favor him.

Not that they aren’t trying, of course. “Our goal was to take one-third of the delegates and possibly do slightly better than that,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehnrstrom said on CNN Tuesday night. “I think we will exceed that goal.”

Romney’s inability to win a single Southern state where he has shared the ballot with Santorum and Gingrich coupled with his ongoing struggles with very conservative voters and those who identify themselves as evangelical Christians are sure to provide considerable fodder to Romney’s critics.

It’s impossible for Romney to make the case that his nomination is inevitable when he keeps putting “L’s” on the board. It’s equally difficult for Santorum to argue he can overcome Romney’s delegate edge unless he can win a big, delegate-rich state where Romney is favored.

Still, Illinois will almost certainly be the first state where Santorum gets what he always wanted: a clear shot at Romney. Now he just has to prove he can hit the target.

Read this article at WashingtonPost.com

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Santorum ally calls for Gingrich exit

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(CNN) – The super PAC which has spent millions in support of Rick Santorum came out Wednesday morning with a sharp admonition for Newt Gingrich: it’s time to drop out.

“Based on his electoral performance last night and his out-of-step record, it is time for Newt Gingrich to exit the Republican nominating process,” Stuart Roy, a Red, White, and Blue Fund advisor, said, adding that Gingrich’s “campaign is an obvious non-starter.”

The group argued in a press release that Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, and Gingrich, former House speaker, are splitting the support of social conservatives.

“With Gingrich exiting the race it would be a true head-to-head race and conservatives would be able to make a choice between a consistent conservative in Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney,” Roy said. “For instance, with Gingrich out of the race Santorum would have won both Ohio and Michigan.

“Newt has become a hindrance to a conservative alternative,” he added.

This call is a turn of the tables upon Gingrich, who in January cited the same reason in arguing for the exit of Santorum and then-candidate Rick Perry. Perry, the Texas governor, did suspend his campaign ahead of the South Carolina primary, and endorsed Gingrich, who also has the backing of one-time candidate and businessman Herman Cain.

“So I am respectful that Rick has every right to run as long as he feels that’s what he should do, but from the stand point of the conservative movement, consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy would in fact virtually guarantee a victory on Saturday,” Gingrich told reporters in mid-January. “And I’d be delighted if either Perry or Santorum wanted to do that.”

He said “any vote toward Perry or Santorum, in effect is a vote to allow Romney to become the nominee.”

But Gingrich – who has won only in South Carolina and his home state of Georgia – trails Santorum in the delegate count. Santorum added three states to his belt Tuesday night, making a total of seven state wins.

Gingrich said in a Wednesday radio interview that he had not won his home state on Tuesday, “I’d have gotten out of the race this morning.” But getting out, he said on “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America,” would not be wise because he is not convinced of Santorum’s electability.

“If I thought he was a slam dunk to beat Romney and to beat Obama, I would really consider getting out,” Gingrich added. “I think each of the three candidates has strengths and weaknesses and I think this is a very healthy.”

Santorum adviser John Brabender said Tuesday night that Santorum “is the only candidate who can beat Mitt Romney,” but stopped short of calling for Gingrich’s exit.

“We’re not gonna call on anyone to drop out but. . . we are calling on conservatives and tea party supporters to rally,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, Santorum’s press secretary, Alice Stewart, told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that Tuesday was a “tremendous victory for our campaign.”

 

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Santorum: “We keep coming back”

Juana Summers, Politico.com

Rick Santorum pocketed victories in Oklahoma and Tennessee on Super Tuesday but narrowly lost Ohio to Mitt Romney.

But the performance of the former Pennsylvania senator in the 10 states that voted Tuesday is strong enough to propel his campaign forward into future races, where the battleground will shift South to Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas, which votes on Saturday. [Read more...]

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Santorum campaign claims a tie in Michigan

Aaron Blake, WashingtonPost.com

Rick Santorum’s campaign is declaring the Michigan primary to be a tie — pointing out that it looks like each candidate will win 15 of the state’s 30 delegates.

While there has been no final determination of who won how many delegates in Michigan on Tuesday, current results suggest both candidates won seven of the state’s 14 congressional districts, each of which award two delegates to the winner. In addition, Santorum adviser John Brabender said the state’s two at-large delegates are likely to be split between Romney and Santorum because the vote was so close.

“It’s highly likely this is is going to end up being a tie, based on the data that we have,” Brabender said. “I don’t know how you look at that as anything besides this being a strong showing for Rick Santorum and anything short of a disaster for Mitt Romney.

“If we can do this well in Romney’s home state, this bodes well for Super Tuesday.”

Romney won the popular vote in the state by about 3 percentage points, according to the latest tally.

As we noted Wednesday morning, the delegate picture in Michigan isn’t completely settled, though. Brabender acknowledged that his assertions were based on the best data available and not a concrete final word form the state Republican Party, but said a tie was likely.

