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Santorum, Really? Hmmm….

2012 Iowa Republican Caucus

Candidate 12/19 12/13 11/15
Mitt Romney 25% 23% 19%
Newt Gingrich 17% 20% 32%
Ron Paul 20% 18% 10%
Jon Huntsman 4% 5% 2%
Rick Perry 10% 10% 6%
Michele Bachmann 6% 9% 6%
Rick Santorum 10% 6% 5%
Other candidate 1% 2% 1%
Not sure 8% 8% 6%

(HT: Scott Rasmussen)


More than anyone else, Rick Santorum probably matches the demeanor and the values of Iowa conservatives. He’s Conservative, where Mitt Romney is moderate after a good, stiff lurch to the right. Santorum deals in street level reality, Newt Gingrich could live in a world of ideas that never intersects with where most of us live. Rick Santorum has a certain common touch to him, while Jon Huntsman could tell you in detail how the mizzenmast helps a yacht function. Santorum remains low-key, while Rick Perry remains somewhat the boisterous, irrepressible Texan.

Beyond these personality traits that appear to map well to the decent, taciturn, hard-working stereotype of the Iowa Caucus-goers, Santorum has focused on “Judeo-Christian ethic and the importance of family and faith to freedom.” This will drive critics crazy, but it’s an important issue that the other candidates have let slide. People may be noticing this gap. Rick Santorum’s four point rise in the Iowa polls may reflect that dawning awareness. Americans may genuinely wonder some days whether America should still be considered good.

While I defy you to develop an NP-Complete Metric of Evil, people see the anecdotal evidence of decline piling up in droves. Marriage rates decline, the median age goes up and over a million children a year are born out of wedlock. Our cities play host to callous and sadistic incidents of mass violence. Our children grow up thinking games of “Knockout King” are an acceptable form of amusement.

And yet, when our society is faced with this growing evidence of iniquity, in stark and unflinching terms, we turn away and make excuses. The New York Times committed this grave transgression against all things decent when it reported the story of a gang rape that occurred a year ago in Houston. The girl was sexually plundered by 18 different males ranging in age from 14 to 27. The acts were filmed and “sexted” all over the local schools. The New York Times excused the rapists based on their poverty, and demanded to know what the girl’s mother was thinking. That, increasingly, is how modern American society behaves on a daily basis.

Into this maelstrom walks a candidate who, in Santorum’s own words, “When I go out there and give these talks, no matter where I am, I talk about the moral issues.” This isn’t what the talking heads in either party want to hear. It ain’t sexy; but then again, the mature adults in the room don’t spend inordinate amounts of time or money trying. A quiet network of evangelical ministers and social conservative activists throughout Iowa are taking notice. Robert Costa describes what has recently happened on the ground.

Beyond his shoestring operation, the backing of prominent social conservatives is playing an important, often behind-the-scenes role in bolstering his quiet winter surge. Bob Vander Plaats, who heads the Family Leader, a social-conservative group, endorsed Santorum on Tuesday, as did Chuck Hurley, the director of the Iowa Family Policy Center. These high-profile reinforcements add heft to Santorum’s evangelical bloc in Iowa, which already included “well-connected and influential pastors like Cary Gordon of Sioux City, Terry Amann of Des Moines, and Albert Calaway of Indianola,” according to The Iowa Republican.

This may remind you of something that took place four years ago in Iowa. Santorum acknowledges an affinity for church groups but denies they are the entire gravamen of his slowly growing coalition. He expounds below.

“I do try to go to churches, and go to Mass every Sunday, and when I’m in Iowa, I make sure to go to one or two other churches, meeting the pastors and the congregants there. It’s not a specific focus, but it is part of what we do,” he says. “It’s the same approach I take with business groups, gun groups, pro-life groups, tax groups, tea-party groups. All of them are part of this grassroots effort.”

(HT: NRO)

All of this is not meant to imply America needs it’s very own Savonarola to ignite our version of a Falò delle vanità. However, it may well be that a significant plurality of voters are afraid this is where America could head if we allow our social morals to continue their present debasement without restraint. People who fear what we are becomming may well look fondly on a man with the guts to stand up and say it athwart the censure of our modern elites. Rick Santorum may well be the man to deliver that message. If he is, it could be 2008 all over again in the Iowa Caucuses.

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