Rick Santorum has
spent 12 years in the Senate--and millions of dollars
on TV ads for a third term. Yet a lot of Pennsylvania
voters just plain don't like him. Polls show
Santorum's approval rating is in the 30s, just about
what it was a year ago. Roughly the same number of voters
view him unfavorably as favorably.
the use of Pennsylvania tax dollars to pay for the cyber
schooling of his six children in Virginia continue to dog
him. Anger lingers over comments he made in a book
last year criticizing some working parents as well as
his support of keeping Terri Schiavo alive. And he has
angered gays and their supporters with statements opposing
same-sex marriage and comparing homosexuality to bestiality
and pedophilia. ''Santorum's real problem is
Santorum,'' said Clay Richards, a Quinnipiac
politician with youthful good looks, Santorum is banking on
his reputation as a hard worker who brings home the federal
dollars and on the clout he has as the number 3 Senate
Republican. Pennsylvania is a Democratic-leaning
state, and working for votes is nothing new to him. He
frequently boasts that with him voters at least know where
he stands on issues.
candidates are distancing themselves from President Bush,
but Santorum said he's not. ''Just because the
president is down in the polls, I'm not someone who is
going to walk away from him,'' he said.
In a tactical nod
to his unpopularity, Santorum's campaign has run
positive TV ads in an attempt to soften his image. In a
funny one titled ''Polka,'' he bumps into a woman on a
dance floor who thanks him for what he does and then
tells him, ''Move it or lose it.'' He's sponsored
women's forums and has a section on his campaign Web site,
''I heard it around the water cooler,'' that attempts
to debunk some perceptions about him.
His strategy is
also to question the integrity of state treasurer Bob
Casey, his Democratic opponent, who has a lead in the polls.
Santorum has run harsh TV ads attempting to link Casey
to corruption. He's also accused Casey of relying on
the name of his father, the late governor Robert P.
Casey, to get elected. He's said Casey doesn't take tough
stands on issues and avoids debates, even though Casey has
already done one and has agreed to three more.
one of Santorum's attack ads with one featuring Gov. Ed
Rendell calling the ad ''trash.'' Another says Santorum's
''record and his attack ads are a disgrace.'' In TV
ads, Casey has reminded voters about Santorum's book,
in which he wrote that both parents shouldn't work
outside the home if they can survive on one income. The
Casey campaign has also dumped hundreds of
unflattering clips of Santorum on YouTube, a Web site
that usually features wacky videos. In appearances and in
ads, Casey reminds voters that Santorum votes with the
president 98% of the time.
In a Quinnipiac
University poll released late last month, 39% of likely
voters viewed Casey favorably, an increase from 31% about a
year ago in the same poll. Eighteen percent had an
unfavorable view, which was about the same as a year