Is Santorum the GOP’s next man up? By Neil W. McCabe

20140902-012710.jpg
If it is true that the Republican Party presidential nomination process, boiled down to its essence, simply picks the next man who earned his turn, then its 2016 nominee will be former Pennsylvania senator Richard J.
Santorum.
Santorum finished second to former Massachusetts governor W. Mitt Romney, and as the last man standing against Romney suspended his campaign on the eve of his home state’s primary—effectively locking down the nomination for Romney.
Of course, conservatives were told Romney had earned the 2012 nomination because as the toughest rival to Sen. John S. McCain III (R.-Ariz.) in 2008, Romney took the dive and endorsed McCain at the 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference, doing for the former POW what Santorum would do for him four years hence.
The chief difference between Romney in 2008 and Santorum in 2012 is Romney.
One of the deals inside the 2008 McCain-Romney treaty was that Romney’s top aides got jobs with McCain. It is a standard arrangement, but is assumes that Romney’s old staff wanted McCain to win. They did not—especially after McCain picks former Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his vice-president.
Certainly none of the negative leaks about Palin during that campaign came from another who wanted McCain to win—and potentially put Romney into the wilderness for another eight years.
In 2012, Santorum agreed to campaign for Romney, but because of Romney’s insecurity around conservatives or his intent to win without owning anyone a favor, Santorum was benched.
But, to be fair, at least Santorum was invited to the convention. Palin, who in an afternoon did more to make McCain president than anyone in the Romney camp, was told to stay away.
By going it alone, President Romney would have been free to raise taxes, grant amnesty to illegal aliens and restrict gun rights. But, by going it alone, Romney lost to President Barack Obama 332 to 206 electoral votes.
Any combination of 64 additional electoral votes would have given Romney the White House.
Obama barely beat Romney in four states, where Santorum outpolled him, Colorado, 52 percent; Iowa, 52 percent; Minnesota, 53 percent and Wisconsin, 53 percent. Those four states bring 35 votes to the table.
There are four other states, where Santorum finished second to Romney, where he could have made serious impact: Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Those states total 64 electoral votes.
The Left vilified Santorum for his support of traditional marriage, but in Maryland the traditional marriage referendum outpolled Romney by 12 points.
In Michigan, Santorum’s strength upstate would have driven GOP voter turnout, in a state that is the first place Reagan Democrats were discovered and where Obama won with 54 percent.
Santorum came in second to Romney in his home state after the former senator had withdrawn from the race. Again, it was a state where Obama polled just below 52 percent. The president garnered 300,000 fewer votes than he received in 2008, but Romney added to McCain’s by only 35,000 votes.
Ohio is another state Romney could have used Santorum’s help. Obama won only 16 of Ohio’s 88 counties, but those counties were home to the state’s six largest cities, Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.
In the Ohio Republican Primary, Romney outpolled Santorum in 11 of those 16 counties, which reminds us that throughout that nomination race, Romney rang up big margins in areas that would go to the president in November.
Romney’s 12,000-vote margin over Santorum was 1 percent of the total vote, so the idea that Santorum would not have brought big guns to the fight is absurd.
In the end, Romney in 2012 followed the same twisted path as Charlie Baker travelled in 2010 in his run against Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick, a man like Obama clearly over his head.
Against Patrick, Baker sought to go it alone, while eschewing conservative values and goals. Just as Baker’s self-centered approach doomed the Bay State to another four years of Patrick’s bungling, Romney’s decision to bench Santorum has sentenced the United States to four more years of corrosive politics, looting of the Treasury and the painful unraveling of the peace and prosperity around the globe.
In 2016, Santorum will not be a new player on the national stage. With four years to exploit his lessons from the 2012, the former Pennsylvania senator has a great shot to not only be the GOP nominee, but win the White House.
Afterall, all he has to do is win where Romney won and win where he won and he is in.

Leave a Reply