One Strapped Santorum

Manchester, New Hampshire—The fact that Rick Santorum doesn’t have much of an organization or an appreciable number of dollars has been increasingly apparent during the past several days in New Hampshire. Late yesterday afternoon, his campaign had scheduled a town hall in the back room of Belmont Hall, a modest restaurant in a working-class neighborhood of Manchester. The room was far too small for the crowd that turned out but everyone who’d turned out managed to squeeze in nonetheless.

But shortly before the event was scheduled to begin, the restaurant owner stepped to the podium and announced that a fire marshal had shown up and ordered all but 100 of the attendees to leave, which would have meant 150 people would have to go. (Who called the fire marshal? Someone from another campaign, or someone who doesn’t like Santorum?) The volunteer representing the Santorum campaign called a campaign staffer and the decision was made to move the event into the restaurant’s parking lot.

And there Santorum spoke, not that he was audible. The campaign had not arranged for any sound amplification.  A scraggly if charming character named—for the purposes of the New Hampshire primary, anyway—Vermin Supreme, who professes to be a candidate, loaned his bullhorn to the person who introduced Santorum, but the candidate elected simply to talk sans bullhorn as hundreds of people crowded around straining to hear. Mr. Supreme kept up a steady obligatto of complaints about Santorum’s sub-humanization of gays and lesbians. Santorum himself, to the extent he could be heard, delivered an attack on Medicare, a curious topic for a talk given that the Santorum supporters in the crowd were chiefly elderly neighborhood residents, and the neighborhood looked none too prosperous.

Among the many things that the Santorum campaign is lacking is an advance staff—people whose job it is to set up events and make sure they run smoothly.  That may explain the screw-up yesterday afternoon, but the candidate himself seems oddly eager to alienate voters, too. That was apparent in his appearance before a gathering of college and high school students the day previous in Concord, where he lectured at length about the sin of gay sexual relations. Yesterday, of the 250 students who cast their straw ballot votes for their GOP presidential preference (hundreds of others voted for Democrats—that is, Obama), exactly one voted for Santorum. 

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