Then Brabender made the case that a tie or even a close finish was a loss for Romney.

Brabender noted that Romney outspent Santorum by a wide margin and that he was born in the state, where his father is a well-regarded former governor.

He also noted that Romney’s campaign said in the runup to the Feb. 7 contests that they weren’t as important because delegates weren’t awarded based on the results of those contests.

Romney’s campaign issued a preemptive response, arguing that Santorum was only as close as he was because Democrats turned out to vote for him in an effort to thwart Romney.

Santorum’s campaign even ran robocalls seeking support from registered Democrats.

“If the only way Rick Santorum thinks he can win an election is to recruit Democrats to vote against Mitt Romney, he needs to reevaluate why he is even in this race,” Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in a statement. “Republicans should choose the nominee, not Democrats. Rick Santorum needs to apologize and pledge that he won’t resort to these dirty tactics on Super Tuesday.”

Even if the delegate race in Michigan was a tie, Romney still won far more delegates on Tuesday. By winning Arizona’s primary, he takes home all of that state’s 29 available delegates. So Romney still won nearly three-fourths of the delegates available on Tuesday.

Read this at WashingtonPost.com

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Religious experts challenge Santorum claim on college

Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s claim that U.S. colleges drive young adult Christians out of church, was disputed by Protestant and Catholic experts Sunday.

Santorum told talk show host Glenn Beck on Thursday that “62% of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.”

Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, a Nashville evangelical research and marketing agency, said, “There is no statistical difference in the dropout rate among those who attended college and those that did not attend college. Going to college doesn’t make you a religious drop out.”

A 2007 LifeWay survey did find seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23.

The real causes: lack of “a robust faith,” strongly committed parents and an essential church connection, Rainer said.

“Higher education is not the villain,” said sociologist William D’Antonio of Catholic University ofAmerica. Since 1986, D’Antonio’s surveys of American Catholics have asked about Mass attendance, whether they rate their religion as very important in their life, and whether they have considered leaving Catholicism. The percentage of Catholics who scored low on all three points hovers between 18% in 1993 and 14% in 2011. But the percentage of people who are highly committed fell from 27% to 19%.

“Blame mortality,” D’Antonio said, “The most highly committed Catholics are seniors and they’re dying out.”

Dennis Prager, a conservative writer on religious and political issues, decried secularism in Western Universities in the National Review in April. He concluded, “With all the persecution that Judaism and Christianity have survived over the centuries, an argument that cites America’s Top 310 Colleges as a first order adversary is hard to credit.”

Read this article at USAToday.com

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Santorum benefits from mistaken religious identity

Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer

Rick Santorum’s political good fortune in the Republican presidential primaries has come about in large part because of his appeal to evangelicals. A Roman Catholic, he is a beneficiary of more than two decades of cooperation between conservative Protestants and Catholics who set aside theological differences for the common cause of the culture war.

Doctrine — and anti-Catholic bias — once split Protestants and Catholics so bitterly that many evangelical leaders worked to defeat John F. Kennedy because of his religion. When Kennedy sought to confront suspicion about his Catholicism, he made his now-famous faith speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of evangelical Protestants in Texas. Five decades later, when some prominent evangelical leaders gathered at a Texas ranch to discuss backing a 2012 GOP candidate, Santorum was their choice.

Now running about even with Mitt Romney, Santorum has nearly doubled his support from white evangelical Republicans, from 22 percent last month to 41 percent two weeks ago, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. An Associated Press-GfK survey conducted more recently, Feb.16-20, found Santorum leading Romney among white evangelicals, 44 percent to 21 percent. White Catholics also preferred Santorum, 38 percent to 29 percent, in the AP-GfK poll.

The high regard extends to Santorum’s personal life. His seven children have been home-schooled, a practice much more common among conservative American Protestants than Catholics, who have a network of parochial schools built over centuries. His concerns — opposing gay marriage and abortion, promoting traditional roles for women — contribute to that appeal. The Christian Post, an evangelical media outlet, published an article this week called “Catholic Politicians You Thought Were Evangelical,” with a short list of the most-often misidentified, led by Santorum.

The former Pennsylvania senator’s pointed rhetoric questioning the authenticity of other Christians can make him sound more like a preacher than a politician, but it draws support among many conservative Christians. He said recently that President Barack Obama, also a Christian, holds a “phony theology,” then insisted he wasn’t attacking the president’s faith but his environmental views. The Obama campaign condemned his remark.

Also drawing attention is a 2008 speech to Ave Maria University in Florida, a private Catholic school established by the Domino’s Pizza founder. In it, Santorum warned that Satan has been waging a spiritual war against the United States and has infiltrated academia, liberal Protestant churches and politics.

“Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality as the root to attack all of these strong plants that have so deeply rooted in the American tradition,” Santorum said, in a video posted by Right Wing Watch, a project of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way. “We look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles. It is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”

Romney, Santorum’s main rival for the nomination, struggles with conservatives not only because he once supported legalized abortion, which he now condemns, but also from distrust of Mormon teaching among some Christians. He rarely speaks directly about his faith or any other.

