On a day when Slate’s David Weigel announced the birth of a “kinder, gentler” Rick Santorum—asserting that “his culture war talk is softer, more implied”—the former senator’s super PAC sugar daddy demonstrated that he definitely didn’t get the memo. On MSNBC, Foster Friess left host Andrea Mitchell dumbstruck after she asked whether Santorum’s “comments on social issues, contraception, about women in combat” would prove a problem in a general election. “This contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so inexpensive,” replied the beaming, white-haired billionaire investor. “Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
Obviously, candidates can’t be held responsible for what strange things their supporters say. But on the heels of Santorum’s controversial comments about women in combat, the dredging-up of his opinion that birth control is “harmful to women”—and with the candidate leading the rhetorical charge against President Obama’s contraception mandate—it certainly illustrated the impossibility of Santorum de-emphasizing his culture warriorhood as the campaign goes on. And it came on a day when House Republicans were doing their darnedest to drive all but the most socially conservative women away from the party. At a hearing about Obama’s mandate and “religious freedom,” this morning’s panel was all-male after the Democrats’ choice of a panelist—Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke—was rejected by chair Darrell Issa as “not qualified.” Though two women—both opposing the contraception rule—were included on an afternoon panel, the PR damage was already done. As House minority leader Nancy Pelosi asked: “Where are the women? And that’s a good question for the whole debate: Where are the women?” If Santorum, Friess, and their fellow Republicans continue to paint the GOP as anti-birth control, they’ll be asking the same question in November. And where the “gals” will be, without question, is overwhelmingly in the Democratic camp
So They Say
"I don't think God will continue to bless America if we continue to kill 1.2 million children every year."
—Santorum, speaking of abortion at a Wednesday-night rally in Fargo, North Dakota
Daily Meme: Mitt's Multiple Personalities
- World Net Daily: “Mitt Romney = George H.W. Bush.”
- Mike Huckabee: Is “Romney the next Tom Dewey?”
- The Progressive Professor: “Mitt Romney can be seen as the new Herbert Hoover.”
- Steve Kornacki: He’s got an “emerging Bob Dole problem.”
- Michael Tomasky: His “emotion deficit” makes him “the Al Gore of the GOP.”
- David Brooks: “As Walter Mondale was the last gasp of the fading New Deal coalition, Romney has turned himself into the last gasp of the Reagan coalition.”
- Bob Shrum: “Mitt Romney is the Richard Nixon of 2012.”
- George Will: “Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis.”
- McSweeney’s: Romney=Barbra Streisand?
- Forbes: Or maybe he’s the Republican John Kerry.
- But, still: Romney≠Genghis Khan
What We're Writing
What We're Reading
- Tim Dickinson reports at Rolling Stone on President Obama’s medical-marijuana crackdown.
- Ramesh Ponnuru dissects the falsehoods behind Ron Paul’s crusade against the Federal Reserve.
- Oh hey, Jon Huntsman!
- Romney's problem: He only looks good to one facet of the Republican base.
- Santorum's super PAC is more Millenium Falcon than Death Star.
- CNN cancels its pre-Super Tuesday debate after Romney and Paul pull out.
- Obama spends the day raising money in California.
- Paul Ryan calls on Republicans to run an “affirming campaign.”
Poll of the Day
Only 34 percent of Americans say Romney is likable.