Santorum: the right to life, and to make money

The Republican senator from Pennsylvania cashed in during the Terri Schiavo mania in more ways than one.

Published April 11, 2005 9:37PM (EDT)

Despite the fact that the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case didn't prove to be the political gold mine some members of the GOP thought it would be, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is laughing all the way to the bank. After scoring some free publicity outside Schiavo's Pinellas Park, Fla., hospice last month, Santorum distanced himself from the issue, saying on March 31 that he didn't know "how anyone can believe that this is a political winner, if you look at any of the polls," and that he was actually in Florida for "other meetings."

It turns out that those "other meetings" were fundraising events for the senator's '06 reelection bid, hosted by such notables as Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and executives from Revlon and Outback Steakhouse. According to Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer, Santorum made the trip to Florida expressly for fundraising; his finance director Rob Bickhart said the trip netted the campaign about $250,000.

Schiavo's death did put a small dent in Santorum's schedule at the time -- the Inquirer noted that he was slated to speak at a town hall meeting in Tampa to promote President Bush's proposed Social Security plan, but that it was cancelled "out of respect" for Schiavo's family. But with the death watch in full swing, when it came to Santorum's raking in the campaign contributions, apparently it was business as usual.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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