It Ends Here for Santorum…

Mark Halperin reported on his blog at Time Magazine that Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is taking a few days off from the campaign for the Easter holiday. During that off time, he will be meeting with influential conservative leaders in Northern Virginia to discuss his standing in the race for the Republican nomination. Despite three significant primary losses this week and more polls showing ominous signs for his chances at winning the primary in Pennsylvania on the 24th (his home state), he has adamantly refused to drop out of the race this month. It’s not that there hasn’t been a significant number of calls for him to end his candidacy gracefully, but Mr. Santorum is still vying for a win via a brokered convention at the Republican national convention this coming August in Tampa, FL. Many other Republican politicians and columnists have already elucidated why a brokered convention would be deleterious to our chances of winning in November (which are already fading rapidly), and the need for Republican cohesion and unity has never been more mandatory and must begin right now.

It is understandable that conservatives wish that when the primary process started almost a year ago, they would be presented with a much better choice of candidates than the ones they received. Although signs of support from important demographics in the Republican Party (evangelicals, very conservatives and Tea Party supporters) are starting to improve for front-runner Mitt Romney, he still has to win back women and independent voters. His favorability ratings among women and independents have continued to dive as the primary race dragged on and started to include controversial social issues (i.e. contraception and abortion). Of course these topics were bound to come up at some point since this is a Presidential election and all issues are on the table. But the time has come to get the focus back on the economy, our insurmountable debt, foreign policy and energy. The bickering between candidates over who is more conservative than the other is futile. Mr. Santorum has already successfully established himself as the conservative alternative to Mr. Romney, despite the inconspicuous presence of Newt Gingrich’s campaign. This strategy still hasn’t worked for him, and at this point Republicans who would normally support him cannot deny how bleak his chances are.

Even if Mr. Santorum were to win in his home state of Pennsylvania on the 24th (which is still possible), it would amount to nothing at way too late a point in the game. Not to mention, Pennsylvania and Texas are not winner-take-all primaries and will allocate their delegates. Mr. Santorum has tried to change the ruling for the Texas primary so that he could keep all the delegates for himself, but both the RNC and Texas Governor Rick Perry have denied his requests repeatedly. Mr. Santorum can continue to try to persuade Mr. Gingrich out of the race, or go completely insane and propose a ticket featuring the two of them. But even if he could get Mr. Gingrich to drop out, it would still not be enough to stop the Romney juggernaut from obtaining the necessary delegates to win. Real Clear Politics has Mr. Romney up 33 points in the New York primary, which would award him 95 delegates. Mr. Romney is also very likely to win California and New Jersey, two other huge primary races with a hefty number of delegates at stake. Continuing the race further than Pennsylvania would be entirely pointless for Mr. Santorum and would only end up hurting the party and our chances in November.

Mr. Santorum can continue to contest that a brokered primary would be good for the party. However, almost everyone disagrees with that notion because they know it would turn into a food fight and would further distract us from our goal in November.  Let’s also not forget, the last time the Republican Party had a brokered convention, New York Governor Thomas Dewey was humiliated (along with the Chicago Tribune). The President and the Democrats are salivating at this possibility, as they know that the longer the primary race carries on, the longer they can sit back and observe the chaos while Republicans appear more disorganized and divided. As conservative columnist Ann Coulter points out, Mr. Romney has already passed the test of the vetting process. A brokered convention could lead us to nominating someone completely unprepared and we would essentially have wasted sixteen months strengthening our best candidate. Also, if Mr. Santorum could not win enough popular votes in the primaries, what makes him think he will come out a stronger candidate if he won the nomination through a technicality from a brokered convention?

To be fair, Mr. Santorum should be very proud of his come from behind candidacy. He was the unlikeliest candidate to provide the biggest challenge to Mr. Romney, and it’s clear rural and lower income voters admire and identify with him. I don’t think anybody predicted that Mr. Romney would win every single primary, but Mr. Santorum certainly won more primaries than almost anybody expected him to and outshined all the other contenders. However, while the primaries have likely made Mr. Romney a stronger candidate and forced him to become more focused, the primaries often resembled a clown circus and hindered our party’s image with the general public. The Republican Party cannot afford to further dampen our chances in November. Mr. Romney has already figured out that we cannot waste one more day in this primary process and has begun campaigning against the President instead of Mr. Santorum. The rest of the party needs to realize this too.

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One Response to It Ends Here for Santorum…

  1. jfilante says:

    Nice post and I agree with your recommendations. I don’t agree however that Santorum has outshined the other candidates. His popularity is living proof that 1) appealing to the dark side of populism works 2) the primary system is broken and only succeeds in bringing out the loonies and extremists to the polls.

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