Rick Santorum? A Keystone State View - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Rick Santorum? A Keystone State View
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My friend Quin Hillyer is asking about Rick Santorum, so as the resident Pennsylvanian here’s what I see. Note: I need to try and allow for the old prophet-in-his-own-land syndrome.

His bluntness is at once an asset and a liability. To use the old joke about Christ and his critics, were Rick to walk on water the headline would be “Santorum can’t swim”….And he is constitutionally incapable of not being blunt, which in this media environment is a problem for anybody. People will be (will be?…they are surely already!) out to get him…make him look like a homophobic, hate-mongering posterior. Surely the charming quote from ex-Senator Bob Kerrey will surface…”Is Santorum Latin for a–h—?” The left’s treatment of a nominee Santorum, not to mention a President Santorum, would make their treatment of Bush look like the coverage of Kate Middleton. You could look forward to a race that would be cast by the liberal media as the Saint versus the Bigoted Jerk and-oh-by-the-way doesn’t he look like Hitler?

That’s from the left.

From the right, the Specter situation is a problem — although he can honestly say that without Arlen there may not have been Roberts and Alito. Also, conservatives here balked on his defense of earmarks…interpreted as a defense of the Establishment taste for pork, both a deadly problem with the right.

But integrity? Hard work? A serious vision on Islamic radicals and a willingness to confront that threat? Pro-life? Moral clarity in general? Right (correct) on economics, national security? Top notch. Which means a Santorum supporter will decidedly not be lukewarm. They will love him even more when the BS comes down, as it surely will. Not unlike the Palinistas, Santorumites are not lukewarm about their candidate.

One curious problem is Pennsylvania. As things go in our state, the real political power for either party comes when they hold the governorship. Governors here have real inside-the-party clout unless they seriously alienate. Senators — with no patronage to speak of — have never managed well here in this sense, no matter the party. A case in point was when the Reagan brain trust of 1976 tried to put Reagan over the top by naming then-Pennsylvania Senator Dick Schweiker as Reagan’s before-the-balloting VP choice. The idea was to snatch the Pennsylvania delegation from Ford. There was no GOP governor at the time (Democrat Milton Shapp had the job). It didn’t work. Why? Because even a sitting Senator didn’t have the ability to control the party machinery. So — the gambit lost.

The point? We have a brand new GOP governor, Tom Corbett. You can bet he will have considerable say in the leanings of the Pennsylvania GOP delegation. If he chooses not to back Santorum — Santorum is essentially starting baseless. That would be a real problem. The only way around this are early primary wins — NH, SC, etc. The Pennsylvania primary is later — April 24th or some such.

Does that help? Rick Santorum is a deeply honorable public servant. A real fighter for, as Superman seems suddenly reluctant to say, “truth, justice and the American way.” But every one of these prospectives has pluses and minuses and I think this is roughly fair about his.

Can he win? Personally, I think this year is going to be so open anybody can win under the right circumstances. He’s not as well positioned as Romney or Huckabee…but is it possible? You remember President Hillary Clinton, don’t you?

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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