Santorum Sweeps Three States, Reframes Race

Last night (Tuesday, Feb 7th) was another game changer in a wild race for the GOP nomination. Newt Gingrich had his big night back in South Carolina, then lost momentum as Romney won Florida and Nevada back-to-back. Santorum though, never really had his time. His win in Iowa wasn’t known until after the votes were certified. By then, the opportunity for momentum and publicity was largely diminished.

Now, Rick Santorum will get his belated moment in the spotlight. Three wins in one night have given his campaign second life. Santorum exclaimed “Conservatism is alive and well…We doubled him up here, and in Minnesota.” He even managed to win Colorado, where Romney won handily in 2008.

Newt Gingrich has been attempting to cast the election as a two-man race between a moderate, Mitt Romney, and a true conservative–himself. Negative ads coupled with heaps of baggage and an “angry” approach to the campaign have led many to look away from Gingrich, making this anything but a two-man race. Those looking for a true conservative are finding that Rick Santorum holds genuine convictions where other candidates (save Ron Paul) seem more like wind socks.

Santorum showed principle and discipline when he avoided attacking Mitt Romney for his work at Bain Capital, this while Gingrich and Rick Perry were pounding away and it was the in vogue thing to do. I find it very hard to believe that Newt Gingrich really has a problem with a venture capital firm buying ownership of a company, streamlining the business, saving the company, and selling it for massive profits. Few, if any, real economic conservatives have a problem with this, but Newt has relentlessly bashed Romney for this while also claiming to be the true conservative in the election.

Rick Santorum is largely known for his social stances, especially his defense of the unborn. He contrasts boldly with Barack Obama (who is currently in a battle with the Catholic Church) when he talks about the Declaration of Independence and God-given rights. Santorum referenced this bold contrast as a key to beating President Obama in the general election.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. There’s no doubt in my mind that Rick Santorum is the most honest, consistent, and genuine conservative in the race, but will his “bold contrast” with President Obama help or hurt him in the general election?

If Santorum is the nominee President Obama will likely try to focus on social issues, which is not what the Republicans want. Obama is much better off if the election is about Santorum’s social views instead of his own record handling the economy. Any way the President can minimize talk of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a Canadian oil pipeline that would have crossed America’s breadbasket and provided much-needed jobs and energy, is a win for him. His decision to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline could be a political nightmare for him as gas prices inch up and the general election inches near. He’d also probably like to avoid talk of Solyndra, a solar energy company his administration sought to boost though government funding that ended up filing for bankruptcy. Will Santorum’s bold stances allow Obama to move the focus of the election to more favorable issues?

The problem with nominating a moderate is the lack of passion you get from your base. You need passion to get people to knock on doors, donate money, and otherwise contribute to your campaign. Gingrich warned that all the areas that Romney won in Florida had especially low turnout relative to the areas he lost. The positive to having a moderate as your party’s nominee is that they are more likely to do well with independent voters. That’s not to say that Rick Santorum can’t attract moderate voters though. His economic plans, which I believe he needs to extenuate more, and his personality seem to attract blue-collar “Reagan Democrats.”

Santorum has proposed cutting corporate taxes on manufacturing to 0%… again to 0%. This would bring a ridiculous amount of manufacturing jobs back to America and help a good many Americans. This coupled with Rick Santorum’s vote against right-to-work laws while in Senate and Obama’s blocking of the Keystone which was expected to create 20,000 new jobs, many of which would have been union jobs could make Rick Santorum a very strong candidate in the rust belt. Is it unrealistic to think he can win states like Ohio and Indiana? I’d venture to say no.

Do you think Rick Santorum could give Obama a solid battle in a general election, or do you (like current national polls) think he’d lose badly? You can watch his full victory speech on Youtube by clicking here.

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