It's hard to imagine the media rooting, even "cheering" for a social conservative like Rick Santorum. But two certified MSMers claim that Santorum does have the potential to attract such unlikely support.
On today's Morning Joe, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, co-authors of the best-selling Game Change about the 2008 election, both opined that Santorum, given his appealing blue-collar background—and if he can avoid getting prickly with the press—could indeed find the media rooting for him. Video after the jump.
Interestingly, it was another guest, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network and author of a blog item warning people not to underestimate Santorum, who first raised Rick Santorum's reputation for being prickly with the media.
Another Surprising Prediction: Earlier in the show, Joe Scarborough, who has been very pessimistic about the general election prospects of a number of Republican contenders, emphatically stated that Santorum "absolutely" could beat Obama. Scarborough added that people in Manhattan and Washington don't get Santorum. Mika Brzezinski was a perfect example of that phenomenon, repeatedly brooding about Santorum being "very conservative" and holding "troubling" views.
DAVID BRODY: I think [Santorum] will be a force to be reckoned with. I think, honestly, one of the concerns going forward for Santorum, something we really haven't talked too much about, really anywhere, is this ornery side of him. You know, he's prickly. And he likes to get on the media's case. And I think he has to be very careful that he doesn't get into the back-and-forth, because that scrutiny's coming, and when it does, how is he going to handle himself?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I see Mark and John both saying yes, yes.
MARK HALPERIN: One of the vulnerabilities Mitt Romney has is the press has not been rooting for him, the way the press was rooting for George Bush in '99, for McCain later in that campaign. It's left him vulnerable, but there's been no one in the race that the press has really rooted for to take over from Romney and take him on. None of them has really courted the press. I'm talking about the press across the board, not just the old media but the new media as well. Santorum has that potential right now. But he is prickly, particularly with reporters. It's a reality of the process, you've got to have some people in the media implicitly at least cheering for you. Santorum can do that. He can do it.
JOHN HEILEMANN: That's why this class thing is important, because the press, if he can play up his gritty, blue-collar roots--not because the press is blue coller, obviously--but because that's an appealing story. Even Pat Buchanan back in 1996 had parts of the liberal media rooting for him because he seemed like he was an outsider, because he seemed like a genuine, blue-collar guy. That can work for him in New Hampshire if he doesn't get thin-skinned and scratchy and resentful.