Santorum Remembers the Ladies

Feb 29, 2012 12:42pm
ap rick karen santorum ll 120229 wblog Santorum Remembers the Ladies

Eric Gay / AP Photo

As Rick Santorum looks ahead to the contests next week, he’s clearly changing his message. Wrapping up his campaign in Michigan, Santorum used his time before the cameras to highlight the accomplishments of three members of his family.

“My 93 year old mom,” Santorum wanted us to know, was an “unusual person for her time.”  She got a college education in the ’30′s, he proudly proclaimed (no word on whether the person who advised her to do that was a snob).  She even got a graduate degree. Added her son, “She was a professional who actually made more money than her husband.”

Then he reminded us that he met his wife as she was starting to practice law: “Karen was a professional, worked as a nurse for nine years, and then after that, she — she — we got married, and she walked away. And she decided to stay home and raise her children, but she didn’t quit working, obviously. Raising seven children is a lot of work, but she found time also to be an author of two books.”

And don’t forget his daughter Elizabeth “who is a great part of our campaign. She goes out on her own and campaigns, and the feedback I get is ‘you stay home; just send Elizabeth out. You’ll do just fine.’”

Notice something here?  Santorum is suddenly talking about the accomplished women in his life.  That’s no coincidence. The exit polls in Michigan showed that Santorum basically tied with Romney among men, but women gave more of their votes to the former Massachusetts governor.  (And Ron Paul peeled off some of the male vote.)

Michigan voters who call themselves very conservative went for Santorum over Romney by a mile.  But instead of his usual post-primary rip-roaring call to those conservatives and the born-again evangelical Christians who also gave him their votes, Santorum softened his rhetoric and took the time to remember the ladies.  It will be interesting to listen to the speeches ahead.

- Cokie Roberts

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