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Daily Santorum: Santorumentum

Published by Daniel Malloy on .

It's been one week since Rick Santorum formally announced his intention to seek the presidency, and we've had our fun here at your Official Santorum News Headquarters in showing how the coverage of his entry into the race was Palined and Weinered. But numbers don't lie and the folks at Gallup tell us that Santorum's national support has tripled in the past three weeks: He now stands at 6 percent, tied with Tim Pawlenty. (Mitt Romney is tops with 24 percent, followed by Sarah Palin at 16, Herman Cain at 9 and Ron Paul at 7.)

Last week's announcement blitz ended in the Meet the Press studio, which even in these times of fragmented media can still hold the nation's attention. The video is above, cribbed from YouTube with a somewhat odd "clean video available" disclaimer on there (perhaps the censors were a bit concerned after looking up their guest on Google). David Gregory goes for the you-knew-it-was-coming gotcha moment by showing Rick on the show in 2002 -- side note: he hasn't aged a day in eight and a half years -- saying, "The last thing we need to do when we are concerned about the national security of this country is to be concerned about deficits."

Santorum replied that the difference now is the scale: "We were talking about deficit I think at that point of $100 billion to $200 billion, not $1.5 trillion. Not something that is, that is grinding our economy down."

At the end of the interview, Santorum made his near-daily Social Issues Comment That Burns Up the Liberal Blogosphere (TM), from the transcript:

MR. GREGORY:  One more question on abortion, an issue you care deeply about. I, I want to be clear on this.  Do you believe that there should be any legal exceptions for rape or incest when it comes to abortion?

SEN. SANTORUM:  I believe that life begins at conception, and that that life should be cut--should be guaranteed under the Constitution.  That is a person, in my opinion.

MR. GREGORY:  So even in a case of rape or incest, that would be taking a life?

SEN. SANTORUM:  That would be taking a life, and, and I believe that, that any doctor who performs an abortion--that--I would advocate that any doctor that performs an abortion should be criminally charged for doing so.  I don't--I've never supported criminalization of abortion for mothers, but I do for people who perform them.  I believe that life is sacred.  It's one of those things in the Declaration of Independence.  We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, and the first is life.  And I believe that that life should be protected at the moment it is a human life.  And at conception it is biologically human, and it's alive.  It's a human life, it should be a person under the Constitution.

Perhaps he's worried about losing the God endorsement, but that seems to contrast with Santorum's stance on Meet the Press debating Bob Casey in 2006 when the late Tim Russert asked him about the same issue:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator, if you believe that life begins at conception, then why do you support exceptions for rape, incest, and life of mother?

SEN. SANTORUM: What I said is—yeah. What I said is that I would vote for things like that. I think that, that...

MR. RUSSERT: But it’s the taking of a life.

SEN. SANTORUM: I, I said I would, but so does the Hyde Amendment allows rape, incest, life of the mother. That’s what I talked about is that if, if that is the common ground we could get, I would support that.

MR. RUSSERT: But by your standards, it’s the taking of a life.

SEN. SANTORUM: It is, there’s no question it’s the taking of a life. But if it—it is an attempt for me to try to see if we can find common ground to actually make progress in limiting the other abortions. So yes, that’s what I would do.

Finding "common ground" is something Santorum the legislator had to do, while Santorum the presidential candidate vying for tea party support has to take a no surrender approach. In a field of mostly governors Santorum must draw on a long history of tough votes in Congress -- and the Club For Growth is already hounding him for some fiscal positions -- and that could put him on shaky territory at times.

The Schedule: Tonight is the big New Hampshire debate, which is being treated like the first debate even though it's the second, because of Front-Runner Romney's presence. Warm up with a good drinking game, and tune into CNN at 8.

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