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The underestimation of Rick Santorum and how powerful a candidate and problem he could be for Barack Obama

I have seen a strange spirit of fear and anxiety throughout this nomination fight.  Those fearing that whomever gets the nod, how the vaunted Obama machine will destroy our candidates.  Then there is the hand-wringing over potential head-to-head polling matchups of each of the candidates vs. Obama.  Worst of all, the nastiness and vitriol between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich has done much damage to to their public image and makes one wonder if either of these guys is really cut out to be president.  On one hand you have Mitt Romney whom but all has the nomination shown up after Florida only to remind conservatives that he (with the willing consent of the establishment) really intends to pull the GOP leftward if he is the president.   Then you have Gingrich who after some sterling debate performances in South Carolina, reveals his very thin skin when he is attacked like he had in Iowa and he did again in Florida.   If Gingrich reacts to being attacked like he has been from Romney, just imagine his caterwauling when he gets hit by Obama.  Lo and behold, the door of opportunity has been opened to Rick Santorum who has handled himself in a dignified way, even in the face of some very cruel attacks from the media regarding his stillborn child.  When confronted about his support for earmarks that my man Rick Perry hit him with, he simply said “I’m not perfect.”  Should we give this guy a chance and unite around him?

I have my reservations about Santorum and many here have cited his past positions on votes and positions that he has taken during his time in Congress.  Big government conservatism has proven to be costly to our nation.  Keep in mind that the Tea Party movement didn’t get started until the Democrats started their push to get Obamacare signed into law.  Before then, our nation was mostly asleep to the financial peril that had been wrought by our leaders in Washington for quite some time before that.  Rick Santorum was in office when this was going on.  So long as the economy was good, things would be okay.  Then we woke up from our slumber staring at a government and legislation that would plunge our country into a financial abyss.

The one thing that I do know about Santorum is that he is a good man who takes a stand for things he believes in whether you agree with him or not.  Also, there is something truly American about how his presidential campaign has been.  Shoestring budget, little organization, dogged perseverance, tireless and grinding campaigning on the ground, hardly a presence on the airwaves but never giving up and keeping at it.  Given that his win in Iowa and his recent tri-state sweep in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado has turned some heads, people are paying attention to him.  And Mitt Romney is praying Newt Gingrich, the man whom his super PACs and campaign have been ruthlessly attacking him, stays in the race.

Santorum’s idea of going with a 0% corporate tax rate for manufacturing companies to jump start the Rust Belt is going to definitely perk some ears in Michigan and Ohio once voters there look at him which they are probably already doing.  But there is an awful omen for Mitt Romney starting to percolate.  The South is starting to look hard at Santorum too.  Santorum is up in Tennessee with the latest polling there.  Reason stands that if Santorum is up in Tennsessee, he probably is up in Ohio as well.  It will be interesting to see what polling is taking place in other Super Tuesday states in the South.  If Santorum wins Michigan (which PPP states that he has indeed pulled ahead) and pulls off a Super Tuesday sweep save Vermont and Massachusetts, he will be the nominee.  The South figured to be Gingrich territory but with Gingrich cratering everywhere in the polls, if it comes down between Romney and Santorum and Santorum takes the Midwest and the South, game over.

When I think about the challenge that Rick Santorum could pose to Barack Obama, I see a lot of advantages.  Beside all of Barack Obama’s presidential baggage that Santorum would no doubt remind voters of, Obama wouldn’t be able to go with the 1% tax the rich narrative that his campaign would love to hit Romney with, he would be hammered in regards to Obamacare and wouldn’t have Romneycare to save him, the recent debacle that Obama tried to pull with the HHS forcing churches to provide birth control as part of health coverage takes the social issue platform off the table, Obama’s weak foreign policy, I could go on and on.  Bottom line, the light of scrutiny would fall on Obama’s time in office and the shape our country economically is in.  Imperfect as Santorum is on a few things, he would be very difficult to attack in a general election.  Conservatives would no doubt be behind him, but his crossover appeal to blue collar union social conservative Democrats (the Reagan Democrats) could pose a very real problem for the Obama campaign.  There is a huge segment of this voting faction that doesn’t succumb to union strong arm thuggery. I speak as someone who has some friends and family in this faction.  The Obama campaign has to be worried about independents that he has been polling around 35% approval for a year now but if their union support is fractured, Obama is candidate for a landslide defeat.

Santorum-Rubio would be an awfully tough ticket.  So why are we afraid of Santorum getting the nod again?

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