Why Aren’t More Conservative Catholics Supporting Rick Santorum?

Most of you have an immediate response to the question posed in the title of this post, but please indulge me for a moment.

In this seriously flawed Republican presidential primary field is a candidate who is a Roman Catholic.  He is a man who clearly lives his faith.  He has no skeletons in his closet (that we know of, naturally).  He is the father of seven children, and has demonstrated a devotion to the pro-life cause in a manner that is second to none.  He is unapologetically conservative, and is willing to take stands that go against the grain.

In other words, we have a candidate who it would seem should be drawing a large chunk of the conservative and Catholic vote.  Yet he regularly polls somewhere in the 1-2 percent range.  Considering the number of Catholics in the country and within the Republican party, this suggests he can’t even win the support of even a fraction of the most conservative Catholics.  Heck, even the conservative and Catholic author of this post has not really fully supported Senator Santorum.  I oscillate between the two Ricks, but have generally leaned towards Governor Perry.  So what gives?

There are three really big negatives going against Santorum.  Probably his biggest sin was his endorsement in 2004 of fellow Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter in his primary battle against Pat Toomey.  Instead of supporting the conservative, pro-life challenger, Santorum backed the establishment darling and liberal, pro-choice Senator. To make matters worse, not only did the endorsement arguably put Specter over the edge, but five years later Specter would switch parties, making the “safe” selection seem even more foolish.

Santorum’s thrashing at the hands of Robert Casey two years later is another perceived negative.  Sure 2006 was a terrible year for Republicans, but Santorum lost his re-election bid by nearly 20 points, and to a rather deficient candidate at that (albeit someone who is the son of a political legend in the state).  Finally, there’s the tone.  Though Santorum has received nearly universal plaudits for his debate performances and for his command of the issues, he’s also been criticized for his arrogant and whiny tone.  Indeed at times during the debates one half expects Santorum to stomp up and down and throw a hissy fit when he’s not called on to talk.

These criticisms all have merit, but I don’t think they should disqualify the man.  I think he made a very poor choice in endorsing Snarlin’ Arlen, but it’s a tad absurd for people to hold that against him while supporting Newt  ”the Scozzafava endorsing” Gingrich.  I also don’t think that one endorsement negates a solid lifetime record.  His 2006 loss looks bad, but it was a difficult environment for any Republican, particularly in a leaning blue swing state.  Sure Robert Casey probably needs to keep an instruction manual handy in order to tie his shoes in the morning, but his pedigree was certainly a help to him.

As for his tone, well, I go back and forth on that one.  Yes, it’s unsettling and it doesn’t help him.  One of Ronald Reagan’s greatest assets – if not his greatest asset – was his sunny disposition.  Conservatives already face an uphill climb trying to battle media stereotypes, so it doesn’t help when someone advocating conservative principles seems to live up to the media caricature.  On the other hand, it’s a fairly superficial reason to reject a candidate.  Are we really supposed to favor candidates who talk nonsense but do it with style over people who have substantive command of the issues but who lack certain graces?

What I think is at work, at least partially, is that many voters like Santorum – even if they have reservations – but are unwilling to support him because, well, nobody else is supporting him.  This is the vicious circle that continues to overwhelm candidates who otherwise would seem to have an advantage in the primaries.  One has to wonder whether primary voters are really voting for who they want to win or are rather settling for candidates they think might win.  Nobody wants to back a loser, after all.  So instead of supporting very good, but slightly flawed candidates they wind up voting for seriously flawed but seemingly more “viable” candidates – and then they go on to carp and complain how there are no good candidates that they like.

The problem with using viability as a selection criteria in the primary is that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The only reason that Newt Gingrich is now the front-runner is because many voters see other voters beginning to support him.  So they cease supporting candidates that they might be more comfortable with ideologically in favor of the guy who stands the best chance of winning and who is not named Mitt Romney.  Then those candidates they like better wind up dipping in the polls, and so other voters say that said candidate is not viable.  Even though not a single vote has been cast we’ve whittled down the field to two “viable” candidates that no one seems to like. And we’ll grouse and complain that the GOP field stinks, even as we all seem to think that there are in fact a couple of really good candidates.  So then people say, “Boy, if only more people liked Santorum (or Perry, or whoever) then he’d be a great candidate.  But since no one else seems to like him, I’m writing him off.”  Well you’ve just helped doom the guy you said you like.  This is non-sensical.  And yet we all do it, yours truly included.

