Rick Santorum knows better than most how inadvertently unfair press coverage of the primaries can be. Until two weeks before he won the January 3 Iowa caucuses, Santorum had never scored above 10 percent in any of the three dozen prior statewide polls. As a result, the former two-term Pennsylvania senator received about as much 2011 media attention as a presidential candidate running on the Prohibition Party line. I plead guilty to being one of those who airily dismissed Santorum’s chances. Writing about an August 2011 podium clash for The New Republic, I snarkily concluded, “Rick Santorum and Herman Cain also debated—and are purportedly running for president.”
Make no mistake, Rick Santorum is still running for president for real. And with at least 55 percent of the GOP Convention delegates still up for grabs, the political press corps should remember its obligations to Republican voters who still crave a choice. And what I misguidedly wrote after that debate last August reminds me how often in politics the smug conventional wisdom can be grotesquely wrong.