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Let’s all surge for the least scrutinized not-Romney

Let’s all surge for the least scrutinized not-Romney

Rick Santorum has lived in Iowa for months, visiting every county, street, house, coffee shop, bakery, and front porch waiting for his time to come.  It may have arrived, if the recent polling is indicative of reality.

But because Santorum’s surge comes just days before the caucuses, he is the least scrutinized not-Romney candidate.  Whereas Newt underwent a full month of what David Limbaugh calls the “relentless, unmeasured scorched-earth savagery” of the Republican establishment, Santorum has led the life unexamined in this election cycle.

Santorum has no organization outside of Iowa; while Newt and Perry were criticized (rightly) for not making the Virginia ballot, Santorum either didn’t try or didn’t try very hard.  I agree with Erick Erickson that “any surge by Rick Santorum is another factor ensuring Mitt Romney wins the nomination” because Santorum has no structure for moving forward.

With no proven record of raising money (Newt is reporting $9 million this quarter and Perry raised a lot more when he was hot) and no organization, Santorum is a surge which cannot last beyond Iowa.

It’s as if the mad scientists in the Romney campaign concocted the perfect foil, someone they didn’t need to attack because he was their best means of preventing candidates with name recognition, organizations and money from succeeding, with no chance of succeeding himself.

And now that he is surging, it’s not at all clear Santorum could survive scrutiny.

Rick Perry just started running ads regarding Santorum’s earmarks when he was Senator, and Erickson points to many aspects of Santorum’s Senate record which are problematic; I’m not agreeing that these are problems, I haven’t done the research myself, it’s just that we only are starting to hear about the negatives.

We hear ad naseum that Newt is unacceptable because he backed Dede Scozzafava in NY-23, but Santorum backed Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in 2004.

Santorum is in favor of federal medical malpractice limits (how is that conservative?) but his wife sued for an amount in excess of those limits at the same time Santorum was pushing the legislation.  This article from 2006 lists 20 reasons not to vote for Santorum from a liberal perspective; most of the reasons make Santorum attractive to conservatives, but several raise as-yet unexplored issues which are problematic, like this explanation of child sexual abuse by priests:

Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture.  When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected.  While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.

I’m not writing Rick Santorum off or saying he could not be the conservative answer to Romney.  But I’d be a lot more comfortable if Santorum’s surge came a month ago.

Just a few minutes (literally) of internet research tells me there is a lot we don’t know about Santorum, a lot of issues which have not been vetted, and a lot of potential surprises if he surges to be the last not-Romney standing.

Update:  Here’s Perry’s radio ad against Santorum (via ElectAd):


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Mr. Jacobson said, “while Newt and Perry were criticized (rightly) for not making the Virginia ballot”

Whoa, stop right there. I’m still not convinced what went down in VA was legit. There is the appearance of shadiness there, and a clear motive. Regarding the facts of the matter, there are still too many conflicting reports, so I’ll leave it at this. Are we to believe that both Newt and Perry were that incompetent? The only two guys who could seriously compete against Mitt? One would be believable, both, that is hard to believe.

Regarding your comparison of Santorum’s endorsement of Specter vs. Newt’s endorsement of Dede, that is not the same thing. Specter played a key role in getting Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court. There were NO redeeming qualities in Dede.

    Estragon in reply to Astroman. | December 30, 2011 at 12:56 am

    “Conflicting reports” on Virginia? Yeah, there is all the disinformation put out against the process, and there are the facts. It took no time at all to find out nothing untoward happened concerning rules. In fact, the rules were tougher in 2008 when six Republicans and even Denis Kucinich qualified.

    So your “conflict” is between hysterical fools who jumped the gun before they knew the situation because, hey, it’s always a conspiracy, isn’t it? – and the facts.

    Take your time. It will come to you.

It doesn’t matter anymore. the only thing that can stop Romney now is voting. We need to take this party back before its too late and the consultants kills us.

In my mind there are only 3 real candidates left, Perry, Newt and Romney. Michele and Santorum need to give up the ghost so we can consolidate and focus on the real enemy.

