Rick Santorum disqualified himself last night at the debate by his response to John King’s question to Newt about the ABC News interview with Newt’s ex-wife.

The issue was more than just another issue, whether it was the Newt-Freddie consulting, Romney’s tax returns, or Santorum’s election loss in PA.  The ABC assault on Newt embodied the heart of mainstream media bias which plagues Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans, regardless of election cycle or candidate.

Aftet Newt gave his smackdown, King turned to the other candidates on stage prodding them to go after Newt on the marital infidelity issue.  Here’s the transcript of the responses (video here) by Santorum and Mitt Romney (emphasis mine):

MR. KING: All right. As I noted — as I noted at the beginning, we have four podiums on this stage tonight, not five.

And when he exited the race this morning, Governor Perry quickly and forcefully endorsed Speaker Gingrich. And in that remark, he said that, no, Mr. Gingrich is not a perfect man. Senator Santorum, he said none of us are. And he said he believes in his Christian faith that guides him to the value of redemption. Speaker Gingrich doesn’t believe this is an issue; Governor Perry says this is not an issue. I just want to start with you, sir, and go down. Do you believe it is?

RICK SANTORUM: I’ve answered this question repeatedly throughout the course of this campaign. I am a Christian, too, and I thank God for forgiveness. But, you know, these — these are issues of our lives, and what we did in our lives are issues of character for people to consider. But the bottom line is, those are — those are things for everyone in this audience to look at, and they’re to look at me, look at what I’ve done in my private life and personal life, unfortunately.

And what I say is that this country is a very forgiving country. This — this country understands that we are all fallen. And I’m very hopeful that we will be judged by that standard and not by — by a higher one on the ultimate day. (Applause.)

MR. KING: Governor Romney?

MITT ROMNEY: John, let’s get on to the real issues, is all I’ve got to say. (Cheers, applause.)

Ron Paul went on to give an answer similar to Santorum, but since I’ve never seriously considered Paul, his answer is irrelevant to me.

Notice the difference in responses between Romney and Santorum.   It was us (Republicans)  versus them (the mainstream media), and even though the “us” was Newt, Romney chose us.

Santorum, by contrast, tried to take advantage of the situation by chosing himself over us.  I will never forget that moment, and the weakness shown by Santorum.

There may be a time and place to try to score points against Newt on marital fidelity, but that place was not on stage when the mainstream media was trying to take down one of our candidates.