Rick Santorum Kinda Lost on Social Issues

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (photo credit: John Pemble via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (photo credit: John Pemble via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

With all due respect, Maggie, Santorum’s anti-contraception stance probably did hurt him in the GOP primary in 2012.

Running as a pro-life candidate is one thing. Talking about how states should be able to ban contraception is another. I’m not going to suggest that he didn’t lose some votes due to the ads that Mitt Romney ran against him, but the idea that voters weren’t concerned about a guy running for president on an anti-contraception platform is just plain silly.

Santorum won Iowa (by 34 votes) for several reasons. Those reasons are: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, and Herman Cain. They were the anti-establishment candidates that all self imploded or failed to meet expectations. Santorum was basically the last alternative to Romney standing. That’s why he won.

What grinds my gears, though, is the effect that Santorum had on the 2012 cycle.

Remember when everyone was complaining about George Stephanopoulos “rigging” the debate when he asked Mitt Romney about whether states should be able to ban contraception? That wasn’t George laying out a liberal trap. He was just laying out something that Rick Santorum had previously suggested.

And it’s not like Santorum got the hint either. One month later he doubled down and told a reporter that his plan to stand out from the rest of the GOP field was to “talk about the dangers of contraception.”

Look, Santorum is a good man. But I can see why Susan Ferrechio and the Washington Examiner could maybe think that Santorum’s insistence of talking about contraception may have caused him to lose a few votes. It’s not crazy, and it’s definitely not embarrassing.

Terry Schilling is the executive director of American Principles in Action.