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Does Rick Santorum have a Satan problem?

Parts of a 2008 speech by Rick Santorum have surfaced online, in which he says Satan is subverting great American institutions. Its appearance comes at a time in the campaign when Santorum's rivals are trying to make voters think twice about supporting him.

By Staff writer / February 21, 2012

A dog in a devil costume watches a carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, earlier this month.

Silvia Izquierdo/AP

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Does Rick Santorum have a Satan problem? Specifically, is it a political negative for him that the Drudge Report all day Tuesday has highlighted a story about a 2008 speech he gave at Ave Maria University in Florida in which he said America is under assault by Satan?

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“Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that [have] so deeply rooted in the American tradition,” Mr. Santorum said in that 2008 speech.

Audio excerpts from the speech indicate that Santorum said Satan had successfully subverted academia first, followed by mainline Protestantism, which he said is “in shambles,” and then the culture. Politics came last.

“The body politic held up pretty well until the last couple of decades,” he said in the speech.

As to whether this hurts Santorum’s electability, we’ll just note that lots of people were making fun of this Tuesday on Twitter. We suspect, however, that they’re people who were not going to vote for Santorum in the first place. On the other end of the spectrum, his committed supporters may shrug off the references. Because he was speaking in a religious context, he was using religious language, and “Satan” as a metaphor for lots of things is a pretty common usage from pulpits of a Sunday.

Will swing voters, or new fans of Santorum whose attachment is not deeply rooted, be put off? That’s the real question.

Furthermore, the fact that this speech is surfacing now, at such a crucial moment in the campaign, should trouble Santorum’s advisers. Where did it come from? The most likely prospect would be from the camp of an opponent who has the money to do opposition research and needs to slow Santorum’s rise. You can supply your own names there – we don’t have to.

If his opponents have this, they may have other stuff, too. Santorum is recent days has already spent a lot of time explaining what he meant when he referred to President Obama’s “phony theology.”

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