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Dear Iowa: A vote for Rick Santorum is a vote for Mitt Romney

Dear Iowa: A vote for Rick Santorum is a vote for Mitt Romney

Alternative headline: Dear Iowa: You are being played like a fiddle.

I hate to admit it, but there is a large amount of truth in this analysis by Roger Simon of Politico, Mitt don’t need no surges:

If Mitt Romney wins the Iowa caucuses, the race for the Republican nomination is over.

If Mitt Romney comes in second in Iowa, the race for the Republican nomination is over.

And if Mitt Romney comes in third in Iowa, the race for the Republican nomination is over.

Why? Is his message of goodness and decency and American exceptionalism so overwhelmingly persuasive or are his personal attributes so awesomely compelling?

No. It’s because the Iowa caucuses do not pick winners as much as they eliminate losers. And the Iowa caucuses Tuesday are likely to eliminate from serious contention the only two men who might have blocked Romney’s path to victory: Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.

With those two out of the way, Romney faces Ron Paul, who could come in first, second or third here on Tuesday or Rick Santorum, who could do the same.

But neither of those men has a credible route to the nomination no matter how well they do in Iowa.

And don’t think for a second that the Romney camp doesn’t understand that Santorum is Romney’s Great White Hope:

Santorum has run here like he was running for governor of Iowa,” a senior  Romney aide told me Sunday evening. “He can’t replicate that in other  states.”

The Romney campaign believes its game plan is working here.

How badly does Team Romney want Santorum to do well?  Even Jennifer Rubin, who never has anything nice to say about anyone other than Romney, is pushing Santorum as the best bet for social conservatives:

Certainly he’s a bit intense, which can come across as angry. But he’s got a lovely family, and he’s not going to embarrass you in public. After the slew of characters who’ve come through, you can understand why many, for now, want to spend some time checking out Santorum. Considering the competition, they could do a lot worse.

Of course, this is the same person who just last May insisted that Rick Santorum ‘doesn’t understand America’:

At the Republican presidential debate on Thursday Rick Santorum was asked about Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s suggestion that there be a social truce. Santorum answered, “Anybody that would suggest we call a truce on moral issues doesn’t understand what America is all about.”

That is wrong. In fact, it’s the precise opposite of what America is about….

Santorum’s assertion, quite frankly, reflects a certain constitutionally illiteracy and is at odds at a fundamental level with modern conservatism. Indeed, since the presidency requires that the chief executive “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” — which presupposes one understands what’s in it — Santorum has in the most concise way possible demonstrated his lack of qualifications to serve.

You are being played, Iowa.  Like a fiddle.

You will wake up Wednesday morning with that empty feeling.

Update:  Some perspective lacking from my post:

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Comments

The winner of Iowa is the winner of Iowa. Do I care what an analyst at politico thinks? The true conservative votes are being split, that’s true. Eventually there will be one not-Romney. The Paul-bots will go away.

Prof,
I feel like you perhaps misunderstand Iowa’s entire endgame here. Iowa doesn’t make kings, it never really has (despite media assertions to the contrary if we take Wikipedia as accurate on this, it’s basically no better than a cointoss: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iowa_caucuses)*
So if Iowa can’t make kings, why jockey for position the way they do? Simple, they king policy, not people. Do you think Corn based ethanol would be so protected by both parties if Iowa fell from grace. I live in Iowa’s southern neighbor (Missouri) whose demographics are similar enough I could claim benefit from the first primiary being held in a midwestern state (as opposed to a coast) and I still think “Iowa F1RST!” needs to go.

*Note: Wikipedia doesn’t say “no better than a coin toss” that’s my math by looking at the IC winners vs. Party winners subtracting the times the party winner was “Unopposed” or “Uncomitted” won and doing rough math.

I don’t think I buy the thesis that Romney becomes the certain nominee from an Iowa win or that Gingrich gets eliminated because of the Iowa results. Certainly, Newt’s path becomes more difficult if he does poorly in Iowa, mostly because of money issues. But, I think it is likely he will win South Carolina; that should help him in Florida and subsequent primaries.

