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Why Rick Santorum's Insurgency is Now Running on Fumes
The New Republic ^ | February 28, 2012 | Walter Shapiro

Posted on 02/28/2012 8:38:14 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet

Livonia, Michigan—Rick Santorum is running on fumes. His is the curse of insurgent presidential campaigns—too much passion and too little sleep.

You could hear it in his voice Monday morning talking to a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Livonia as the decibel level grew higher, the diction grew muddier, and the logorrhea grew more obvious. An open-ended question on Social Security prompted a nine-minute Santorum monologue. Challenged from the audience about whether he was too conservative for the general election, Santorum out of nowhere unleashed a vicious non sequitur: “They mock conservatives, that’s what the media does. They mock the values that built this country.”

By any conventional measure, there is no Santorum campaign beyond his allied Super PAC and the bare infrastructure that makes his TV ads. Otherwise, it’s just the candidate winging it, as he did during the dark days in rural Iowa speaking to sparse crowds at the local Pizza Ranch.

This has not, for the most part, been an edifying spectacle. Impulsively deciding to counter Thursday’s Mitt Romney economic speech on the 30-yard-line of Ford Field, Santorum announced that he would be talking about his economic agenda late Friday night in a Knights of Columbus hall in Lincoln Park. The roughly 100 culture warriors (including fifteen nuns in full habit) waiting for Santorum expected a fiery attack on Obama and liberal permissiveness—not the 55-minute economic policy seminar on taxes, government regulation, and the plight of manufacturing that they received.

The Michigan primary is the first high-stakes presidential contest in history that is a battle between two candidates each with MBAs and law degrees. But while Romney's campaign demonstrates the professionalism that you would expect with that pedigree, Santorum’s campaign is so amateurish that I feel almost tempted to pitch in with advance work just to uphold the traditional standards of presidential politics.

To weaken Santorum's insurgency, Romney hasn't even had to incite another round of Super PAC air wars, which were demonstrably more vicious in the skies over South Carolina and Florida. It was easy enough to simply goad Santorum into wasting endless time and energy trying to justify himself on ludicrous topics like supporting his home-state colleague, Arlen Specter, for chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005. Listening to Santorum’s filibuster-length answers, I realized that you can take a man out of the Senate, but you can’t take the Senate out of the man.

Santorum's tragedy is that his campaign's lack of professionalism has undermined real advantages. Foremost among them are the manifest weaknesses of Mitt Romney himself. This is a candidate so uninspiring that he can’t even pull off a home-state Michigan pander. (At the Ford Field event in front of 65,000 empty seats, Romney burbled, “You know the trees are the right height, the streets are just right.” Ann Romney, in contrast, was dead-on by invoking a beloved local ginger ale: “If you cut us open and we bleed—we bleed Vernor’s.”)

Over the weekend, I spent two days interviewing Republicans at the Senate Coney Island in Livonia, which is a Greek diner (tip: great rice pudding) with its roots as a Depression-era hot-dog stand. Gary Cockfield, who runs an online business and lives in Redford Township, is my nominee for the emblematic Michigan Romney voter. When I interrupted him midway through a ham-and-cheese omelet Sunday to ask who he was voting for in the primary, Cockfield replied in the resigned tone of someone facing major dental surgery, “Probably Romney.” Even though Romney would probably carry the Senate Coney Island vote, the mention of his name prompted a bridge of sighs.

By contrast, Republican voters here have described Santorum to me again and again as “a genuine guy.” That's not to say that he's an exemplar of blue-collar America, a twenty-first century version of Archie Bunker. But because he did represent a dying-steel-mill congressional district and an industrial state, Santorum is able to exude man-of-the-people authenticity. Indeed, the threat from Santorum seems to have provoked Romney into a series of I’m-rich-and-you’re-not blunders. It’s not every week that a presidential candidate brags about his wife’s multiple Cadillacs and then after making a political pilgrimage to the Daytona 500 ruefully admits that he doesn’t follow racing closely, “but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”

But though Santorum can speak movingly about the plight of displaced steelworkers in western Pennsylvania, he has never managed to coherently counter the GOP's reigning ideology, which rejects all attacks on the wealthy and their cushy tax rates as “class warfare.” The craving that many Michigan voters have for a Pat Buchanan-style right-wing populist has thus been left unsated.

In any case, Santorum has had too little money and too little sleep to plan a coherent Michigan campaign against Romney. That is the problem when the candidate is running a seat-of-the-pants campaign long on improvisation and short of strategic coherence. I am reminded of a fatigued John McCain who marred his 2000 New Hampshire primary upset of George W. Bush by picking a needless fight with Jerry Falwell going into the South Carolina primary. Howard Dean in 2004 also exemplifies this model. That is why, up until now, no under-funded and under-staffed insurgent has won a presidential nomination since Jimmy Carter.

What we do know on the eve of the Michigan primary is that Romney has been lucky in two spheres —in his business career and in the caliber of his 2012 primary opposition. Michigan may be Romney’s ancestral home, but this has turned into a primary made to order for a candidate like Santorum. If money and organizational muscle pull Romney into the winner’s circle Tuesday night, then it is Santorum—the tribune of Rust Belt Republican values—who should be haunted by might-have-beens.


TOPICS: Michigan; Pennsylvania; Campaign News; Parties
KEYWORDS: kenyanbornmuzzie; michigan; mittromney; newtgingrich; republicans; ricksantorum; romney; santorum
Comments?
1 posted on 02/28/2012 8:38:25 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I do not think so. Santorum is doing a great job.”New Republic” is liberal rag.


2 posted on 02/28/2012 8:41:38 PM PST by U-238
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The New Liberal saying Santorum will lose?

Wow, what a surprise!


3 posted on 02/28/2012 8:42:31 PM PST by struggle (http://killthegovernment.wordpress.com/)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Santorum put all his eggs in one basket and tried to knock out Romney. If you are going to shoot the King, kill the king. I think this benefits Gingrich as he secured major delegates next week in Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.


4 posted on 02/28/2012 8:44:02 PM PST by MattinNJ (I will not vote for Romney)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

lets see New republic=commie rag
and he lost by% in MI.. running on fumes NOPE


5 posted on 02/28/2012 8:46:17 PM PST by markman46 (engage brain before using keyboard!!!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Funny. This Commie Pinko at this Leftist rag had the opposite thing to say a couple weeks ago,..

“Why Santorum’s Not Going Away Anytime Soon”

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/100572/shapiro-why-santorum%E2%80%99s-not-going-away-anytime-soon

I don’t know if this dude noticed, but Rick really damaged Romney in this. Romney was looking deranged today. Not the image of the heir apparent to the establishment GOP nomination. Santorum is also up in OH and a few other contests next Tuesday. I think good ol’ Rick can keep his voice till then.


6 posted on 02/28/2012 8:47:05 PM PST by Lazlo in PA (Now living in a newly minted Red State.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

All I can gather from this endless process is that the right can’t make up its mind on a candidate, and that indecision is likely going to leave us with Mitt Romney, who is a heel.

I really have no idea if Mittens can defeat Obama should he get the nod, but my gut tells me he can’t.


7 posted on 02/28/2012 8:47:24 PM PST by chris37 (Heartless.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

His appeal is basically that he isnt Romney and that he is super religious.

Past that you should not expect much.


8 posted on 02/28/2012 8:50:36 PM PST by VanDeKoik (If case you are wondering, I'm supporting Newt.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

We are getting down to the hour.


9 posted on 02/28/2012 8:51:31 PM PST by Berlin_Freeper (Cometh the hour, cometh the man. NEWT GINGRICH 2012)
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To: MattinNJ
I think this benefits Gingrich as he secured major delegates next week in Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Can you enlighten me to how Newt already secured delegates in contests that haven't happened yet? BTW, Newt is at 10% in TN. Behind even Paul. Santorum is at 33%, Romney 17% and Paul 12%. How is Newt going to turn that around in 6 days?

10 posted on 02/28/2012 8:52:36 PM PST by Lazlo in PA (Now living in a newly minted Red State.)
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To: VanDeKoik

Both “Aces” in my book.


11 posted on 02/28/2012 8:57:35 PM PST by doc1019 (Romney will never get my vote!)
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To: Lazlo in PA

Calm down. Jim picked Newt over your guy and everyone who posts for Newt, you have a melt down. It’s pitiful. :)


12 posted on 02/28/2012 9:06:27 PM PST by SaraJohnson
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To: Lazlo in PA

We should follow whatever the New Liberal press tells us to do.

Where’s the barf alert? This thread deserves one.


13 posted on 02/28/2012 9:17:45 PM PST by LeopoldvonRanke
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Hi, 2D,

I think I could have written this column!

I agree his PAC is excellent, and more so than the candidate, who is simply not seasoned enough to match the expertise and excellence of that PAC.

That NASCAR buy was brilliant!

Rick has benefited by Romney money smashing Newt.

But when you think about it, it would be settled by now in Romney’s favor, but for the PACS, as they are all that has kept Romney’s three opponents in the race at all and this long.

This was also alluded to on one of the cable panels this evening.


14 posted on 02/28/2012 9:32:24 PM PST by RitaOK (LET 'ER RIP, NEWT. Newt knows where all the bodies are buried, because he buried them.)
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To: MattinNJ

I hope you are right about Newt. Go Newt!


15 posted on 02/28/2012 9:46:00 PM PST by SaraJohnson
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

My thought is that Newt and Santorum both need to stay in this race. They are both good candidates and either an acceptable standard bearer for the GOP. I think that between them, they can still take enough delegates to stop Romney. Whatever is wrong with the majority of the GOP base? How can this RINO Romney be accomplishing this? How can we be so taken in by attack ads? Romney is destroying the republican party, no one should be supporting him. I don’t get it.


16 posted on 02/28/2012 9:48:45 PM PST by erkelly (Never underestimate the stupidity of the stupid party!)
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To: MattinNJ

I believe “secured” is the wrong word to use for something that is going to happen in the future.

At the moment, Gingrich looks to pick up a good number of the Georgia delegates. He was trailing pretty far behind Santorum and Romney in Tennessee, but there is a week left. I haven’t seen the Oklahoma polling numbers.

There weren’t many delegates in Michigan, and it looks like Santorum got half of them. The question is whether 5000 voters is more important than the number of delegates.

If this makes Santorum look unelectable, it could damage him where he is now leading — Tennessee and Ohio, and maybe other places; it could also knock him out of 2nd place in Georgia, costing him delegates there.

If on the other hand he gets a good night’s sleep, and is seen not as a loser but as competitor that came within a few thousand votes of knocking off Romney in his “home” state, that could embolden support in the states he is currently winning, which would mean he’d have a fair number of delegates after Super Tuesday.

By “not competing”, Gingrich probably saves himself some grief. On the other hand, he won 1 state, got crushed in the next two states he fought for, and then dropped out for 5 state contests in a row. For better or worse, on the news he is treated as an afterthought. If that means he surprises people, it’s great. If that means people will forget about him except in a couple of southern states, he’ll be done.

This was probably the worst situation for beating Romney. Santorum didn’t “win”, so Romney is counted as a “winner”. But Santorum didn’t get crushed, so it doesn’t really help Gingrich.


17 posted on 02/28/2012 10:15:12 PM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: MattinNJ

Agree. Possibly Oh as well. Santorum thought he saw a weakness in mittens and went all in. Alas he come up a wee bit short. He may not recover.

OH on Super Tuesday will tell.


18 posted on 02/28/2012 10:15:33 PM PST by Bailee (Vote Newt the Pitt bull we need.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

GO NEWT!


19 posted on 02/28/2012 10:18:26 PM PST by upsdriver (We Tea Partiers need Sarah Palin for president.)
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To: RitaOK

Did the casino owner give Newt’s PAC the extra $100 million yet or won’t we know until the next quarter’s FEC filings?


20 posted on 02/28/2012 10:28:55 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (You can't invade the US. There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.~Admiral Yamamoto)
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To: All
An open-ended question on Social Security prompted a nine-minute Santorum monologue.

Keep it simple stupid...

21 posted on 02/29/2012 5:17:15 AM PST by Doofer (Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...
Note: this topic is from 2/28/2012. Thanks 2ndDivisionVet.
Sounds like some pretty strong fumes.


22 posted on 03/14/2012 7:47:41 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.)
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