The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

One problem: Rick Santorum never said he would ‘rather have Barack Obama as president’

Rick Santorum is getting grief — even from some of his supporters — for saying we’d be better off sticking with Barack Obama.

The only problem is…he didn’t say that.

Here’s what Santorum actually said:

“You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future,” Santorum told a crowd at USAA.

A few points…

Santorum’s argument (and you can disagree with it) is that voters just might make the calculation that, if they’re going to have to settle for Obama Lite any way, they might as well stick with Obama.

… If they’re going to have to settle for RomneyCare, why not stick with ObamaCare?

(Note: I know Santorum said “we,” but I’ve heard the shtick enough times to know what he meant. And what he meant was that “we” — the voters — want a clearer contrast.)

Santorum has been making this argument for months. This is a regular line of attack. But as I noted recently, gaffes ironically often come from comments (or variations of comments) that have become part of a candidate’s “stump” speech.

So why did this blow up? There are probably three reasons.

First, the context changed. After Illinois, people started coalescing around Mitt Romney as the likely nominee, making them less accepting of of Santorum’s line of argument.

Second, the ABC News reporter (or the headline writer) — no doubt, hoping to make “news” — played this story up and blew it out of proportion.

And lastly, the Romney campaign was clearly looking to change the subject from Etch a Sketch.

But Romney’s response — that he was “disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican” — was utterly misleading.

I’m not surprised the media outlet that broke this story attempted to generate some buzz with it, nor am I surprised the Romney campaign has attempted to blow this out of proportion. What does surprise me, however, is how many people have bought into it.