The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Quite a Difference!’

Posted on | December 30, 2011 | 48 Comments

AMES, Iowa
Here at Buffalo Wild Wings near the campus of Iowa State University, the place is packed with media covering the Rick Santorum campaign. I’ll have photos in a few minutes, but first, let me explain that title quote.

On Aug. 11, after the debate before the Ames Straw Poll, I came to this very same restaurant to finish my article for the American Spectator. And when I went out to the parking lot to have a cigarette, I heard laughter coming from the back porch. So I walked around the corner and saw that Rick Santorum and his campaign team — his wife, his kids and a handful of staffers and supporters — were having a post-debate celebration.

There were maybe 20 people there, and they greeted me cordially. I was the only reporter in sight.

Today? You can’t get near the senator today. He is swarmed by media. The C-SPAN bus is parked outside. Carl Cameron is here, as are reporters for every news organization you’d care to name. 

So when I bumped into Santorum’s campaign manager Mike Biundo amid the crowd, I reminded him of that night four months ago.

“Quite a difference,” he said.


UPDATE: Here we see the candidate — wearing his brand-new Iowa State red sweater-vest — surrounded by the media mob:

If you’ll look at the left side of that photo, you’ll see press secretary Matt Benyon (in the white sweater) telling reporters where to go. And here is the senator’s oldest daughter Elizabeth, who remembers the times when I was the only reporter covering her dad:

The senator’s family is, “officially,” off-limits to the press. But they make an exception for the future ambassador to Vanuatu.

UPDATE II: As the senator was leaving the restaurant, the Buffalo Wide waitresses demanded to have their photo taken with the future President of the United States:

One of the other photographers said, “Look at the man with the hat” — making me the focal point for the photo. And here is something you’re never going to see anywhere else:

Rick Santorum poses with Tizzy, a dual champion Treeing Walker Coondog, Tizzy’s owner Jon Hathaway of Des Moines, and the lovely Elizabeth Santorum.

Well, gotta run. There’s another football party tonight, and Jake Braunger — the Santorum campaign’s 24-year-old Iowa field director, who’s been buying me beers today — is about to leave the bar. If Santorum does well next Tuesday, Jake is likely to be deployed to South Carolina, where his duties are sure to include making sure that the future ambassador to Vanuatu gets all the big scoops.

And beers. But mainly the big scoops.


  • Leticia Velasquez

    This is the spark that Rick referred to at a Town Hall Meeting last month in New Hampshire.  Lets’ hope it catches on and turns this whole contest around. Go Rick!

  • Lisa Graas

    Meanwhile in Kentucky…..there is great rejoicing.  I’m hoping these can be served at the inaugural ball. 

  • Pete in GA

    Stacy, It would be great to be you today!

  • Andrew Patrick

    Remind me again why Santorum vouching for Specter is just dues-paying, but Newt vouching for Scozzafavawava means he needs to get strangled from the back seat of the car?

  • Anonymous

    Hey, being me is a tough job. It took me years of practice to become this cool. 😉

  • Dianna Deeley

    Can I vote for the dog?

  • Dianna Deeley

    I’m reading the breed standard description:

    “The Treeing Walker coonhound is alert, intelligent, active, courteous,
    and courageous with extreme endurance and the desire to perform.”

    Clearly, this is the boy scout of dogs! And very good looking!

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    Hooray for Rick Santorum, Hooray for Stacy McCain and Hooray for America!  rick looks terrific and his daughter Elizabeth is indeed very lovely! The future Ambassador to Vanuatu also looks fantastic! Keep up the great work, Stacy!

  • Bob Belvedere

    This is getting a bit old, but here goes:

    -RS was put under a great deal of pressure by the GOP Establishment to endorse Spector – political threats were made.  He gave in in, partially because he believed he needed there help in what he knew would be a tough future re-election campaign in Left-leaning Pennsylvania.

    -Newton Leroy was under no pressure and made the endorsement.  Fine.  But then he went and said some very bad things about Doug Hoffman.  He threw his punch and then decided to kick the man when he went down.  There was no need for this.

  • Mortimer Snerd

  • Mortimer Snerd

  • newrouter

    via wiki
    “He[arlen specter] met with many conservative Republican senators, and based on
    assurances he gave them, he was recommended for the Judiciary
    Committee’s chairmanship in late 2004. He officially assumed that
    position when the 109th Congress convened on January 4, 2005.”

    can you say alito and roberts?

