Rick Santorum's first radio ad in Iowa (with transcript)

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is back in Iowa today, meeting and greeting potential caucus-goers in Denison before attending a “Trunk & Tusk” reception at a farm near Holstein later in the afternoon. Tonight he headlines an event for the Ida County Republican Party, and tomorrow he will join the Iowa Tea Party bus tour in Spencer.

Starting this week, Santorum will reach Iowa Republicans though the radio as well. His first commercial went up yesterday on nationwide satellite radio and hits the airwaves in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina later this week. The campaign didn’t release the size of the ad buy.

You can listen to Santorum’s 60-second spot at his presidential campaign website. I’ve posted my transcript after the jump, along with some analysis of the message and what’s notably absent from the message.

My transcript of Rick Santorum’s radio ad, “Courage to Fight for America”:

Male voice-over: Here’s Rick Santorum.

Santorum (with soft music in background): When our founders created this country, the idea that we were going to borrow money to provide for people today, and charge the next generation for the excesses of today, would have astounded them.

Over half of America now receives some sort of government benefit, and 40 cents of that dollar that they’re getting, they’re charging their children and grandchildren for the rest of their lives to pay the debt service on the money that they’re receiving. That is immoral. That is wrong.

Someone has to have the courage to go out and tell the American public, “We can’t afford the amount of government that we have right now, and we need to cut it back, across the board.”

The promise that we have to the next generation is to hand off America in better shape than it was handed to us. And right now, we are not gonna do that.

Voice-over: Rick Santorum: the courage to fight for America. Join the fight at RickSantorum.com.

Santorum: I’m Rick Santorum, and I approved this message.

Voice-over: Paid for by Rick Santorum for president.

Santorum conveniently glosses over the fact that the U.S. was running surpluses and on track to pay down the national debt until 2001. Then he and fellow Republicans in Congress approved a series of tax cuts that didn’t spur economic growth and are the largest factor in the huge deficits the federal government runs now.

But I digress.

Three things jump out at me about this ad. First, it says nothing about Santorum’s political biography. He has lower name recognition than several other candidates in the Republican presidential field, but his campaign chose not to mention his experience in Congress (two terms in the U.S House and two terms in the U.S. Senate) when introducing him to Republican voters.

Second, Santorum’s “courage to tell the truth” message closely resembles former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s “time for truth” message upon launching his own campaign. We’ll see the two duke it out later this year over who is the more courageous truth-teller. My money’s not on Pawlenty–it only took him a day to back off from his own harsh assessment of “Obamneycare” health reform.

Third, the ad says nothing about abortion, even though Santorum mentions that issue frequently during his campaign appearances. During Monday night’s Republican debate in New Hampshire, Santorum promised that if elected president, he would make abortion and other “life” issues a “top priority.” Here’s my transcript of that Santorum response (click here for video):

Q: Senator Santorum, staying with you for a moment if I may, you are staunchly pro-life. Governor Romney used to support abortion rights until he changed his position on this issue a few years ago. This has been thoroughly discussed, but do you believe he genuinely changed his mind, or was that a political calculation? Should this be an issue in this primary campaign?

Santorum: I think an issue should be in looking any candidate is looking at the authenticity of that candidate and looking at their record over time and what they fought for. And I think that’s a factor that should be determined. If you look at my record, not only have I been consistently pro-life, but I’ve taken the, you know, I’ve not just taken the pledge, I’ve taken the bullets to go out there and fight for this and lead on those issues. And I think that’s a factor that people should consider.

When you look, well, what is this president going to do when he comes to office? A lot of folks run for president as pro-life, and then that issue gets shoved to the back burner. I will tell you that the issue of pro-life, the sanctity and dignity of every human life, not just at birth, not just in the issue of abortion, but with respect to the entire life, which I’ve mentioned welfare reform and the dignity of people at the end of life, those issues will be top priority issues for me to make sure that all life is respected and held with dignity.

Anti-choice sentiment dominates the Republican Party of Iowa. There are no longer any pro-choice Republicans in the state legislature, even in suburban districts where they used to be common. Santorum opted to lead with fiscal issues in his first radio commercial, which is also running in New Hampshire, where pro-choice Republicans are more plentiful. However, I expect that later in the campaign, he will create advertising for the Iowa audience that emphasizes his record on abortion and other “pro-life” positions.

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