Rick Santorum had a bit of a testy exchange with NBC's David Gregory on Sunday's Meet the Press.
After Gregory asked if Santorum was going to "rail against areas of our culture that [he] disagree[s] with" if elected president, the former senator smartly replied, "It's so funny. I get the question all the time, 'Why are you talking so much about these social issues'...as people ask me about the social issues" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Here's what Kimberley Strassel wrote, and it seems to reflect views that are conservative as well as moderate, about you and whether you would then act on your faith in a way. She writes this, "Reagan's success was in respecting cultural conservatives' right to live their lives as they saw fit. Mr. Santorum's mistake is in telling people how to live. His finger-wagging on contraception and child-rearing and homosexual acts disrespects the vast majority of couples who use birth control or who refuse to believe that the emancipation of women or society's increasing tolerance of gays signals the end of the republic." So, Senator, are you going to use the bully pulpit if you're president to talk about these issues, to rail against areas of our culture that you disagree with, or will, given your comments about President Kennedy, go beyond that and make it a focal point of your presidency to act on your beliefs?
RICK SANTORUM: It's so funny. I get the question all the time, "Why are you talking so much about these social issues," as they, as, as people ask me about the social issues.
MR. GREGORY: Senator, no, wait a minute.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Look, the...
MR. GREGORY: You talk about this stuff every week. And by the way, it's not just in this campaign.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: No, I talk about, I talk...
MR. GREGORY: Sir, in this campaign you talk about it. And I've gone back years when you've been in public life and you have made this a centerpiece of your public life. So the notion that these are not deeply held views worthy of question and scrutiny, it's not just about the press.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah, they, they are deeply held views, but they're not what I dominantly talk about, David. You're taking things that over a course of a 20-year career and pulling out quotes from difference speeches on, on issues that are fairly tangential, not what people care about mostly in America, and saying, "Oh, he wants to impose those values." Look at my record. I've never wanted to impose any of the things that you've just talked about. These are, these are my personal held religious beliefs, and in many forums that I, that, that are, in fact, religious, because I do speak in front of church groups and I do speak in these areas, I do talk about them. But there's no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.
There are, there are important issues that this country is, is confronted with right now and that's what I've been talking about.
This dance really has been funny to watch.
Media members like Gregory are clearly offended by Santorum's positions on social issues, and are constantly complaining that this is all he talks about.
Yet if you as the interviewer don't want to discuss such matters with your guest, all you have to do is not ask him about that which you find offensive.
Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?
But the reality is the press do want Santorum talking about such things because they believe this will help reelect President Obama.
This is twofold. First, they believe his social positions disqualify him with a large percentage of Americans.
Polls don't necessarily reflect that, but it's beside the point because that's what these folks think.
Secondly, by focusing so much attention on these matters, Santorum can be painted as a one trick pony.
Although social issues weren't exclusively the topics discussed with Gregory, we have seen numerous times in recent weeks such interviews be totally dominated by them.
Clearly the media must believe this will be Santorum's Achilles heal in the end.
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