Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Santorum Won’t Sabotage Romney

The day after being embarrassed by Mitt Romney in Puerto Rico, Rick Santorum was taking tough in Illinois about a brokered Republican convention. Blasting the frontrunners as a “Massachusetts moderate,” Santorum vowed the convention would nominate a conservative, meaning that he would fight to the last ditch and last delegate to prevent a Romney nomination. But if the latest polls indicating a substantial Romney victory in Illinois are true, then perhaps Santorum will be singing a different tune in the upcoming weeks.

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks monitoring Newt Gingrich’s campaign for signals that he was about to pull out possibly in favor of Santorum. The Pennsylvanian can look forward to a possible victory in Louisiana this coming weekend. But after that, despite all of the brave talk coming from his campaign, the list of states that he can win is not that long. So if Santorum falls short tomorrow in Illinois as he did in Michigan and Ohio or, even worse, gets badly beaten there in the popular vote as well as in the individual delegate contests, it might be time for him to start reassessing his own options.

No matter what happens in the next weeks and months, Santorum has run a remarkable campaign. Considering that virtually no one other than himself thought he had a chance to even last this long, let alone win 10 primaries and caucuses, he’s come a very long way in the last six months. During this presidential election cycle, pundits wondered who would be the 2012 version of Mike Huckabee in terms of a dark horse who does far better than anyone imagined. But in future GOP presidential contests — whether the next one is 2016 or 2020 — we will be asking who will be the next Santorum since he has surpassed the paltry victories won by Huckabee.

But the mention of 2016 or 2020 ought to also cause us to wonder whether Santorum is really going to be willing to wreck the GOP convention just to prove a point about the need to prevent the nomination of a moderate or to give Romney some payback for all the abuse he has dished out in attack ads.

Right now, even if Santorum doesn’t get walloped in Illinois, the odds of him winning the nomination are slim. If he ends the primary season with a reasonable chance of stopping Romney, no one in the party could fault him for carrying his efforts to the national convention the way Ronald Reagan did in 1976 when the GOP nomination was a close-run thing. But if, after the next few weeks, Santorum is nowhere near Romney in terms of pledged delegates and Romney is quite close to clinching, the question that must asked and answered is whether Santorum is prepared to destroy his future in the party just to spite the eventual nominee.

Though he continues to be abused as an extremist on social issues by the mainstream media, Santorum has established himself on the national stage as a figure to be reckoned with this year. If the Republicans don’t win in November, he will automatically become considered a strong candidate for 2016. He is also young enough at 53 to contemplate a presidential run in 2020 or beyond. While he is not the sort of person that I would expect to play a cynical game when it comes to presidential politics, it should also be remembered that he spent most of his political life as a “team player,” that was always ready to see the big picture on issues and elections.

After having won so many contests, he deserves to play out the hand he is dealt in the coming weeks. But put me down as being skeptical that Santorum would do anything out of spite or to merely drag down Romney once it is certain that his own chances are lost. In the last few months, Rick Santorum, a man whose 2006 Pennsylvania defeat marked him as something of a joke, has redeemed his reputation as a politician. Like him or not, and in contrast to Newt Gingrich, he is now someone with a future in Republican politics. I doubt Santorum will do anything to burn his bridges with his party.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.