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The State of the Race, Or MONEY-INFRASTRUCTURE 2012

Just off the top of my head, I can recall at least half a dozen pieces over the last ten days in the Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, the Weekly Standard, etc., that all urged Mitt Romney to develop a big idea or two, a message, a vision.  For reasons known only to Gov. Romney and his advisors, he never did.  The result? 

From Byron York’s report in today’s Washington Examiner:

The shift to Santorum was fast and overwhelming.  In the end, Santorum beat Romney by 27 points in a state [Minnesota] Romney had won by 19 points back in 2008.  Santorum scored an even bigger victory in Missouri’s beauty-contest, nonbinding primary, beating Romney by 30 points.  And even in Colorado, where the race was closer, Santorum came out ahead.  For a candidate who hadn’t won since his narrow and belated victory in Iowa, it was three victories in one night. Santorum has now won four contests to Romney’s three and Gingrich’s one….mitt.jpg

On Tuesday morning, as it became clear Romney would not have a good night, his campaign’s political director, Rich Beeson, sent out a memo trying to put things in perspective.  “John McCain lost 19 states in 2008, and we expect our opponents to notch a few wins too,” Beeson wrote.  “But unlike the other candidates, our campaign has the resources and organization to keep winning over the long run.”…

After the returns came in, I asked Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley what he thought about Rich Beeson’s message.  Sure, Santorum did well on Tuesday, but doesn’t Romney have the money and infrastructure to outdistance Santorum, and everyone else, in the long run?

“What an inspiring message,” Gidley said sarcastically.  “That is really inspiring.  I can’t wait to put a bumper sticker on my truck that says MONEY-INFRASTRUCTURE 2012.”

“No one had more money and infrastructure than Hillary Clinton, and hope and change wiped her off the map,” Gidley continued.  “We’ll have money, and we’ll have infrastructure, but our nominee has to have a message that people can get behind and inspires people.”

Gingrich and Paul represent non-factors, at least for now, while Romney has been placed, to a really astonishing extent, on the defensive–if he achieves anything less than an enormous victory in Michigan he’ll look vulnerable.  Money and organization still count for a great deal, of course, and the Intrade odds that show Romney the heavy favorite to capture the nomination remain plausible.

But this is Rick Santorum’s moment.

  1. Dave Carter
    C

    Well, now I’ll have that Beatles song lodged firmly in my head the rest of the day.  ”Money can’t buy me love.”  

  2. The Mugwump

    Romney has the money, the organization, and (apparently) the backing of the party establishment.  But it might be that Santorum has the base.  This might be a golden opportunity for conservatives to retake the party.  Here’s hoping.

  3. Pseudodionysius

    Evitable.

  4. Chris Deleon

    As I said on another thread, a fairly libertarian-leaning talk show host I listen to, Mark Davis, has no problem with Santorum.

    There’s really not much for libertarians and small-government types to fear from Santorum… at least, that they shouldn’t fear even more from a Romney presidency.  He’s been caricatured as a rabid social rightwinger, breaking down people’s doors in the middle of the night to check on their sex lives, etc.

    Based on his record, he’s one of the closest to the conservative positions across the different issues as you’ll find in a politician, including on fiscal and free trade issues.

    As for the social issues, I can’t see him being able to or even trying to implement some of the scare scenarios painted of him.  I do see him pushing hard for true conservative nominees to the Supreme Court; using his executive orders to allow freedom of conscience and religion in things like the recent birth-control issue; using the bully pulpit to speak about the importance of family; and dismantling (as much as he has the power to) the government institutions that break down the family.

  5. Katie O

    I was just trying to think of a way to word the sentiment you just expressed beautifully Chris. Thanks. What do libertarians or even independents who disagree with Santorum on social issues have to fear from the man? His powers of persuasion? He is a conservative who believes in the Constitution and separation of powers. Now, contrast that with President Obama who has pledged to act unilaterally if Congress doesn’t do his bidding!

  6. Noesis Noeseos
    Chris Deleon: As I said on another thread, a fairly libertarian-leaning talk show host I listen to, Mark Davis, has no problem with Santorum.

    As for the social issues, I can’t see him being able to or even trying to implement some of the scare scenarios painted of him.  I do see him pushing hard for true conservative nominees to the Supreme Court; using his executive orders to allow freedom of conscience and religion … and dismantling (as much as he has the power to) the government institutions that break down the family. · 23 minutes ago

    You have eased my mind somewhat.  And, is that a cat he is holding?  If so, my opinion of him just went up a few notches.

    California primary is not until June.  I have some time yet before deciding who, if anyone, will get my vote.  (Don’t worry, I’ll definitely vote for the nominee in the general.)  Of course, California Republicans are Romney to the max, so it scarcely matters for which non-Romney I vote.  Anyway, the whole thing may be finished by the time I even receive my absentee ballot.

  7. David Williamson

    I’m a lot more enthusiastic about Mr Santorum’s wins last night than many here on Ricochet. And I am an agnostic, not that much into social issues.

    For me, it’s nothing to do with religion – for the first time in the race I feel that we conservatives have a good spokesman that we can rely on to “punch back twice as hard” against Mr Obama.

    It’s so refreshing to listen to his victory speech last nite without worrying about whether he is going to put his foot in his mouth. He spoke with the minimum of notes, because he is a conservative at heart.

    We chat a lot here about tipping points, but I think last nite was a tipping point – the more people see of Mr Santorum the more they will like him – and I include “moderates” in that.

    I think he has a pretty good chance of winning, both the nomination and the White House.

    I am gonna celebrate by filling in (out) my AZ absentee ballot.

  8. Chris Deleon
    Katie O: I was just trying to think of a way to word the sentiment you just expressed beautifully Chris. Thanks. What do libertarians or even independents that disagree with Santorum on social issues have to fear from a man who believes in the separation of powers? His powers of persuasion? Now contrast that with President Obama who has pledged to act unilaterally if congress doesn’t do his bidding! · 6 minutes ago

    No, I think you’ve summarized the sentiment much better than I did, and more concisely.

  9. Chris Deleon
    David Williamson: I’m a lot more enthusiastic about Mr Santorum’s wins last night than many here on Ricochet. And I am an agnostic, not that much into social issues…

    I am gonna celebrate by filling in (out) my AZ absentee ballot.

    Great!

    Everyone, find your state primary date here, register, and GO VOTE!  For the first time in a long time, your vote in the later primary states may actually make a difference.

  10. dreamlarge
    etoiledunord: Maybe Santorum’s mistake was tying himself so closely to George W. Bush. I think Santorum’s loss was more a verdict on Bush’s popularity in late 2006–the absolute worst period of the Iraq War–not his own popularity. People can like you, and respect you, and still vote against you for other reasons. · 1 hour ago

    I agree that Santorum went down due to the general dissatisfaction with Bush and the Republican party in ’06.  But also keep in mind that Santorum lost to Bob Casey – a pro life Democrat and the son of a beloved pro life Pennsylvania governor.  I think Santorum would have fared better against a different Democrat candidate. 

  11. James Gawron

    OK guys.  Here I go again.  One more time.  The story of a horse who was the people’s choice.  The insiders hated this horse and weighed him down trying to stop him.  But nothing could stop him.

    He starts Agua Caliente dead last 10 yards behind the tail end of the pack.  He passes the whole field on the outside!!!  AND WINS!!!

  12. Katie O

    Good point dreamlarge. I also find it curious that we are constantly told to be team players, don’t attack from the right, do it for the party! Then, Santorum is criticized for doing exactly that.

  13. dreamlarge
    Peter Robinson

    while Romney has been placed, to a really astonishing extent, on the defensive–if he achieves anything less than an enormous victory in Michigan he’ll look vulnerable.  

    Democratic consultant, Steve McMahon, made an interesting comment last night on Hannity.  He noted that Clinton was the presumptive nominee in ’08.  When Obama beat Clinton he looked like “the giant killer”.  Romney came in as the “giant” in this primary season and he gets smaller and smaller with each passing contest….like “the giant that can’t beat the dwarf.”

  14. Illiniguy

    I still take credit for all this.

  15. Katie O

    I don’t get how we can have a candidate with both the experience we seek, and zero entanglement with W’s mistakes…..unless we go with Dr. No that is.

  16. Katie O

    :o Illiniguy! I see my call to “bare” arms predates yours by a day ;)

    Illiniguy: I still take credit for all this. · 11 minutes ago

  17. Stuart Creque
    Peter Robinson

    Misthiocracy: There’s plenty of ammunition for Romney to throw at Santorum, like Santorum’s opposition to NAFTA and his support for protectionist tariffs. · 10 minutes ago

    True enough, although with Romney calling for something very close to trade sanctions on China, I’m not sure he’s in a position to press these points very hard.

    But a Romney-Santorum exchange will prove healthy.  In his personal life, Santorum is as impeccable as is Romney.  Neither, in short, will be in a position to throw mud.  They’ll be forced–forced–to debate policy.

    So, at least, I hope. · 2 hours ago

    Is this an example of a policy debate?

  18. Illiniguy
    Katie O: :o Illiniguy! I see my call to “bare” arms predates yours by a day ;) · 33 minutes ago

    Illiniguy: I still take credit for all this. · 11 minutes ago

    Edited 30 minute

    Dear Lady, I concede.

  19. Chris Deleon
    Stuart Creque

    Peter Robinson: But a Romney-Santorum exchange will prove healthy.  In his personal life, Santorum is as impeccable as is Romney.  Neither, in short, will be in a position to throw mud.  They’ll be forced–forced–to debate policy.

    So, at least, I hope.

     Is this an example of a policy debate?

    Sorry, Peter, there won’t be a clean race with Romney and his super PACs involved.

    Negative campaigning works.  Unfortunately for the people that use it, it does sometimes backfire.  I’m really hoping it backfires hard on Romney this time, because it’s disgusting.

    There is some evidence that the effect it’s had is to wipe out Romney’s target, but also diminish Romney’s favorability ratings at the same time.  This may be why turnout for Romney was so low in the last few primaries (Nevada and yesterday).  I’m still not sure if the Romney camp will abstain, because in the win-at-any-cost mindset, who cares if you get dirty, as long as your opponent looks dirtier.

  20. Katie O

    Aw…thanks! I knew the Chief Illiniwek avatar was a symbol of honor :)

    Illiniguy 

    Dear Lady, I concede. · 9 minutes ago