Sorry for the light posting this week -- a combination of stories for the newspaper (here and here) and the first winter cold of 2012, which seems to already be getting better. That's OK, because the Daily News' John Baer, who has known and covered Rick Santorum longer than I have, wrote a masterful piece on deadline about the Pennsylvania man whose rise to 45th president of the United States of America seems slightly less improbable today.
Take it away, John:
Then there was his publicized culture-of-life support in 2005 for the comatose Terry Schiavo during a Florida legal fight between her husband and her parents over her life-support. Rick went uninvited to pray with her parents. He went on a Wal-Mart jet. He used the trip to get to a $250,000 fundraiser for his re-election campaign - proving, I guess, he believes that commitment to causes is important.
Santorum compared himself to Winston Churchill in 2006, warning against a "gathering storm" of evil-doers out to destroy our nation.
These days he just says bomb Iran - and tries to explain why he endorsed Mitt Romney in 2008.
So if the national media wonder how an incumbent senator and member of Senate leadership in 2006 lost re-election in his home state by 17 points, I've got the answer: Pennsylvania got to know him.
Now it's the nation's turn.
As Baer hints in his piece, get ready for the onslaught of Romney hedge-fund-funded SuperPAC ads seeking to portray Santorum as just another career Washington politician (which he is...more on that hopefully later this week.) I'm not sure if that sticks with the culture warriors of the GOP primary electorate, especially in the upcoming battleground of South Carolina. Or maybe voters just like sweater vests.