During the week that ended Sunday, Newt Gingrich held eight campaign events and Mitt Romney held nine. Rick Santorum held 15 events last week, and that may ultimately explain why Santorum continues his otherwise inexplicable surge in the Republican presidential race: He is simply out-working his opponents.
Ever since Iowa, where he famously visited all 99 counties before surging to an upset win over Romney in the final week before the Jan. 3 caucuses, Santorum has consistently appeared at more public events than either of his chief GOP rivals. Excepting only the last weekend of January — when he returned home to get his tax returns and stayed to visit with his ailing 3-year-old daughter — Santorum has almost always held more events each day than either Gingrich or Romney. Some days, Santorum appears at more campaign events than the other two combined. Monday, Santorum did two events in Ohio and two in Michigan. Tuesday, he traveled to Arizona for two more events, and today he will speak at a Tea Party rally in Tucson before tonight’s debate in Mesa (8 p.m. Eastern, CNN).
The national media, while spending the past week hopping from one Santorum-related “controversy” to another, have paid little attention to the former Pennsylvania senator’s unsurpassed diligence as a candidate. If all you knew about the Santorum campaign was what you learned from the media, you might be excused for believing that he has surged to the top of the Republican presidential field because (a) he’s a scary religious kook, and (b) so are GOP primary voters.
Day after day, ever since it became clear that Santorum is the last man standing between Romney and the Republican nomination, a drumbeat of hostile media coverage has followed Santorum everywhere. When he described President Obama’s allegiance to radical environmentalism as a secular “theology,” this was seized on as evidence that Santorum was questioning Obama’s professed Christianity. After draining the last ounce of outrage from that controversy — which they had, of course, created — the media then evidently decided that the public should be alarmed because of something Santorum said at a Catholic university four years ago. His August 2008 remarks during a speech at Ave Maria University in Florida, to the effect that Satan was especially targeting the United States for destruction, were a banner headline all day Tuesday on the Drudge Report, and even so staunch a conservative as Rush Limbaugh said, “Santorum will have to deal with it. He’ll have to answer it.”
It should not be necessary to explain the recording and transcript of Santorum’s Ave Maria speech did not make its way into the media by mere happenstance, but was in all likelihood unearthed by opposition researchers for some other campaign. The shadow of suspicion would naturally fall on Romney’s well-funded operation, but one cannot rule out the possibility that Obama’s own re-election campaign was responsible, because there is good reason to believe that Santorum’s rise in the GOP field has alarmed Team Obama.