Rick Santorum: Will Attack for Food

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 26 2011 1:32 PM

Rick Santorum: Will Attack for Food

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Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack-Pool/Getty Images

ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania answers a question in the Fox News/Google GOP Debate at the Orange County Convention Center on September 22, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. The debate features the nine Republican candidates two days before the Florida straw poll. (Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack-Pool/Getty Images)

Howard Kurtz gets a great nugget in his story about Fox News and the 2012 GOP conversation.

Hours before last week’s presidential debate in Orlando, Ailes’s anchors sat in a cavernous back room, hunched over laptops, and plotted how to trap the candidates. Chris Wallace said he would aim squarely at Rick Perry’s weakness: “How do you feel about being criticized by some of your rivals as being too soft on illegal immigration? Then I go to Rick Santorum: is Perry too soft?”
“That’s going to get some fireworks going,” said managing editor Bill Sammon, grinning.

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This would explain why Santorum, who is at 3 percent nationally in the latest CNN poll, and would probably lose the nomination to a gay soldier, got nine debate questions, while Ron Paul, who is in the high single digits nationally, got six. No one's saying this is a bad way of determining who is and isn't in debates, and who does and doesn't want to get called on. It's just to demonstrate that Santorum is a hurdle, not a candidate.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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