Santorum's College 'Snob' Zinger Backfires

'I wish he'd said it differently,' says GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2012 6:53 AM CST
Updated Feb 28, 2012 7:16 AM CST

Labeling President Obama as an elitist is a tried and true way of resonating with an electorate that doesn't give a fig about the price of arugula at Whole Foods, but lambasting him as a "snob" for his efforts to get Americans a college education is falling flat for Rick Santorum, even among fellow Republicans. "I wish he’d said it differently," says Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. "When you look at other countries, China, India, the premium they put on higher education—we’ve got to do better if we still want to be the global leader we are."

Santorum was attempting to underscore his blue-collar cred with Michigan voters, and the effort worked with some—Obama "thinks he knows what's best for everyone," scoffed one pastor—but by and large, Americans see a college education as a cornerstone of the American Dream, notes the Washington Post. GOP governors Jan Brewer, Phil Bryant, Bobby Jindal backed away from Santorum's comment, and Obama himself seemed to take aim yesterday, emphasizing two-year colleges and trade schools as equally important during a meeting with the National Governors Association. By yesterday afternoon, a Santorum adviser was dialing back the comment, saying, “Rick Santorum wants his kids to go to college, but if one of them comes to him with another choice, that’s not a dishonorable decision." (Jon Stewart poked at the statement last night; catch the video in the gallery.)

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