Last night in Mesa, Arizona, we learned (thanks to Rick Santorum) that birth control leads to more unwanted pregnancies. We discovered that Newt Gingrich thinks his best one-word description is “cheerful.” We couldn't help noticing that Ron Paul (see below) has become Mitt Romney’s most valuable campaign surrogate. But there was one relevation odder still: that Santorum is (are you sitting down?) a raving moderate compared to that beacon of conservative consistency, Romney. It is no small feat for a formerly pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-universal-health-care governor of Massachusetts to transform one of the nation’s leading right-wing Neanderthals into an unprincipled, wavering compromiser of conservative values. But give Romney (and his wingman Paul) their due, because they’ve now managed it twice in one campaign. First it was that other Neanderthal, Texas governor Rick Perry, who—long before “oops”—was badly wounded by a barrage of criticism from Paul (and Michele Bachmann) that he was a big-government type and from Romney that he was a bleeding heart on illegal immigration. Last night, Santorum came under relentless criticism for basically supporting George W. Bush’s agenda in the Senate—for voting, as The Weekly Standard has pointed out, just like former Senator Jim Talent, the Romney supporter who’s been criticizing Santorum for those very votes. But as The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis pointed out, nothing was more audacious than Romney’s criticizing Santorum for having endorsed his fellow Republican Pennsylvania senator, Arlen Specter, in 2004: “Santorum’s crime, in Romney’s eyes, is to have endorsed someone whose moderation resembled that of … Mitt Romney.”
True, Santorum fell right into the trap, sounding for all the world like (perish the thought!) a senator as he defended his voting record. Today in Michigan—maybe too late—the Santorum campaign hit back with a striking ad compiling some of Romney’s characterizations of himself through the years, beginning with, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” That might help—though it might also be too late. If Romney pulls through in Michigan next Tuesday, we might be witnessing the single most illogical outcome of a campaign defined by the illogical: the least-principled conservative in the field beating the staunchest conservative by painting him as suspiciously mainstream.
So They Say
“Let's be clear about what Obama did, once in 2003 and twice before that. He effectively voted for infanticide. He voted to allow doctors to deny medically appropriate treatment or, worse yet, actively kill a completely delivered living baby. Infanticide—I wonder if he'll add this to the list of changes in his next victory speech and if the crowd will roar: ‘Yes, we can.’”
—Rick Santorum, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, February 2008
Daily Meme: Bromance
- The Romney-Paul duo successfully tag-teamed Santorum last night, calling his consistency as a conservative into question.
- Alex Koppleman: Ron Paul helped win it for Romney—but why?
- Santorum: "You have to ask Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they've got going together.”
- Paul: “I talk to Romney more than the rest on a friendly basis.”
- Romney and Paul haven’t laid a glove on each other in the debates.
- Ever noticed that Paul’s ads always seem to help Romney?
- Does Paul want to chair (and demolish) the Federal Reserve?
- Or does he want his son, Senator Rand Paul, on the Romney ticket?
- Rand Paul says it would be an “honor” if Romney asked him.
What We're Writing
- Last night’s big winner, writes Jamelle Bouie, was President Obama—especially with women and Latinos.
- Paul Waldman looks at the bright side of super PACs.
What We're Reading
- Hold the presses! Senator Marco Rubio was once a Mormon.
- Obama on Univision: "I've got another five years coming up."
- A pro-Obama super PAC airs ads in Michigan poking Romney for opposing the auto-industry bailouts.
- Ann Coulter: “The entire NFM (non-Fox media) hate Romney because he is the only candidate who stands a chance of beating Obama.”
- Arizona’s vicious GOP Senate primary reflects the party’s national divisions.
- Dan Amira finds seven more Seinfeld quotes that apply to Romney.
Poll of the Day
Romney is in hot water with women voters. Forty-five percent view him unfavorably, as opposed to 30 percent favorably. And while 68 percent of women think Obama cares about their “needs and problems,” only 41 percent say this about Romney.