Politics

Santorum says he has no plans to fix his ‘Google problem’

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Chris Moody
Contributor

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who is expected to announce his run for the White House very soon, said he is taking no active steps to fix his so-called “Google problem,” an issue that has plagued the Pennsylvania Republican’s online presence for years.

“I don’t see it as a problem at all,” Santorum said after a speech in Washington, D.C. Thursday.

The story goes back to 2003, when, angered by Santorum’s conservative views on homosexuality, columnist Dan Savage, who is gay, set up a website that included a fictitious definition for the word “santorum.” The page graphically described it as the bi-product of a certain sex act and it quickly rose to the top of online search engine terms. To this day, Santorum’s official websites still come up below Savage’s site, which would be the first thing voters see when they type the senator’s name into Google. If you’d like to know the exact definition, well, see for yourself.

Santorum, who is traveling the country and working to build his name recognition beyond circles in Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, said he had not hired anyone specifically to work on an effort to bump the unfortunate web pages down, but is relying on the online buzz his possible run for president would create to shift his site to the top organically. (His political action committee, however, has purchased a Google ad for those who search for “Rick Santorum” which automatically shows up at the top of search results, but looks different than normal search results.)

“That’ll take care of itself over time and if this campaign takes off and we decide to do this my guess is we’ll have lots of other things that will transplant things like that. And if it maintains, it will just show a rather disgusting side of politics, unfortunately,” Santorum said. “What will change, that is if we decide to move forward, I’m sure [the media] will be writing a lot of things and there’ll be lots of links to other things that will far supersede some nasty people that are trying to be crude.”

An April 19 Gallup study found that Santorum had a “middle of the road” name recognition when compared to other possible 2012 contenders.

As for that big question — whether he will definitely announce his run for the White House — Santorum suggested an announcement would come before the first GOP primary debate in South Carolina, which is scheduled for next Tuesday.

“We’ll certainly be making that decision very shortly,” he said when asked about a White House bid. “It’s going to have to be in the next week. We’re moving in that direction.”

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