Rick Santorum joked after his testy words for a New York Times reporter were made public that if you haven’t cursed out the Gray Lady at some point “you’re not really a real Republican.” Mitt Romney disagrees, and is arguing the exchange should disqualify Santorum from contention in the presidential race.
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, one of Romney’s top surrogates, said in a conference call with reporters Monday that “lashing out at the press” showed the candidate was not up to snuff.
“On the issue of temperament, I think yesterday and certainly the last couple of weeks have emphasized the fact that Sen. Santorum really has lost his personal discipline and self control,” he said in an extensive condemnation. “I ran a White House for a president back in ‘89, ‘90, ‘91, ‘92 and I can tell you one of the most important things you need in a president is self control and discipline.”
He continued: “It is one thing to lose your temper at a New York Times reporter and it’s another to have to deal with the pressures of folks on the international stage and even opposing congressional leaders.” According to Sununu, Santorum’s behavior “in my mind disqualified him completely from that aspect.”
“He has a tendency to speak before he thinks,” Sununu said, pointing to past quotes by Santorum questioning women in combat and John F. Kennedy’s stance on separation of church and state. “Quite frankly, right now what he is doing with his emotional outbursts is just giving Obama soundbites, dragging the process out and right now he is running on ego and emotion.”
Santorum told the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny over the weekend to “stop lying” and accused him of “distorting” his words.
“It’s bullshit,” Santorum told Zeleny. “Come on, man, what are you doing?”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.