On the trail, Santorum advisers told me that he’d remain accessible in New Hampshire, even as the crowds swell. Via Dave Weigel, who covered Santorum this afternoon in Rockingham County, we see fresh echoes of his (successful) Iowa approach:
Rick Santorum’s first post-Iowa town hall meeting had confidence steaming out the windows. The former senator, arriving shortly after a TV interview, gave the crowd more than an hour of Q&A. The reporters in the room — two from the Washington Post, three from the Huffington Post, Newsweek, etc, etc — got to see the candidate tackle everything from climate change to SSI to the Tax Policy Center’s scoring of the Affordable Care Act to why the Chilean model for Social Security wasn’t workable to why Medicare’s cost ratio was “phony.” (“Because it’s government… it’s not a market, it’s not real.”)
I’ve seen candidates, riding some sort of wave, come into a primary state just to give a speech. Santorum was untiring and game. A young Massachusetts voter, obviously trying to rattle him (Santorum jokingly banned any more questions from non-Granite staters), read out a column that one of Santorum’s nephews had written, calling him a big government stooge.
“He’s a Ron Paul supporter,” sighed Santorum. “God bless him. It’s a phase.” Later, dismissively: “The people who call me a big government guy are libertarians.”