Byron York catches up with him in Iowa:
Whatever happens, Santorum will stick to his guns; he seems constitutionally unable to shape his positions simply to please potential voters. At one point in the Fairfield discussion, a voter asked if Santorum “would be game for shutting down the Department of Energy.” It would have been easy enough for Santorum to go along and talk about how much government should be cut. Instead, Santorum explained how the Energy Department plays a critical role in the nation’s nuclear capability, and those functions would have to continue, whether by an entity called the Department of Energy or not. “It’s much more complicated than just getting rid of the Energy Department,” Santorum tells the man.
“I don’t want to go out and say, ‘Eliminate the Department of Energy, eliminate the department of this,” Santorum continues. “That’s just populist chatter. What we need to do is focus in on the functions of the federal government that need to be eliminated and why.”
That didn’t stop another voter from asking whether Santorum would eliminate the Department of Education. “That’s an anti-policy,” says Santorum. “I’m for a pro-policy.”
When yet another voter begins by saying, “I’m strongly against the Federal Reserve system,” Santorum doesn’t display much patience. “Let’s stop there,” he says, challenging the man on his desire to return to the gold standard. What follows is several minutes of argument in which Santorum carefully explains the Fed and the monetary system but fails completely to satisfy his questioner.
Three voters, three questions Santorum could have danced around, perhaps leaving the voters with the impression that he agreed with them without explicitly saying so. Santorum didn’t do it, and probably lost support in the process. But he said what he believed.
“I don’t pander for votes,” Santorum says after the meeting. “One of the things I’ve said from the very beginning is I am who I am. I’m not going to say something to one person and then say something different to somebody else. It’s not just because technology doesn’t let you do that anymore, but because people deserve to hear what you really think. And they may not like it, and people may say that’s the reason you’re not going anywhere in the polls. Maybe, but that’s OK. I think there are a lot more people in this country who want a politician who tells it the way it is and lays out answers and will tell somebody, no, I don’t agree with you, instead of making it sound like they do when they really don’t.”
Byron has more here.