Romney and Santorum have emerged as the faces of the Republican Party, and those faces reflect the split between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. The split is real, but not insurmountable. Romney took big steps toward the nomination with a decisive victory in Illinois -- where, for the first time, close to a majority of Republicans voted for the man with an emphasis on economic, not social, policy. The message they sent is that Job 1 is to replace President Obama; their concerns are about continued high unemployment, the price of gasoline, and a national debt that threatens to forfeit their children's future.
"Don't make (the election) about who can best manage Washington or be the CEO of the economy," Santorum told Illinois voters. Well, he might say that, because many Republicans see him as Romney describes him, "an economic lightweight." The two men are not far apart in their appreciation of the peril in the Obama view of the world. There's a deep and wide gulf between them on the economy. That's where President Obama has failed, and that's where new leadership has to take us.
Romney's repeated description of himself -- as the candidate who knows business, who has experience in the private sector, who learned firsthand how high taxes destroy entrepreneurial job creation and how balanced budgets determine whether businesses thrive or fail -- has become cliched. But that, it seems to me, is what we must remember. The president's regulators, he observes, would have shut down the Wright brothers for "dust pollution" and banned Thomas Edison's light bulb for overheating the atmosphere.
Geoffrey Kabaservice -- in his new book, "Rule and Ruin" -- sounds the lament that moderates have disappeared from the Grand Old Party. He regrets that Mitt is not more like his father, George, who self-destructed as an early Republican candidate for president in 1968. But the campaign of 2012 is about conservative principles directing economic freedom. There's nothing moderate about that.
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