Watch Rick Santorum Yell

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 26 2012 6:28 PM

Watch Rick Santorum Yell

Even if you agree with Santorum's reasoning -- and I do, largely -- the video of his argument with Jeff Zeleny is incredible. Zeleny, laconic and gum-chewing, asks his question three times. Santorum gets more and more frustrated. And he keeps on point-scoring after he's clearly brushed off the question. Below the video I've transcribed everything from "bullshit" on.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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SANTORUM: If I see it, it's bullshit. Come on, man. What are you doing?

ZELENY: Who's distorting your words?

SANTORUM: You just did, by asking me that question?

ZELENY: You sound upset about something, senator.

SANTORUM: I'm upset when the media distorts what I say. Yeah, I am. I do get upset. Because you knew exactly what I was saying, and you're misrepresenting it. What are you guys in the business of doing? Reporting the truth? Or are you here to try to spin and make news? Stop it.

VOTER: We don't care what they say.

SANTORUM: You guys, you don't care about the truth at all, do you? You really don't. Asking that question shows me you don't care at all about the truth.

Santorum feeds off the energy of the crowd; he looks back and forth from the merch he's being asked to sign and the reporter, who's looking stone-faced at him, riding it out. You can see the spin developing then and there: Santorum will attack the NYT for its horrid bias. ("Making lemons out of lemonade," Santorum spokesman J. Hogan Gidley said today. "The lemonade tastes pretty good.")

Totally lost in the exchange and the aftermath: Santorum's point. Is it true that Mitt Romney is the absolute worst Republican you could have debating health care with Barack Obama? Santorum's logic is that of a Howard Dean fan criticizing John Kerry in 2003; you can't debate the president if you took half a loaf on his biggest mistake. But I can see the argument against Santorum. Romney's health care law is 70 pages long, affecting one state. "Obamacare" is 3000 pages long; it's materially different, many times more complicated. Romney understands health care better than any Republican who's run for president since... actually, that one stumps me. Santorum pledges to attack mandates and talk up health savings accounts. The mandate's unpopular enough to bolster his argument here. But you could argue that knowledge and flexibility is worth more than one correct, inflexible issue stance.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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