DNC Hits Santorum: What’s Next, Cube-Shaped Planets?

Feb 20, 2012 2:26pm

Are frogs falling from the sky?

After months of fixing its line of fire squarely on Mitt Romney, the Democratic Party has made a marked – if temporary   — shift to Rick Santorum.

If that seems unnatural, it’s probably because Romney is still seen by many political observers as the likely Republican nominee, despite Santorum’s surge in recent primary contests. Democrats have enjoyed the bitter primary run  that has dragged down the front-runner, savoring such moments as when  Newt Gingrich savaged Romney over his time at the private-equity firm Bain Capital, and when Romney wagered a seemingly out-of-touch $10,000 bet with Rick Perry.

Now things have changed. Santorum won a string of primary votes this month and is leading Romney in Michigan — the state where the former Massachusetts governor grew up and his father served as governor. In other words, Romney’s backyard.

On Sunday, the Democratic National Committee blasted out its first-ever email about Santorum, compiling some of the statements he made on CBS’  ”Face the Nation”  about President Obama’s faith, and more, calling Santorum the “latest GOP front-runner.”

And on Monday, the DNC put out a  researched list of Santorum’s proposals, some from as far back as June.

What is the goal here? Obama would surely rather trade a general election against Romney for a matchup against Santorum, a social conservative who is viewed as far to the right of the mainstream.

“He’s leading in the polls,” said a Democrat who insisted on anonymity when discussing party strategy. “It would be crazy to ignore him.”

It’s not clear whether the Democrats’  attacks against  Santorum  will take him down a peg with Republican primary voters. But that’s probably not the idea anyway. More likely, the idea is to take attention away from Romney and brighten the spotlight on Santorum.

Even still, it could be risky. The Democratic campaign veteran Bill Galston told ABC News that even mentioning Santorum is a bad move because it takes some of the heat off  Romney.

“I’d preserve radio silence and let a party bent on committing suicide go about its business,” Galston said.

Radio silence it is not. In its press release  Monday, the DNC says that Santorum’s tax plan would help the rich, and that he “has attacked the very idea of public education.”

Sounds like things the Romney campaign would like to see circulated! In fact, the Romney campaign has recently sent similar emails to the media, although they’re more about Santorum’s time in Congress.

But consider the similar rhetoric in these statements:

“Rick Santorum is part of the problem, so he can’t be part of the solution.” — Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman; “Rick Santorum has embraced the same philosophy that created the economic crisis.” – DNC email on Monday

We’ll see how long this new twist in the primary campaign lasts.

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