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from The Times' Opinion staff

Category: Republican Party

McCain: Bomb, bomb Iran.... Oh, and Syria

Mccain
I've never been a big fan of those alternative-history novels in which Hitler wins World War II or Richard Nixon becomes president for life, but recent events have me pondering a hideous prospect: What if John McCain had defeated Barack Obama in 2008? The answer, as indicated by McCain's recent posturing, is that we'd be struggling with a lot more than an economic downturn; we'd probably be in costly and unwinnable wars not just in Afghanistan but in Syria and Iran.

McCain has not only forgotten the lessons of his own generation's war in Vietnam, he's forgotten what this generation learned in Iraq. He is eager not just for Israel to bomb Iran, which would set off a devastating regional conflict likely to drag in the United States, but for Washington to bomb Syria. On Monday, he became the first U.S. senator to call for air strikes on that country, and during a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting Wednesday, he admonished Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for failing to show leadership by "focusing on diplomatic and political approaches rather than a military intervention."

Panetta didn't take this sitting down; he said the administration was working to build international consensus, as it did in Libya, rather than taking unilateral action, and that as Defense secretary he has to know "what the mission is. I've got to make very sure we know whether we can achieve that mission, what price and whether or not it will make matters better or worse."

That's the part McCain either doesn't understand or doesn't care to discuss. U.S. military intervention in Syria in any form -- whether airstrikes or arming rebels -- would be extraordinarily risky. Syria is a powder keg of ethnic and sectarian factions with networks in neighboring countries; foreign intervention there would set off a proxy war that would further destabilize the entire Middle East.

To name just a few of the complications: In Lebanon, the politically powerful and heavily armed Hezbollah is committed to upholding the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and it's not unrealistic to think that a broader civil war in Syria could spread to its fragile neighbor. If Assad should fall, it would almost certainly lead to reprisals, and likely atrocities, against Syria's minority Alawite community, the regime's most important domestic backers. The Syrian opposition that U.S. hawks would like to arm is an unknown quantity made up of Islamic fundamentalists and other groups that aren't necessarily sympathetic to U.S. interests. Taking out Syria's air defenses would be nowhere near as simple as taking out Libya's and would require a massive U.S. military commitment; it also presents risks that it would prompt Assad to use his country's stockpile of chemical weapons, which is said to be 100 times the size of Libya's.

I could go on, but I doubt I could say it better than the International Crisis Group, which wrote in a recent report:

Frustrated and lacking a viable political option, Western officials and analysts have toyed with a series of often half-baked ideas, from initiating direct military attacks to establishing safe havens, humanitarian corridors or so-called no-kill zones. All these would require some form of outside military intervention by regime foes that would more than likely intensify involvement by its allies. Even if they were to provoke the regime's collapse, that in itself would do nothing to resolve the manifold problems bequeathed by the conflict: security services and their civilian proxies increasingly gone rogue; deepening communal tensions; and a highly fragmented opposition.

McCain's hawkishness is starting to turn off most of his fellow Republicans, and even if he had won the White House, he might not have been able to fulfill his neocon nation-building fantasies. Fortunately, it will take an alternative-fiction writer, rather than a journalist, to imagine the harm he could have done.

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Holder's troubling death-by-drone rules

$3 billion in U.S. humanitarian aid buys little respect

--Dan Turner

Photo: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) talks to the press Monday after calling for air strikes on Syria. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Making California's primary matter -- it takes more than luck

Romney
Will the Golden State matter to Republicans after all? This morning, after Rick Santorum's strong Super Tuesday showing, and Newt Gingrich's win in Georgia and his vow to press on through the Texas primary in May and the California vote on June 5, it's possible that this state may finally enjoy the clout it deserves.

Except -- don't hold your breath. Mitt Romney may not have sealed the deal, but he is inching closer. By the time it's our turn to vote three months from now, chances are we'll still just be going through the motions. The candidates love us for our money, but they spend it in states with earlier primaries.  June may be just too late.

