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Is Rick Santorum too angry to be elected president?

Some conservative pundits worry that Rick Santorum has not yet shown the ability to be the sort of optimistic unifier – à la Ronald Reagan – that general-election voters tend to prefer. 

By Staff writer / February 24, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks to the media after a Republican presidential debate among the 2012 candidates Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz.

Ross D. Franklin/AP

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Does Rick Santorum seem too angry to be elected president of the United States?

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We ask this question because it draws together some criticisms of the ex-Pennsylvania senator that have been pinging around the conservative blogosphere in recent days.

It’s a political truism that Americans like their presidential candidates, and their presidents, to be optimistic, even sunny. Think Ronald Reagan, or Bill Clinton when he wasn’t answering questions dealing with impeachment.

But in recent weeks, as he talks about his beliefs on issues from economics to the needs of families, this is not always how Mr. Santorum has come across. In recent days Santorum and his aides have been grumbling that Mitt Romney and Ron Paul conspired against him in Wednesday’s CNN debate, for instance.

“Santorum already has a reputation for being thin-skinned and peevish,” wrote conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin today on her Right Turn blog in The Washington Post. “This tactic certainly [makes] him seem like a poor sport.”

Of course, the GOP race as a whole has not been distinguished by its cheerfulness. That’s what former Florida Governor and brother-of-W Jeb Bush was getting at Thursday night when he said he finds it “troubling” that the Republican candidates are “appealing to people’s fears and emotions.”

According to an account on Fox News, answering questions following a speech in Dallas, Jeb Bush said “I used to be a conservative, and I watch these debates and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective.... I think it changes when we get to the general election. I hope.”

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