Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 02/19/2012

Rick Santorum and the dog that had an accident

AKRON, Ohio – Every candidate’s got a favorite campaign-trail anecdote.


Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) speaks at the Summit County Lincoln Dinner on Saturday, in Akron, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
For Barack Obama in 2008, it was the long-and-winding story of how he came to meet Edith Childs, the little old lady from Greenwood, S.C., who coined the “Fired up! Ready to go!” chant.

For Mitt Romney, it’s the childhood tale of how his parents packed the family into a Rambler station wagon and drove from state to state, visiting national parks.

And for former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), the yarn involves a famous Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, a little old lady —and a dog that had an accident on Santorum’s lap.

On Saturday night, Santorum told the tale to a crowd of more than 1,000 Republicans at the Summit County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner here.

It’s not a story he’s trotted out often on the trail, but it’s one that Santorum evidently enjoys telling – and one that also gives some insight into the surging presidential hopeful’s campaign-trail perseverance.

Here it is:

SANTORUM: “When I went out on my first campaign, it was a pretty important year in my life, 1990. I met the woman I love the year before, and we got married that year, in 1990. And I went out and decided to run for Congress. We went out and knocked on doors. That’s how we were able to win; we knocked on almost 20,000 doors, running for Congress.”
“And I’ll tell you a little story about one of those instances, when we went knocking doors in Upper St. Clair, which is outside of Pittsburgh, a nice little neighborhood. ... So, I’m walking – I figure it was about a four-hour thing, looking at the street list – and I was walking about halfway through the neighborhood, at the back of a cul-de-sac.”
“And I knocked on the door and this little elderly lady comes to the door. ... And so, I had my little brochure. I knocked on the door. She came to the door. She had a little dog that was barking. And I said, ‘Hi, I’m Rick Santorum. I’m running for Congress.’ ... She looked at me and goes, ‘Oh, you look so hot.’ She goes, ‘Why don’t you come in for a glass of water?’”
“So I went in and sat down. And the dog is running around, barking. And she goes in and gets her glass of water, and I sit down and I come back. And she hands me the glass of water. And the dog jumps up and hops in my lap.”
“Okay, fine. So, I had the dog. I had a sip or two of water. We chatted. And the next thing I know, there is a warm sensation on my lap.”

The crowd at the Akron event roars with laughter.

“And I jump up, and on my tan pants is a huge wet spot where you don’t want a huge wet spot. So, I jumped up to look at it, and she was aghast. She reached for my pants and said, ‘Let me dry that off.’”

Another roar of laughter from the Lincoln Day Dinner audience.

“I backed away and said, ‘No, that’ll be fine.’ She goes, ‘Let me get a hairdryer.’ Heaven forbid! And I said, ‘No, thank you very much.’ I start to move out the door and she goes, ‘Well, take your pants off. I’ll put them in the dryer.’ That was the last I heard from her, because I was out the door.”
“So now I’m walking down the sidewalk, get to the end of the sidewalk. I’m two hours into my walk. I’m a mile, at least, from where my car is. There’s still lots of daylight left. What do you do?”
“Undeterred, I soldiered on. ... So, I looked at my sheet, and I say, ‘Well, who’s the next door?’ Well, the next door is a name I recognize. Anybody remember the closer for the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates?”

Some in the audience yell out, “Kent Tekulve.”

“Kent Tekulve, correct. That’s Kent Tekulve’s house, next door! What’s the chance he’s going to be home?”
“So, I go striding up confidently to the door, knowing full well he’s not home. And I gently knock on the door. So I wait, oh, three or four seconds, and I start writing my note: ‘Sorry I missed you, Mr. Tekulve.’ I’m about to put it in the door.”
“And the door opens. And there stands between me and the screen door -- the screen door’s between me and him -- Kent Tekulve.”
“And I take my brochure, I get closer to the door -- although the bottom part of the screen door covers what needed to be covered. And I said, ‘Hi, Mr. Tekulve. I’m Rick Santorum, I’m running for Congress.’ And I go to open the door to slip it around, and he pushes the door open, as I back up. And he does this.”

At this point, Santorum takes a long look downward.

“And he looks back up at me. And I say to him, ‘Mr. Tekulve, I’m so excited to meet you.’”

The crowd gives Santorum a big round of applause.

“That is a true story. Every word of it. And I got Kent Tekulve’s vote, I’ll have you know. ... And on election night, I won my race against a 14-year Democratic incumbent who had never gotten less than 60 percent of the vote, and the margin of victory was the exact margin of victory I got from Upper St. Clair. So, I wanted to share that with you. I’ve walked the path that you’ve walked. Maybe a little differently, but I’ve walked the path. And we’re walking the same path in this election.”

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By  |  02:00 PM ET, 02/19/2012

 
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