The basic premise from that scion of “fair and balanced” is that Romney is inevitable. I don’t believe that and I don’t think the professor really believes that.

I do believe the establishment GOP will do everything to create that perception and manipulate events toward that end. And I believe it is likely to backfire on them in one of several ways. If the GOP blatantly manipulates the process and Romney wins the nomination then the base is alienated. Either the base sits it out or votes third party. And the GOP and the country loses.

If Romney somehow manages to win in November and governs as the progressive RINO he is, the base is alienated and the growing rift in the GOP elites and base is forever sundered. And the GOP goes the way of the Whigs and slips into irrelevance.

If Romney finishes 1st, 2nd or 3rd in Iowa the GOP takes a giant leap toward self-destruction if you believe this line of reasoning. It is inevitable…

Cowboy Curtis | January 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Conservatives need to rally around Newt or Perry. They are the only two not-Romneys that have a shot. Everyone else is a virtual guaranteed loser against both Romney or Obama. I prefer Perry, but for Heaven’s sake, I’m willing to go with Newt if it’ll keep Romney or Santorum from being the nominee.

Yeah, the field isn’t what we’d like. There is no perfect candidate. Well gang, it’s time to make the tough choice, bite the bullet, and pick from the best we’ve got.

Personally, I hope Paul wins a blowout in Iowa and renders the event to permanent irrelevancy. With the exception of W in 2000, all Iowans tend to do is give bad republican candidates a major leg up. I mean, Huckabee won last time fer cryin’ out loud. One almost suspects the whole purpose of the exercise is sabotage our chances.

    WarEagle82 in reply to Cowboy Curtis. | January 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    What leads you to choose Newt or Perry over Santorum?

      Cowboy Curtis in reply to WarEagle82. | January 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      The first thing that jumps to mind (and I’ll only cite it because I consider it the the first and foremost criteria for any candidate) is the staggering, bone crushing, damn near unheard of for an incumbent senator, 19 point defeat he suffered in his last election. As I’ve said many times over, I’m willing to forgive a helluva lot of things in a politician, but not a glaring defeat. These aren’t our pals or our families. They are politicians and they serve one purpose, and one only- the advancement of our preferred policies. And to do that, they have to win. After he lost an eminently winnable race for the Senate, I quit voting for Bill McCullum in primaries. He’s great on a whole lot of issues, but I’m not tossing a good vote after a bad one just because I might like him the most.

      Politics is about winning. Policy, talent, character, etc, none of that stuff matters if you don’t win. So I don’t vote for candidates that get blown out in their own state.

      I’m not saying we have to support the guy who looks best positioned to win a general election. I’m saying the reasonable expectation that he can get elected has to be our first consideration. The candidate’s conservatism is a very close second. Perry wins elections. Newt wins elections. And while he’s lost races, I think Romney can win. (I like them in that order). After suffering such a massive blowout in a recent statewide race, in a state we’ve actually got a shot of picking up this time around, I have no interest is betting the future of my country on the hope that Santorum’s last try was just a fluke.

      The old WFB rule is the right one: You vote for the most conservative candidate who can win.

      I choose Perry, because Rick Santorum is just another “big government conservative.” No different than Mitt.

    I think you make sense in urging conservatives to rally around one guy, but unfortunately the problem isn’t that conservatives are dividing their support among several different non-Romneys, it’s that they can’t find any truly acceptable non-Romney to support.

    (a) Gingrich is smart and articulate, but he has given conservatives plenty of reason to question whether he’s truly a bliever in small, limited government and whether he’s much of a Washington “outsider.”

    (b) Perry strikes me as sort of a GWB-type “conservative.” Best example is his support for in-state tuition for illegals (although I thought the Gardasil thing was a bit of a bum rap). Perry’s big problem, however, is that GOP voters are really tired of having a candidate who comes across as a doophus. His deer-in-the-headlights schtick just doesn’t inspire any confidence.