I would never suggest that we eliminate all concerns about electability and viability from consideration during the primary process.  The problem is that we aren’t very good at predicting what other voters may find attractive.  Romney boosters, confident that he is the most electable Republican candidate, seem blinded to what will be thrown at him should he become the nominee.  Conversely, would-be supporters of the other candidates seem single-mindedly obsessed about the stuff the Obama campaign might throw at their guy.  Here’s the thing – there is going to be a veritable you-know-what storm thrown at whoever the nominee is.  Obsessively worrying about a candidate’s possible negatives is just as foolish as blithely ignoring them.

I’ve meandered already from the original topic of this post, so I might as well continue to meander.  Republican primary voters seem to be split into two camps: those who almost seem to view ignorance as a virtue (and thus the continued support of Herman Cain) and those who seem to be willing to settle the nomination by administering an IQ test.  Both approaches are self-defeating.  Lately, though, it seems the latter group is in full control.  As I said in a previous post, this concern with intelligence is actually superficial in itself.  What I think is at play is that Republicans are still gunshy after the Bush years.  George Bush was mocked so often for his supposed lack of intelligence that Republicans are desperate to avoid having to endure anymore of that.  It’s certainly understandable, but there are a number of problems with this way of thinking.

First of all, though Bush mockery certainly didn’t help the man, the reason he left office with his approval ratings in the tank and the party of the verge of elimination had little to nothing to do with this public perception.  The country was happy enough to vote for the village idiot twice (yes twice).  It was the Iraq War, the economy, deficit spending, and a whole host of other factors that did Bush in.  Second, it should be obvious by now that any conservative Republican is going to be depicted as a dunce, so there’s no use in trying to run from that.  Finally, the history of eggheads in the White House is not exactly something that should inspire us to want a policy wonk in office.  The experiences of the Hoover, Carter and Obama administrations should be enough to deter us going down that path again.

And yes, I do see the irony of cautioning against voting for people like Newt Gingrich in a post that rambles on in ten different directions very much like a Newt Gingrich policy speech.

I think what I’m trying to say, and doing a poor job at it to keep it under 1,400 words, is that maybe people should actually just vote for who they like best.  Don’t expect the perfect candidate, because such a being doesn’t exist.  But if you do settle for the guy you like third or even fourth best, well, you get what you voted for.

59 Responses to Why Aren’t More Conservative Catholics Supporting Rick Santorum?

  • “His 2006 loss looks bad, but it was a difficult environment for any Republican, particularly in a leaning blue swing state.”

    True, however he lost by the largest margin ever for any sitting senator in the state of Pennsylvania, 59%-41%. Any Republican running that year for the Senate in Pennsylvania would have lost that race, but I would have expected a veteran Pennsylania politician running for his third term to have made a stronger race of it. That gives me a lot of pause in assessing the political skills of Santorum.

  • Art Deco says:

    Sorry to be a bore on this point, but we have been for nearly three years learning the hard way what happens when you put someone with no administrative experience atop a public bureaucracy with 3.4 million employees. Mr. Santorum is appealing for a host of reasons, but he is unsuitable (at this time) for the position he is seeking. If he had had a tour as Allegheny County executive and some time as a federal bureau chief, he would not be unsuitable.

  • RR says:

    People should vote for the most conservative electable candidate. Santorum might have the highest negatives outside the right of any candidate. People really hate the guy. I’d prefer him to Gingrich but at least Gingrich can conceivably beat Obama. The candidates in order of electability from most to least: Huntsman, Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Paul, Santorum. I think it’s a fair assessment of electability without the wishful thinking. The last 4 can be regarded as unelectable. Gingrich and Bachmann have an outside shot. If you want a Republican president support Huntsman or Romney. If you’re willing to take risks, support Gingrich or Bachmann. If you want Obama to serve a second term, support one of the others.

  • RR says:

    I don’t think anyone as socially conservative as Santorum could’ve done any better in the 2006 Senate race. He had no base. The left hated him and Casey ran as social conservative with the name to back it up.

  • GS says:

    As a southern baptist I can say I intend to vote for Santorum , he is the true conservative in this race. Time will tell but I believe he’ll do much better then expected, he’ll carry the South and become our next President. He is the best man for the job.

  • Gail Finke says:

    My parents used to live in his district and they HATED him. They are liberal, but they lived in a very conservative district and everyone hated him. I’ve asked them a couple times what was so bad about him, but they just say he was terrible. They told me they used to ask their friends why they voted for him if they thought he was so bad… I guess they stopped doing that, didn’t they?

