So my two year old daughter and I watched most of a Santorum town hall event from New Hampshire (start them early I say.) 

1.  He actually talks to people.  I’m sure he falls back on some pat phrases, but there is a sense that he is actually talking to his questioner.

2.  He doesn’t just preach to the converted.  This isn’t Gingrich talking about how Obama is immensely stupid and how he will reveal it to America and the world in a three hour debate. This isn’t Herman Cain doing a softball interview about 9-9-9 and how his peace through strength clichés are more important than actually knowing anything about anything.  Santorum actually engaged people who (quite moralistically) disagreed with him on the issues.  I don’t think he is especially persuasive, but he does actually try to persuade.

3.  He is good at talking about entitlement and energy policy.  Once again, not great, but America would benefit more from listening to him than from Gingrich’s Medicare nonsense, Mitt Romney’s canned talking points (though Romney has a pretty good plan entitlement plan but chooses not to talk much about it) or Perry talking about making Congress part time.  If we can get American listening to Santorum talking about that stuff, we might make it easier for some later politician to talk about and implement entitlement reforms.

4.  Towards the end of the event, a lady told Santorum that she hoped he respected her pro-choice (on abortion) principles.  Now, maybe I missed something, but I never got the impression that Santorum did anything but articulate his own pro-life principles and argue that abortion policy should be settled by democratic deliberation.  My sense was that she meant that tolerating his continued existence in society while he held his opinions constituted respect on her part, and his silent acquiescence in a radical pro-choice policy regime ought to constitute respect on his part.  I thought Santorum handled that question pretty well.

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Articles by Pete Spiliakos

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