Rick Santorum may attack on Israel in the Fox News GOP debate

September 22, 2011

Rick Santorum is an attack dog, and he knows a good opening when he sees one. His smartest bet in Thursday night’s Fox News GOP debate: attacking Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Israel.

The former Pennsylvania senator pummeled Perry on the HPV vaccine in the Tampa debate, but so did (almost) everyone else. Mass pile-ons against Perry will likely only help former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney sail above the fray.

One issue where Santorum stands out is foreign policy, where his defense of American interventionism has attracted notice and praise from top conservative pundits.

With the economy as bad as it is right now, it’s unlikely that many voters care about much going on outside U.S. borders. However, the recent special election results in New York and Perry’s recent schmoozing with Jewish leaders opens up a potentially exploitable contrast for Santorum.

The former senator claimed earlier this week that he’s “forgotten more about Israel than Rick Perry knows about Israel.” Santorum’s best bet is to make the frontrunner look like an amateur on his new pet issue.

And there was one development last week that could give Santorum a boost — his burgenoning alliance with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a former veteran of the battles of the 1990s. If the two team up again against Perry, they might be able to break through the noise.

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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