Windham, N.H.

The auditorium at Windham High School seats 660, but the fire marshal tells me the crowd for Rick Santorum’s fifth event on Thursday overflowed with more than 700 in attendance. But even with this big audience, Santorum looks tired and gives a low energy, pedestrian performance.

That is, until just before the end of the program, when a friendly questioner tells him, “Don’t ever apologize for your faith in Christ.” To a large degree, Santorum has sublimated the overt religious talk he used in Iowa, instead emphasizing freedom. But with the tiniest bit of prompting, he returned to form. It’s worth showing his answer at some length:

It’s funny you say that. I was on a radio show today in Boston. And the guy said to me, “We don’t need a Jesus candidate, we need an economic candidate.” [Here a single audience member clapped for less than a second.] And my answer to that was, “We always need a Jesus candidate.” [Wild applause.]

We need someone who believes in something more than themselves, some higher power, some God, and not just the economy. And I said to him, “When you say God bless America, do you mean it? Or do you just say it?”

I mean, let’s be honest: This is a discussion we have to have. I mean, I know—you don’t talk about these things when you’re in New Hampshire! [Laughter] But do we mean it or don’t we? As the president of the United States, one of the things I really believe is that you have to lead. And we have problems in this country that I don’t want to solve with the federal government.

And with that, Santorum brought the house down.

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