Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who had hoped to run for president in 2008 but is focusing for now on getting reelected next year in a race that looks unexpectedly tough, has just published a conservative manifesto titled "It Takes a Family."

The echo of "It Takes a Village" -- the first book by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), published in 1996 when she was first lady -- is no coincidence. Santorum writes about what he calls the "Bigs" -- "big news media, big entertainment, big universities and public schools, some big businesses and some big national labor unions, and of course, the biggest Big of all, the federal government."

"Liberals like Senator Clinton see 'the village' as society as a whole -- influenced by, directed by, supported by, the supposed goodness of the Bigs in general and big government in particular," Santorum writes.

The hardback volume, which has the subtitle, "Conservatism and the Common Ground," is priced at $25 by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute of Wilmington, Del. Santorum said he originally intended to focus on the poor and said it is lower-income families in America that "suffer the most" from policies set by political elites, most notably in education.

The senator includes a discussion of the advantages he and his wife, Karen, believe they have reaped by home-schooling their six children. Home-schooling, he said, is not for everyone but "is one viable option among many that will open up as we eliminate the heavy hand of the village elders' top-down control of education and allow a thousand parent-nurtured flowers to bloom."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a news release that included excerpts from the book and the headline, "Santorum Book Confirms He Is Out of Step With Pennsylvania; Book Is Particularly Offensive to Women." As evidence, the release cited this: "Many women have told me, and surveys have shown, that they find it easier, more 'professionally' gratifying, and certainly more socially affirming, to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children."

Santorum went on to say that "justice demands both fair workplace rules and proper respect for work in the home."

Power of the Suburbs

A 27-page special report by Congressional Quarterly that examined voting and demographic data for all 435 House districts concluded that for the first time, most districts -- 220 -- have a majority of their populations in the suburbs.

"For Democrats, that means that unless they figure out a strategy for breaching the outer suburban fortress, it will be a struggle to achieve the 15-seat gain they would need to capture control in the 2006 midterm election," the report said. "And their prospects look bleak for a return to the kind of dominance they enjoyed during a House reign that ran from 1954 to 1994."

The study found that 90 districts are urban, 61 are rural and 64 are mixed. In a similar survey in 1997, many more districts were mixed.

The Early Line

In the latest evidence of the permanent campaign, a 26-year-old Web wizard has opened a "2008 Presidential Wire" that tracks news stories and blog entries for both parties' likely candidates -- 10,641 of them since May 27, 2005. That's stories, not candidates.

The wire, which allows users to sort stories by candidate or by party, is at patrickruffini.com, the Web site of Patrick Ruffini, who was webmaster for the Bush-Cheney campaign committee and President Bush's inauguration committee.

The site shows which candidates are getting the most clicks, and has a "Hot Stories" section. Maybe '08 fever hasn't really swept the Internet yet -- on Friday evening, the five hottest stories had registered four to eight clicks each. Despite his GOP credentials, Ruffini says "The Wire," as he calls it, is a nonpartisan effort.

"A computer program goes out and finds all the links, with minimal editing on my part," Ruffini wrote in an e-mail. "The goal is to present relevant stories and blog entries unfiltered and let readers decide what's important."

Each headline has a head shot of the candidate next to it, and the site has tote boards with labels that rank candidates on charts such as "Hot on Blogs" and "Big in MSM." If you don't know that stands for "mainstream media," you had better get with it. The 2008 election is less than 40 months away.

Ruffini, who calls his tool "the first news aggregator and buzz tracker devoted to the next presidential campaign," said visitors have clicked through to 30,973 stories. He said in announcing the site that being early has its advantage because it allows "a glimpse into the Statehouse or the Senate office without being inundated by 24/7 cable news coverage and hundreds of versions of the same wire copy."

White House Press Picks

The White House Correspondents' Association said that after 139 ballots were cast, Ann Compton of ABC News was elected president for 2007-08, Steve Holland of Reuters was elected to an at-large seat for a two-year term, Compton was elected to an at-large seat for three years, Doug Mills of the New York Times was elected to the photo seat and Edwin Chen of the Los Angeles Times was elected to the newspaper seat.

Quotable

"I corrected his French . . . and didn't even know what he was saying."

-- President Bush, in a June 30 interview with foreign print journalists, recalling the time he mocked NBC's David Gregory for putting on airs by posing a question in French, of all things, to President Jacques Chirac.

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has penned "It Takes a Family," a book decrying the adverse influence of big institutions, including government, on families.