That makes California a poster child of sorts for the issue that troubles so many citizens about U.S. politics: Even in the states where candidates have spent so much money to reach the hearts, minds and voting fingers of the people, the basic unit of electoral choice often appears to have become the dollar instead of the vote. How much more true does that seem, then, in California, where so much of the money is raised but where primary voters are likely to weigh in after the race is effectively over?

It wasn't like that four years ago -- for the Democrats. California moved its traditional June primary to February, which the parties decided would be a new, early Super Tuesday. Voters here mattered. Democrats went for Hillary Rodham Clinton; Republicans picked John McCain. Clinton didn't end up with the nomination, but California voters had a voice.

But the 2008 primary was an anomalous election year precisely because Democrats are in charge here. They moved up the election not so much because they wanted their constituents to be able to make a difference but because several top Democratic incumbents in the Legislature were about to be termed out. They hoped that while nominating a presidential candidate in February, voters would also approve a measure loosening term limits -- allowing those same incumbents to run for another term in the second primary election in June. The ploy failed, but both parties (especially the Democrats, because they are the majority here) too readily make elections their playthings.

We were on course to have another February primary this year, but Gov. Jerry Brown -- a Democrat -- signed a bill sent to him by Sacramento's Democrats to move the election back to June, on the same day as the legislative primary, ostensibly to save money. So Republican voters here may lose out on their king-making power.

Isn't there a middle way? California does not have to go through another expensive double primary to be heard at the ballot box. Nor do we have to try to have the first-in-the-nation vote, jumping ahead of Iowa, New Hampshire and the rest. There's no reason that California couldn't combine its legislative primary and its presidential primary on Super Tuesday in 2016 -- giving Republicans and Democrats a chance to name their nominee. If Californians without big checkbooks don't like sitting on the sidelines until the game is virtually over, they should say so, loudly and clearly, to their parties.

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Super Tuesday results: Live commentary

Romney won't be a pushover in November

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012

--Robert Greene

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves after speaking to supporters on a campaign stop in Los Angeles on July 20, 2011. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Super Tuesday results: Live commentary

Super Tuesday
No matter which GOP presidential candidates win Tuesday night’s seven primaries and three caucuses, the race will look much the same on the day after as it did the day before. Mitt Romney will still lead in the race for delegates, but he’ll remain far short of the number needed to claim the nomination. Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul will all still be well behind, albeit with most of the delegates yet to be claimed.

Nevertheless, there will be plenty of interesting developments to watch for as the results come in. Will Gingrich gain any traction outside of his home state of Georgia? Can Paul notch his first win? Can the Romney campaign’s barrage of attack ads in Ohio and Tennessee derail Santorum? And what damage has Romney done to his own standing in the process?

The Times’ Doyle McManus, Michael McGough, David Horsey and I will be following the returns and sharing our thoughts 140 characters at a time. Read out tweets below and interact with us here and on Twitter.

--Jon Healey



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Counting down the hours to Super Tuesday results

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012

Photo: A poll worker assists as voters prepare to cast their ballots at a polling place during Super Tuesday voting on March 6 in Youngstown, Ohio. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Counting down the hours to Super Tuesday results

Republican voters in Georgia
Super Tuesday may not be quite so super this year, with seven states holding primaries and three holding caucuses. That's down from two dozen, California included, that participated in 2008's version of Super Tuesday. And although front-runner Mitt Romney is expected to win more of the contests than any other candidate, the GOP's rules will prevent him from building a rival-crushing lead in convention delegates.

So it's not likely that the results will prompt any of the also-rans to pull a Herman Cain and return to their day jobs on K Street, no matter how lackluster their showing may be. Several analysts have projected that Romney's lead in delegates could become insurmountable after Tuesday's voting, but he still may not be able to lock up enough to win the nomination outright. That's reason enough for Newt Gingrich, who's a distant third and seemingly dead in the polls, to keep campaigning all the way to the convention.

Gingrich's main hope Tuesday is his delegate-rich home state of Georgia, where polls show him holding a healthy double-digit lead over Romney. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is focusing on the three caucus states -- Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska -- where his grass-roots organizational strength makes the greatest difference. Rick Santorum is favored in Oklahoma and is running neck and neck with Romney in Tennessee and Ohio. Romney is favored in Massachusetts (where he served as governor), Vermont and Virginia (where he and Paul were the only candidates to qualify for the ballot), and has moved up strongly in Ohio and Tennessee in recent weeks.

