Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Santorum slammed contraception for encouraging premarital sex

Time's Michael Scherer digs up a pretty brutal interview Rick Santorum gave last fall, where he hit contraception for giving people "a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."

"One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea.

Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.”

It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative."

Three thoughts.

1. There are lots of Santorum quotes like this out there that would be super rough for a general election -- particularly for GOP hopes to win suburban independents.

And this brings up a broader point.

Right now, Santorum is getting really soft press coverage. There's quite a bit of stuff like this that's getting swept under the rug, because he's the only guy out there who can challenge Romney, and quite a few people have a vested interest in a strong challenger to Mitt (The DNC, anti-Romney fans, the media's desire to see a horse race etc).

2. The counter is that quotes like this don't matter in a primary, but that's dead wrong.

First, most GOP voters are quite fine with contraception.

Not everyone is a Duggar. Not everyone wants to be Kody Brown. Not everyone wants to trust a calendar about cats or Yellowstone to guide their contraceptive paths.

And second, these quotes give pause to Republicans concerned with electability. That's Mitt's main argument right now, and it's why he's still the favorite in the race.

If I'm the Romney campaign, I start circulating stuff like this, instead of hammering Santorum for earmarks.

Now, you can't be too explicitly tied to attacks like these (Bob McDonnell almost crossed the line with the women in combat thing), but you can get stuff like this out more subtly.

3. This two week lull is incredibly dangerous for Santorum.

Right now, there's a decided drop in news about 2012 stuff (I'm fishing through Google Alerts for the first time in a year).

The media (and myself) are desperate to find interesting, relevant stuff, and how many times can we revisit the story about Seamus and Romney?

At some point, everyone wants to move on from Mitt driving a car through 8 Mile (see his ad today).

Santorum is going to face increasing scrutiny before Michigan, and I suspect that there's a long enough time before the vote for the Santorum bubble to burst and for Republicans to sigh deeply and go to the polls for Romney like they did in Florida -- reluctantly but overwhelmingly.

Very few Republicans want a general election that could be about deficits to turn into one about contraception.

Santorum has to figure out how to assure Republicans it wouldn't be about pills or rings if he were the nominee, because Barack Obama and Democrats would only be so happy and so lucky.