Monday, February 6, 2012

Why a Shift by Conservatives to Rick Santorum Would Be a Mistake

A couple of polls came out from Public Policy Polling this weekend showing that Santorum seems to be replacing Newt Gingrich as the main "not Romney" candidate in Minnesota and Colorado. There seems to be a desire to "give another conservative a chance" as well as to potentially field a candidate without as much baggage as Newt so that Mitt Romney's negative ad carpet bombing will not be as effective.

I think though that this reasoning is fallacious and switching support from Newt to Santorum at this point would be a major mistake. Let's just look at what I believe are the two main arguments for the switch:

1) "Give another conservative a chance". Didn't Rick already have a chance after his victory in Iowa? He had a ton of positive press coverage even when it appeared that he had narrowly lost (by 8 votes) in Iowa and he could have really taken advantage of it. But he didn't. He is just not as competent with voters or with the media as he should be. He followed up his surprising Iowa finish with a 4th place finish in New Hampshire, a 3rd place finish in South Carolina, a 3rd place finish in Florida and now a 4th place finish in Nevada. In none of these contests was he able to break through 17% of the vote (he got that in evangelical heavy South Carolina) and in two contests (New Hampshire and Nevada) he wasn't even able to break through 10%. And it isn't like Newt has the establishment media on his side keeping Rick down, if anything it is the opposite. After 25 debates and a victory in Iowa, Rick Santorum really has no excuse for not catching on, other than himself.

2) "We need a candidate with less baggage than Newt". Right now, because Rick Santorum has generally escaped much criticism in the media it appears that he would be a much safer candidate than Newt, one who could survive the carpet bombing of negative ads that will inevitably come from Romney once Rick is viewed as a threat to them. But this is an illusion as I don't think any candidate with any actual record could escape unscathed from Romney's attacks. Ad markets have been deluged with so many negative ads by the Romney team that their tactics practically meet the threshold to be considered brainwashing. Just think about what Newt has actually been attacked for. He has been attacked for an ethics charge related to the tax exempt status of a college course he taught (oooh, run for the hills!), something even the IRS decided did not hold water. He has been attacked for, as a private citizen, consulting for a politically unattractive client, Freddie Mac (If it was Iran, I would understand, but a publicly traded company that even Romney was invested in? Come on.). He has also been attacked for sitting on a couch for a commercial with a liberal democrat and actually promoting green energy (the horror)! All of these issues have been completely blown out of proportion by the Romney machine and the media and have nothing to do with Newt's very conservative record while in office.

I'm sure some people would argue that if they had anything on Rick Santorum, that they would have used it already. Not really. The Romney machine and its allies in the media establishment only attack when they see a threat to their candidate. I seem to remember a time when the very same people who are vilifying Newt today were cheering him on for his witty answers in various debates. The difference at the time was that they were trying to take down Rick Perry and Herman Cain and thought Newt had no chance. Just wait until they set their sights on Rick Santorum. There will be wall to wall ads about his involvement in the K Street Project, his endorsement of Arlen Specter (who became a Democrat and helped usher in Obamacare), his "leadership PAC" (which gave a paltry 18% of its money to candidates and spent the rest on everyday expenses for Rick Santorum), his scam of a charity and his numerous "gaffes" which will help sour his appeal among women and independent voters (he blamed the church's child molestation scandal on Boston being liberal, he equated homosexuality with bestiality and he said radical feminism is to blame for the decline of the American family). Then of course is his record which is more liberal than Newt's. He voted against NAFTA, against Right to Work and for steel tariffs, as well as various earmarks (especially in election years). If you don't think the Romney attack dogs won't find enough fodder in Rick Santorum's record to vilify him to the same extent that Newt has been vilified, think again. Remember, there was a time that even Newt had the highest positive intensity score in the entire field. Things change. In a few months, after the establishment is done with him, Rick Santorum's image as a straight shooting conservative family man will turn into one of a corrupt religious zealot who is only interested in his own advancement.

One final point. I know that conservatives seemed to have become addicted to switching horses in this primary race, going from Bachmann to Perry to Cain to Gingrich to Santorum and then back to Gingrich, but at some point, it just becomes too late. Due to his string of lackluster finishes, Rick Santorum continues to have a pretty decrepit organization which just recently couldn't even find enough signatures to get on the ballot in Indiana. Newt was attacked for not having an organization, so how does it make sense to go to a candidate who probably has an even worse one, especially with Super Tuesday coming up? Newt has his weaknesses, but like it or not, he is the best we have right now. He is a Reagan conservative who has a great ability to excite the base and explain to everyone else why we believe what we believe. We need to coalesce around him and defeat both Romney AND Obama and make America great again.