I certainly agree with your assessment of Santorum, professor. If he finishes strong in Iowa, second or third (I doubt he will win it…but who knows? There are five days left), he will help Romney and damage Newt and Perry (Bachmann is likely finished next Tuesday) while not emerging as a viable alternative to Romney on the national scene. He has very little money and next to no presence in New Hampshire. The strong Iowa showing will help him raise funds and give him a little boost in New Hampshire, but not much. Ultimately, Romney is the net winner here.

But, I don’t quite understand your overall logic. You have passionately argued that no one should vote for Romney based on the electability argument (you’ve challanged the validity of that argument, but even if it’s true, it seems like you’ve argued that people shouldn’t base their vote solely on it). But now you seem to be saying that conservatives shouldn’t back Santorum because he’s not vetted (true) and should go with Newt because he is a more viable alternative to Romney. Isn’t this the same argument as the one Romney supporters make, except transferred to the primaries?

Maybe people are supporting Santorum simply because they like him and not merely to express their “Not Romney” sympathies?. Just maybe…

    Henry Hawkins in reply to BurkeanBadger. | December 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    In terms of social conservatism and family issues, Santorum is tailor made for Iowa and I’d wondered why he hadn’t done better.

Santorum has a miserable position on illegal immigration which is a deal breaker for me.

I’m now solidly in the the Romney camp and hopefully this mess will be finished by March. I’m tired of all the mudslinging, craziness and general BS already!

Let’s look at this logically if if so, only one candidate stands out…

Windy City Commentary | December 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Believe it or not, it is Rich Lowry and National Review who started the hyping of the Santorum surge, last week; before the latest polls showing Santorum in 3rd place in Iowa. There is no way, that National Review would ever endorse Santorum over Romney, but they are so cynical and calculating as always, they are trying to hype Santorum to extract votes away from Newt.

If Santorum ever gets close to being competitive against Romney, National Review will whip out their long knives against Rick, just like they did Newt. Their main argument will be that Santorum is unelectable in the General Election, and they will put together the case.

Spirit Crusher | December 29, 2011 at 3:39 pm

The choice is now in the hands of the republican primary voters, which is where it should be.

I have no intention of supporting Romney or Gingrich in the Primary because they don’t represent a governing mentality that I can support. I’m casting my lot for Rick Perry because despite his numerous deficiencies he is more in line my ideological outlook that any of the other candidates.

It’s a weak field and the choices are dismal, but I’m hopeful that republicans will not choose Romney or Gingrich because they are not the men to stem the tide of the growing power of the state. I refuse to fall in line behind those that argue that good management will solve our problems.

Goldwater said it best:

“I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden.”

Romney and Gingrich are the anti-Goldwater, and their writings, speeches and actions prove it. I’ll support either of them in the general against Obama, but I can’t do so in the primary. At least Gingrich campaigns with a high degree of good cheer, optimism and positivity. Romney, on the other hand, is a vicious political operator that has shown very little integrity or forthrightness.

That said, Professor Jacobson, thank you for your wonderful anti-establishment analysis and refusal to shill based on notions of electability or inevitability.

As Santorum is subject to closer scrutiny, it will become clear what those of us from PA already know: he is unelectable. He was solidly repudiated by PA when he lost his re-election bid to the senate. The more you get to know Santorum, he less you will like him as a candidate.

One problem with Newt is that I think he is so polarizing a candidate that should he win the nomination he might drive moderate voters to support democrat candidates in the house a senate races as a means of establishing a check on Newt. Getting Obama out is priority #1, but keeping the house and taking senate are a close second.

    As Santorum is subject to closer scrutiny, it will become clear what those of us from PA already know: he is unelectable. He was solidly repudiated by PA when he lost his re-election bid to the senate. The more you get to know Santorum, he less you will like him as a candidate.

    Indeed. Back when he was a senator, I noticed one Santorum gaffe after another–and I’m in MA, not PA. What the media did to Quayle & Palin they would do in spades to Santorum.

Santorum may have supported Spector in 2004, but that was before Spector [a RINO at best] returned to the democrat party. And he was the incumbent. If he had supported Toomey in 2004, would Toomey have won? Who knows. Who remembers? Who cares? This is 2012 and the message must be ABO, unless it is Paul, in which case I will move to Canada like Alec Baldwin promised he would do if W won a second term.

