Thursday, March 08, 2012

“The best argument the GOP nominee will have for a win in November”

This article by Daniel Henninger speaks not only of the “electability” of Rick Santorum, but suggests he should stay in the race because the force of his argument against Obamacare/Romneycare is “the best argument the GOP nominee will have for a win in November”.

Here are a few selections:
America's long-slog presidential campaigns are a process of discovery. Candidates, voters and the press criss-cross a complex nation trying to discover where the public mind will be the first Tuesday in November. No candidate has had a more interesting journey through 2012's campaign frontier than Rick Santorum.
Few are going to forget Sen. Santorum in the early debates, stuck in the left-field bleachers, begging to be heard over such center-ring heavyweights as Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain. In August, no one thought this guy would be toe-to-toe with the Romney machine in March. What happened?
I went to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Monday to find out….
He's doing something right, and what one learned in Cuyahoga Falls, an Akron suburb, is that it doesn't have much to do with the famous Santorum controversies over social issues. It's about ObamaCare. And it's about the idea of freedom.
What Mr. Santorum has discovered in this campaign is that for a large number of voters, a connection has surfaced between Barack Obama's economic policies and the issue of personal freedom. The potency of the latter is what's new, and a vulnerability for this presidency.
 Rick Santorum has linked these concerns about the status of personal freedom directly to ObamaCare and beyond that to the broader policy legacy of Obama administration.
His 35-minute speech in Cuyahoga Falls touched an array of subjects that drew applause. But at the halfway point, when he tore into ObamaCare, his mostly working-class audience exploded into applause and cries of "Rick! Rick! Rick!"
Mr. Santorum didn't get this response by discussing health-insurance exchanges and guaranteed issue. He told these people that ObamaCare "is usurping your rights. It is creating a culture of dependency. Every single American will be dependent on government, thanks to ObamaCare. There is no more important issue in this race. It magnifies all that is wrong with what this president is trying to do." His call for repeal produced the explosion.
Does it make upper-middle class, suburban independents uncomfortable to see that Mr. Santorum's working-class audiences push back by yelling "freedom"? Perhaps, but maybe it's also true that upscale voters have their own way of describing the Obama-era unease.
Their less rustic version is finding its way into votes for Mitt Romney. Alas, Mr. Romney is the only GOP candidate who won't or can't deploy on his own behalf that one powerful, damning word Barack Obama doesn't want to hear: mandate.
Rick Santorum should stay in the race, repeating from now till summer the perverse link between the ObamaCare mandate and the American idea of freedom. It looks like the best argument the GOP nominee will have for a win in November.


  1. Wouldn't it be something if Newt Gingrich dropped out and urged his supporters to vote for Santorum?

  2. It could happen, but I wouldn't count on it. Although, I've heard it said, if Santorum wins in Gingrich's south this weekend (Mississippi and Alabama), it could persuade Gingrich that his cause is pretty hopeless. Stranger things have happened.

  3. Healthcare isn't the subject of most interest to voters this year. It's important, but it's not likely to be the primary criterion by which voters judge the candidates. See, for example, here and here.

    For those who are interested, I've been discussing Santorum and Romney's electability in another thread. The evidence is heavily in Romney's favor.

    As far as the upcoming primary states are concerned, it's true that the rest of March is somewhat favorable to Santorum. But he's already far behind Romney, and the primary voting shifts more to Romney's favor in April. Even as far as the rest of March is concerned, the latest Alabama poll I've seen has Romney ahead.

  4. For an analysis of what would have happened if Gingrich had dropped out earlier, or what would happen if he'd drop out sometime in the near future, see here. Most likely, Romney would still win.

  5. The Ballad of Rick

  6. Video of Romney getting animated talking about his faith for minutes on end (starts at 10min and 35 sec.).

  7. I’ve responded to the video Annoyed Pinoy linked in the comments section of another thread.