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Daily Santorum: The End of an Era

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Santorum family

We all know how old-fashioned Rick Santorum can be (maybe too old-fashioned). That his campaigning for the GOP presidential nod is about as throwback as you can get has been a point of pride for the former senator, but signs are piling up that it won't be getting him anywhere. And that's beyond the dismal poll results -- it's that campaigning is suddenly much more about cable TV for Republicans than it is about old-school shoe-leather.

So get a look at him while you can -- he marks the end of an era.

With the Newt surge we're starting to see a bunch of stories about how a guy with just one field in office in Iowa can become the front-runner. (This has to gall 99-county Santorum to no end.) Jeff Zeleny at the NYT has a great story showing how the high ground in early-stages GOP primary has moved to televisions (talk shows, relentless debates) instead of the traditional candidate offices and coffeehouses -- which works especially well for Gingrich, who's a longtime talking head as well as book promoter. Here's what journalism textbooks call the nut graf(s):

In what is shaping up as a profound change in American politics, the living room stops and the cafe visits where candidates offer handshakes and make appeals for support are creeping toward extinction. The onetime fixtures of the campaign trail are giving way to the Fox News studio and televised debates.

It has been five decades since television began to transform presidential races, but never before have the effects of cable television been so apparent in the early stages of a campaign.

Meanwhile Santorum -- the only-once married father of eight children -- keeps plugging along. Concord Monitor photographer Erin Stubblefield followed him and the family during a search for a Christmas tree in New Hampshire last weekend (that's her photo above) and wrote, "I would say it was as close to "real life" as it gets for any candidate on the trail."

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