Santorum: Culture Warrior in Hiding
Dave Weigel says Rick Santorum has softened as he's risen in the polls
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2012 1:58 PM CST
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a Economic Club of Detroit luncheon in Detroit, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(Newser) – Rick Santorum went to the Washington state capital Monday just hours after the governor signed gay marriage into law there. And what did the right's fiercest culture warrior say? He told everyone to be respectful, that each side had "legitimate reasons" for its views, that "there are ebbs and flows in every battle." That's pretty mild stuff from the guy who once produced the infamous "man on dog" quote, Dave Weigel of Slate observes.

Santorum doesn't have to talk like that anymore because social conservatives already know they can trust him. "He doesn't need to rub it in," Weigel writes. "He rallied for Terri Schiavo once; he doesn't have much else to prove." The results: Polls show Americans now view Santorum as electable, which actually amuses strategists who worked against him in 2006. "He gave them length after length of rope, they hung him with it, and essentially, he hasn't changed." He's just hiding it better.