Santorum Surges In Iowa As Caucuses Approach

As the Iowa caucuses approach, it appears there was time for one more candidate to surge to the forefront. Conservative Republicans–likely feeling disillusioned with a field that doesn’t include Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, or Bobby Jindal–may have finally found a consistent conservative in Rick Santorum, who after hovering below 5% for much of his campaign, has leaped as high as 16% in some polls of Republican Iowans. Santorum has earned key endorsements which overtime have eroded what could be the biggest obstacle he faces, the perception that he can’t win the nomination.

According to his own website:

“Sarah Palin praised Rick for his ‘consistency on protecting the sanctity of life.’ Mike Huckabee said he ‘adores Rick Santorum’s conviction.’ Glenn Beck called Rick Santorum the ‘next George Washington,’ and encouraged voters ‘to take a look at him.’ And Rush Limbaugh said it would be ‘great’ if Rick Santorum became President.”

In addition he earned a big endorsement from  a popular conservative radio talk show host in Iowa who said that Rick Santorum was the only one who fit the criteria for his ideal candidate:

“My ideal candidate must be a conservative who believes in a constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and unflagging devotion to life and traditional marriage.”  – Sam Clovis

The momentum from the endorsements and surging Iowa polls is causing conservatives finally give Rick Santorum a serious look. Many Republicans feel that Romney is the most “electable” candidate so much of Santorum’s plausibility will depend on if voters choose the candidate they feel is best or the most likely to beat Obama. For those willing to vote for the best candidate Santorum offers consistency that many of the other candidates do not.

Mitt Romney has proclaimed himself to be a “moderate” with “progressive views.” Comments like that coupled with some liberal stances on social issues while serving in super liberal Massachusetts have troubled some Republicans.

Newt Gingrich filmed the now infamous global warming commercial with Nancy Pelosi, which he has said was the “dumbest thing I’ve ever done.” He’s also been lampooned for his work with Freddie Mac (which frankly has been overblown) and criticized for more personal issues including a reprimand and $300,000 fine from the House Ethics Committee and multiple extramarital affairs–the latter of which hurts perceptions of his electability. According to Ann Coulter, “Gingrich is almost certainly unelectable based solely on his having cheated on and divorced two wives.

Ron Paul has also surged in Iowa, taking first place in most polls, but isn’t considered a conservative by many, especially on foreign policy issues. A true libertarian competing in the Republican primary, Ron Paul is not directly fighting for the same core group of voters as Santorum.

Rick Santorum’s most direct opponents are Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, who compete for similar voter blocks. Some have predicted that if one or two of them were to drop out the remaining candidate(s) would win the majority of their supporters about become a real force. This seems unlikely though. Rick Perry rocketed in the polls shortly after entering the race, but has faded since liberal streaks regarding immigration (in-state tuition for illegal aliens) and a state mandate for a HPV vaccination were exposed. Bachmann is proving her consistent conservatism, however other problems exist. In a recent debate she offered skewed attacks at best, dishonest ones at worst. After her assertions were called factually incorrect multiple times, she felt the need to tell the audience that she “is a serious candidate,” which to me made her seem much less serious. She also has been by far the most negative candidate, perhaps thinking she could be more aggressive and negative without rebuke due to her gender. While her attacks may have hurt opponents, they do not seem to have helped her candidacy.

For conservatives looking for the best candidate–the one that best represents and articulates their views–that leaves Rick Santorum. He’s been consistent on social issues, disagreeing with Ron Paul on the war on drugs, authoring the partial birth abortion ban act, and standing up for traditional marriage. Santorum has expressed better than all the other candidates that he understands the seriousness of a nuclear Iran.  Meanwhile, a high-tech US drone was captured and is being reverse-engineered by the Iranian government while President Obama sits idly. Santorum has offered real solutions to help the US manufacturing industry and in turn many union members, while Obama plays politics supporting unions with unionization laws, but hurting actual union workers more directly through economic policy (i.e., blocking construction of oil pipeline that would have require thousands of US jobs, many union jobs).

Liberals really loathe Santorum. They’ve gone as far as to conjure up incredibly disrespectful stories about him and his family. Possibly in response to Santorum calling abortion ban exceptions for health reasons “phony”–mental health issues like anxiety are often classified as a health reason–a story was circulated that calls Santorum a hypocrite for authorizing his wife to have a life-saving abortion amid a family tragedy. Aside from the story being untrue and tasteless, the real story is incredibly sad and touching. (6% of abortions in the US are done for health reasons, 1% for rape/incest, 93% for social reasons.) They’ve also attempted to tie disgusting vulgarity to his last name.

It will be interesting to see what they have to say if the most consistently conservative candidate in the GOP field continues to rise in the polls. How do you feel about Rick Santorum’s sudden emergence?

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3 thoughts on “Santorum Surges In Iowa As Caucuses Approach

  1. Santorum is like Paul in that the two, agree with them or not, have been consistent in their views over time. Perry has made huge ad buys in Iowa, mainly to tout his social conservatism, so this may have an effect on some Bachmann and Santorum-leaning caucusgoers. When the dust settles in Iowa, at least one of these three will have fallen and it will be interesting to see who consolidates power going into NH – where pols like Romney, Paul, Huntsman, and Gingrich expect to fare well.

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