While campaigning in Illinois today, Rick Santorum let loose with a couple of unscripted sentences that his campaign is sure to regret for the foreseeable future. First came this made-for-TV soundbite this morning in Rockford:
“The issue in this race is not the economy.” – Rick Santorum, 3/19/12
Santorum said this sentence while making a point about government overreach in individual citizens’ lives. But for a candidate who loves to talk about the dangers of birth control and vows to crack down on people looking at porn, that sentence represents something entirely opposite his point.
“I don’t care what the unemployment rate is going to be. It doesn’t matter to me.” – Rick Santorum, 3/19/12
Here again, Santorum was attempting to make a point about how the focus of his campaign was on individual liberty — but this would be a pretty tone-deaf way of arguing his stance.
Much to Santorum’s dismay – and Romney’s glee – both of these gaffes play straight into the Governor’s current theme of attack against the Senator: accusing him of being an economic lightweight. The timing and quality of these gaffes reminded me of John Kerry’s famous “I did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” line from the 2004 election. If the Romney campaign can find video or audio of these blunders, expect them to be featured in TV ads in the near future.
UPDATE: Here is the clip, as edited by the Romney campaign’s communications shop — meaning that they are probably working to get it into a commercial as we speak: