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Santorum isn't only candidate whose search results go negative

February 08, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • Rick Santorum certainly has a Google problem. Search for other candidates and you'll find negative results, but nothing quite like Santorum.
Rick Santorum certainly has a Google problem. Search for other candidates… (Andrew Buckley / MCT )

Rick Santorum is back in the news thanks to winning primaries in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Tuesday. But although his success at the polls has buoyed his image (again), it has done nothing for his infamous Google problem.

As it turns out, Santorum isn't the only Republican candidate whose search results turn up less-than-positive items -- but Santorum's problem is in a league of its own.

On Wednesday afternoon, the offending site was near the top of the results page when searching for "santorum" -- nearly a decade after sex advice columnist Dan Savage and his readers created a disgusting definition of "santorum" and an online campaign to promote it as retaliation for comments Santorum made about homosexuality that Savage and his readers found offensive.

Type the other major candidates' names into Google, and you'll find it's mostly official websites and Twiter feeds -- with a couple of exceptions.

A search on Mitt Romney comes out mostly clean -- news items, his Wikipedia page, and his bio on biography.com. But then comes a a headline from a Huffington Post story published Feb. 1 that highlights one of the candidate's biggest "oops" moments from the campaign. "Mitt Romney: I'm not concerned with the very poor," it reads. Our guess is Romney and his campaign managers would like that to go away.

The Google situation is worse for Newt Gingrich. The results start off with newt.org, Wikipedia, and a link to his Twitter account, but then suddenly there appears a link labeled "Newt Gingrich's Skeleton Closet -- Political scandals, quotes and character." This site, realchange.org, accuses Gingrich of a bevy of offenses -- including dodging the draft and being a deadbeat dad. The site is put together by Mark Saltveit, a stand-up comedian and the author of "A Man, A Plan, 2002: The Year in Palindromes."

As for Ron Paul, it appears that he had his Google search results under control Wednesday. Everything was either biographical or totally promotional. Somebody on his team knows how to work SEO (search engine optimization)!

For comparison's sake, we also searched for some other prominent politicians. Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer and John Boehner were clean.

Even Sarah Palin faired remarkably well. Google her name and you'll find a link to her super PAC, her Wikipedia page, her Facebook page, and of course her Twitter. About halfway down the results page, though, was a link to the Sarah Palin page on Perez Hilton.

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