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5 Reasons to Support Rick Santorum

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Even though I do like and respect Rick Santorum, I've already endorsed Newt Gingrich and don’t plan on changing over to Team Santorum. Still, Santorum is tops in the national polls, has a chance to pull off some big pre-Super Tuesday wins, and he could end up as the nominee. If that does happen, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. In fact, I have no qualms about saying that if it comes down to it, Rick Santorum would be a much preferable nominee to Mitt Romney.



1) Santorum is the most prominent socially conservative politician in America. The Republican Party is a three legged stool. National security, fiscal conservatism, and social conservatism all hold the party together. Because of the war on terrorism and Obama's profligate spending, the first two legs of the stool have been getting all of the attention lately, but that doesn't mean social conservatism is unimportant. To the contrary, it's a core part of the Republican Party -- and it moves people to the polls. Karl Rove famously said that the election of 2000 was so close because 4 million evangelicals stayed home. Those voters would definitely turn out for Rick Santorum.

Additionally, Catholic voters are an extremely important voting block. In nine out of the last ten elections, whichever candidate won the Catholic vote, won the election. In 2008, for example, Obama beat McCain by 9 points among Catholics. However, now that Obama has unconstitutionally targeted the Catholic Church via Obamacare in a move that has literally been condemned by every Catholic bishop in the United States, we have every reason to think that a Catholic with Santorum's reputation could swoop in, reverse those numbers, and ride the Catholic vote to victory in 2012.

2) Santorum isn't JUST a social conservative. Based on his time in office, the most conservative candidate in the race is Newt Gingrich, although he's gone off the reservation on a number of issues in the last few years, which has naturally given some people pause. Going by his record in Massachusetts, where he raised taxes, implemented Romneycare, backed gay marriages, pursued a multi-state cap and trade scheme, and gave $10,000 to a radical gay group that taught fisting and "water sports" to high school students under his watch, Mitt Romney is a barely center-right politician -- at best. Although Santorum has his flaws, I will at least give him credit for being a conservative across the board.


Santorum's social conservative credentials are beyond reproach and on foreign policy issues, he's a knowledgeable hawk who spent 8 years on the Armed Services Committee and has been sounding the alarm on Iran for years. Fiscal conservatism is not Santorum's strong suit, but even there, he's not quite as weak as you might think.

The National Taxpayers Union said Santorum had the 5th best record out of 50 senators during his tenure in office. On the other hand, the extremely harsh graders Club for Growth said Santorum was above average, but had some flaws of note.


On the whole, Rick Santorum’s record on economic issues in the U.S. Senate was above average. More precisely, it was quite strong in some areas and quite weak in others. He has a strong record on taxes, and his leadership on welfare reform and Social Security was exemplary. But his record also contains several very weak spots, including his active support of wasteful spending earmarks, his penchant for trade protectionism, and his willingness to support large government expansions like the Medicare prescription drug bill and the 2005 Highway Bill.

As president, Santorum would most likely lead the country in a pro-growth direction, but his record contains more than a few weak spots that make us question if he would resist political expediency when it comes to economic issues.


Santorum's record isn't as strong on spending as I'd like to see, but he does have a number of proposals that should warm the hearts of fiscal conservatives everywhere including: cutting $5 trillion of federal spending within 5 years, freezing spending levels for 5 years, a Balanced Budget Amendment that caps spending at 18% of GDP, implementing Paul Ryan's Medicare reforms, reforming Social Security, freezing the pay of non-defense workers for 4 years, and eliminating the funding for Obamacare. That is an agenda that should get the blood pumping for fiscal hawks who've been disappointed in the conservative leadership from D.C. over the last few years.

3) Santorum didn't blow the big issues of the last few years. Like all of the candidates remaining in the race, Santorum has made his mistakes. However, the issues he's gotten right are particularly important. Romney supported the McCain-Kennedy amnesty, TARP, Cap and Trade, and Obamacare was based on Romneycare. Those are huge issues that go right off the table if Mitt becomes the nominee. Santorum, on the other hand, voted against McCain-Kennedy, has an A- grade from NumbersUSA on illegal immigration, opposed TARP, voted against Cap and Trade, and opposed Obamacare. Being on the right side of those elephantine issues may be the difference between victory and defeat in 2012 and Santorum has credibility there, while Romney doesn't.


4) Santorum isn't going to get to D.C. and lose his nerve. A lot of candidates talk a good game and then get to Washington, hear the consultants whispering in their ears, get intimidated by the media, and start moving to the Left. Santorum has been around the block and he understands that he's too conservative, too Christian, and too politically incorrect for the media to ever love him. Guys like John McCain and Mitt Romney seem to be under the false impression that if they say the right thing, the mainstream media will eventually warm up to them, but Rick Santorum knows that isn't in the cards for him. Santorum will always be hated by the Washington Post, the View, and the New York Times; so he won't ever feel the temptation to sell conservatives out for a few days’ worth of nice articles. Can you really say the same about Mitt Romney?

5) Santorum is more electable than Mitt. One of the great myths of this election season is that Mitt Romney is a particularly electable candidate. This defies his entire past history and how poorly he's done during this primary season given his advantages; yet it's the primary justification for his candidacy. There's never even a plausible reason offered to explain why Mitt Romney is supposed to be so electable; people just seem to assume it's true because they've heard other people say it. In reality, both Romney and Santorum are probably slightly less electable than average POTUS candidates. Still, another way to put that would be, if you're trying to choose between Santorum and Romney, electability shouldn't be much of a factor (and if it is a factor, you should probably be backing Santorum).


While it's still a little early to take any polling to the bank, Santorum seems to have slightly better numbers versus Obama. The latest polling from Rasmussen has Obama 46% Vs. Santorum 43% and Obama 47% Vs. Romney 41%. Looking at their favorable/unfavorable ratings from Quinnipiac makes things even worse for Romney. Santorum has a 34% favorable rating and a 31% unfavorable rate while Romney has a 35% favorable number and a horrible 43% unfavorable rating.

When you consider that Romney has burned through a staggering amount of money, is down to 7.7 million cash-on-hand, and may have to start self-funding next month to keep his campaign afloat, it's pretty clear that enthusiasm for his candidacy is waning. On the other hand, Santorum will raise more money this month than Romney did last month and unlike Romney, more than half of his money is coming from small donors (50%+ Vs. 12%). What this tells you is that Santorum could draw more volunteers, better motivate the base, and probably raise more money than Romney could in a general election. If the choice is between Santorum and Romney and you're voting based on who's more likely to beat Obama, Santorum is the better choice.

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