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The Case for Sen. Rick Santorum

As shown in my GOP presidential nomination rankings, I rank Romney 1st, followed closely by Perry, with Huntsman and Santorum ranked 3rd and 4th.  The case and path for Romney, Perry, and Huntsman are very clear.  The path for Santorum — and why I believe it is Rick Santorum and not Cain, Bachman, Paul, or Gingrich who has the best chance to potentially replace Perry as the champion of conservatives in this race needs some explination.

There are several reasons why Senator Santorum is the most likely person to replace Perry (if Perry falls off the charts) as the conservative to run against Romney (or Huntsman), they are:

1.  Although running against the odds and on a shoe-string budget, Senator Santorum is a candidate for President.  He — unlike Cain — has a staffed office in Iowa, and has some level of organization there as well.  Santorum has visited Iowa, NH, and SC more than any other candidate.  He has spent more time than any other candidate with voters, and is giving this campaign 100% effort.  While giving 100% doesn’t count for everything, it is hard to win if you give less.  Frankly, Bachman, Cain, and Gingrich appear to be running for president as a part time job, Santorum is working overtime.

2.  Unlike Bachman, Cain, Gingrich, and Paul, Senator Santorum was actually elected to the Senate.  Not in a red state, or even a purple state.  He won election, and re-election to PA; winning the state in 2000 — in the same election where Bush lost the state.  Although Santorum lost his re-election bid, it is only fair to mention that he lost against Bob Casey and he lost in a year where the GOP got completely blown out.  Frankly, I do not believe any Republican could have won.  He has shown a remarkable ability to win against the odds; something Bachman, Cain, Gingrich, and Paul have not.  Bachman, Paul, and Gingrich are representatives for Republican parts of the country.  Cain, lost his one election, failing to win the GOP nominate for a Senate seat.  In terms of actual elected record, Santorum has the best. 

3.  Santorum has a record of fighting in the most contraversial fights.  Santorum is one of the few who picked up the fight for conservative government and kept fighting.  He was 3rd in Senate leadership, and made himself target #1 for Democrats.  Santorum was key to getting passed a ban on partial birth abortion.  Santorum  was a key supporter in the Marriage Ammendment.  Santorum was one of the few members of the House (prior to serving in the Senate) who actually wanted to cut waste, fraud, and abuse.  In his first year, he picked up GAO’s report on the House Banking Scandal, brought attention to it, and started the efforts to reform and fix it.  Senator Santorum has a solid conservative record as someone who fought for what he believed, even while representing a blue state.

4.  So, Santorum has a better resume and better record than do the others in the field to replace Perry.  Cain has no record, no organization in Iowa, no experience, and lacks the same level of drive.  Bachman, likewise, lacks the same resume, record, or effort; she had her chance, she did not shine; she lost her chance.  Gingrich could have run a compeditive campaign if he only …… but he did not.  He is not really puting in the effort or devotion needed.  Paul is putting in effort, has organization, has money, but is Paul.  He will not get the nomination.   As compared to the other might-bes, Santorum is the clear conservative to step up.

5.  There is something about Rick.  Sen. Santorum has something about him that reminds me Marco Rubio.  When Marco Rubio was running for FL Senate he ran the impossible race.  He had no money.  He had no support, outside of a supportive family.  He had no chance.  Rick Santorum is in the same boat.  Something brings him to wake up every day.  To get dressed.  To go out there all day and campaign.  Something causes him to think it is worth his doing it.  Worth eating through his savings.  Worth missing time with his family.  Worth giving up the type of easy life that many Senators choose to him.  Worth doing that even when the world says he has no chance.  There is something about that ….. the resolve, the determination, the dedication …. which I think primary voters respect.  Every person who started his own business understands.  There is something special, call it hope or faith or trust or dedication.  Call it what you will, but there is something uncommon about that.  I like to call it American.  There is something American about that; in fact, that attribute is part of what makes America great.  It is the attitude the caused Bill Gates to drop out of college and bet on his microsoft idea.  The idea that caused Collumbus to sail accross a world that others said was flat.  The idea that caused Franklin to fly a kite into lighting and the Wrightebrothers to fly into the sky.  Well, Senator Santorum has it, he has that uniquely American, Americanism, and that counts for something.

6.  As much as the above counts, there are two things Santorum is missing.  The good news about what he misses most is that: what is wrong with Santorum can all be fixed by winning in Iowa.  His two “fatal flaws” are (1) his loss in PA, and (2) his loss in PA.  The loss paints him as a loser, and it makes it hard for him to get money to run.  The good news for him is that a win in Iowa fixes both problems.  (the bad news is a win in Iowa is not easy).

Again, I want to state that I think a Romney, Perry, and Huntsman are more likely than Santorum to win.  That said, here is the most likely and reasonable path to victory for Santorum:

1-  As Iowa approaches,  Romney and Perry go at eachother’s throats (like they are now, but they also spend some ad money).  As a result, their negatives both continue to rise.

2.  2 – 4 weeks before the Iowa Caucus, Santorum picks up steam and gets some momentum from a big event (either a good debate performance, a key endorcement, a good poll), giving him his 15 minutes of fame.  He capitalizes on this and starts getting Iowa media attention.  The media attention, combines with the respect he earned from voters from meeting and talking with them in person.  Suddenly, picks up some poll number increases and gets to be the candidate of the week (as Bachman was earlier and Cain was before and after that). 

3.  This attention brings him scrutiny, attention, and he appears like the underdog.  He raises $1-4 million, and is able to go up on the air for the week before the Caucuses. 

4.  Meanwhile, Romney, Perry, Bachman, and Cain pour in their resources to try to win the election.  Perry goes all-in, as does Bachman and Cain.  Romney focuses on NH, but spends enough to go-negative against Perry, who he views as his biggest threat.  Romney’s goal is for anyone put Perry to win Iowa, making it a 3-way race.  Meanwhile, Cain and Bachman go all in with a mix of positive and attacks on the front-runner.

5.  Close to the election, Santorum gets an unexpected boost (i.e. endorcement by Huckabee)

6.  Polls show that prior to caucus day the race is close.  They show multiple candidates in the mix.  When it comes to election night, Santorum voters show up in higher numbers than expected (as was the case for the straw poll), and speak more passionatly for their candidate.  In rural areas, voters show up and talk about how Santorum was there when others were not. As a result, Santorum’s actual vote is about 3-5% higher than he was polling.

7.  In a surprise, Santorum wins Iowa with a narrow victory, giving him a jolt of fundraising and significant media attention.  He responds to it well.  Gingrich drops out.

8.  Rick Perry misteps and does a Howard Dean.

9.  Romney wins NH and NV; Bachman drops out, as does Huntsman.  Perry sees he will lose FL and SC, and does not want Romney to win.  He drops out and campaigns for Santorum.  Demint and Rubio endorces Santorum

10.  Santorum wins FL, and SC

11. Money and endorcements come in for Santorum

12.  Romney goes all in, spends big, and tries to win before Santorum can put a national network.

13.  Romney goes on a winning spree, winning every state in February; he wins several more endorcemens;

14.  Right before Super Tuesday McCain, Palin, and others endorce Santorum.

15. On super Tuesday, Santorum wins Alaska, Georgia, Ohio, Tennesse, Texas, and Virginia, which is considered a super-tuesday surprise.  Santorum wins support from most who have not yet endorced.  Funding slows for Romney, and rises for Santorum.

16.  Santorum then wins Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Missouri, and Louisana, Romney wins most of the rest.  however, Romney starts spending down his money for these wins.

17.  Although Romney would normally win most of the states through April — Romney’s cash advantage is gone, and momentum is against him.  Even though most April states should go to Romney, he loses a few, and Santorum wins nearly every state in May.

18.  By this point Romney has cut off his campaign or run out of his own money he can input.  His base of contributers is maxed or tapped, and Santorum’s base (that gave little or nothing early on), will donate at levels beyond what they did for his 2006 Senate loss (Santorum raised well over $20 million for his Senate bid in 2006).  Santorum show fundraising results better than Romney for Jan – March, raising over $20 million, as he did for his Senate campaign.  The same numbers show Romney –minus his own contributions — was outraised by Santorum, and that they are on equal financial footing.

19.  Santorum takes momentum and squeeks out a nomination win. 

20.  Santorum then wins the Presidential nomination and saves the country (#20 is applicable for any GOP winner)

 

As can be seen:

  1. This is a long-shot.  Winning Iowa is no easy goal.   Santorum’s only path is to make himself the canddiate for social conservatives (as Huckabee did).  If he does that, he wins Iowa, and with it has crossed the first great hurdle.  Even then, however, winning in FL and SC is no easy task.  Santorum, somehow needs to at the same time for (1) Perry to drop out before those contests, and (2) for Perry to support and endorce him.  Santorum’s best bet here is for Perry and Romney to go at it hard; for Perry to lose; and for Perry and Santorum to keep a good relationship.  Good enough that Perry will get mad at Romney, and want to support Santorum.  Even then, a 1 one 1 fight with Romney is no easy battle.
  2. Although extremely unlikely for Santorum to win, it is at the same time highly likely for the Right to pick a candidate to compete against Romney.  Currently, that candidate is most likely Perry.  If Perry looks like he will not win against Romney, or the Right does not like him, they will pick someone new.  Santorum is the most reliable of existing choices.   He is a consistant conservative, in the expected election environment he could beat Obama, and he could beat Romney.  As an ex-senator, he meets the qualifications.  While not the perfect candidate, he is the best of the alternatives due to fatal flaws in the other alternatives.  A- the right is not going to bet on unreliable Gingrich, B- Bachman and Cain have already shown themselves prone to gafts and as too extreme in one way or another to win, c- Paul is a nonstarter.  If Perry falls, this leaves Santorum as the most likely guy for them to back.  Unlike Huckabee in 2008, Santorum is more broadly acceptable to conservatives (aka he did not raise taxes), and will not get the same club-for-growth veto.  This means Santorum could carry the social conservatives’s banner and also win over fiscal conservatives.
  3. The hope for Santorum, and his strength is that his weakness (that he lost in 2006) is far less bad the the weaknesses of his oppponents.  In 2006, the GOP lost Virginia, Ohio, and a number of other states that it won in the past.  The loss of Santorum’s Senate seat will be viewed in that light.  Allen will likely be renominated in VA, after loosing in 2006.  2006 was an extraordinary year against the GOP; whereas 2012 should be a great one.  Santorum won PA in 2000, when Bush lost.  The fact that he lost PA in 2006 — the same year the GOP lost senate seats in OH and VA, will not be a deal breaker.  Since that is the sole reason Santorum is 3rd tier, Santorum is far more likely to win the nomination than are folks like Cain, Bachman, Gingrich, and Paul who won easy elections.  Santorum won hard elections, and his loss was in a blue state, in a blue year, against Bob Casey — the most popular politician in PA by a mile.

 

 

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