  • Vern Martin

    Stac: Ask Rick about his endorsement and commercial for Arlen Specter (R2D2) against Toomey

  • smitty

    Yes, that was the clip in Mortimer Snerd’s reply. This is equivalent to Newt’s endorsement of Dede.
    If you want to get ultra-puritanical, you’ll have to support someone else. Alas, Snow White is not in the running.

  • Vern Martin

    You misunderstand there Smitty,  I like Rick 🙂  he’s not my first choice, but I’d have no qualms for voting for him. Just wondered if he had anything to say about it; it’s been a few years and things change, would like to hear his thoughts on it now (not then)

  • Anonymous

    All I can think of when looking at this post is…wait, I forget, …some girl named Tabby or Tabitha something or other.  

  • Anonymous

    You might want to go over to Legal Insurrection where Santorum is now being blamed for the passage of Obamacare.

    Yes, this argument is being made.  Talk about leaps and bounds and logical acrobatics.  William Jacsobsen is usually better than that.

  • Dcmick

    It’s not a stretch.

    Santorum knew Specter was the one that blew up Robert Bork, which meant the continuation of Roe and its  problematic judicial progeny.

    So he knew that Specter was a problem.

    Jacobson’s point is that it was NOT unforeseeable that Specter would cause us grief.

    As for the SPECIFIC legislation encompassed by what has become known as obamacare, sure Santorum was in the dark as to that.  But Santorum KNEW that Specter was apt to go off the reservation.  In fact, having access to Specter’s maneuvering behind the scenes, he KNEW far more about Specter than we did.

    The reason Santorum backed Specter was that he was persuaded, as others were, that Toomey would be defeated.   It should be noted that Toomey barely beat that jerk Sestak, whereas Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor handily prevailed in that exact same election.

    Toomey’s time had yet to come.

    Absent the disaster of obamacare and the wider obama economic disaster, it’s most unlikely that Toomey would have won a general.

    Jacobson’s point is fair, particularly in light of the garbage thrown Gingrich’s way.

    RSM has REPEATEDLY condemned and blasted Gingrich for NY 23, yet now he’s out there supporting Santorum while overlooking that Santorum provided political cover for the guy that blew up Judge Bork’s nomination, {which proved so CRUCIAL in relation to Roe}, for it needs to be recalled and understood well, the guy that ultimately took what would be Judge Bork’s place was ANTHONY KENNEDY.

    RSM has a good deal to explain, specifically why overlook Santorum’s sin related to Toomey, while ripping repeatedly into Gingrich related to NY23.

  • Dcmick


    Did RSM consider himself being as you termed it, “hyper-puritanical,” when he was ripping and tearing into Gingrich.  Moreover, Gingrich accomplished far more to advance a real conervative agenda than has Santorum.

    So IF ANYBODY was going to be given a pass for trying to “grow” Republican ranks on the Hill, it would be the guy that had done more for the conservative agenda, ———- which was and has always been, Gingrich.

    It’s not just the double standard at play here.

    It’s not just that Santorum is getting the pass. 

    It’s the standard by which he extends a pass to the player who has been a 6th man off the bench, it’s extending the pass to the 5th receiver, instead of giving the pass to the every down player, instead of giving the pass to the player who has scored more points, gained more ground, caused more problems to the opposition.

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  • Doug Hagin

    LOL! She was, of course, until that “video” popped up on the net.

  • SDN

    Between Tizzy and Bill Quick’s Pomeranian, I think we have a winning ticket….

  • Lisa Graas

    Remind me again why people are insisting Toomey, who supported Sotomayor, is a conservative?

  • Lisa Graas

    Desperation sure does take ugly forms sometimes. 

  • Lisa Graas

    Ask Toomey why he supported Sotomayor, who doesn’t believe our rights come from God. In other words, we’re all just walking sacks of meat with no rights unless the mob says so. Ask Toomey that.