Bill Portier, a Catholic theologian and historian at the University of Dayton in Ohio, said many in the United States have come to identify conservative religion only with evangelicalism. A growing number are describing themselves as “spiritual, not religious” and aren’t affiliating as closely with a particular denomination.

Portier said his students at the Catholic university are often shocked to learn about a Catholic teaching on a social or moral issue that differs from a conservative Protestant view.

“It’s their default, what evangelicals say,” he said. “It kind of comes to them from osmosis through our culture.”

One of the best-known efforts to bring the two Christian traditions together came in the 1994 statement “Evangelicals and Catholics Together.” The authors were Chuck Colson, the Watergate felon turned born-again Christian, and the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a Lutheran who converted to Catholicism and was also often mistaken for an evangelical. In 2009, Catholics, evangelicals and Orthodox Christians again pledged their unity on moral issues in a document called the “Manhattan Declaration,” in which they promised civil disobedience if any laws are enacted that violate their conscience.

Some political veterans warn Santorum that what fires up the base can be a losing strategy in the general election.

Peter Wehner, a Republican who served three presidential administrations, most recently under George W. Bush, said in an article about Santorum that social conservatism must be discussed in positive terms, as promoting human dignity, “rather than declaring a series of forbidden acts that are leading us to Gomorrah.” Wehner is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank where Santorum was a fellow after he lost his U.S. Senate seat.

“A wise observer told me years ago,” Wehner wrote on Commentary magazine’s website, “that for a politician to be seen as the aggressor in the culture wars is the quickest way to lose them.”

Read this article at Seattlepi.com

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Is Rick Santorum too angry to be elected president?

Some conservative pundits worry that Rick Santorum has not yet shown the ability to be the sort of optimistic unifier – à la Ronald Reagan – that general-election voters tend to prefer.

Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor

Does Rick Santorum seem too angry to be elected president of the United States?

We ask this question because it draws together some criticisms of the ex-Pennsylvania senator that have been pinging around the conservative blogosphere in recent days.

It’s a political truism that Americans like their presidential candidates, and their presidents, to be optimistic, even sunny. Think Ronald Reagan, or Bill Clinton when he wasn’t answering questions dealing with impeachment.

But in recent weeks, as he talks about his beliefs on issues from economics to the needs of families, this is not always how Mr. Santorum has come across. In recent days Santorum and his aides have been grumbling that Mitt Romney and Ron Paul conspired against him in Wednesday’s CNN debate, for instance.

“Santorum already has a reputation for being thin-skinned and peevish,” wrote conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin today on her Right Turn blog in The Washington Post. “This tactic certainly [makes] him seem like a poor sport.”

Of course, the GOP race as a whole has not been distinguished by its cheerfulness. That’s what former Florida Governor and brother-of-W Jeb Bush was getting at Thursday night when he said he finds it “troubling” that the Republican candidates are “appealing to people’s fears and emotions.”

According to an account on Fox News, answering questions following a speech in Dallas, Jeb Bush said “I used to be a conservative, and I watch these debates and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective…. I think it changes when we get to the general election. I hope.”

Plus, many Republicans feel strongly about ousting President Obama, and are responding to rhetoric that they consider rousing. Thus in his speech to the Maricopa County Lincoln Day lunch last week, Santorum ended with the tough words, “It is your honor at stake. Will you be the generation that lets the flame go out? Will you be the generation that succumbs to the siren song that government can do for you” what you can do for yourself?

Maricopa County Republicans gave Santorum a standing ovation for this call. But as Kimberly Strassel writes today in her column for The Wall Street Journal editorial page, US presidential elections are not won by political party bases. They are won at the margins of the electorate, by winning over swing voters. And right now, those margins are not thrilled about the seeming willingness of social conservatives to impose their views of morality on the nation.

This is “a trend that Mr. Santorum would seem to highlight,” writes Ms. Strassel in her piece, which is headlined “Moralizer in Chief?”

Santorum is a man of evident deep faith who speaks often of the need to revitalize religious institutions and families. Yet he’s also “left many Americans with the impression that he believes it is his job as president to revitalize these institutions,” according to Strassel, who adds that Santorum needs to find “a less judgmental way of discussing social issues.”

That said, not everyone agrees Santorum seems more of a scold than others in the GOP field. At an American Enterprise Institute political seminar on Tuesday, AEI scholar Henry Olsen said, “Santorum, despite his lapses into moralism, is somebody who presents a sunnier personality than Newt Gingrich, a more consistent personality than Newt Gingrich, is somebody who is clearly intelligent and conversant with the issues, unlike Gov. Rick Perry, and is somebody who is not prone to demagogic bombast as are some of the other candidates.”

Read this article at CSMonitor.com

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