  • Zach says:

    Santorum is a diehard supporter of the Bush doctrine and this seriously turns me off. I don’t want a president who thinks it’s responsible to send soldiers to die in war against an abstract noun.

  • There was nothing abstract about either 9-11 or the menace to his own people, neighboring states and the US posed by the regime of Saddam Hussein. That Santorum understands this increases my regard for him greatly.

    Santorum predicted the on-going disaster in Egypt back in June in the well-written, and prescient, piece linked to below:

    http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubID.4479/pub_detail.asp

    He has a series of these types of analyses of foreign policy issues:

    http://www.eppc.org/scholars/scholarID.88,type.1/pub_list.asp

  • TomD says:

    As the article clearly indicates, Mr. Santorum is unelectable. Defeating President Obama in 2012 must be THE top priority. Mr. Santorum may have the best policy positions of any of the Republican presidential candidates . . . but he is unelectable.

    Zach, the majority of Democrats in the Senate voted to authorize the war in Iraq and “. . . send soldiers to die in war against an abstract noun.” Leaving the 2008 election rhetoric aside, President Obamas’ policies to date in Iraq and Afghanistan are virtually indistinguishable from the policies that would have been pursued by a Republican Administration.

    And based on early signs of a parliamentary election victory in Egypt by Islamists/the Muslim Brotherhood, as Mr. Santorum predicted, the political situation in Egypt may soon get much worse.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Defeating President Obama in 2012 must be THE top priority.

    This is wrong for a couple of reasons. Merely defeating President Obama. He must be replaced by someone who will be willing to enact significant changes. A placesitter who is merely better than Obama is insufficient.

    Second, as stated in my post, predicting who is electable at this stage is an exercise in folly.

    The rest of your post I totally agree with.

  • Art Deco says:

    He must be replaced by someone who will be willing to enact significant changes.

    You will need in addition:

    1. A secure plurality in the House of Representatives with like inclinations; and
    2. The same in the Senate conjoined to the abolition of the filibuster.

    Not holdin’ my breath.

  • TomD says:

    Paul, my point was that beating President Obama in 2012 must be the top priority in choosing a candidate. A candidate who is unelectable does not meet that key criterion. This does not mean that you nominate “anyone” regardless of their policy positions, because you deem them electable. It means that unelectability is an automatic disqualifier for the nomination. In my mind, losing to now-Senator Casey in Pennsylvania by 20% in 2006 is a pretty good indicator that Mr. Santorum, as much as I respect him, is unelectable.

    Many Americans, myself included, would like to see significant changes in our politics and policies. Given our present political balance-of-power realities, however, it is hard to envision many significant changes becoming reality in the near term. If only for future judicial nominations, the top priority for selection of the Republican nominee must be that he/she is electable. Whether a candidate is electable or not is part of the vetting process that Republicans are currently engaged in.

    Given the importance of defeating President Obama in 2012, non-electability must be at the top of the list of qualifications that disqualifies someone from being the nominee.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Again, Tom, who are you to decide who and who is not electable? Each person that has jumped to the head of the polls within the GOP primary has also led Obama in polls. Newt Gingrich, who most people (including yours truly) wrote off months ago now edges Obama out in polls. President Obama is at sub-40% favorability in the polls, sitting on 9+ percent unemployment, and several swing states that voted for him last time are all but written off for him. I don’t necessarily think that every one of the candidates can defeat Obama, but I think whoever gets the nomination has a very good chance.

    As for this:

    Whether a candidate is electable or not is part of the vetting process that Republicans are currently engaged in.

    Is just plain wrong. The only reason Mitt Romney continues to do as well as he does is his perceived electability. Time and again on other conservative blogs I’ve seen Romney supporters mention his electability – and only his electability. If anything GOP primary voters are overly concerned with this aspect of the election.

    Given our present political balance-of-power realities, however, it is hard to envision many significant changes becoming reality in the near term.

    If that is really the case then we might as well write off this republic of ours.

  • Why do we think we know who can or cannot beat Obama… Is not God in charge?! God can and does do mighty things with the least of His children. In acts such as this – we truly see the glory of God. Should we not work, promote and vote for the candidate who most clearly keeps Gods laws?! To me that is what we are called to do… and then, let God be God. We are not in charge of anything beyond our own actions. I for one am supporting Rick Santorum, I could do no less – as I try my best to live out my faith. It is Rick Santorum who defends the sanctity and dignity of Life, and of Marriage.

  • Anzlyne says:

    wow Spector, Casey and tone? These three “reasons” are flaky and flimsy. Especially the tone one… I think people who have met him and spoken with him personally may have an edge on seeing that sunny side that is not portrayed to people who look up information about him on the internet, or from liberal or conservative neighbors who can’t articulate why they hate him.
    I wish I lived in Iowa! I would caucus for him. We have to stand up for the truth, not for who is politically correct with the masses… at some point we have to trust God. …think Lepanto do the right thing. and trust that people will vote for the best person.
    Just defeating Obama is not enough– we should be replacing him with someone who is good.

  • TomD says:

    With all due respect Paul, I will not “decide” who is electable or not . . . I ultimately have one vote in this process, just like you do. And one voice in this very important discussion, just like you do. Others will have to judge the merits of our opinions.

    I agree, President Obama is very vulnerable – there is no doubt. All the more reason that we must defeat him in 2012. That the Republican presidential field as it is currently configured is, shall we say, less than perfect – there is also little doubt. Just consult the polls concerning the opinion of the current Republican field, even by Republicans. And Newt’s electability would take more discussion than there is room here to provide.

    Ultimately, if we do not defeat Obama in 2012, having fielded the “nearly perfect candidate” will offer little consolation.

    I think it is a bit much to say that the “only” reason for Mitt Romney’s standing in the polls is his electability. It is one key component, but certainly not the only one. I understand that many conservatives do not like him as the candidate in 2012. I have not yet decided whether Romney is the best nominee. Like many other Republicans, I personally would like to see someone else enter the race.

    I, for one, will never “write off this republic of ours,” no matter how dismal the political realities may be on the ground. We must stay in the fight, expending most of our efforts united toward the goal of defeating President Obama in 2012. Now let’s all focus our efforts on defeating President Obama, respectfully voicing our opinions and making the substantive case for each of the current nominees, taking all the important aspects of this election into consideration.

  • Jennifer says:

    Whiny and arrogant tone? Stomp up and down and throw a hissy fit? Who have you been watching? That’s not Santorum at all. What I’ve seen for months now are debates in which he is consistently and purposely ignored, while all the attention and questions are directed at the media’s anointed “leaders.” I can recall more than one debate where Santorum did not get asked a single question for over an hour. He has every right to point out the bias and lunacy of that treatment, and to interject himself and demand an opportunity to be heard. If you call that whiny, then you need an afternoon with a roomful of preschoolers.

    In Santorum I see a man of much grace and steadfastness. I see a highly intelligent and thoughtful man, who walks the talk every single day. I see a man who does not back down when push comes to shove, and when the arrows start flying he doesn’t duck under his desk. He is the only candidate who is willing to speak the moral truth and defend it without apology. I see a man with integrity; a man who has been personally tested and has the inner mettle we need in a President.

    If Catholics do not put their support and their vote behind such a man, then we absolutely deserve the mess our cowardice will create for our country. Shame on us if we once again throw our votes at the candidate deemed to be more “electable” or God forbid, Obama again. The fact is, we have President Obama now only because of Catholics, and that means we have much to answer for.

  • Chris says:

    For those of us living in Pa during the republican primaries in 2004, I think many of you are really underestimating the impact that supporting Spector over Toomey had. It was nothing short of devastating for the “grass roots” loyal pro-life republicans. It took the wind out of our sails.

    In my opinion it was the beginning of the end for Santorum in Penssylvania. The “base” never recovered to support him with any strength against Casey. Casey can barely pat his head and rub his stomach at the same time but he just ran all over Santorum. Santorum.

    Say what you will, but that is the truth. I remember many of us were in shock over that endorsement. To date I have never heard him recant that endorsement, or say something like “boy, I really blew it on that”.

    What I have read from various sources was just his reasons for defending that endorsement. I am sure he regrets it, but because it hurt him politically, not because it was a bad endorsement.

    Say what you will, but he wouldn’t even win Pennsylvania against Obama in a general election.

    He would be a good appointment to HHS or some other federal level position.

  • Pinky says:

    Paul – There’ve been five waves of he’s-not-Romney candidates: Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich. All of them have been grassroots surges. If people who write columns in Washington had their way, none of those candidates would have stood a chance, and Romney would be running against Huntsman. It seems like most every second-tier candidate has had a moment on the first tier. So, while most years I would agree with you about not dismissing someone on the basis of percieved unelectability, if a candidate never got noticed this year, it says something. Lots of debates, lots of opportunities.

    I was sure that Pawlenty was going to find his footing, as sure as I was of Thompson four years ago.

    Now, if memory serves, you’re a fellow Marylander, right? I think it’s great that the US cordoned off the worst decision-makers in the country into one state with a late primary and few electoral votes, just so they couldn’t do much damage. They let us drive, which is clearly a mistake, but otherwise the better 49 are unaffected by our stupidity. I think that living in Maryland is affecting the way I follow politics. I still love it, but I’ve been zapped by the Skinner box so many times that I don’t expect a treat when I pull the lever.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Jennifer:

    Even though I’ve learned to look past it and think that it’s really not that consequential of an issue to me, it is a recurring theme among people who have either written off Santorum or have not supported him. At times I do think he has come across as petulant, particularly when he has pestered other candidates and did, at one point, even suggest to another person speaking that their time was up and that he should stop speaking. Others see that as aggressive and something to be applauded, others think it comes across as bullying.

    I do agree he’s been overlooked and that frustration has seeped out. Rightly or wrongly, people take superficial concerns about tone and other behavior seriously. I mean Rick Perry’s candidacy just about tanked because of “heartless” remark, as well as his otherwise emotionless appearance during the debates. Don’t underestimate people’s ability to be impressed by style over substance. Like it or not, it’s how a lot of people determine the “winners” of these debates.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Pinky,

    Yes, I am a fellow Marylander. What’s funny is that not only is our general election vote of little consequence, but even our primary vote is fairly meaningless because of how late our primary is being held. As you say, that’s a good thing for the rest of the country. And at least we’re better drivers than Virginians, if nothing else.

  • G-Veg says:

    Who is it that is a great supporter of Romney then?

    No one here has said they like him or want him to be President. No Republican I know wants him as their candidate and this is true of even the “nominally republicans” I work with.

    How can it be that this guy is the front runner likely candidate when all I hear, whether in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Coastal Georgia, is “I just can’t vote for him”?

  • Paul Zummo says:

    G-Veg:

    I really don’t get it. The man is actively reviled by 75 percent of the party. I’m not talking about an unwillingness to vote for him, I’m talking about deep revulsion. This is a guy who four years ago couldn’t beat out John McCain, and yet now he is supposedly the only human being alive who can beat Barack Obama. Sometimes conventional wisdom is based on nothing more than wishful thinking repeated often enough.

  • Spambot3049 says:

    Paul Zummo, I read your criticism of Ramesh Ponnuru @NRO and thought it was a pretty devastating take. I disagree with him, too (that Romney’s victory is likely, so let’s get excited about it), but still think Ramesh is a thoughtful & conservative thinker. So, hopefully you will reconsider at some point.

  • Jennifer says:

    To Chris from PA: I’m not downplaying at all the betrayal pro-lifers felt by Santorum’s support for Specter. But I can assure you, Rick definitely regrets the decision, and not merely because he lost re-election. He understands it was a bad move. He’ll readily say he should have listened to his wife, who was adamantly against it. He did it for two reasons: Roberts and Alito. His intentions were good — truly. But he will acknowledge that it was a mistake and he is sorry.

  • Chris says:

    Jennifer,
    Fair enough. I don’t agree with the intentions, but at least I know where he was coming from.

    I still remember for the first time watching him on WNEP raising Spector’s hand with a big smile on his face at some campaign rally while thinking to myself “I feel like I need to vomit now”…..

    Ultimately I agree with TomD who I will quote
    “Defeating President Obama in 2012 must be THE top priority.”

    For what its worth, in my mind it’s between Romney (who after a couple of endorsements I feel is genuinely pro-life now) and Gingrich. What I really like about Gingrich is he “gets” radical Islam and has spoken out about the plight of the Coptic Christians in Eqypt.

  • Jennifer, you are right on! I interviewed Santorum in 2007 and he told me that Guiliani was the only viable candidate, as most establishment Republicans said. He defended his support of Specter based on the same wisdom.
    Then his daughter Bella Maria was born, in 2008, with trisomy 18, and his world was turned upside down. Trust, me I had the same thing happen when my daughter was born with Down syndrome. He admitted just before beginning his presidential bid, that she has caused him to re-order his priorities. He contributed a wonderful article he wrote about her on her second birthday “Two Years Worth Every Tear” to my book “A Special Mother is Born”.
    Last Monday, I presented a copy of the book to him in a Town Hall meeting in New Hampshire, he seemed genuinely flattered by my calling him a pro-life hero. He had a conversation that day with a virulent defender of abortion, remained calm and reasonable as he staunchly defended the right to life of the unborn.
    He has my vote, and my prayers that Catholics will see his pro-life convictions and believe in his deepening of faith.

  • Art Deco says:

    The only reason Mitt Romney continues to do as well as he does is his perceived electability.

    1. He is a familiar name;
    2. His domestic life has not caused any embarrassing distractions;
    3. He has notable experience as an executive in the public and private sector;
    4. He has experience with commercial and industrial restructurings and will have some critical engagement with what is told him by and about the financial sector, something none of the other vigorous competitors for the presidency could have said at any time in the last fifty years. This sort of understanding is regrettably salient at this time.

  • c matt says:

    Santorum’s foreign policiy is essentialy Bush Redux. If you like that, then he’s your man. If not, then that is a perfectly substantive reason for not supporting him.

  • Sid says:

    Who would have thought that an inexperienced community organizer with no work history would become President? Santorum is consistant and principled. He is a true conservative. He knows foriegn affairs, he can get things done in Congress, he will protect life, why isn’t he the choice of the people? The country club republicans want a big government guy, the liberals can’t argue morality with him, so he loses out with those groups, but if the everyday hard working church going gun toting folks out there would listen to him they might change their minds. It shouldn’t be about who can beat Obama, because he is doing a good job of that on his own. It should be about who will support us and who best represents our morals and beliefs.

  • RR says:

    Paul Zummo says about Romney, “The man is actively reviled by 75 percent of the party. I’m not talking about an unwillingness to vote for him, I’m talking about deep revulsion.”

    If the measure of “actively revile” is 100 minus your poll numbers then Gingrich is actively reviled by a similar percent of the party. Polls show Romney viewed favorably by over half of Republican voters.

  • TommyAquinas says:

    I’ve forgiven Santorum for the whole Specter debacle; it’s his current support for waterboarding that bothers me.

    His foreign policy positions don’t really bother me, given my strong interventionist streak; while I don’t think we have the resources to militarily overthrow every tyranny on earth (nor perform the post-overthrow nation-building adequately), the “traditionalist” and “non-interventionist” foreign policies seem to say, “Your tyrant not affecting us/our national interests? Well then, screw you!” Not a sentiment I share, to say the least.

    I haven’t really been following the primaries, but the candidate I somewhat have been “rooting for” is Perry, as he seems to be (or at least “seemed” – I don’t know now) the most electable and sensible “social conservative” candidate that has a chance of winning.

    I do think a Romney win in the GOP primaries would be disasterous for the nation, as it would indicate to Republican politicians that issues like abortion and gay marriage are no longer important, and thus the political atmosphere would be even further into the culture of death even more than it already is…

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Don’t be obtuse, RR. Romney’s poll numbers haven’t budged an iota despite the fluctuation in the rest of the campaign. It’s clear that lines have been drawn in the sand between his supporters and critics, and he is not moving any higher in the polls. Perhaps not every single one of the 75% of his non-supporters revile him, but he is clearly and deeply unpopular.

  • RR says:

    Santorum is at least as pro-life as the other candidates. His aggressive foreign policy does bother me but that’s not a major issue this election cycle. His economic plan which creates a special carve out for manufacturing is too interventionist for me but there are worse ideas out there. His emphasis on the middle-class should have very wide appeal and is a winner in the general elections. His demeanor is off-putting but the Gingrinch is even worse. His perceived hostility towards gays is a major problem for him, especially because it’s so well known. Fairly or unfairly, he’s defined by it. His position on DADT makes no sense. It’s one thing to oppose repeal, but he says repeal targets gays for special privileges not enjoyed by heterosexuals. That goes far beyond rational argument and warrants suspicion of unjust discrimination and that’s one thing voters will not forgive.

  • Bob Brassil says:

    Santorum is a very good man & was a solid senator, but I have read the comments of other readers who are correctly critical of his neo-conservative, nation-building policies. I agree with those critics and believe that Rep. Ron Paul is correct in his overall assessment. Both George Washington and Ike Eisenhower offered powerful farewell addresses that reflected the Constitution wisdom of the U.S. being wary of foreign intrigues as well as the military, industrial, congressional complex. Once Rick jumps off of the neo-conservative bandwagon, he’s got my vote.

  • Pinky says:

    “No Republican I know wants [Romney] as their candidate”

    I really believe that he, and maybe Perry, would be good presidents. I suspect that the next president is going to have to implement some serious austerity – necessary in the long run, but recessionary in the short run. He’s going to take a lot of heat for it and be considered a failure. Right now, Romney’s the one I trust most to be able to do it.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    I have the complete opposite feeling about Romney, Pinky. He is precisely the type of individual who would be unwilling to use any of his political capital in order to advance difficult measures.

  • Art Deco says:

    Both George Washington and Ike Eisenhower offered powerful farewell addresses that reflected the Constitution wisdom of the U.S. being wary of foreign intrigues as well as the military, industrial, congressional complex. Once Rick jumps off of the neo-conservative bandwagon, he’s got my vote

    1. George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower could not have faced more dissimilar configurations in international relations.

    2. There is no constitutional provision which prescribes a specific foreign policy.

    3. His commentary on the ‘military-industrial complex’ notwithstanding, annual military expenditures during the Eisenhower administration averaged in excess of 10% of domestic product and incorporated conscription to boot. Mr. Bush and the ‘neo-conservative bandwagon’ made do with 5% of national product and a professional military.

  • My favorite Eisenhower quote, from his state of the union address in 1959:

    “America’s security can be assured only within a world community of strong, stable, independent nations, in which the concepts of freedom, justice and human dignity can flourish.

    There can be no such thing as Fortress America. If ever we were reduced to the isolation implied by that term, we would occupy a prison, not a fortress. The question whether we can afford to help other nations that want to defend their freedom but cannot fully do so from their own means, has only one answer: we can and we must, we have been doing so since 1947.”

  • “The United States ought not to indulge a persuasion that, contrary to the order of human events, they will forever keep at a distance those painful appeals to arms with which the history of every other nation abounds. There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.”

    George Washington, Fifth Annual Message, 1793

  • Pinky says:

    Also, Washington’s farewell speech originally called for no foreign entanglements – for twenty years. He wanted the US to get on its feet so it could be an equal in its agreements.

  • Sid says:

    We seem to be missing the point about Santorum. He is a staunch conservative, he is not Bush redux except for the fact that he is steady, consistant, and does not waiver. His opposition to DADT is right. We have now created a special protected class within the military and are attempting to undermine the Chaplain’s role in the military. If you have every heard Santorum discussing homosexual issues you will hear a person who is Christian/Catholic to the core and truly loves his fellow man. He is demonized by the radical left because he takes a moral stand that our Church dictates. The reasons some people give for not supporting Santorum is his support of Spector and his strong national defense stand especially against Iran. The other candidates have more skeletons in their closets(with the exception of possibly Ron Paul). Newt has supported embryonic stem cell research and is/was a proponet of “climate change” legislation, has cheated on two wives, but is probably the most intelligent candidate(intelligent does not always equate to being correct) . Romney has changed his stance on abortion through thoughtful investigation and is accused of being a flip flopper, and lest we not forget Romneycare. Cain is being lynched by accusations and has but one theme, 9-9-9. Perry can’t speak intelligently in a debate. Bachmann comes off as shrill. Paul has great ideas but personally I don’t like alot of his foreign policy stands. Huntsman, et al are hanging around. Why is Santorum laggin in the polls?

  • Bob Brassil says:

    Thank you for your many insights and points of persuasion – Mr. McClarey, Pinky, Sid, etc. From Mr. Zummo’s 3 reasons: 1) Sen. Santorum’s ill-advised support of Spector is a minor factor; 2) his thumping lose to Casey, again, it carries some weight in PA, but is still relatively a small factor; 3) the “arrogant, whiny” factor may well have more to do w/ the media’s politically correct posture in favor of the liberal agenda. And now that sodomy and bestiality are okay in the military, we can see just how “professional” our troops are will become. Many of our fellow Catholic readers & thinkers have made excellent, thought-provoking points concerning the need for a top-notch military, ready both to defend and fight. However, the question of America’s role to a significant degree – as a “policeman-of-the-word” must be weighed both on the scales of our laws as well as on the financial ledgers. Are we following both the spirit and the letters of our Constitution by trying to build democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are we responsible stewards to present and future generations by spending vast sums of money for such aims and enterprises? The bottom line on Sen. Santorum for me remains one of considerable admiration and respect for his skills, courage, fervor, honesty, goodness, and judgment. My sole objection is his view of America as some messianic, military savior who is obligated to be the perennial enforcer on the international playground whenever significant political-military-economic-&-cultural issues come to a head. During one of the debates I heard two young men say in so many words, “That Santorum dude would be a-okay, but he needs to tone down the war drums on Iran.” Fellow readers, I realize that the issue with a nuclear Iran is serious and complex, but I think that all of our politicians could learn from the pastoral attitude of our Holy Fathers who pleaded with nations – before the conflicts in Iraq – to seek diplomacy unceasingly, while remaining well aware of duplicitous and deceiving tactics of real and potential enemies. The bellicose tone of Sen. Santorum and other quality candidates needs to be tempered. Congress must be engaged fully – as required by the Constitution – be the U.S. involves itself in wars. We remain on a trajectory of selecting Presidents who exercise unilateral powers. We, the people, must demand a return to a more balanced approach, which includes the needed funding for intelligence and an honest assessment of each situation, but is governed by the denominator of the voice of the voters in the House and Senate. Representative Ron Paul – a military veteran and a superb defender of pro-life policies and liberty – understands those distinctions well. It would be encouraging to see Senator Santorum to reassess his stance in the aftermath of the primaries because he is so vigorous a champion with much potential for future office. The latest Newt flip-flop on life begins at implanation – not at conception – is something that Santorum would never do. Like Rep. Paul, Sen. Santorum is a true-believer in that sense. And for that – despite his neo-conservative position – I could vote for him, knowing his honesty and his vast superiority over President Obama. Alas, barring a series of nearly impossible developments, neither Sen. Santorum nor Rep. Paul will garner enough electoral support. But, of course, we should be focused on the task of selecting whom we believe would be best, not selecting or predicting the ultimate “winner”. Oremus.

  • stilbelieve says:

    “maybe people should actually just vote for who they like best”

    There in is your answer. People do vote for who they like the best. Rick, for all of his good points, is not likeable. However, he’d be a good V.P.

  • I watched Santorum last night on the Fox forum. This man has obviously thought a huge deal about the issues, knows them cold and knows what we would do as President. Even though I do not think he has much of a chance, I am going to support him.

  • G-Veg says:

    Have any of you been polled? I ask because I harbor doubts about the validity of polling.

    I’m over 40 and would expect to have been tagged at some point. The subject came up at a birthday party a couple of months ago and no one in my extended family has been polled in at least 20 years.

    “Statistics lie and liers use statistics” and all so, other that to steer elections, what validity do the polls actually have? Do they actually represent the support of rank-and-file Republicans?

    Maybe the answer to Paul’s query above is that the party really doesn’t support Romneyand the polls are garbage.

  • Karen says:

    Like most others who fail to see the big picture of the Spector endorsement, you do not mention that the GOP held the slimmest 51-49 margin at the time. Toomey, less conservative in 2004 than the 2010 version, would have never beaten the Democrat that year. Spector was the chair of the juduiary committee and pledged to Santorum that he would vote for any Bush juducual appointee. Roberts passed thru with no opposition, Alito not so much. So, no Spector, no Alito. Could Toomey had delivered that? You know the answer. Santorum was looking at the long term not political expedency. Isn’t that what has been missing in our leaders for so long? Get over Spector. Support Rick Santorum.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    So, no Spector, no Alito.

    The final vote on Alito’s confirmation was, I believe, 58-42. The GOP held a 55-45 advantage after the 2004 election. So your math does not hold up.

    And if Specter had lost to Toomey, contrary to what you said, Toomey very well could have won his general election contest. And with a Senator Toomey instead of Specter, no 60th vote for health care.

    Also keep in mind that Snarlin Arlin was one of the main reasons Bork was defeated, but let’s not bring up really old news now.

    Get over Spector. Support Rick Santorum.

    I kind of said that (minus the blanket endorsement for Santorum).

  • Sheila Devall says:

    I was a Cainiac, now I’m a Santorumite! Rick Santorum is the most Conservative in the race. His record is solid Conservative. His efforts to protect the unborn are well-known and go back to his first position in the Congress. He is smart, thoughtful and unafraid. I think he is the best candidate for POTUS and I will be voting for him in my state’s primary in March!!

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