The White House is worried, the Wall Street Journal reports:
Mr. Santorum “doesn’t come with the type of political baggage that Gingrich had,” said one Obama adviser. “He has the ability to go farther and is much more likely to be a potential nominee.’’ Directing attacks against Mr. Santorum is “under discussion at the headquarters” in Chicago, he added.
Team Chicago is worried about Santorum’s fresh new face, yet to be tarnished:
Mr. Santorum isn’t as widely known as Mr. Gingrich and lacks the former House speaker’s national profile, so Mr. Obama’s team may have a chance to fix an image of the former Pennsylvania senator that suits the president’s purposes. Otherwise, Mr. Santorum could emerge with the GOP nomination comparatively unscathed and undefined by the primary-election process, Democratic strategists warn.
Mark Penn, a strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid, said in an interview that in softening up Romney, “Democrats risk opening a path for Mr. Santorum to emerge as this fresh, new untouched face who could potentially represent a tougher opponent.”
The risk of attacking Mr. Santorum: elevating him further as a candidate dangerous enough to warrant the president’s attention.