Why Santorum’s Sweep is a Big Deal…
..and How he can Win.
For those of you who slept-in this morning, something very big happened last night in the race for the Republican nomination. Rick Santorum swept all three contests yesterday, and not by small margins. Most shockingly, he decisively took Colorado, where Romney was expected to coast to an easy victory. And Santorum won despite being decisively out-spent and out-organized in all three states.
His Inevitableness took a very big hit last night. Romney has had a very difficult time selling himself to conservatives in general, and last night’s Santorum win made it clear, a large part of the Republican Party simply does not want him. The fact that Romney has not been able to generate any consistent momentum, that he has been unable to get the Party generally behind him, has been the only consistent theme throughout this campaign. And for a candidate whose only real salable attribute is his supposed electability, the fact that he’s not even electable within his own party calls his viability as a candidate into question.
If Santorum is going to hold-onto this momentum, he still has a lot of obstacles to overcome. So far, he has escaped the sort of sliming Romney’s people have been focusing on Newt, but starting today, that is going to change. Santorum is also way behind in money and organization, and will need to catch-up fast. And he is not without his flaws. Santorum has been principally a social-conservative candidate, and as the nominee, he will inevitably attract attention to social issues as opposed to the economy. He will need to become very good at focusing-on and addressing economic issues, as he will be attacked from both the left and the right on this. But in my opinion, the best thing he can do right now is what Gingrich could have done, but failed to do. Santorum needs to articulate a strong, conservative message. He is the last, viable candidate with the credibility to communicate this message.
Much breath and ink is spent on the political right looking for, or lamenting the lack of “the Next Reagan.” Santorum is not, and should not be mistaken for another Ronald Reagan, but he can take a page out of Ronnie’s playbook. Think “Morning in America.” He needs to start today painting a picture for all of us of what America can be again. We live in a country that is exhausted and demoralized. To a greater extent now than at any other time in my life, there is doubt about our country, our future, and whether our best days really are behind us. Conservatives believe in Morning in America, and if there is any lesson at all in yesterday’s sweep by Santorum, it’s that there is a hunger to hear that message again. Santorum is the last guy who can credibly deliver it, and if he does, not only can he beat Romney for the nomination, he will trounce Obama in November.