Rick Santorum, a former GOP senator possibly eyeing a 2012 presidential run from his perch in the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an aviary for conservative social and international issues, spoke recently about the Tea Party’s image and how he believed it had been tainted by some of the movement’s most famous figures.
Candidates such as Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller — all unsuccessful — were not the true embodiment of the Tea Party, Santorum said in a recent interview with conservative blog Red State. That title goes to people like Ron Johnson, Wisconsin’s newest senator, Santorum argued.
“The national media took some candidates who were — in my opinion — yes, they were tea party in the sense that the tea party embraced them and that they shared the principles of the tea party, but that really the best example of a tea party candidate was [Wisconsin Senator-elect] Ron Johnson, who actually got involved because of a tea party.
….. and the other candidates that became the face of the tea party, yes, they embraced the principles of the tea party, but, you know, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, and even Joe Miller — they were all active in politics before…. but they weren’t really who the tea party is.
…. And I made the point to the media, tried to, repeatedly — and I said this to Fox and to some of the producers at Fox — that you’re doing a disservice to the tea party when you highlight Christine O’Donnell as the tea party candidate when, really, the best example of a tea party candidate is the guy that nobody’s talking about. Why? Because he’s a great candidate!
And because he’s actually the image of what the tea party should be, and the mainstream media doesn’t want that image. They’d rather have the O’Donnell image, the Angle image, as opposed to someone like a Ron Johnson.”
Santorum’s decision to throw these Tea Party candidates under the bus is not only notable because of the apparent convenience of saying that all of the losing candidates weren’t actually Tea Party candidates, but because two of them, Angle and O’Donnell, seemed to be the kind of culture warriors that Santorum could have gotten behind, especially considering the former Pennsylvania senator’s staunch views on matters such as abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as his hopes for the agenda of the next Congress.