Magazine March 19, 2012, Issue

The Team Player

The senators from Pennsylvania in 2004 (Jacqueline Larma/AP)
Rick Santorum and the art of the possible

Rick Santorum is embraced by conservatives on the campaign trail. On the rope lines, gray-haired activists crowd around his tall frame, lightly grip his sweater-vest-covered shoulder, and whisper good wishes. Well-scrubbed college Republicans cheer his white-hot rhetoric; industrial workers, clad in Carhartt jackets, applaud his blue-collar message. With his attractive family, his open faith, and his pluck, he connects. But since early February, when he began his rapid ascent in the national polls, Santorum’s appeal has been dented. At the debates and on the airwaves, his decade-plus stint on Capitol Hill has come under criticism. Voters have been reminded, usually

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