Hey, Santorum! Take these tips to the GOP convention

Mitt Romney (right) and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania argue about Obamacare during a Republican presidential debate in Mesa, Ariz., earlier this year. photos: associated press
Mitt Romney (right) and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania argue about Obamacare during a Republican presidential debate in Mesa, Ariz., earlier this year. photos: associated press
Posted: August 14, 2012

I KNOW FOLKS are ramped over Mitt Romney's pick of Paul Ryan as running mate, but I'm fired up over other news.

In fact, perhaps no one is more excited than I about Rick Santorum getting a speaking role at the GOP convention in Tampa.

As one watching virtually every interesting Pennsylvania pol leave office, lose office or go to prison, I need Rick to stay around. A national platform for his, uh, thinking, is just the thing to keep him going.

It means he and his views are blessed by his party. It means he plants his flag more firmly as the GOP hopes for preserving the country's "core principles."

I wish him nothing but the best. But, as with every opportunity, there are risks. So I'm offering advice on his remarks.

First, Rick, I don't think you should say much about your campaign or Mitt. That could remind folks how on CBS' "Face the Nation" in March, you said Mitt has been "dead wrong for years and years and years" on the major issues of the day and would be "the worst candidate for us to nominate to go after Barack Obama on gas prices and on government takeover of health care."

Just hope your speech isn't in prime time so the elite liberal media don't smear you by recounting — verbatim and in context — your own words.

Along those lines, you might want to avoid talking about other candidates. No need to recall your expressed opinion that "Ron Paul is disgusting." As you know, his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, also is speaking at the convention, so it's probably best to avoid trips down campaign memory lane. I'd also leave out the Etch A Sketch.

On a positive note, I'd suggest talking about your grandfather coming to America from Italy in 1925, digging coal in a Pennsylvania mine until he was 72 and never relying on government. Maybe mention how his hands "dug freedom" — now that's good stuff.

Hopefully nobody remembers news reports from Italy about his "strong liberal convictions" or your relatives' ties to socialism. Fox won't mention it. MSNBC will. And I take it nobody's watching CNN because it occasionally attempts balanced reporting.

Of course you can safely riff on your family values, pro-life, marriage-is-sacred/homosexuals-are-not themes, which will do well. You might even compare yourself to "a Jesus candidate" as in "we always need a Jesus candidate"; that's OK because Mitt's a Mormon and I'm pretty sure Mormons have no problems with Jesus.

But — and this is just a suggestion since women vote — I'd steer clear of references to "radical feminism" and working women ruining America or your belief that contraception harms women, oh, and anything from your book It Takes a Family.

Ditto for references to man-on-dog, Boston's "cultural liberalism" causing pedophilic priests, President Obama's "phony theology" or how JFK's 1960 speech on religion made you want to puke.

Best to stick with limited government, personal responsibility, bombing Iran, war on religion. You know, familiar ground.

And the good news? No need for new ideas. Maybe use some of Pat Buchanan from 20 years ago at the GOP convention in Houston: "There is a religious war in this country. … This war is for the soul of America." Or stuff you said to me 16 years ago at the San Diego convention: "The values that once held us together as a country are under a huge assault, and the government is part of that."

Remember, as long as there are gays who want to marry and a war on religion and a government assaulting our values, you don't need to offer anything but repetition.

So go get 'em. And don't forget to wear your sweater vest.

For recent columns, go to philly.com/JohnBaer. Read his blog at philly.com/BaerGrowls.

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