When most of your campaign is built around exciting the base, you’re bound to attract a few wingnuts. Case in point, this afternoon, when a female supporter of Rick Santorum’s yelled “Pretend it’s Obama!” as the candidate opened fire on a northern Louisiana gun range.
BuzzFeed reports that the candidate didn’t hear the remark at the time (he was wearing ear-protectors), but later, forcefully condemned it. “That’s a very horrible and terrible remark,” he told reporters. In a Washington Post video filmed at the campaign stop, the “Pretend it’s Obama!” shout is clearly audible.
It’s been a rough week for the Republican front-runners, who have all had to decide whether or not to condemn their supporters’ comments. Today, Rick Santorum disavowed as fast as humanly possible (after all, threatening the president’s life is a felony). Earlier, Mitt Romney gave his advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, a mulligan over his much-lampooned “Etch A Sketch” comment, telling Hugh Hewitt, “everybody’s going to make a gaffe now and again.” Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, ignored a supporter at a Wednesday rally who accused the president of being a radical Muslim — an oversight that drew some unfavorable contrasts with John McCain’s handling of a near-identical rabble-rouser in late 2008.
Other than assassination exhortations, Santorum had a pretty good day at the shooting range. As the former senator fired off two clips of stunningly accurate head shots, an impressed member of the range’s staff commented “This isn’t your first rodeo.”