Santorum on Satan: Who leaked the speech to the press?

We think it’s important here to follow one of the cardinal questions of politics – who benefits? That would narrow the field down to Rick Santorum’s GOP opponents.

By , Staff writer

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    Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum addresses the Maricopa County Lincoln Day Luncheon in Phoenix, Ariz., Tuesday.
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Who leaked Rick Santorum’s Satan speech to the press? Perhaps a better way to put it would be who steered the Drudge Report to Santorum’s 2008 remarks at Ave Maria University in Florida that America is under assault by Satan? After all, those comments had existed, waiting to be discovered for years, before Drudge plastered them all over the top of his website for much of Feb. 21.

Rush Limbaugh blamed generic “leftists,” but we don’t think it came from Democrats. President Obama’s campaign team still appears to believe that Mitt Romney would be the most formidable GOP candidate, so they might not want to weaken Mr. Santorum. If they do worry about Santorum – and there’s some evidence he might be the stronger GOP candidate in Midwest swing states – they’d save the Satan card to play in the general election.

No, we think it’s important here to follow one of the cardinal questions of politics – who benefits? That would narrow the field down to Santorum’s GOP opponents. And of those, only one has the money to devote to opposition research, and a relationship with the Drudge operation. Let’s just say that person’s initials are “Mitt Romney.”

Recommended: Rick Santorum: Top 7 culture war moments

We don’t have any specific evidence here, it’s important to say that. But we’re only repeating what many in the GOP itself are saying this morning. In late January the New York Times reported that Mr. Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades had “close ties” to Drudge. Since then the influential site has featured a string of pro-Romney stories.

“I ... think that this is a Romney-leaked piece,” wrote conservative editor Erick Erickson today on the RedState blog.

Mr. Erickson, by the way, defends Santorum, saying that he (Erickson) agrees with the Satan remarks. In the 2008 speech, Santorum asserted that Satan had taken over US academia, culture, politics, and mainstream Protestantism, which he said was “in shambles.”

“His statement is well within the mainstream of orthodox Christian theology,” writes Erickson.

Other conservatives aren’t so sure. Jennifer Rubin, writing on her Right Turn Washington Post blog, says that the Satan statements are not remotely commonplace social conservative views, and that conservatives will be the group most hurt by them.

“He threatens to discredit them and cement stereotypes that they are judgmental and extreme in their views,” Ms. Rubin writes.

We should note here that Rubin has written supportively of Romney in the recent past. Overt Romney surrogates such as Gov. Chris Christie (R) of New Jersey have not shied away from the topic, either.

On Feb. 22 Governor Christie told George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America that Santorum is wrong, and his statements are relevant to his fitness to be commander-in-chief.

“It is by definition relevant ... I think people want to make an evaluation, a complete evaluation of anyone who asks to sit in the Oval Office,” Christie said.

GOP gray eminence Karl Rove on Fox News Tuesday night noted that Santorum’s words might help him in the primary but would be “hurtful in a general election,” particularly his assertion that mainstream Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists are now subject to Satan’s power.

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