Rick Santorum must be either surging or plausibly on the cusp of a surge. Because there’s no other explanation for the Romney campaign’s abrupt, and intense, series of attacks on Santorum today in e-mail blasts to and a conference call with reporters.
“We need a next president who’s been strong and proven in fiscal and spending matters, and we had Rick Santorum voting numerous times to raise the debt ceiling,” said Tim Pawlenty in a call with reporters today. “So, he clearly has been part of the big spending establishment in Congress and in the influence-peddling industry that surrounds Congress. He has been part of that. He has been a champion of earmarks, and to hold himself out now as somebody who is an unquestionable conservative in these matters, just is not supported by the facts.”
Also in my inbox today from the Romney campaign: Santorum’s endorsement of Romney in 2008, an interview from that same year Santorum gave Laura Ingraham about why he had endorsed Romney, an e-mail entitled “A Summary of Santorum’s False Attacks on Massachusetts Health Care” that featured quotes from media outlets that argued specific criticisms Santorum had made were inaccurate, and a statement from Pawlenty (released before the call) saying that “Santorum is a nice guy, but he is simply not ready to be President. . . . As a U.S. Senator, he was a leading earmarker and pork-barrel spender.”
The Santorum campaign has retaliated with a couple of e-mails of their own, including one headlined “Santorum Surge Prompts Romney to Use Attack Machine.”
“If Governor Romney were confident running on his record and his vision for the future, he would,” said Santorum communications director Hogan Gidley in a statement. “But Gov. Romney does what he always does and directs his well-funded attack machine to destroy the opponent. Mitt Romney’s act is tired, old and wearing thin with voters and I suspect at this point, with the media too. Romney never touts his own record — because it’s abysmal. In the Republican Party we have a name for someone who supports government healthcare mandates, big bank bailouts, and radical cap and trade initiatives — we call them Democrats.”
The Santorum campaign also blasted out an e-mail headlined “Mitt Romney: Proud Defender and Author of ‘Obamneycare.’”