Which Santorum is Real?

Rick Santorum famously kind of hates college. Despite being extensively educated himself (both an MBA and a JD) in the course of his run for the presidency he’s accused colleges of liberal indoctrination, maintained his own professors at Penn State lowered his grades because he was a Republican, and called the president of the United States “a snob” for encouraging Americans to seek further training beyond high school.

But it turns out he’s actually been pretty supportive of higher education, at least in the only way it counts. According to an article by
Libby Nelson at Inside Higher Ed

During Santorum’s years in the House and Senate, he also advocated for the federal government’s role in supporting colleges and universities financially in terms that would now be anathema to his campaign.

“I believe that there needs to be an active federal role in higher education because institutions of higher learning constitute a nationwide educational infrastructure,” Santorum wrote on his Senate website, according to a version archived in 2001. “Clearly, higher education is a national concern to be addressed, in part, on a national basis.”

Or, more specifically, he gave Pennsylvania college lots of federal money. According to the article he helped secure,

$3 million for Army research on hypothermia at the University of Pittsburgh, $1.7 million to Penn State for construction of a testing ground for undersea military equipment; $11 million to Drexel University in Philadelphia to develop communications technology for the Defense Department. Some purchased equipment for scientific research: $1 million for a specific type of mass spectrometer at the University of Pittsburgh; $200,000 for molecular science equipment at the University of Scranton.

Other, smaller colleges received smaller amounts due to Santorum’s efforts.

But what which parts of Santorum will voters remember. What he said recently or what he actually did a decade ago? Which part matters more to Santorum?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer