An article at PoliticsPA argues that Santorum is not the extremist that his opponents often claim
him to be -- that he is less the most conservative Senator than one of the most opportunistic.
...Pennsylvania’s junior senator consistently shifts toward the center in those years just before his reelection. Santorum may continue to talk like a conservative, but he’s voting like a pragmatist. Last year, for example, according to the Journal, Santorum was actually narrowly left of the Republican center, with his votes placing him closer to Arlen Specter than to his more conservative colleagues.
This could be simply a fuller picture than we get from the news, or a warning to liberals who dismiss him without paying enough attention to his broader activities.
...focus on Santorum’s high profile rhetoric has been myopic, causing his adversaries to miss much that is important. In particular, insufficient attention has been paid to Santorum’s unflagging work at his party’s grass roots; how he’s established comprehensive constituency services; how he’s worked tirelessly for Republicans--ask Arlen Specter about this--and how he has joined Specter in the Pennsylvania pork brigade. And far too little notice has been given to how he has blended his conservative zealotry with political pragmatism.
Clearly he's been in the spotlight on just about every high-profile partisan issue in the last couple of years, but that doesn't mean that there aren't moderates who might take him seriously. Nobody can presume anything about the 2006 Senate race, on either side!