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Santorum’s Conservative Media Problem

There’s been a trend this week of prominent conservative women writers warning about Rick Santorum’s out-of-mainstream social views. They’ve all touched on a similar concern: Santorum’s past comments on social issues are so extreme that they likely render him unelectable.

This is alarming enough on its own. But the increasingly vocal criticism from right-leaning female pundits also indicates another problem on the horizon for Santorum: can he rely on the conservative media, particularly the women, to have his back on social issues in a general election?

If Santorum secures the nomination, the mainstream media and Democrats will do their best to turn the election into a referendum on birth control and traditional gender roles. At that point it would be up to conservative journalists and commentators to stand up and defend Santorum on these issues. And as of right now, it doesn’t sound like there’d be many women in his corner.

But it’s not just female writers. The conservative media as a whole seems to have little desire to rehash the culture wars. There are plenty of pundits who will vigorously defend Santorum’s pro-life stance. But how many of them want to get into a brawl with the left over why birth control is harmful to society, or why gay marriage is akin to bestiality?

Then there’s the newer generation of conservative journalists and bloggers, which tends to lean more libertarian on social issues. They don’t have the same influence as TV pundits and columnists, but they’re still an integral part of the election coverage. Will they come out and defend Santorum’s comments about how the separation of church and state makes him “want to vomit”? How about his declaration that Satan is responsible for corrupting U.S. society?

It’s hard to imagine many who would. And that’s a serious problem Santorum needs to be prepared to deal with if he ends up securing the nomination.