All those projections are mere speculation at this point. The results start rolling in shortly after 4 p.m. Pacific -- that's poll-closing time in Vermont, Virginia and Georgia. Expect a trove of exit-polling data to become available then too.

My Washington-based Opinion section colleagues Doyle McManus and Michael McGough will join me and David Horsey from The Times' Top of the Ticket blog in tweeting about the results as they come in. Be sure to check out The Times' homepage for those tweets.

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Romney's campaign revs the inevitability engine

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012

-- Jon Healey

Photo: Voters cast ballots in Marietta, Ga., on Super Tuesday. Credit:  Erik S. Lesser / EPA

 

Romney's campaign revs the inevitability engine

Mitt Romney in Youngstown Ohio
With a big block of GOP delegates up for grabs in 10 states Tuesday, the media meme of the moment  is that the race has, at long last, reached a tipping point. The Times' front page on Monday declared,  "GOP ready for this fight to end." The other Times proclaimed,  "Before Super Tuesday, Big Names Rally to Romney." Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee pronounced  on Fox News, "The momentum is with Romney.... [P]eople are saying, 'OK, look, if he's going to win, let's go ahead and get behind him.'"

The "big names" cited by the New York Times include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), whose state's primary is almost certain to be won by Romney. That's because only Romney and Cantor's Libertarian-minded colleague, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), are on the ballot. Nevertheless, Cantor's support  is significant because of his standing among tea party voters,  a group that Romney has yet to impress.

And maybe we have, in fact, arrived at the point where Romney separates himself from the pack. Tracking polls  show his popularity reaching new heights as rival Rick Santorum becomes the latest anti-Mitt to fade. If Romney wins in Ohio and Tennessee, where blue-collar and conservative Christian voters had given Santorum a sizable edge just a few weeks ago, along with Virginia, his home state of Massachusetts, neighboring Vermont and Mormon-rich Idaho, he'll have strung together victories on an impressive range of playing fields.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012

But the commentariat has be wrong repeatedly about this race. Remember when it was suddenly a two-man race between Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry? Then a two-man race between Romney and Newt Gingrich? Remember when the Florida primary was supposed to wrap things up for Romney once and for all?

It's something of a formula in political journalism: anoint a favorite, then continue writing about the front-runner's nomination as an "inevitability" until it finally comes true.

Romney is a cinch to claim a lot of delegates in Tuesday's primaries, thanks in large part to Santorum's failure  to get on the ballot in Virginia and to file all the necessary paperwork in Ohio. What's at stake Tuesday isn't delegates, though,  it's perceived momentum. That's why voters and donors may continue rallying to Santorum if he wins in Oklahoma, as expected, and Tennessee and Ohio, where the races are tight.

For Gingrich, the hurdle is higher. He's likely to win big in his home state of Georgia, but such victories don't usually mean much in national campaigns. He's not expected to win anywhere else, but if he can outpoll Romney or Santorum to finish second in Oklahoma and Tennessee, maybe he can continue to argue credibly that the race will be settled at the Republican convention in August. 

As for Paul, I can't offer even a credibility-straining argument that the Texas Republican could somehow win the nomination. But I'm sure his supporters will do so in the comments section below. One admonition before you start typing, folks: It's not why he should win, but why he could.

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Mitt Romney, the pandering chicken hawk on Iran

Andrew Breitbart: Dead wrong on race, and much else

-- Jon Healey

Photo: Mitt Romney campaigns in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday. Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images

 

http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/03/huckabee-gop-starting-to-unite-behind-romney-116424.html

Mitt Romney, the pandering chicken hawk on Iran

Mitt Romney in Georgia on Sunday

So this is getting seriously stupid, all the campaign-season rhetoric about Iran.

First, President Obama, speaking Sunday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, says:

"I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power. A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort to impose crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.

"Iran's leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment. I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I've made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."

Sounds clear and tough-guy enough, right?

