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Rick Santorum says 'bulls**t' to reporter. Mitt Romney's campaign calls it 'an epic temper tantrum'

Perhaps the funniest thing about this video of Rick Santorum getting pissed off at a question from New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny is that Mitt Romney's campaign decided to take Zeleny's side, calling it "an epic temper tantrum."

Not to waste too much time defending Santorum, but he's actually got a point. Zeleny framed his question by saying that Santorum "said that Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country." This isn't a case of Roveian quote cropping, but that's not quite what Santorum actually said.

If you watch the relevant portion of the speech, you'll see that Santorum, while talking about Obamacare, said that Mitt Romney would be "the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama" because of Romneycare.

The context was clearly Santorum's critique of Romney's ability to challenge Obamacare, so when Zeleny asked his question without noting that context, Santorum—perhaps sensing an opportunity for a Newt Gingrich vs. John King moment—decided to let Zeleny have it for putting words in his mouth.

"What speech were you watching?" Santorum shot back, doing his best to look perturbed. "I said he was the worst Republican to run on the issue of Obamacare, and that's what I was talking about." Pointing his finger in Zeleny's direction, he continued pushing back on the question. "Quit distorting my words," he said. "If I see it, it's bullshit."

And perhaps with that word, Santorum made news—and provoked a somewhat mystifying response from the Romney campaign.

“What we saw today was an epic temper tantrum from a desperate and flailing candidate. Rick Santorum understands that conservatives are rapidly coalescing around Mitt Romney and that he has virtually no path to the nomination. As a result he’s panicking,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said.
First, purely on a political level, why take the media's side? Second, why draw attention to an incident highlighting one of Romney's biggest weaknesses, his epic (to borrow a phrase) flip-flop on health care reform? And finally, given that Mitt Romney's campaign says Rick Santorum has already lost ... why are they still trying to beat him?