Drudge Turns on Santorum

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Drudge Turns on Santorum
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Drudge Turns on Santorum

Rick Santorum was sitting at the center of the Drudge Report's homepage Tuesday afternoon looking like a religious nut. "SANTORUM'S SATAN WARNING," the headline screamed, under a black-and-white photo of the candidate standing behind a lectern with a cross on it. The conservative blogger drives mad crazy traffic, and he's using it to attack the biggest threat to his reported ally, Mitt Romney. This isn't the first time Drudge has gone nuclear on a Republican who threatened Romney's candidacy.

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Drudge is making Santorum look like the scary mom from Carrie, pulling up several Santorum quotes from 2008. Those include "Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition," as well as "We look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it."

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Drudge has used the same tools—screamer headlines, old photos—to take down another candidate who looked like he might beat Romney. Just as today's post goes after one of Santorum's strengths, his faith, a month ago Drudge published a ton of research attacking Newt Gingrich's strength, his experience. In late January, Gingrich was peaking in the polls, and Drudge's assault caused blogger Matt Barber to rant about "The Drudge Distort." 

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Drudge on January 25:

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Note the same use of black and white to make an uninteresting photo look sinister. Gingrich peaked the day before this headline ran, according to Talking Points Memo's poll average:

Of course, Drudge didn't cause Gingrich to fall in the polls all by himself. And maybe the site reflects what the most conservative parts of the conservative establishment are already thinking. Santorum has been ahead of Romney in at least the last six national polls. Maybe some -- or at least the Romney campaign -- are nervous Santorum could actually win. That may explain why while Drudge is attacking Santorum for being too Christian, a Romney adviser is attacking the candidate for not being Christian enough. Mark DeMoss is an outside evangelical adviser to the Romney campaign, Politico reports, and says that Santorum's lack of big charitable donations "shows a lack of personal commitment to a principle that religious conservatives and political conservatives believe in." Sure, these accusations are contradictory, but one of them has to stick, right?

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