    (c) Bachmann seems like a solid conservative, but nobody thinks she’s qualified to be president. As with Perry, it’s hard to get behind a candidate if you just don’t think she’s got the personal attributes it takes to be a successful nominee or president.

    (d) In addition to being a crank, Ron Paul is probably well to the left of Obama on foreign policy/national security issues. ‘Nuff said.

    (e) Santorum SHOULD be acceptable to conservatives on the issues, but he seems more annoying than inspiring. His whole demeanor is wrong for the presidency. You want someone cheerful and “above the fray,” not a rhetorical brawler.

    It’s too bad Paul Ryan didn’t run. Also, I think Thune would have been a great candidate. But as it stands, Romney looks like the eventual winner not because of his conservative credentials (which are admittedly questionable), but because of the other candidates’ glaring weaknesses and Mitt’s impressive personal attributes.

      Cowboy Curtis in reply to Conrad. | January 2, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      Perry’s got a pretty good small government record. I don’t think he’s a “compassionate conservative” at all. I think the tuition for illegals thing was simply a governor reacting to the unfortunate reality of the state of politics in a border state. If he has no intention of following such a policy nationally, and I don’t see any indication that he does, then I’m willing to let it slide. Honestly, of him, Romney, and Newt, he’s got the most hardline approach on the border. I know he doesn’t want the entire border fenced, but he wants drones and an armed military force on it- which I personally think would be more effective than a fence. His position also reflects the fact that if you fence off the Rio Grande, you’re are hurting a whole lot of South Texas agriculture.

      As for the debates, Perry has seriously, demonstrably, improved in the last several. He’s had at least 3 very solid performances in a row. If he keeps it up, I’m more than willing to forgive all that came before.

      My biggest concern with Newt is that there is just so very, very much for Democrats to attack him with, fairly and unfairly. And the stuff that’s fair is pretty devastating in its own right. He’s a bid idea guy, and has been around long enough to have had all sorts of positions that are untenable today, be it to conservatives or the general public. Beyond that, I fear that he’s a technocrat in the same way Romney is. By which I mean, I think he’d be more interested in attempting to fix all these horrible liberal programs rather than being truly bold, as I think Perry would be, and tearing them out root and branch.

[…] yeah – now that the hicks in Iowa have taken to Rick Santorum and appear to be embracing the guy the Romney campaign loves even more than Ron Paul, it’s looking less and less like Perry has a path to the nomination (he won’t be out, […]

I thank whatever Gods may be for the fact that this Iowa nonsense is going to be over with very soon!

Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the State of New Hampshire.

Ugh! – dear God – please spare us the suffering of this drawn out senseless drama for much longer.

BurkeanBadger | January 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I don’t think a Romney victory in Iowa (let alone second or third place ) ensures his nomination. But, as I’ve said before, if Romney wins Iowa, New Hampshire is basically a lock. He’s virtually impenetrable there already and this would give him more momentum. Furthermore, one week is just not enough time to mount a sucessful attack in the Granite State.

South Carolina, however, is a different matter. I guess Newt is going to continue campaigning in New Hampshire after Tuesday. If Romney wins Iowa, Newt might want to rethink that strategy. Better to concede New Hampshire to Romney and focus on South Carolina. The same goes for Perry. Let Huntsman and Paul do their best to chip away at the size of Mitt’s victory in New Hampshire.

Nevertheless, it will still be difficult to stop Romney with a New Hampshire and an Iowa win under his belt. Newt and Perry will really have to slam him hard and relentlessly. Unfortunately, they will once again be splitting the not Romney vote. In a state as tough for Romney as South Carolina, there might be such a large majority of not Romneys, that one of them can still win. But, if Romney wins South Carolina, even with a tiny, tiny plurality…then it really is all over.

Stay tunned. 🙂

From the Washington Times. If a Romney nomination is inevitable then there may be other, less desirable inevitabilities in store for the GOP…

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/1/curl-is-romney-the-next-kerry/

When Jennifer Rubin and Ann Coulter are together getting ready for a girls’ night out, I’d love to be a fly on the kitchen counter listening to their crazy rationalizations, sopping up with my proboscis little spills of whatever it is they’re drinking.

LukeHandCool (who took his son and daughter to the plant nursery a couple years ago and bought them a venus fly trap … which they wanted … and which was kind of expensive. After the novelty wore off after the first day, it soon died from a lack of feeding. They wanted to buy a new one, and when Luke balked, Kelly said, “But we could cut up the old one and feed it to the new one.” To which Max replied, “Kelly, they’re not vegetarians.”)

I dont know why folks are so rattled. Lots of time yet and lets recall

2008 – Mike Huckabee (34%), Mitt Romney (25%), Fred Thompson (13%), John McCain (13%), Ron Paul (10%), Rudy Giuliani (4%), and Duncan Hunter (1%)

    WarEagle82 in reply to jimzinsocal. | January 2, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Well said! There is a concerted stampede to declare this race over at the earliest possible date. Iowa and New Hampshire are the start and not the end.

I’m just not getting how a guy who can’t crack above 25% no matter what has a chance. Three out of four Republican voters are saying, “Anybody but Romney,” yet somehow Romney is the inevitable winner? In what parallel universe does that happen? I still say wait for South Carolina. That’s when we’ll see.

    Conrad in reply to G Joubert. | January 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Why is this argument only applicable to Mitt, at 25%? By the same token, 85% of the electorate are saying, “Anybody but Newt.” In a race with a half-dozen candidates, it’s pretty unlikely any one candidate will come close to 50% support.

Who really helps the middle class? Perry. We need someone willing to take on federal agencies, especially the EPA and it’s job killing regulations. Not someone like Gingrich who does global warming ads with Nancy Pelosi. Granted, by the time we vote here in California, it could be decided. But Perry is the working man’s candidate.

    If Perry is the nominee, Obama wins. Perry is the most inarticulate candidate in the race with the possible exception of Bachmann.

    We need someone who can explain how and why Obama’s policies are ruining the nation and why four more years of them will finish the job. Perry is not up to that task.

      I think Perry could get the rough edges out before the general. Nothing like have Obama underestimate Perry and his debating skills. I’ve seen nothing in Perry’s past that makes me question his stances, unlike Romney.

        Cowboy Curtis in reply to Blue Collar Todd. | January 2, 2012 at 7:56 pm

        In the early fall debates, Perry was awful. The guy who’s shown up for the last several has been pretty damned impressive and held his own.

Perry is ready to be President now, and has enough conservative bonafides to present a clear distinction to Obama. Hard-line conservatives kvetching about immigration when the economy is in the toilet is mind numbing. Especially since any candidate/supporter that takes the hard-line of “building a fence and throwing them folks back over it into Mexico” is living in a parallel universe.

Romney is a different side of the same coin as Obama. He is a big government Republican, who can’t even hide his fiscally liberal ways by using socially conservative positions like W Bush did.

And Santorum… Santorum!?!?

All of Ron Paul’s position are Leftist in origin except for the reduction of the government, which no one should believe given how clogged his arteries are from all of the pork he has requested and received as a Congressman

We are down to three not-Romney’s. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I agree with other commentators Politico might want an Iowa win means that Romney will be the Republican candidate but it ain’t true.

See Rick Perry take down a politico reporter here:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/01/02/perry_confronts_politicos_mike_allen_over_unhappy_staffer_you_got_a_name.html

[…] Professor Jacobson adds: Dear Iowa: You are being played like a fiddle. […]

What bothers me about all this – “Is Mitt the inevitable nominee?” is that if he is the GOP pick and he loses the election – the Conservatives will be blamed by the RINOs/Independents. We will hear the rantings & ravings about how the Right stayed home, the Right didn’t rally behind Mitt, the Right didn’t blah, blah, blah. The loss won’t be Mitt’s fault or the GOP insiders fault – it will be the fault of those “Bible thumping evangelicals.”/s

If he is the winner those same groups will think it entitles them to shove bland squishes down our throats forever. The RINO retort is going to be – “TP voters can go to he** – we don’t need or want you – you’re bad for the GOP.”

    Conrad in reply to katiejane. | January 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Why is that wrong? I mean, if the “base” doesn’t support the GOP nominee, and we get four more years of Obama as a result, then of course the “base” will and should be blamed for it. By the same token, if the “RINO” faction failed to support a conservative nominee over Obama, they would be blamed for an Obama win.

    The whole idea behind a political party is to unite a large group of people under a single banner so as to win 270 electoral votes. If each faction under the GOP banner takes the position that “it’s my way or the highway,” then what the hell kind of party is that?

    I realize that people have their problems with Romney (as people do with each of the other candidates), but I have no patience for any supposed patriot and conservative who would help Obama win a second term by refusing to support the GOP nominee.

      WarEagle82 in reply to Conrad. | January 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      I am tired of hearing that conservatives ALWAYS have to do the bidding of the BLOODY ELITIST IDIOT GOP “LEADERSHIP.” These are the same BLOODY MORONS who ABSOLUTELY REFUSED to support TEA Party candidates in 2010 and lost a chance to control the Senate and gave us Obamacare.

      The BLOODY ELITIST IDIOT GOP “LEADERSHIP” ought to consider supporting the base and the BLOODY CONSTITUTION for a bit because their own MORONIC POLICIES have taken this nation down the road to socialism.

      I am smart enough to figure out the GOP elite ultimately wants to run my life for me just like the Democrats and I won’t stand by while they both decide who will run my life for me.

    So what? If Mitt is the nominee, it will be the signal that the GOP should follow its’ predecessor, the Whigs, onto the ash heap of history.

[…] apparently underestimated Santorum’s campaign all year, and now some are even claiming that “A vote for Rick Santorum is a vote for Mitt Romney.” Such arguments evidently assume that some other candidate in the GOP field is better prepared […]

[…] Iowa Not End of the Line for Gingrich, Perry Posted on January 2, 2012 3:30 pm by Bill Quick » Dear Iowa: A vote for Rick Santorum is a vote for Mitt Romney – Le·gal In&middo… How badly does Team Romney want Santorum to do well?  Even Jennifer Rubin, who never has […]

TeaPartyPatriot4ever | January 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Any Vote for Romney, ie; against and not directly for Newt, is a vote for Obama..

Note to Iowans..

If you decide to elect Romney, a liberal moderate mush Republican RINO Obama-lite elitist.. then you mine as well just vote for Obama, as they are exactly the same in their implementation of policies and programs, and their lying political propaganda about all of it, as they just represent opposite political party’s, but everything else is the same..
 
Mass. the State of Liberalism, the State of Ted Kennedy, and the State of Barney Franks, and you want to elect a Gov. from there.. As a Ronald Reagan constitutional tea party conservative. that would be absolutely appalling.

EDITORIAL – UnionLeader.com
Published Jan 1, 2012

“Here is a key difference between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in sizing up who would make the better leader for the nation.

When Gingrich has changed his position on an issue, it has been out of a genuine change in his thinking.

As he has said, he can be persuaded by the facts.

Romney, on the other hand, practices the age-old art of political expediency. When he ran for Massachusetts governor, he was pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-gun-control, pro-mandated health insurance. Now that he is chasing the presidential nomination of a more conservative party, he is against all those things.

When Gingrich has changed his position, he has said so and explained why. When Romney has changed his positions, he has denied doing so.

Romney managed to switch all the aforementioned positions within the same decade.”

unquote-

Tuesday Trepidation, what if Ron Paul wins Iowa?…

Professor Jacobson makes the case that Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are effectively stalking horses for Mitt Romney. I agree, Iowa is being played like a fiddle….

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