Cross posted from libertarian neocon's blog.


LOL Rick Santorum can beat the pants off NEWT...Obama will beat NEWT so you had better get with the program..You dont have dirt on RICK either! LOL He is a good HONEST man and after being in SENATE and CONGRESS and ARMED FORCES 8 yrs... You have no dirt becasue he is a good man. :) GO RICK GO!

Why not let Santorum have a surge? Why not let the Romney machine turn its focus to Santorum, forcing Romney and Santorum to focus on one another and giving Gingrich some breathing room? Why not let the Romney campaign seal its status as nothing but a shameless slime machine and alienate all the Santorum supporters? Why not let Romney's unfavorables continue to rise? And maybe by the time of Super Tuesday, Romney will be coming in third behind both Gingrich and Santorum in the deep south.

Romney's candidacy has been sucking the air out of the Republican primary since before it began. How many Republicans opted not to declare their candidacies because they knew the Romney campaign has spent the last five years buying establishment support and that the Romney campaign would be unapologetically malicious toward any potential threat?

Pamela, I have a relatively long list of dirt in there. Rick is honest for a politician but that is still plenty dirty for you and me.

CDA, you make a good point. I think the more Rick and Mitt set their sights on each other the more Newt can get back to being the positive solutions-oriented candidate that he was at the beginning. The downside though is that Rick will be siphoning off the conservative vote in the meantime and so if Newt has too many #3 finishes, he would be finished. Then we would be stuck with choosing between a George W. Bush big government conservative (Santorum) and a RINO (Romney).

Congratulations Pamela!! You're reply warranted an ENTIRE ARTICLE!!

Let's see if you are a THINKING person or not. I love your enthusiasm for you guy. It's great. But making wild claims "Santorum can beat the pants off of Newt" won't win you any new people to your cause without giving objective fact and reason.

You may want to have a look at this:

Outstanding piece-

Santorum is a very weak candidate with little potential to charm anyone outside of the social conservative right... meanhwhile, his record of 'accomplishment' is nothing to shout about.

I am a church-going Catholic that simply cannot get enthused about putting this guy up against Obama in November... you could say he's also a conservative like Newt, but when it comes to record, resume, debate skills, and fire-in-the-belly, Santorum is a boyish putz who you wouldn't even have talked to in high school... except perhaps for taunting while you were kicking his butt for sport

I used to utilize Santorum's minutes in the early debates for a bathroom break... as the numbers suggest most others did. Left standing by virtue of not being worth attacking up to this point, Obama would be THRILLED to face Santorum in the general... because he would crush him like a damn bug

Might be nice to suspend disbelief and rally behind Ricky if he was a true Reaganite, I guess... but his career doesn't really suggest that, either

Thanks for another great article. I'm sure the Romney slimemachine will be working overtime to tar and feather Santorum.

I have been amazed at the dialogue around the net today of the people lining up behind Rick. It really astounds me in this day and age with so much information at our disposal that people can't dig in about a candidate.

I also think that one thing Santorum has appealed to right wing extremely social conservatives is to throw Newt's marital past in his face. A very low blow in my opinion.

Bottom line is, I don't feel Rick will stand up in a general election. He will repulse many.

"…even the IRS decided did not hold water."
Enforce that statement with … the CLINTON IRS…
Very good piece, truth when it hurts.
You are spot-on LibNeoCon.
I am, as of this writing, putting together a similar piece at WisdomDepot exposing the conservative death knell of a Santorum nomination; stay tuned…

If you think Santorum doesn't have any negatives then you haven't done your homework. He has a very liberal record and very questionable ethics. He took sweetheart mortgage from a donor not unlike Dodd. He was the point man for K street project. Had to donate the $ he got from jack abramhoff to charity. He is NOT who you all think he is. He is a holier then though sanctimonious Social Conservative zealot, who never met a spending bill or big government legislation that he didn't vote for. He even chaired and created the 1st International Compassionate Conservtive Conference - Social Justice Forum. And now tell me if you knew about ANY of that? Hmmm? I doubt it since unless you read blogs and dig on the internet you won't hear it. Santorum is the wrong candidate with MANY flaws.

Santorum is nothing short of blind ambition and a small man wanting big wallets. He's for sale to the highest bidder as Romney is for sale for the highest office - they'll say anything pass anything and attack anyone that gets in their way. they are politicians - while as Newt is a visionary change agent working for the people.

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