I am surprised people are scare of Gingrich’s Marital issues. I could run a series of devastating ads against Obama about him arming the Mexican drug cartels.

Alright I am 2x divorced, but I didn’t murder any mexicans.

When I was younger I would have sex with women who ware throwing themselves at me, But I didn’t give the drug cartels you are trying to get your kids hooked on crack guns

I pay lots of my own money in child support and alimony, but I have never used tax dollars to try and tax down the lawful government of mexico

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I agree with Erick Erickson that “any surge by Rick Santorum is another factor ensuring Mitt Romney wins the nomination” because Santorum has no structure for moving forward.

Erick’s post reeked of petulance that someone other than his favorite not-Mitt might be depriving his candidate of votes.

You point out valid reasons for not supporting Rick Santorum, but just like Erickson’s post, do nothing to convince me that Newt (and whomever Erick supports) is going to be any better than Mitt.

Well, it is rather like trying to sell you just one of several used Buicks.


At a certain point don’t you just have to call it as it is. The campaign has lasted a year. Santorum’s been running since March, Newt since May, Bachmann since June, Perry since August. Throw Cain in as well if you want.

All of them have ha dtheir moments and opportunities. Cain, Newt, and Perry all enjoyed natl leads in double figures and even bigger leads in IA, SC, and FL.

Bachmann won the IA straw poll, Cain won the FL straw poll. All of them have gotten media exposure and have all been heavily promoted as the alternative to Romney. THey’ve all gotten to on FOX and other conservative outlets including talk radio. They’ve all been able to make their case.

And yet, at this point, after a year of campaigning, I think it’s fair to say that all of them have failed. None have succeeded. They’ve all had their time and fallen back. None have been able to sustain support, enthusiasm, excitement, etc… None of them have had events with huge crowds, none of have raked in big money even to the level that Giuliani and McCain did in 07, none have gathered tons of conservative support behind them.

Is that Romney’s fault? Is it his fault the 45-50% or so of oflks who don’t want him have been split 4 or 5 ways the whole campaign? Is it his fault Perry is an awful debater and ruined his campaign in them? Is it his fault Cain apparently covered up an important part of his past and then had no idea how to deal with it? Is it his fault that Newt took money from Freddie Mac, has 3 wives and is well known being an adulterer and basically having no morals, has all the baggage he does?

Is it Romney’s fault no major conservatives have endorsed any of his opponents? I can think of many names out there who may have made a big difference by now. DeMint, Huckabee, Limbaugh, Levin, Rubio, Cantor, Ryan, West, Daniels, etc… And of course the biggie Gov Palin. None of them endorsed.

Meanwhile the establishment has lined up firmly behind Romney. He has new endorsements every few days.

None of the others have any endorsements. What does it say that no one endorsed Newt despite his huge poll success? That no one has endorsed Perry since early September? That no one has endorsed Bachmann, not even any of the other 23 GOP women in the House?

Many are complaining about Romney but none are doing anything about it. If Rush is convinced the establishment wants Romney and is against it, why doesn’t he endorse someone. His support the past few weeks or months could well have been the difference between what he have now with the vote split 4 ways and one conservative having emerged and being solidly ahead of Romney. Same with DeMint, Huckabee, Palin, etc…

Maybe they’re just not inspired by anyone in the field, but again, is that Romney’s fault? Yes the establishsment and Romney have gone negative and launched attacks but that’s what politics is about. Everyone else has had the same opportunity to go negative and attack Romney. Obama was attacked plenty by Clinton in 07 and he still won.

The facts show that voters out there have been dying for someone to emerge against Romney. They’ve been begging for someone. And so far, no one in the field has delivered. None of them have gotten the job done.

Now, maybe it’s not too late and someone new can get in and pick up the flag(I for one think Huckabee could announce tomorrow that he’s running in IA and he’d win the caucuses comfortably), but it’s looking like the current field just isn’t up to the task. It’s looking like come the night of Jan 10, conservatives will have to decide whether to accept the Romney fait accompli or to draft someone else and all get behind him(or her), unite as one, and beat Romney like he is eminently capable of being beaten.

