Mitt Romney desperately needs both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stay in this Presidential race as long as possible. Though it is not a reality the former Governor relishes. In fact the disdain he has for the situation seems to be aging him on the trail right before our very eyes.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is an easy villain for Romney and his notoriously dirty campaign team. Beginning back in 2008 when they passed verifiably false information to National Review that was repeated with nary a breath of inspection, the Romney campaign has always utilized a multi-angle position of attack.
Unfortunately for the Governor these days he is on the receiving end of some multi-pronged offensives of his own. The difference being they have become very public--usually taking place on debate stages--and they are made up of facts, instead of fomented fiction.
Rick Santorum has especially shone bright when picking the Governor's weak spots, and if the withering sweat dribbles that Romney exhibits under the factual correction of his GOP colleagues, I hesitate to express any desire to see what would happen under the billion dollar assault that President Obama will level at him.
Sen. Santorum has reminded folks of Romney's two biggest vulnerabilities and he has single-handidly voiced the most articulate response to them.
A number of debates back it was Senator Santorum, not Bachmann, Perry, or Cain, who dismantled Romney's epic myth that he had fought for the sanctity of marriage as then governor of Massachusetts. Santorum correctly asserted the facts: that while the judges in the state had definitively over-reached, the Governor was never ordered by the bench to execute their wholesale change in the writing of laws, nor could he have been compelled to under the separation of powers in the commonwealth. Santorum's articulate and precise observation was that not only did Romney not ignore the court--which he was in position to do--he went the extra step in enforcing the court's non-legislative law into existence and even forced the first several marriage licenses to be processed. Santorum's view like most GOP base voters is simple. The Governor was in position to call the court's bluff and should have done so. It would have created a temporary crisis in the state courts, but it likely would've been resolved by a higher court, and Romney would've been able to truly claim the mantle of someone who fought to keep marriage defined as it always has been.
This week in debate number nineteen of this election cycle Senator Santorum nailed Governor Romney to the wall on his biggest fiscal weakness--Obamacare. Senator Santorum calmly laid out the facts that Obama looked to Romney's own model as not-so-much the blueprint for the federal version, but more like the actual skeleton.
Santorum pointed out that the mandate, penalties, co-ops, and oversight all work the same way in the Obama version of health care reform as they do in the Romney version. He didn't even mentioned the state-tax-payer-supported $50 abortions that Romneycare went out of their way to include.
Romney countered by merely claiming that his version didn't do certain things like raise taxes and rob medicare programs. (Of which only the latter claim is true. Romney raised taxes on BLIND PEOPLE in Massachusetts who needed state certification of their condition to qualify for state aid.)
Wolf Blitzer attempted to rescue Governor Romney but Senator Santorum did not allow it. Re-stating what he had previously asserted he asked Romney if the mandates, penalties, and population coverage was the same in his plan, and Romney was forced to concede the point.
It showed utter weakness for the potential nominee to have to reconcile the similarities, and Santorum illustrated that this would be the exact weakness Obama would exploit in a campaign match-up between the two.
The crowd seemed overly populated with Romney fans--a strategy more likely to be carried out by Ron Paul's campaign--but even the majority of the people in the room applauded Santorum when he forced the Governor to finally concede his weakness.
This has to bother the Governor immensely. But Santorum's case is sound.
Many knew that Romney has been inconsistent as a social conservative, but Santorum forced the world to see how weak he is as a FISCAL nominee as well.
Ann Coulter said it less than a year ago, "Mitt Romney will be the nominee, and the republicans will lose."
Senator Santorum demonstrated why Ann was right to say that, and while there may not be time for the Santorum team to make the long steep climb they need to, at least everyone in the room is aware of what the greater issue should be to primary voters--Romney can't win.
And as Ann Coulter believed, he probably won't.