I had not intended to write another post, surely not another so soon, about Rick Santorum, and I felt as though I covered my concerns about him in a previous post. It turns out, over the span of the last week or so, he has done things that again made my ears perk up, and forced me to do research, confirming that I had heard the things I had actually heard. Again, my worries seem to have been proven true, and the things I thought (and hoped) had to be media stretching the truth, were confirmed…
Most Recent Missteps
On a recent Sunday morning media shows, gearing up for a double primary today, in Michigan and Arizona, Rick Santorum knew he had to try to rebound from his poor performance in the last debate in Arizona. If I were him, I think I would have stressed the reasons I was the fitter candidate, and why my decision-making skills were the best among the candidates. However, Santorum seems to have given his opponents on the right and the left plenty to think about. In a time when people balked at the notion that the President has given an order to American religious groups, that they must provide contraceptives to employees, Rick Santorum said President Kennedy’s remarks about the separation of church and state made him “want to throw-up”. My main concern is that if a leader can give a directive from a secular stance, to religious groups (and we all think that is an overreach), then why would it be better that a religious-oriented leader give a directive to secular groups? This seems to be what Santorum is endorsing when he rejects Kennedy’s assurances to Baptist leaders in the 1960 election. While I would not go as far as Chris Matthews, and call Santorum a “theocrat,” I do worry that either playing to more religious voters, or dragging this election to a more social-issue oriented election, is tantamount to throwing away the biggest electoral-weapon the GOP has – the ECONOMY! They should be taking the economy, and how Obama has thrown away money, time after time, and ride that horse to death. Rely on winning back the Senate, and making it more conservative, to then legislate more socially conservative issues to send to the Republican president.
The second concern that I have with recent Santorum remarks, is that he was against the open-primary system. While he was in Minnesota, he criticized permitting Democrats to vote in open, Republican, primaries. The CNN article below, mentions that there was a good chance his criticism was a result of Mitt Romney’s winning the New Hampshire primary. Santorum went so far as to suggest that anyone voting against their party affiliation, should just go ahead and switch parties.
“We want the activists of the party, the people who make up the backbone of the Republican Party to have a say in who our nominee is as opposed to a bunch of people who don’t even identify themselves as Republicans picking our nominee,” Santorum told voters on the call held January 29. “I don’t like that. I believe that states should only allow Republicans to vote in Republican primaries.” (via CNN)
Once he began to show some life in a close Michigan race, and various liberal sources began to throw around the idea of a leftwing version of Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos,” he suddenly changed his attitude. He then began to support robo-calls to try to get all the support from whatever places that he could – even those Democrats that he crititized in Minnesota. This is unfortunate, and it puts me in mind of the “Father of Flip-Flopping,” John Kerry. (Now do not send me comments – I am NOT calling Rick Santorum, John Kerry – but Kerry is so inextricably bound to the “flip-flop,” whenever I see it, I think of him, so sue me…) What I am suggesting is that it is possible that other voters make the same connection, and it turns them completely off.
I fear that losing Arizona and Michigan on the 28th may force Santorum into a more desperate position, and I wonder what different issues he may begin to adopt and endorse, to try to salvage his campaign. While I do hope he stays active in the race (no matter the outcome), and afterward keeps conservative social issues in the news, I do not think that now is the time for doing so.
So, unless you have completely been away from media since Monday, you have heard about Mitt Romney’s colossal failures in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado. His entire campaign has collapsed, and he may as well just pack it in, and return to one of his palatial estates in the northeast. Right? That is the narrative his competition would have us believe is going to occur. He is down, and he is out. I, on the other hand, am not so sure.
So, what does the miraculous-sweep of the three states mean for Romney’s seeming inevitability? For me, not much. Other candidates may see it as a sign that there will surely be a brokered convention, or that there is serious rejection of Romney among Republicans. I, however, see a few silver linings to the “rejection” of Romney.
First, these losses are seen as huge and unexpected – he should play to this fact. As the campaign wears on, he can show himself as a candidate who is not the stuff-shirt, boring, businessman that he has been painted as, but he is a candidate who is flexible. He now has a situation, if he sells it right, that allows him to break out of his silver-spoon, always-been-a-winner, never-had-any-struggles story. He needs to make more people aware of any struggles or tragedies he may have faced. A candidate who can bounce back from unexpected setbacks, who can roll with unexpected punches and is dynamic, that kind of guy is seen as a better president – the type who can lead an ever-changing country. He has now been bested in five states, and if he acts humbled (as he should be), people may see a more relate-able guy (especially in a country facing so many problems, that have touched everyone). He should create a contrast to the effete, aloof Obama.
Secondly, the sheer appeal of candidates like Santorum and Gingrich, who are “conservative alternatives,” shows him what many people are seeking. Romney sure does not do himself any favors by having candidates who have already been losers to Obama (read: John McCain) appear with him. If that is somehow supposed to help him, why not invite Alan Keyes and Jack Ryan to events too? He should maximize any appearances he can make with prospective GOP Congressmen, especially those who are seen as farther right than any others. Meet with current GOP leaders (like Jim DeMint) that holds sway with conservatives, and adopt and advocate for views he shares. He does not need to be seen as any farther left or moderate when his record and talking heads already make him appear that way. He should play up the angle as much as possible, that capitalism did not put us in the economic quagmire we find ourselves in, but capitalism will lead us out.
The economic angle being stressed, will help at events too – feature the people who kept their jobs because of Bain’s investments and actions, and contrast them against the president’s claims of saved jobs. “This is what a real, legitimately saved job looks like America!” Use full advantage of any opportunities like this to differentiate and take shots at failed Obama policies. The more these regulations and economy-killing policies are brought up to voters, the more firmly Obama can be painted as a complete economic blunderer and failure, and the more people will see you as a person who understands the dire situation, and is competent and able to turn a stumbling country around.
He should look to build consensus wherever he can – against the do-nothing Senate, and the any Democratic Senators for continually neglecting their duties. This could help ensure that he would have a more “friendly”, GOP-led Senate. Because of the recent political fallout and anger at the “contraceptive mandate” of Obamacare, Romney could point out the struggles and religious persecution he has faced as a Mormon, and stress how he would never support anything resembling that mandate. Take a stand with Catholics and others, promising to strip out or veto any legislation sent to you with any religious questionability.
Finally, he should take concrete, permanent stands on issues and stick with them. He should draw guidelines and NOT deviate – there is so much concern that Romney is “wishy-washy” and flip-flops. When elected, he should make sure he does everything he can to see those issues’ passing and enforcement occur. America is tired of suave leaders, who are so self-assured that they have convinced themselves that they can do no wrong. He should be humble and willing to listen, and admit as much. He needs to take full advantage of events like CPAC to talk to people, and speak without the safety of prepared material. He needs to show people the person, they seem to have seen nearly enough of the candidate.