    Perhaps we should skip voting, and just let the media take polls for us. Perhaps we should be good boys and girls and let the people in the know — you know, those in whose personal political or media careers interests it is to endorse a particular candidate — just tell us who it’s going to be.

    holmes tuttle in reply to holmes tuttle. | December 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Romney is doing well because the etsablishment/moderate/beltway wing has one candidate and they’re all behind him. The non-Romney wing has been consistently larger than the Romney wing by around a 2-1 margin, but it is divided into 4 or more pieces at the moment. If this continues Romney will win despite being vastly outnumbered.

    Conservatives need to decide quick and they need to make this a 1 on 1 race where everyone opposed to Romney can all rally behind behind one guy(or gal). Then they’ll be in good shape.

    The longer this goes on without that happening, the better for Romney.

    The same thing won it for McCain in 08. The anti-McCain vote was split between Romney/Huckabee/Thompsn for long enough to allow McCain to win NH, SC, FL and much of Super Tuesday. If there had been one solid alternative to McCain in 08, the outcome would have been different. It looks like history is about to repeat itself.

      valleyforge in reply to holmes tuttle. | December 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm

      The 2008 conservative alternative was widely viewed to be Romney after South Carolina. The primary calendar, winner-take-all, and Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement of McCain did him in. But what if Romney had won? Why was he the conservative hero in 2008 but not in 2012? If anything he’s doubled his time as a consistent conservative and should be even more trustworthy now. So why do you think Gingrich or Perry would still be viewed as conservative in 2016?

    Is it Romney’s fault…

    Actually, yes. Romney machine has been pouring money and promises at politicians and media, and campaigning for years, and yet few really want him. It is a matter of expediency. Why those you have named have NOT endorsed Romney. Is that how you want to choose a president?

    Not a Mitt fan, at all, and will not vote for him in primary. That being said, I think your comment is one heck of a comment — well written, well thought out, dead on, makes a point, and is worthy of being an article somewhere. It is the best comment I have read in months for not only being well written, but because it looks at the going-in-circles discussion from a different and comprehensible perspective. Thank you.

    I for one second the assessment that Huckabee could do very well in Iowa even with entering at this late date. He was my first choice in 2008.

    valleyforge in reply to holmes tuttle. | December 30, 2011 at 12:09 am

    You make an excellent point about lack of big conservative endorsements. So what are Palin, DeMint et al waiting for? No doubt they were waiting to see who would prove themselves presidential material and capable of going the distance. Perry and Gingrich are both close to that threshold, but Perry’s debate gaffes and Gingrich’s inability to defend Fannie Mae work and other indiscretions have given them pause. If one of them won Iowa it’s a good bet the endorsements would start rolling. But if Santorum leads the conservative pack out of Iowa I don’t see them coming. DeMint and Palin are realists and won’t endorse a sure loser and divide the party for nothing. No doubt they and the others have been reconciling themselves to a Romney victory and focusing on the Congress. They actually have more leverage over Romney by not endorsing another candidate. Even if Romney starts wrapping up the delegates, he still needs their full-throated endorsements to motivate a large portion of the conservative base. They may extract their pound of flesh in commitments from a Romney administration to perhaps repeal Obamacare or submit a balanced budget before they do that.

      valleyforge in reply to valleyforge. | December 30, 2011 at 12:12 am

      Ted Kennedy didn’t endorse Obama until late January in 2008, in time to give him a boost into Super Tuesday but not before Obama proved his appeal in the first three contests. Kennedy’s conservative counterparts are waiting for the same reason.

Very good points, holmes. I agree completely.

I have to wait for April before I can vote.

I will vote (in the primary).

Unless something changes I won’t be voting ‘consensus’ or ‘electible’ in the primary.

I’ve got 3 major issues and more secondary ‘criteria’ issues –

The summary is Economy-NonPolitician candidate most likely to be able to repeat the 1920 Election.