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012

Well, apparently not to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who, The Times reported from Snellville, Ga., reacted to Obama's speech this way:

"If Barack Obama is reelected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change," Romney told a crowd of more than a 1,000 people at a pancake breakfast that his campaign hosted in this Atlanta suburb.

When an 11-year-old boy asked the candidate how he would keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Romney said Obama had not imposed "crippling sanctions against Iran." "He's also failed to communicate that military options are on the table and in fact in our hand, and that it's unacceptable to America for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

"I will have those military options. I will take those crippling sanctions and put them into place," he said. "And I will speak out to the Iranian people of the peril of them becoming nuclear …. I'm not willing to allow your generation to have to worry about a threat from Iran or anyone else that nuclear material be used against Americans.”

Oh, and have some more pancakes, young fellow. I want you big and strong for when I send you off to war!

But seriously. Obama said all options were on the table -- and Romney still called him out. What is this, the second-grade playground?

C'mon, fellows, stop and think a minute. If you don't want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, does it make sense to keep bombarding it with threats of military action? I mean, I'm pretty sure they've got the picture by now. 

Do you really have to make a bunch of paranoid types more paranoid? Isn't this why Israel says it fears Iran -- because it has threatened to destroy Israel?

So how do all of these threats to attack Iran make it want the bomb less?

The bottom line: This is political gamesmanship at its worst. Romney and the GOP candidates court pro-Israel votes by taking an ultra-hard line on Iran. Which forces Obama to hew to a hard line as well.

But it's a very dangerous game. It could lead to war. It could get lots of people killed.

And yes, for me, it's personal too: I have two sons.One just turned 18, at which point you are -- yes, still -- required to sign up with the Selective Service System.

Frankly, I'm getting tired of hearing pandering politicians cast about for votes by offering up the lives of other people's kids in the name of national security.

Take Romney's sons: Did he offer them up as cannon fodder? Check out this New York Times story in 2007, the last time he ran, when he was asked about whether they had served in the military:

Mr. Romney expressed appreciation for the country's "volunteer army" and said "that's the way we're going to keep it." He explained his sons had made different career choices in life and had not chosen to serve in the military, but he mentioned a niece whose husband, he said, had just been called up by the National Guard ….

But he wound up his response with this: "It's remarkable how we can show our support for our nation, and one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected, because they think I’d be a great president. My son, Josh, bought the family Winnebago and has visited 99 counties, most of them with his three kids and his wife. And I respect that and respect all of those in the way they serve this great country."

Yes, well, Mitt, the campaign trail is a rugged place, that's for sure, especially in a Winnebago.

But ask the fathers and mothers and husbands and wives of the thousands of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan about real war.

And then, just maybe, you -- and, frankly, Obama too -- might decide to take your finger off the trigger.

And quit playing politics with the lives of American kids.

ALSO:

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Staying out of Syria's conflict

Move over, Egypt, Iraq and Syria 

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Mitt Romney speaks Sunday at a pancake breakfast at Brookwood High School in Snellville, Ga., outside Atlanta. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Contraception spin battle -- an attack on faith or women?

Birth control
Democrats like to point out the broad public support for many elements of the healthcare reform law they pushed through Congress in 2010. But polls also show that most people reject the law -- better known as "Obamacare" -- as a whole despite their appreciation for most of its key features. That's because opponents won the fight over how the complex measure would be perceived. In other words, the Republicans' spin -- "it's a government takeover of healthcare" -- was better than the Democrats' spin.

Now, the two parties are fighting over how one portion of the law will be implemented, and the battle over spin has been joined again. There's broad public support for the law's mandate that insurers cover preventive care with no deductibles or co-pays. But the Obama administration triggered a fierce fight with the Roman Catholic Church when it declared that contraceptives were a form of preventive care that had to be provided at no cost to policyholders.

At first I thought the GOP had this issue nailed. The Republicans had a powerful and succinct message: Requiring church-affiliated employers, such as Catholic hospitals, to provide free contraceptives was an attack on religious liberty. President Obama tried to defuse the controversy by exempting churches from having to pay for contraceptive coverage -- the bill will be picked up instead by insurers -- but that's no help for large Catholic employers that self-insure.

