Posted on | March 24, 2012 | 13 Comments
Louisiana Santorum volunteer David with Lisa Graas in Central, La., March 24, 2012
Mitt Romney’s got the big money and the big endorsements, but Rick Santorum has Lisa Graas who — with 6,835 Twitter followers and about 1,500 Facebook friends — has been a sort of social-media equalizer, helping lead an amazingly effective online grassroots campaign for her candidate. It was Lisa who urged me to cover Santorum’s campaign in Iowa back in August, when he was stuck in single digits in the polls and the media were ignoring him. When I showed up that Saturday in Roland, Iowa, at a barn in the middle of a cornfield, I called Lisa and handed my phone to the senator, who talked to her for more than 10 minutes — and that impressed me.
Rick Santorum talks to Lisa Graas in Roland, Iowa, Aug. 6, 2011
Ask anyone in politics: Nothing is more valuable to a campaign than the candidate’s time. The fact that Santorum was willing to spend 10 minutes on the phone with this Catholic blogger mom from Kentucky was an indicator that he understood the value of her online activism.
Lisa was 100% for Santorum at a time when almost no one believed he had a chance in Iowa — or anywhere else, for that matter.
Santorum understood the value of that kind of volunteer enthusiasm and he understood that encouraging volunteers like Lisa, at a time when there seemed to be so little cause for optimism, was an important part of his campaign.
Impressive, as I say, and while I was at that time aboard the Cain Train, the fact that Santorum took time to talk to Lisa that August day in Iowa was one of those things that stuck in my mind and made me think, “Hey, maybe this low-budget underdog has a chance.”
So, Friday I found myself in a plight that reminded me of a lyric from an old song: “Busted flat in Baton Rouge.” Exactly how I got myself into that situation is a long story — Pat Austin in Shreveport gives a pretty good hint — but the point is, I was stranded at a Super 8 motel near Baton Rouge with no prospects for continuing my trip. Friday morning, I sent an e-mail to Lisa, and things started happening.
About 6 p.m., Rick Santorum called me and said they were scheduled to fly out of Alexandria at 9 p.m. and, if I could get to the airport in time, they’d give me a ride to the D.C. area. Then I called David — a Santorum campaign volunteer in Louisiana — and he said he’d come give me a ride. But David was slowed by traffic and when the GPS estimated our arrival time at Alexandria as 9:18 p.m., I texted that information to a Santorum aide who replied, “We can’t take you.” The campaign was on a tight schedule, and the “wheels up” departure time of 9 p.m. could not be delayed.
That whole story I’ll tell some other time, but when Lisa found out I was still stranded, she immediately decided to drive 650 miles from Kentucky to give me a ride home 1,100 miles to Maryland, and then drive another 600 miles back to her house in Kentucky. I spent Friday night at David’s house, and Lisa arrived here about noon with two of her kids, and we’ll be going down to Harahan tonight for the Santorum campaign’s Louisiana victory party.
The candidate will give his victory speech in Wisconsin tonight, but his Louisiana volunteers will be partying with Lisa Graas, whose role in the Santorum campaign makes her one of the most important social-media activists in America. And you should go hit her tip jar.
If it weren’t for her, after all, I’d still be busted flat in Baton Rouge.
- March 24: Neutral Objective Journalism
- March 23: Rick Santorum in Cavuto Interview: ‘This Is the Hatchet-Job of All Time’ (Video Added)
- March 23: BULLETIN: 5.0 Earthquake Hits Vanuatu; New Poll Shows Rick Santorum Headed for ‘Commanding Win’ in Louisiana Primary
- March 23: What Santorum Said, What He Meant, and What Romneybots Want You to Think
- March 23: It’s Past Midnight in Louisiana, and We’re Already Knee-Deep in Craziness
- March 22: Santorum Leads Latest Louisiana Polls; Newt Gingrich at LSU Tonight — Maybe
- March 21: Romney’s ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ Platform: Santorum’s ‘Act of God’ Moment?
- March 20: Newt Attacks Santorum at Red State: Gingrich’s Bankrupt Narcissism