If Rick Santorum comes in first or a strong second tomorrow in Iowa, the establishment media will fall all over themselves “explaining” that it was all those “social conservatives” in Iowa who did it for him. Certainly, his consistency on social issues will merit a great deal of the credit. But that’s hardly the whole story. As Rich Lowry at National Review has pointed out, one reason Santorum is “connecting” is that, alone among the candidates, he so seamlessly ties the “family issues” of “social” policy into the “family issues” of economic policy — in short, he shows how they are connected. He has always done as much. That’s why he always did so well in a tough district and a tough state in Pennsylvania, where he “connected” well in four straight races with blue-collar voters, or, put another way, with “Reagan Democrats” as well as Republicans.
In truth, he’s been solid across the board, and, again, rather seamless in his ability to tie everything together coherently. Herewith, then, my earlier columns on those Santorum issue positions: on economics, on foreign and defense policy, and on the role of faith in politics. And, despite the supposed boldness by Newt Gingrich on the subject of judges, the truth is that it is Santorum who has long been a signal leader in the fight for a better judiciary, as I explained here:
Also, almost unique among Republican senators not on the Judiciary Committee, Santorum fully grasped the importance of federal judgeships and fought hard on judicial nominations when others weaseled out. His staff usually provided more of an entrée to conservative judicial enthusiasts than did the staffs of the Judiciary Committee or the party’s Senate leader. And Santorum understood that judicial fights aren’t just important in principle, but good politics too, because the public agrees with conservatives on judges.
Back in July of 2010, I foresaw a path to victory for Santorum, for many of these reasons, and because he had won against the odds before:
[C]onservatives do themselves and their cause a huge disservice if they don’t take a Rick Santorum candidacy seriously. It would be crazy not to acknowledge that the odds seem long. But he has beaten the odds, repeatedly, before, and he knows how to leverage public opinion for conservative ends. “I’m someone who moves the ball,” he told me. “I get a lot of stuff done.”
Iowa’s voters may give him a major boost in proving he still can do it.