Rick Santorum, Mr. Bipartisan Compromise – and Mr. Pro Wrestling?

Jan 4, 2012 5:02pm
gty rick santorum jef 110601 wblog Rick Santorum, Mr. Bipartisan Compromise   and Mr. Pro Wrestling?

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

Conciliatory is not exactly the word that comes to mind when one thinks of assertive conservative Rick Santorum.

But when running for re-election in 2006 against a tough Democratic challenger – Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., who ultimately beat him by 18 points – Santorum sought to portray himself as someone who worked with Democratic colleagues to get things done.

In one vivid ad, Santorum stood in a pro wrestling ring to describe what politics should not be.

“Too often, this is what it seems like in Washington,” narrates then-Senator Santorum over images of muscular costumed fellows beating each other. “But to get things done, you’ve got to work together.”

He continued: “I teamed up with Joe Lieberman to make college more affordable for low income families. And Barbara Boxer and I wrote a law protecting open space.”

“I’m even working with Hillary Clinton to limit inappropriate material for children’s video games,” Santorum said as the wrestlers all stop for a moment, seemingly stunned, “because it makes more sense to wrestle with America’s problems than with each other. I’m Rick Santorum and I approved this message.”

Interestingly, Santorum early in his legal career played a key role in the rise of pro wrestling.

As a young associate attorney for Kirkpatrick & Lockhart in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, Santorum lobbied in Harrisburg on behalf of the World Wrestling Federation in a successful effort to de-regulate pro-wrestling, “arguing that pro wrestling was entertainment, and not a sport, and, as such, should be exempted from federal steroid regulations,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in a 1994 profile.

“I was at the center of that,” Santorum told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2010. “Pennsylvania was the most pernicious of states when it came to regulation. They made you pay all this money to the boxing [athletic] commission. They used to just rape these guys. You’d have to pay a certain percentage of the gate receipts to have these officials just stand around and watch the match. It was ridiculous.”

-Jake Tapper

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