Now, Malia is apparently not sunning herself on the beach (as Santorum recently did in Puerto Rico!) or having a big party. The few reports that haven’t been scrubbed because of the no-press policy when it comes to covering kids in the White House suggest she’s on a school-sponsored service trip of some kind. So there are other kids, and teachers, and, yes, 25 Secret Service agents along for the ride.
But taxpayer expense for that kind of security team isn’t the issue that’s got Santorum’s hackles raised. He’s upset because he thinks the President is being an irresponsible father for allowing his teen-age daughter to travel to a country the State Department says is dangerous for other Americans.
Now, if Santorum had checked the State Department alert, he’d have seen that the region of Mexico that Malia is visiting isn’t part of that country that Americans have been warned to steer clear of for safety reasons. OK, an earthquake hit that area shortly after Malia and her classmates arrived, but I doubt that even Santorum could blame that on the President. But I guess as a father of seven, Santorum thinks his experience trumps that of a dad of two.
But what does this ‘Malia in Mexico’ meme do for Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign? He’s doing pretty well, even though he’s still trailing Mitt Romney in convention delegates. I’m not sure what he gains by wading into a fatherhood smack-down with a man who most people agree is doing a pretty decent job of balancing being leader of the free world and still finding time to sit down at the dinner table with his kids.
It’s clear that it’s a slow news day and there’s no primary race going on if Santorum decides to remind his fans — conservative values voters — that he’s also juggling his roles as presidential candidate and homeschooling devoted dad of seven. Given that talking about motherhood is usually a negative for women candidates, it’s interesting that Santorum has decided that reminding American voters about his parenting superiority (at least in numbers) is an effective campaign technique.
What do you think? Was it fair game for Santorum to attack the President’s parenting decision? Does that make you more interested in him as a candidate?
Read more from me at my blog PunditMom and in my Amazon best-selling book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionzing Politics in America.