Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rick's Own Reality

Santorum is at it again, this time going after a PA pollster whose findings show Rick losing support in his own home state.

Rick's Own Reality

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, center, addresses supporters as he is joined by son John, left, daughter Sarah Maria and wife Karen, right, at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, April 1, 2012. (AP Photo / Jae C. Hong)
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, center, addresses supporters as he is joined by son John, left, daughter Sarah Maria and wife Karen, right, at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, April 1, 2012. (AP Photo / Jae C. Hong)

I suppose it's only natural that when things don't go one's way in the real world, one steps back into a world of one's own making.

How else to explain the latest in an ongoing series of imagined realities created by Rick Santorum?

On Sunday, the GOP presidential hopeful told Fox News that the real reason the latest polling in his home state of Pennsylvania shows his support slipping is that the pollster, Terry Madonna, is a "Democratic hack."

Madonna's Franklin & Marshall College Poll released last week shows Santorum ahead of Mitt Romney by just two percentage points, 30-28, a stark contrast to Madonna's findings in mid-February showing Santorum ahead of Romney by 29 points, 45-16.

Asked about the newer poll, Santorum said this:

“First off, the Democratic hack that does that, Terry Madonna, has probably singularly gotten more polls wrong than any person I know in the history of the state...this is a pollster who just — I think he just draws numbers out of a hat sometimes. We feel very good about Pennsylvania. We’re going to do exceptionally well there.”

Two things: in the real world, Madonna's done decades of non-partisan polling in Pennsylania and is almost always dead-on accurate, including in any number of past polls invovling Santorum's Senate races; and the notion that Rick does "exceptionally well" in PA's April 24 primary is clearly questionable, except, of course, in his own reality.

But the tactic is part of a pattern. Santorum calling a respected pollster a "hack" after a poll shows Rick falling (apparently Madonna wasn't a hack back in mid-February) is akin to Santorum calling a sitting president a "snob" for pushing education, or saying JFK's historic speech on separation of church and state made him want to puke.

(The March 12 issue of The New Yorker includes a cartoon of things that make "Ricky Retch:" he's shown holding both hands over his mouth in front of a TV image of Kennedy; leaning, face down, over a railing in front of Mt. Rushmore; and holding a paper bag to his face at the Lincoln Memorial.)

Everyone, of course, has their own reality to a certain degree. And, in politics, that degree tends to escalate toward levels that would lead others to seek professional help.

Maybe Rick's world could use some medication.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected