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Santorum’s Remarkable Journey

I agree completely with Alana and Jonathan that the end game is at hand regarding the Republican nomination. Barring a major development, Romney is now unstoppable. He has a commanding lead in delegates and his two main opponents, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, are facing increasingly difficult situations and rapidly diminishing possibilities. Santorum has yet to win in a state not dominated by hard-line conservatives and evangelicals, states that are safely in the Republican column come November anyway. Gingrich finished in Illinois behind fringe candidate Ron Paul.

But while Rick Santorum is now very unlikely to win the nomination, it’s been a remarkable journey for him. Just consider, he was a two-term senator, having won in Republican years (1994 and 2000) and then was clobbered in the Democratic year of 2006, losing as an incumbent by 18 percentage points. That’s a pretty thin résumé to run on. He was seriously underfunded throughout most of the campaign, unable even to get on the ballot in some districts and in Virginia.

And yet, here he is, clearly the runner-up. And, as he pointed out in his concession speech last night, he has obviously influenced the frontrunner. Romney’s victory speech—he is by no means a natural orator, but it was best I’ve heard him give—came right out of the Santorum playbook: framing the upcoming general election as a battle between personal freedom and ever greater state control of the American economy and, thus, American lives.

In other words, Santorum’s run, while it failed in its ultimate goal of the Republican nomination, brought him back from the land of the politically dead and forced the apparent winner towards his positions. He has earned a place at the table and, probably, a major job in a Romney administration.  That’s not a bad result when you think about it. It’s a whole lot more than Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann, or Rick Perry got out of their months on the rubber-chicken circuit.



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