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Rick Santorum lasted longer in the GOP race than anyone predicted

April 10, 2012

Rick Santorum ended his campaign at least three months later than any pundit could have predicted at any point last year. He also ended it with having accomplished more than anyone would have imagined and he did so at a time putting family first. In other words, Rick Santorum went out on top.

He didn't drop out after failing to win a particular state, or have a top finish in another. And he left the race before having to drain his coffers and his energy trying to win his home state of Pennsylvania - while facing a multi-million barrage of negative ads being run against him.

From the pick-up truck to the Duggars to the sweater vest, Santorum made himself a household name, and in the process won 11 states. Only Newt Gingrich joined him in preventing Mitt Romney from sweeping the table, which some pundits thought was possible after Romney's narrow win in Iowa. That win was taken away and given to Santorum -- who had basically come out of nowhere, besides having visited all of the state's 99 counties, to finish a strong second on caucus night.

And Santorum proved to be the strongest conservative foil to Romney. It was Santorum who first jumped on the ill-spoken "Etch A Sketch" comment from a top Romney adviser and had press aides handing out the toy to reporters that afternoon.

"Folks, we don't need people who write their public policy on Etch A Sketches," Santorum said in one of his many pointed attacks on Romney.

Santorum rose in the campaign on his conviction - often winning voters who chose strong conservative values and a good moral character over the political attribute of being able to beat President Obama.

The former Pennsylvania senator turned his conservatism into a winning issue in the South, winning a handful of southern states. His narrow loses in key northern Midwestern states -- Michigan, Ohio and Illinois -- proved he was for real, but also showed how hard he had to fight to overcome the attack ads run by Romney and the outside super PAC backing him. And while Santorum himself got into hot water a few times, for saying that President Obama was a "snob" for wanting everyone to go to college, or for wanting to "throw up" after reading the John Kennedy speech on the separation of church and state - he kept his focus on his two opponents, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

As other candidates rose and fell, from Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich and Gingrich again, Santorum was there all along, plugging away - from Iowa to South Carolina to the South. His campaign didn't get a lot of attention for a while - but he kept at it and as he rose in the polls, he truly became the clear conservative alternative to Romney.

Santorum also served as a foil to Romney as the former Massachusetts governor tried to attack Mr. Obama's health care reform law even though it was modeled on his own Massachusetts plan.

Besides the public attacks, Santorum's continued presence in the race provided a running narrative that true conservatives were loath to back Romney. Gary Bauer was one of the conservatives who backed Santorum and kept the split alive. The one-time candidate himself was succinct in praising Santorum today and explaining why Santorum was still a story so many months after he was basically an also ran.

"Senator Santorum ran an outstanding campaign. His success in state after state shocked the political pundits and beat the expectations," said Bauer.

by Anonymousreply 1004/11/2012

Too long for comfort.

Weird how he recently met with a bunch of 'religious leaders' who were promoting him for POTUS. Maybe they wanted some big promises from him in order for them to share their mailing lists?

by Anonymousreply 104/11/2012

He got far using the bigotry and fears of a certain swath of laregly white right-wing "Christians". Those fears have been fanned with a frenzy by the Right and its media friends on talk radio and Fox News ever since Obama was nominated in 2008.

So Santorum is the beneficiary of this campaign that's been going on for a few years already, as well as just plain old religious bigotry against Romney.

Plus Santorum has the advantage of having consistently talked the talk for the last decade, while Romney has twisted and turned with the wind.

This series of factors is not necessarily going to happen a second time - that will depend on what happens with the economy over the next 4 years and what shape the GOP is in by that time.

by Anonymousreply 204/11/2012

He got far because so many people from every part of the political spectrum can't stand Mitt Romney.

by Anonymousreply 304/11/2012

Bingo, R3!

He'd have gotten even far (scary as that sounds) if the vote-counting had been honest. Romney is yet another Diebold-selected candidate.

by Anonymousreply 404/11/2012

If he were smarter he would have unbottoned his shirt and showed some chest hair. Maybe he could have gotten Georgia and South Carolina away from Gingrich.

by Anonymousreply 504/11/2012

Unfortunately, he'll be back. At this point, he has nothing else to do but continue to court his base. From now on, he'll be hoping Romney loses so he can run again in '16. He's a young man in presidential years.

by Anonymousreply 604/11/2012

True, R6. A number of articles today are saying unfortunately that this is just the beginning of his political resurrection. Now that he is the Runner-up for 2012, he can come back in 2016 with a base of voters in place that he built up this year.

by Anonymousreply 704/11/2012

He got far using the bigotry and fears of a certain swath of laregly white right-wing "Christians". Those fears have been fanned with a frenzy by the Right and its media friends on talk radio and Fox News ever since Obama was nominated in 2008.

I would add, black right wing evangelicals to your list as well. Two AA women in the office were rabid Frothy Mix fans and are very disappointed with the Romney win.

by Anonymousreply 804/11/2012

R3 is right. That he "tied" or even won in Iowa and did as well as he did shows how weak Romney is. If he had soft peddled the "social issues", Santorum probably would have done better.

by Anonymousreply 904/11/2012

states Santorum won:

Iowa

Colorado

Minnesota

Missouri

Alabama

Mississippi

Kansas

North Dakota

Tennessee

Oklahoma

Louisiana

by Anonymousreply 1004/11/2012
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