I think that it's sad what has happened to the Republican Party. In order to get national recognition and acceptance, you have to say a certain number of nutty things, and establish yourself as being at least as nutty as, say, Michelle Bachman. If you can then get Rush Limbaugh to say you're a good Republican, you're in. Your campaign is ready to go.
All the Republican candidates have to get through the 2012 primary season, trying to win votes of the hard-core Republican base. I guarantee none of them will paint themselves as a moderate. They'll all come out with this stuff. The tightrope they walk is how do you play to the hardcore during the primaries, then make people forget the nuttier stuff you said on the campaign trail when you win the nomination?
Democratic candidates have to play to their own hardcore of course. But that doesn't involve the same kind of foaming-at-the-mouth insanity.