Romney vs. Santorum: Who Could Owe Conservatives More?
Many of us are probably well familiar with our own Ann Coulter's rumination on why Romney was the man to choose:
I went up to him. I was about to leave. But I said — I just wanted to go up to him and tell him, ‘You owe me and you better be as right-wing a president as I’m telling everybody you’re going to be.
That's not the reason Ann's been stumping for Mitt, of course, but it is a key piece in the logical argument for why conservatives ought to get over themselves and go Romney. Presidents aren't everything, so you shouldn't worry that this one will destroy the movement. But presidents are something, so you can pressure them successfully to make an impact governing as you think is best. And this would-be president really wants to be president. But he faces certain stubborn hurdles. Clear the big one by accepting his leadership, conservatives, and presto -- Romney owes you.
But wouldn't Santorum owe conservatives more? He's broke (as campaigns go). He's delegate-poor. He's polling well against Obama, but without some big victories in non-beauty contests, it's hopeless. Unlike Romney, he won't just try again in '16 if he loses. This is all or nothing for him. This is Rick Santorum's last hurrah. UNLESS... he wins. And he just isn't going to win, period, unless conservatives drop Newt and coalesce around him, starting... NOW.
Off the top of my head, there are a couple legitimate reasons I can think of why conservatives wouldn't want to do this. I'm on record furrowing my brow at some of Santorum's Bush-era, big-government excesses. Any truuuuue conservative would want to ensure that a president Santorum wouldn't give America some misbegotten equivalent of Bush's third term.
But that's exactly why the question is so important: would Santorum owe conservatives who unite around him more than Romney would?
I think you can guess my answer.