O'REILLY: Romney should study Santorum's victories, setbacksMitt Romney would be wise to take a good hard look at what Rick Santorum did right and what he did wrong during his campaign. In his quest to unseat President Obama, Romney will face some of the same challenges Santorum faced.
By: Bill O'Reilly, Syndicated columnist
Mitt Romney would be wise to take a good hard look at what Rick Santorum did right and what he did wrong during his campaign. In his quest to unseat President Obama, Romney will face some of the same challenges Santorum faced.
Back in the summer of 2011, nobody thought Santorum had a shot at the Republican nomination. Nationally, he was polling at about 3 percent. But through sheer hard work and persistence, he won the Iowa caucus and was catapulted into the big time.
There are many lessons to be learned from Santorum’s political journey, beginning with having a dream and fighting like hell to make it happen. The senator did that, and it makes him a noble figure to those of us who admire achievement.
But Santorum also made some vivid mistakes in underestimating the secular culture and the intent of the media. And this is where the Romney tutorial begins.
The national press is generally biased toward the left and has the long knives out for anyone spouting spiritual beliefs. Once Santorum began answering questions about his theology, it began to damage his political message. And when he criticized John F. Kennedy on the separation of church and state issue, the media went wild. You don’t mess with JFK.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos defined the skeptical tone toward Santorum in January during the New Hampshire debate. He zeroed in on the senator’s moral view of contraception, and foolishly, Santorum engaged. He should have simply said: “Hey, George, I have seven kids. I don’t know much about it.” End of exposition.
But no. Santorum rambled on about the downside of birth control, something most Americans simply don’t want to hear about. Although most citizens are believers, the USA has become a largely secular country, and voters do not want politicians telling them how to conduct their private lives.
Soon, Santorum was besieged by questions about his faith-based belief system and, again, entered into the conversation, answering questions about the morality of homosexuality and the like. In doing so, he walked into a swamp he couldn’t get out of and was marginalized as a zealot.
Memo to Romney: If the media ask you about Adam and Eve, simply say they didn’t have jobs and it’s Obama’s fault. Keep the conversation on issues that matter to the voters. The media don’t really care what you believe spiritually. They simply want to make you look like Elmer Gantry.
Romney will face the same sand traps that bedeviled Santorum. Best to walk around them, because once you get in, you’ll never get out.