Since the leading candidate for the GOP for the 1920 election was Teddy Roosevelt who returned to the Republican Party after his Progressive Party screwup of the 1912 Election…

The 1920 election went to a ‘dark horse’ candidate after many rounds at the convention – Teddy died in 1919.

Maybe 55% of Republicans went for “The Progressive Party” in the 1912 Election.

I don’t need to STRESS what my reaction would be to a ‘third party candidate’.

The results of the 1920 Election by the explicit choices of their platform and actual enacted policies were reduction of the 1920 Depression inside 18 months, “U6” unemployment down to 3%, substantial REAL growth in the GDP, Manufacturing, Real Wages, and actual quality-of-life factors.

As an independent entity post 1920 Election was also one time the Federal Reserve did-exactly-the-RIGHT-thing!

Here’s the 1920 Election,_1920

FDR was the losing VP candidate in the 1920 Election and ran on doing the same thing in the 1932 Election/

Herbert Hoover was a “Progressive” in 1912 who was an active part of the Woodrow Wilson administration.

My blue state will have a “Libertarian’ slate and a “Constitutional’ slate for voters from those parties, as well as a “Democratic” and a “Republican” slate.

I don’t know what I would do if I were faced with a “Virginia Situation” of a choice only between Romney and Paul….I’ll be voting Republican and for the lesser positions – if no write-ins were allowed for president, nothing I would consider casting no presidential candidate vote I guess.

    valleyforge in reply to kobayashi. | December 29, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    If you’re such a fan of the 1920 election, you should actually look up Harding’s policies, both economic and foreign policy-wise. Because Ron Paul is running on basically the same platform. And it’s not like Harding didn’t have a foreign threat to worry about – the Bolsheviks and “Reds” were supposedly everywhere, yet he chose to take the constitutional approach and keep the US out of European alliances and foreign conflicts, withdrawing US forces from supporting the Whites in Russia’s civil war, for instance. It was Roosevelt, on the other hand, who wanted to take the US to war against Japan.

      Weirddave in reply to valleyforge. | December 31, 2011 at 11:54 am

      yet he chose to take the constitutional approach and keep the US out of European alliances and foreign conflicts, withdrawing US forces from supporting the Whites in Russia’s civil war, for instance.

      Oh, yea, that worked out just f’ing GREAT, didn’t it? Good lord, if not for that, we might have faced the haunting specter of a democratic Russia throughout the 20th century! Horrors!

      I’m actually a big Harding fan in general, believe it or not, but just as I like to use Harding’s non-interventionist economic response to the post WWI depression and the results of said policy as an historical example against Keynesian economics, you’ve just pointed out one more example demonstrating that Paul’s foreign policy is as batshit insane as he is. Nice.

Me thinks some people are trying to predict the path of a cat based on his first step.

We’ve got 50 (or so) primaries and caucases to go for crying out loud.

Prof Jacobson, you’re right – Santorum will be taken down by next Thursday at the latest before he can gain any traction in South Carolina, let alone New Hampshire where he is an asterisk.

The logical, if completely counterintuitive, next step for conservatives is to start “reassessing” Jon Huntsman because he is the only candidate the establishment and media haven’t disqualified in the eyes of most voters. Plus he is perfectly positioned to take on Romney in his New Hampshire stronghold. Between Paul and Huntsman, Romney could be held to 30% and possibly lose, opening up the race to either Huntsman or a revived Gingrich or Perry.

I predict we’ll see a number of prominent conservatives opining how much more consistently conservative Huntsman has been, and explaining away the times he has strayed, as soon as the Iowa results are in, and possibly a day or two in advance.

Blaming your own deficiencies on “the establishment” was an annoying habit of ’60s hippies and ’10s conservatives have apparently adopted it.

Yeah, let’s all support Huntsman. FOO. Friend of obama. His ambassador to China. Big buddies. Didn’t Huntsman make the statement that he admires obama? That will do the trick.

And on top of that Huntsman was the media’s first pick for our nominee. When that didn’t fly they chose Romney.

[…] sufficient for limited-government conservative voters, even casual scrutiny of Santorum’s record of big government spending should prove to be particularly damaging with the same group. While […]