Byron York

Finally, there was Santorum's personality. In the Senate as well as in his home state, Santorum often struck people as arrogant and headstrong, preachy and judgmental. Even today, he sometimes becomes so involved in an argument that he seems intent more on winning the argument than reaching some sort of useful agreement. Throughout his career Santorum has always maintained that his forthrightness means everyone knows where he stands. Sometimes it means people know they don't like him.

Looking back on 2006 in private conversations with friends, Santorum is said to understand that he sometimes came on too strong for the voters' comfort. The question for today is how much he has changed. There's no doubt he still struggles a bit with the Old Rick: He often seems determined to get the upper hand in disputes that he probably shouldn't be having in the first place.

The reasons for Santorum's defeat are too complicated for a 30-second ad or a brief answer at a debate. He can blame a lot of factors, but in the end he was most responsible for his own fate. Now, if Santorum's presidential campaign continues to soar, he'll likely have to discuss the '06 defeat more. The Romney campaign will point to it as proof that Santorum can't win the White House. Santorum's job is to tell voters -- and prove to them with his actions -- that he has learned from his loss, and that he's a better candidate for it.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner