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Friday, 30 March 2012

On 12 March, Rick Santorum told a crowd, according to CNN: “I always believed that when you run for president of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a teleprompter. Because all you’re doing is reading someone else’s words to people.”

Santorum’s manager of speechwriting on this campaign is Seth Leibsohn. His staff also includes two “Senior Communications Advisors” and a “Senior Advisor and Media Consultant.” Loredana Vuoto tells prospective clients that she was “a speechwriter for Senator Rick Santorum (2001-2003).” When asked about a passage in his book It Takes a Family, Santorum claimed that his wife might have written it as a wholly uncredited ghostwriter.

But criticizing other people for doing what he’s been doing is nothing new for Santorum. When he last ran for office as an incumbent senator in 2006, his campaign website declared:
Commitment to Higher Education

In addition to Rick's support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring the every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education. Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable.

Rick Santorum supports increased funding for Pell Grants, and since 2001 funding for the Pell Grant program has increased by 47 percent. Pennsylvania students have benefited tremendously from Pell Grants; providing a college education for our state's youth who otherwise might not be able to afford one.

In addition, Rick has worked to strengthen the many higher education institutions across Pennsylvania from community colleges to four-year universities. Through grants and policy initiatives, Rick Santorum is proud to further the priorities of Pennsylvania's colleges and universities.
Santorum’s family history speaks to the value of higher education. He not only went to college, but he holds two graduate degrees (in business and law). His wife has a law degree. His mother went to college in the 1930s and later earned an advanced degree. His father was a clinical psychologist. His eldest child, twenty-year-old Elizabeth, is a student at the University of Dallas.

In contrast to that past policy and history, during his presidential campaign Santorum has repeatedly made statements like: “President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob!”

That claim is, of course, untrue. When pressed on it, Santorum came up with two explanations, neither of which stand up to scrutiny. First, he claimed that Obama was overlooking people who would be better off getting non-college education or training—but the President already included those Americans in his original remarks on the importance of education.

Later, Santorum claimed that colleges indoctrinate students with “liberal” ideas, and then offered himself as an example of a student whose grades were lowered because of his political positions. People from his home state found that hard to believe since he attended Penn State, hardly a liberal bastion, and his professors recall him as highly ambitious but notably non-ideological. Santorum himself acknowledges that he didn’t move to the right of the Republican Party until later.

As with Santorum’s newly discovered opposition to teleprompters and speechwriters, his complaints about education policy were actually a manifestation of OIP Derangement Syndrome. The real emotion in Santorum’s remarks wasn’t concern for people who’d do better with non-collegiate technical training, but the visceral resentment apparent in his words “What a snob!”

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