DADT DEAD-ENDERS STILL WON’T QUIT…. Just over the last couple of months, three possible/likely Republican presidential candidates — Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, and Mike Huckabee — have vowed publicly to bring back the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy if they were to run and win.

Today, Igor Volsky reports on a fourth.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) has joined fellow potential Republican presidential contenders … in supporting the reinstatement of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, telling me on Friday in Concord, New Hampshire that he supports bringing back the policy:

VOLSKY: Senator, on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, I know you opposed the policy. Would you bring it back if you were president? Would you reinstate it?

SANTORUM: Yeah, I would.

Of course, this isn’t surprising. It is Rick Santorum, after all, and the guy didn’t pick up the “Man on Dog” moniker because of his respect for the gay community.

But the fact that we’re still even talking about this is absurd. The Pentagon is moving forward with the transition, and officials aren’t running into any trouble. The public obviously supports the change. The only people in America who seem to actively engaged on this are Republican members of Congress and Republicans running for president.

This really is rather pathetic. I can appreciate the need to pander to homophobes, but even the most hysterical conservatives have to realize this fight’s over. They lost. It’s time to move on.

But they won’t. On the contrary, with Santorum, Barbour, Huckabee, and Pawlenty all publicly supporting reinstatement, it’s possible, if not likely, that this might become another 2012 litmus test for the GOP field. The party’s base may expect nothing less.

So, where’s Romney on this? Huntsman? Bachmann? Trump?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.