As is customary for politicians, however, Republicans weakened their message by offering a counterproposal with problems of its own. The amendment that Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offered to a highway construction bill Thursday would have let any employer drop any coverage that didn't comport to his or her religious or moral beliefs.

The Blunt amendment, which was narrowly defeated, opened the door to an effective counter-spin by Democrats. Political consultant Doug Schoen lays it out in Forbes: Republicans weren't just trying to free churches from having to provide coverage for the morning-after pill; they were giving every boss the opportunity to drop coverage for contraception. One can imagine the 30-second spots now, played during daytime TV and on female-leaning cable channels: "Republicans want employers to deny coverage for birth control pills, but they have no qualms about insurers covering Viagra!"

What do you think? Offer your own spin in the comments section below.

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A message to 'Obamacare' haters

Birth control: What do bosses get to decide about us?

-- Jon Healey

Photo illustration by Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Birth control: What do bosses get to decide about us?

Sen. Roy Blunt
To read about the Blunt amendment, which was narrowly defeated Thursday via a U.S. Senate vote to table it, you'd think this was solely about whether religiously affiliated organizations -- such as hospitals or universities with links to churches -- have to provide health-insurance coverage for birth control.

Certainly, what kicked off the legislative move by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) was the Obama administration's rule that they would indeed have to provide that coverage; that was later softened to an agreement under which the coverage would be available, but the insurance companies would pick up the cost, which they have said they're willing to do.

But the Blunt amendment would have gone much further. Any employer would be allowed to refrain from any mandated coverage under healthcare reform if it offended the owners' religious or moral beliefs. That includes screening for sexually transmitted diseases and a load of other generally accepted and important care.

Certainly, if a university that has ties to Catholicism can refuse to offer birth-control coverage, it's hard to imagine why the owner of an auto-parts store who might have equally strong religious beliefs shouldn't get the same break. Which gets to the essential question at the heart of this thinking: What do our bosses get to decide about our lives? Supporters of Blunt might say that people are entitled to buy whatever they want as long as the employer isn't paying for it, but that didn't make much of a difference when the insurance companies were willing to pick up the tab.

The argument that employers shouldn't have to spend their money in support of activities to which they have moral objections has some serious implications, if you take it down the road for a spin. Most employers offer some paid vacation to full-time employees. What if the employee spends that time doing something the employer finds morally objectionable -- say, working to defeat Proposition 8, or working to defend it? Why should the employer have to subsidize that activity?

It's an extreme example, of course. But when you consider the narrowness of the vote taken in the Senate, it's worth wondering the extent to which the Blunt philosophy would hand moral judgments about private decisions to employers.

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--Karin Klein

Photo: Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) speaks on the Senate floor before a vote on his amendment dealing with contraceptives on Thursday. Credit: CSPAN.org

Romney accuses Santorum of (gasp!) appealing to Democrats

Romney and Santorum signsMitt Romney has something of a home field advantage in Michigan, where he was raised and where his father was a popular governor. So it's more than a little weird to hear him complain that rival Rick Santorum is encouraging more people in the state to vote in Tuesday's GOP primary.

Romney's beef is that the Santorum campaign has been robo-calling Democrats and urging them to vote for Santorum. The state's GOP primary is open to all registered voters, and Democratic primaries for president and the Senate are uncontested. So why shouldn't they cross over to where all the fun is?

To Romney, that's cheating.

“I think Republicans have to recognize there’s a real effort to kidnap our primary process," Romney told reporters in Michigan, according to Politico. "And if we want Republicans to nominate the Republican who takes on Barack Obama, I need Republicans to get out and vote and say no to the, the dirty tricks of a desperate campaign.”

But the winner of the nomination will need more than just Republican votes to defeat the incumbent president, particularly in states such as Michigan that lean Democratic. The code name for this quality is "electability," and for a good portion of the campaign, that was one of Romney's main selling points.

Ironically, Romney has spent much of the campaign moving in the other direction, trying to prove to conservatives in the GOP that he isn't, you know, moderate. Santorum, meanwhile, has the opposite challenge: persuading Republicans that he can attract enough votes in the middle of the political spectrum to beat Obama.