  • Doug Hagin

    Hey Bob. Newt took out his knife and stabbed Conservatives in the back. Of course it looked even worse when Scozzafava stabbed Newt and the GOP in the back and endorsed the DEMOCRAT!
    By the way I do not cut Santorum, who I think is a good guy, despite my natural distrust of any man that wears sweater vests, slack for endorsing Spector. He should have stood up, rather than sitting down. I have had my fill of people selling their principles out.

  • Doug Hagin

    Well, you do a Hell of a job, and we appreciate your hard work.

  • Adjoran

    Nah, they’re too tough, and they eat the other shrimp.  They are trying to get shrimpers to keep them and put in the fertilizer pile, the fishermen had been just throwing them back, and they keep multiplying.

  • Adjoran

    Ditto to Bob Belvedere below.  Besides, Specter was an incumbent of his own party who had endorsed and helped him when Santorum needed it.  And Rick didn’t talk trash about Toomey or the conservatives who supported him, unlike Newt.

  • Adjoran

    In the words of Ed Koch, “I can explain it to you, but I cannot understand it for you.”

  • Adjoran

    SSSSHHH!  Be quiet, or they can’t hear what the voices in their heads are telling them.

  • Adjoran

    You must be very young or have a short memory.  We conservatives kicked Newt out of the Speaker’s chair. 

    Gingrich has also embraced the health insurance mandate, cap-‘n’-tax, and global warming as a crisis.  At least until he decided to run for President and figured there were plenty of dumb conservatives he could fool again.

  • Adjoran

    Don’t expect an honest answer out of a Gingrich supporter unless you buy it from them.

  • richard mcenroe

    I look forward to the day when we kings of the intertubes can try our case with all unspotted soldiers.  Until then we could do and have done far worse than Rick Santorum.

  • M. Thompson

    Let’s be honest, if we’re looking for a circular firing squad here, you can find something on everyone.  Mr. Paul’s nuttery twenty years ago, Mr. Gingrich’s flip-flopping, Mr. Perry’s flailing, Mr. Romney’s squishiness, Mrs. Bachmann’s shrillness, and Mr. Huntsman’s uselessness.

    OTOH, who would want to survive this shit and face Mr. Obama in November?

  • Dave

    You should wear a fez (I’ll be amazed if someone gets that reference)

  • Anonymous

    It is a stretch. “Santorum should have known” is a stupid argument to make. Specter was the senior Senator from PA, and the politics of the time dictated what he did.

    Second, there’s this assumption that Toomey was a shoo-in for the general, he would have lost.

    Third, comparing state politics and what Newt did is not the same. Santorum was bound in certain ways where Newt was acting as a free agent in NY-23.

    I find the whole talking point laughable … yes, let’s go down this rabbit hole. Santorum is held responsible for what Specter did 4 years later. OK, by this logic, Santorum is then “responsible” for whatever opinions Justice Alito and Roberts make about Obamacare. Since, it was the outcome of endorsing Specter.

    Its sloppy argumentation, and frankly something I would expect from liberals. “Santorum should have known” so, now crystal balls are a requirement for running for office.

  • ThePaganTemple

    I’m not so sure Gingrich being kicked out of the speaker’s chair by you “conservatives” is something I would brag about if I were you.

  • ThePaganTemple

    Mr. Paul’s nuttery twenty years ago is not really relevant. It’s Mr. Paul’s nuttery in the here and now that makes him unelectable and insures he could never be the GOP nominee. The earlier nuttiness is just icing on the cake.

  • Paul Zummo

    It’s called accuracy, Lisa.  Arlen Specter is one of the prime reasons that Roe is still the law of the land, and he was the deciding vote for Obamacare.  I think too much is made of Santorum’s endorsement of Specter, but let’s not whitewash it.

  • Paul Zummo

    Second, there’s this assumption that Toomey was a shoo-in for the general, he would have lost.

    Yeah, there’s no way a guy with Toomey’s conservative credentials could ever have won a Senate seat in a state like Pennsylvania.

  • Paul Zummo

    We conservatives kicked Newt out of the Speaker’s chair.  

    What was that comment above about people only  listening to voices in their heads.  Talk about delusions.

  • Anonymous

    Not in 04, he would have not. He barely won in 2010 … PA is blue. On election night, it did not look good for Toomey … when he was originally projected to win by 5-8 pts.

    It was a nail biter. Maybe, do some research before snarking.

  • Don Surber

    Always with the babe, RSM.

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