Guy Benson
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The back-and-forth in question unfolded as the candidate signed autographs along a campaign rope line over the weekend.  Things got heated when The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny -- perhaps best known for his enchantingly laughable questioning of President Obama -- asked Santorum about a statement he'd made in a speech minutes earlier.  Zeleny quoted Santorum accurately, but without providing the proper context of the comments.  The former Senator was...rather displeased:
 


 

“What speech did you listen to? Stop lying! I said he was the worst Republican to run on the issue of Obamacare. And that’s what I was talking about! [...] Would you guys quit distorting what I’m saying? [...] I’ve been saying that at every speech. Quit distorting my words, if I see it, it’s bulls--t!” Santorum erupted. “Come on, man! What are you doing?”


I broke this episode down with Fox News' Megyn Kelly earlier today, concluding that it's very unlikely to hurt Santorum in the short or long term:
 


If you're pressed for time or can't watch the clip, my basic reactions were:
 

(a) I don't know a single Republican voter who would be genuinely offended by Rick Santorum telling off a Times scribe.  If anything, it will improve his standing and fire up the base.

(b) Of course Santorum knew cameras and mics were rolling (unlike President Obama), and of course he'll use the controversy to his advantage (Kelly points out that his campaign is fundraising off of it).

(c) Some people may view this sort of outburst, and its somewhat vulgar language, as unpresidential and angry.  Santorum doesn't mask his emotions very well, and I suspect this incident was the result of several weeks of frustrating narratives and increasingly difficult delegate math.  Voters may see very isolated blow-ups like this as organic and real, but he's playing with fire.  That being said, Santorum might benefit from a little humanizing.  Dropping the BS bomb in public doesn't align with his uber-square, buttoned-up image.


I'll also add point (d): We'll all forget about this whole thing within a news cycle or two.  Disagree with any of my analysis?  Have at it in the comments section.

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Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography