Santorum Rising

 

Last night in Missouri Rick Santorum finally got to go one on one against Romney, since Gingrich did not bother to get on the ballot, and the results were devastating to the Weathervane.  Santorum won two to one, garnering 55% of the vote to 25% for Romney, with Ron Paul bringing up the rear with 12%.  Santorum won every county in the state.  The Romney camp will claim that since this was a non-binding beauty contest and that Romney did little campaigning in the state, this is meaningless.  Rubbish!  What does it say about the Romney campaign and its appeal to Republican voters that they lost this badly in a state that has been a bellweather of the nation in most Presidential elections?

However, Missouri was not the end of the bad news for Romney last night.  In the Minnesota caucuses Santorum came in first with a stunning 45% and second was, wait for it, Ron Paul with 27%.  Romney, who won the caucuses by 20 points in 2008, came in third  at 17% with Gingrich being Tail-end-Newt with 11%

To complete the trifecta of woe for the Weathervane last night, we turn to Colorado, a state Romney was supposed to win according to the polls.  In the caucuses, Santorum came in first with 40%, Romney took second at 35%, Gingrich a very distant third at 13%, just edging out Paul at 12%.

So, the night couldn’t have been better for Santorum or worse for Romney, but what does it all mean?

1.  Romney as Bad Dogfood-There is an apocryphal story in the advertising industy about a brand of dogfood brought out by a mega corporation that spent lavishly on a huge advertising campaign.  However, the dog food sold poorly.  The advertising budget was doubled.  The dog food sold even more poorly.  The ad budget was tripled.  The dog food stayed on the shelves.  Finally the CEO of the company asked his secretary who bred dogs with her husband what was wrong with the dog food.  She replied, “Well, we tried to feed it to our dogs, and they kept upsetting the bowls and would growl at us if we tried to fill them back up with that stuff.  Dogs really, really hate it!”.  Since the onset of this campaign the Republican voters have been giving off every signal known to man that they really, really do not want Romney to carry the standard against Obama in the fall.  Last night they sent yet another such message, that the GOP establishment will seek to ignore.

2.  Bye, Bye, Newt-Last night Republican voters sent another clear message.  “Newt, you had your chance to defeat Romney and you blew it.  Now we are going to give Rick a shot.”

3.  The anti-Santorum Avalanche-The Romney campaign has given up on attempting to convince people that their sow’s ear of a candidate is actually a silk purse.  They have only one tactic:  bury the opponent under a mountain of negative ads.  That is how they beat Gingrich in Florida, with a good assist from Newt’s lacklustre campaign in the Sunshine State, and that is what they are now ginning up against Santorum.

4.  Money on the Way-Santorum throughout has run a less than shoe-string campaign.  With last night’s humiliation of Romney, almost all anti-Romney money is now going to be flowing to Santorum.

5.  You Plan Your Campaign and You Campaign Your Plan-Throughout this campaign Santorum’s plan has been to be the last viable anti-Romney standing and to defeat Romney one on one.  Last night, that plan began to bear fruit.  The odds are still against Santorum getting the nomination, but after last night, no one can discount that possibility.

 

30 Responses to Santorum Rising

  • Thank God! Indeed, the liberals hate Santorum as much as thy hate unborn babies.

  • Now THIS is what I call sending a message. Even if Romney does end up winning the nomination he now knows he MUST turn more to the right if he is to generate enough momentum in the key swing states to win. At the very least, he has to pick a solidly conservative running mate… perhaps Santorum himself, or Marco Rubio.

    The most surprising outcome of the evening to me is Ron Paul doing as well as he did in Minnesota. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised given that Minnesota has a history of electing some really odd pols like Jesse Ventura and Al Franken….

  • It is time to go “all in” for Rick.

  • Although it is the only strategy he has, Romney’s going negative on Santorum – especially if it’s done in the manner it happened to Newt in Florida – will NOT sit well with Republican primary voters.

    The “grassroots” were never altogether comfortable with Newt as the “not-Romney” candidate, so there was really no downside to going negative against him the way the Romney campaign did. But if they do the same thing to Santorum, there is a HUGE downside – they run the risk of further alienating those who are not sold on Romney, and perhaps getting a backlash from those who were supporting Romney only because they saw him as the only electable alternative to 4 more years of Obama.

    Watch how National Review handles this Santorum surge – if they go negative, that will be a clue that the Romney camp plans on holding nothing back in their attacks. If National Review takes the high road, that’s no guarantee that Romney won’t go negative, but it is an indication of how little tolerance some of his supporters will have for that tactic.

  • Jay – Very good point. Beating up on a guy like Newt is just karma (if you’ll forgive that word on a Catholic site). Beating up on a good family man – a Mormon beating up on a good family man – well, that’s gonna backfire. The biggest weaknesses of Santorum are his 2006 loss and his strong anti-gay stand (which I agree with, but by the time the press tells the story, it’s going to hurt him). So, what can Romney’s people do? Beat up on Santorum for being outside the religious mainstream?! Move to the left on gay rights?! It’s a nightmare for them. They’ll have to go clean, stressing Romney’s business experience, because there’s no other difference between the Romney package that they’re trying to sell and Santorum.

    Do I need to unpack the phrase “the Romney package that they’re trying to sell”? I hope it’s obvious. Romney is running as an experienced, likeable, electable conservative.

    OK, there’s one other angle I just thought of, but it’s going to be a doozy to pull off. Paint Santorum as a moderate. Attack him for the Bush deficit and the expansion of Medicare. It’s really the only move.

  • Yeah, between these victories and those polls showing Santorum doing just as well as Romney against Obama, this seems to me to make Santorum the only credible Romney alternative.

    I’ll admit, as perhaps the most Romney supporting writer here, I’m still kind of split. I’m worried that in the general election, Santorum would prove less slippery and teflon coated versus Obama and Romney — especially as the cultural left will go totally ape shit on him. They perhaps have Santorum even more than Sarah Palin. Maybe that would turn off mainstream voters, or maybe it would succeed in painting him as an extremist. I’m not sure. On the flip side, if Romney wins, in addition to some conservatives not rallying the Left will still paint him as a hard core extremist and they’ll work hard to activate every bit of anti-Mormon prejudice out there to their advantage. This will be a massively vicious campaign on the part of the Dems no matter what.

    Generally speaking, I like Romney more on economic/business policy and I’m a bit more inclined to trust him on foreign policy and perhaps immigration. I’m more inclined to trust Santorum on the environment (as in, not rolling over to greens) and I trust Santorum much, much more on the moral issues of the day, which in the end are the most important.

  • OK, there’s one other angle I just thought of, but it’s going to be a doozy to pull off. Paint Santorum as a moderate. Attack him for the Bush deficit and the expansion of Medicare. It’s really the only move.

    This is already in effect, as witnessed also at “conservative” sites like Red State where they have painted Santorum is basically a big government moderate. And as someone who served in Congress for well over a decade, he will have cast votes that now appear to be quasi-socialist. Never mind that most of them were wither procedural votes or were votes where he lined up 100% with the rest of the party, they will be spun to paint him as somehow being to the left of Romney. That’s why running for the presidency as sitting or former member of Congress is so difficult: lots of votes to explain away.

    But if Santorum clearly emerges as the main non-Romney, even that line of attack will likely backfire, especially if the attacks are seen as far-fetched. As I said on my post last night, Santorum’s effectiveness when he has gone negative is that he’s concentrated his fire on a few select substantive policy differences. If they try to throw the kitchen sink at Santorum, it could be viewed as desperation. And camp Romney is certainly desperate.

  • . Maybe that would turn off mainstream voters, or maybe it would succeed in painting him as an extremist. I’m not sure.

    As I said on Pat Archbold’s NCR blog, in point of fact Santorum isn’t much more socially conservative than Presidents Reagan and Bush policy-wise, and his views on issues like abortion and gay marriage actually aligns with majority sentiment. His two potential drawbacks are his personal social conservatism and the fact that he actually genuinely believes what he says. Even right-wingers are falling for the spin that Santorum wants to ban contraception or enact sodomy laws. So the left will certainly try to spin that as much as they can.

    In the end, we have to keep in mind that the left will completely attack and smear whoever the nominee is. Santorum will be attacked for his social conservatism, Romney for being the rich aristocrat (who, we might as well just mention, paved the way for Obamacare), and Gingrich – well, where to begin? So trying to divine which candidate will be most affected by the negativism is somewhat futile, because voters are swayed by the most absurd things. It’s quite possible that attacks on Santorum’s social views might backfire, especially if they try to bring up some of the personal stuff related to their baby dying. Then again, it might work like a charm. We just don’t know. So as I’ve said before, you just have to vote for the guy that you personally believe is the best candidate, whoever that is for you.

  • Although not my first choice, I could certainly vote for Rick easier than I could for Romney.

  • The other arrow they might try would be the Specter/Toomey affair. But that would be rather difficult for the Weathervane to pull off with any credibility. It could come from other quarters allied with the Weathervane.

  • Maybe this is a topic for a different blog post, but Paul Z. stated, “Even right-wingers are falling for the spin that Santorum wants to ban contraception or enact sodomy laws.”

    Why shouldn’t contraception be banned and why shouldn’t anti-sodomy laws be enacted? They are intrinsic evils. So why not make them illegal? Is the reason, “Well, the non-Catholics don’t agree, nor do even a majority of Catholics.”? Since when is truth determined by opinion? Oh yes, I will be accused of wanting a theocracy. Well, one way or another, we’re going to get a theocracy. The theocracy of today’s society is atheism (yes, I realize that is a contradiction in terms and that’s why it’s called “liberalism”.) But Jesus Christ will return and establish His theocracy with a rod of iron. No voting allowed. And that’s bad because?????????

  • They are intrinsic evils. So why not make them illegal?

    Aside from the argument that it’s not practical to push an agenda too far outside the mainstream in a democracy, there would be the argument that actually enforcing certain kinds of laws would be more destructive than their absence.

    St. Thomas Aquinas actually made this argument in relation to not outlawing prostitution, even though it was clearly immoral: that the effects of trying to ban it would actually be more destructive than allowing it to continue. (So I guess we can at least feel like we’re better off that his time in one respect. Evil has a funny way of shifting around.)

    Back when we had laws against contraception and outlawing sodomy, I would have been in favor of keeping those laws — not only as a matter of morality but also because they served as a bulwark against other “logical” conclusions from their repeal. But at the point we are in right now (and at any point in the foreseeable future) I think it would be destructive to push for such laws.

  • Santorum is the doctor this country needs to make it better.
    1. $ is more a vehicle for Mitt Romney than a god, so, in a way (not- counting- the- neg.- ads- which- may- hurt- him- in the end), he is for the USA.

    2. Please don’t be quiet though, Newt Gingrich. People on both sides hear you and learn both manners and thinking with minds.

    3. He could save $, the O’s will have that covered.

    4. Santorum could do it on a shoestring in a better world, but he need to continue becoming known. Ads are forgotten rushes of images.

    5. … now if RPaul wants to defeat O., he could cooperate and support RSantorum.

    Romney/Santorum? a hope for GOP unity, one trait of Dems that works for them.

  • I expect no significant realignment of the federal government with the Constitution with any of the remaining viable candidates. Santorum will be a continuation of compassionate conservatism, i.e. big spender, big government. Newt is Mr. Toad’s wild ride, thrilling dips into conservatism and scary climbs into adventurous ideas. Romney is a weathervane.

  • “The other arrow they might try would be the Specter/Toomey affair. But that would be rather difficult for the Weathervane to pull off with any credibility. It could come from other quarters allied with the Weathervane.”

    I don’t see how that could work in the primaries. Who would be persuaded to back away from Santorum because of it? Party faithful respect party loyalty; newcomers would have no strong feelings about it. Moderates would admire him for his willingness to compromise; conservatives wouldn’t flock to Mitt or Newt because of it, since those two candidates have had to work with moderate Republicans plenty of times. The only portion of the party that could have a problem with it are the Ron Paul supporters, who already have their man in the primary. They’d be less likely to be loyal to Santorum in an Obama/Santorum general election. Otherwise, the only people who would take offense at it are consummate insiders who would distrust Santorum’s political instincts.

  • They will use Catholicism against him, in subverted ways.

  • Santorum ideas are linked with that “old” oppressive Church– out of date– needs to get with the time- modern and…liberal. People who don’t understand why Santorum appeals, don’t understand that the Church is really always young, and just right for the times.
    We are so over the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s…. Santorum is more with the times than Madonna– how long has she been doing that same schtick? black and silver, smoke and lights and bumping and grinding— Young people I know, when asked about her performance the other night said, “Meh.” That is what they are saying to Romney, Gingrich and Obama. Santorum is doing great because his old ideas are new again.

  • they are not saying “meh” to obama– they are saying “no”

  • LIke I said before, if Santorum can go from an 18 point drubbing as an incumbent senator in 2006, a long shot at the GOP nomination to winning the nomination and then the presidency, it would be one of the most miraculous of all political miracles in history. I’d love to see it because I don’t think much of Romney and rather detest Newt. But it’s still a long shot.

    Oh, and you can bet his endorsement of the hideous Arlen Specter in 2006 GOP senate primary over Pat Toomey is now gonna be an issue. That’s one thing I have passionately disliked about Santorum.

  • I think Don happened to be channeling Jim Morrison with the title of this post. Mr San–to–rum rising, Mr San–to–rum rising Got-ta keep on ri-sin etc.

  • I am pleased with Santorum’s victories. However we must remember that Santorum added little to his delegate total.

    Red State had a temper tantrum at Rick Perry’s failed Presidential run and they took it out on Santorum. What Erick Erickson et al have failed to realize is that Santorum is far more conservative than Romney and would go farther in reigning in the government than Romney would – given a Congress that would work with him.

    There is some significant dirt on Mrs. Santorum and what her career was prior to her marriage and her personal conversion. Be forewarned. Romney and the Obama attack Machine will attempt to shred Santorum over it. It matters not to me, as there is no force on earth that would cause me to vote for Obama or any Democrat.

  • “There is some significant dirt on Mrs. Santorum and what her career was prior to her marriage and her personal conversion.”

    Yeah, as a young nurse she was shacked up for years to a much older abortionist, before she met Santorum, fell in love with him and returned to her Catholic faith. It is a beautiful story of love triumphing over sin and I pity Romney or Obama if they think that will be a successful avenue of attack. Most of the American people are sentimental softies at heart, and they will recognize a magnificent love story when they see one.

  • I think its awesome that Senator Santorum is finally getting the attention he deserves. I’ve been saying right along that Santorum knew how to stay alive, and he’s done so – all along proving that money and sparkle aren’t the only measures of a presidential candidate – or a president, for that matter.

    I worry that this support of earmarks is going to bite him in the rear, though. I mean, the truth is that he’s got a LOT less baggage than Gingrich generated in a good year, and the fact is that he resonates with the sort of voters who don’t necessarily watch TV or listen to what a slick city politician has to say. So I think that the Midwestern base which he’s developing is now all but permanently in the Santorum camp.

    The question is whether or not he can play in other parts of the country – he needs some strong showings in the South, like Texas or North Carolina, to solidify his candidacy. If that happens, he could very well be our nominee, which would be fantastic. It’s about time.

  • Mr. McClarey, I write this as I am holding my sleeping nine week old son – I pray a majority of voting Americans see this as you and I do.

    A man can often be judged by the words and deeds of his adversaries and enemies. I find most anti-Santorum types to be quite obnoxious.

  • Penguins Fan, may God bless you and your nine week old son!

  • Well. I think if Romney or his surrogates ever brought up Karen Santorum’s past (I don’t think Mitt is stupid enough to do that), he ought to be run out of the party.

    Somehow, I don’t think the underhanded attacks will work as well against Santorum as they did against Newt. Why? The character issue. Newt’s questionable character made the attacks, whether they had any real merit or not, appear more credible. Santorum’s character is pretty solid in the minds of republicans, especially the conservative base. The strongest trump card (other than the Donald) Romney has against Satorum would be his throwing Pat Toomey under the bus to save Specter’s job.,

  • We’re electing a president, not a savior, so absolute perfection is not required. The trick is separating weaknesses (for example, poor performance in debates) and past mistakes that will not be, or are not likely to be, repeated (e.g. a “wrong” endorsement of another candidate) from fundamental character flaws and bad policy ideas that could cause real harm to the country. Unfortunately, the MSM and excessively rabid partisans tend to put all of these flaws on the same level and hold them up as equally valid reasons why a candidate cannot win or should be disqualified from consideration.

  • Electorally, Santorum would seem to be best positioned to benefit from blue collar Catholics and Midwesterners who Obama has been thumbing his nose at with things like the Keystone Pipeline denial and the HHS mandate.

    Politically, the advantage of a Santorum presidency is that for once you wouldn’t have to worry about issues like judges. He would also bring a focus to the relation between economic and family issues that has been lacking in the public discourse.

    I personally think Romney is a decent candidate personally and politically, there seems to be something about him that turns people off. I don’t quite get it myself, but I’m coming to the conclusion that it isn’t something that will go away.

    We’ll have to see whether Santorum can sustain his current momentum. But for now he arguably meets the Buckley Test of being the most conservative viable candidate, and hence deserving of conservative support.

  • What’s wrong with Romney? Let me count the ways.

    1. Search YouTube for “Romney flip flops.”
    2. Minimum wage indexed to inflation.
    3. Supporter of socialized medicine, which is what put the U.S. Church in the place its in.
    4. Supporter of government bailouts.
    5. Milquetoast

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