That was the rationale for urging Democrats to vote, Santorum told reporters on the stump. According to my colleague Seema Mehta, Santorum said he was trying to prove that “we can attract voters we need to win states like Michigan."

The problem for Santorum is that the Democrats who vote for him Tuesday might simply prefer him over Romney, not Obama. Or worse, they might think Santorum would be easier for Obama to defeat in November than Romney would be.

That's the subtext to Romney's remarks. And it's worth noting that the "super PAC" backing Santorum presented two arguments to the Republican voters they called that are very different from the one Santorum offered Democrats. According to Politico's Alexander Burns, the GOP households were told that the healthcare reform that Romney backed in Massachusetts was a blueprint for Obama's healthcare reform, and that Romney once defended abortion rights.

Had Santorum's campaign delivered those messages to Democrats, Romney might not be in such a dogfight in his home state.

Polls close in Michigan at 5 p.m. Pacific, and in the less contentious Arizona primary (where Romney is expected to win easily) at 6 p.m. Pacific.

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It's class warfare, by Gens. Romney and Santorum

Separating church and state, Kennedy and Santorum

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012

-- Jon Healey

Photo: A campaign bus for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney rolls past signs for rival Rick Santorum in Troy, Mich. Credit: Eric Gay / Associated Press

It's class warfare, by Gens. Santorum and Romney

Rick Santorum in Hixson, Tenn.

Looks like the Republicans were right on target with their charges about class warfare. Only thing is, they missed the mark on who's engaging in it --  it's not President Obama but Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Santorum, campaigning in Michigan, is portraying himself as a fighter for working-class men and women against the "elites in society who think that they can manage your life better than you can."

Ouch -- that would be Romney, not Obama, he's talking about. You know, as in "upper-class Mitt."

Santorum also threw out this class warfare classic at a campaign stop over the weekend, The Times reported:

He criticized the tax plan Romney laid out earlier in the week that would reduce all income tax rates by 20%, noting that Romney said he would make the plan revenue-neutral by limiting mortgage and charitable deductions for the "top 1%."

"Hmmm, where have I heard that before?" Santorum said. "We have a Republican running for president who's campaigning as an Occupy Wall Streeter."

Now wait just a cotton pickin' minute, said Romney -- he of the political and financial golden spoons:

Romney defended his wealth -- and by implication the wealthy -- during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

"If people think that there is something wrong with being successful in America, then they better vote for the other guy," he said. "Because I've been extraordinarily successful and I want to use that success and that know-how to help the American people."

But Santorum seems in no hurry to silence the class-warfare guns. In fact, he's been so eager to tout his working-class roots that he’s even, uh, embellished a bit, The Times reported Monday:

"I don't come from the elite. My grandfather was a coal miner. I grew up in public housing on a VA grounds. I worked my way to the success that I had, and I'm proud of it," Santorum said Saturday in Troy, before a working-class audience gathered in the county where Romney enjoyed a privileged upbringing. Santorum didn't elaborate, but his family wasn't poor; his father, a psychologist, and his mother, a nurse, worked for the Veterans Administration -- now the Department of Veterans Affairs -- which provided them with an apartment.

Of course, it's not as if Romney isn't doing a pretty good job of shooting himself in the foot in the class warfare battle, as when he recently told a business audience in Detroit that his wife drives "a couple of Cadillacs."  (Those would be cars built by the company that Romney famously didn't want bailed out, but those nits certainly will be picked by Obama, if not Santorum.)

Still, Romney did have a classic comeback to his rival at a stop over the weekend in Troy, Mich:

"I can attest for my conservative credentials by quoting someone who endorsed me in my 2008 campaign: Sen. Santorum," Romney told the crowd, before noting that Santorum praised him on the Laura Ingraham show four years ago as "a guy who is really conservative and who we can trust."

As they say in politics: Touche!

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The greening of faith

Santorum's true fiscal failures

How about Santorum vs. Obama, winner take all?

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Rick Santorum campaigns at a tea party town hall meeting in Hixson, Tenn. Credit: John Amis / Associated Press

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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