Jewish World Review March 2, 2012/ 8 Adar, 5772
Santorum Needs Stronger Stomach
By Roger Simon
He has done reasonably well by not being Mitt Romney, but not being somebody else can get you only so far.
Eventually voters want you to be somebody, even if only yourself, and that is where Santorum blows it.
Take Tuesday, when he lost the popular vote in the Michigan primary to Romney. In his non-concession/concession speech, Santorum said, "My message of creating jobs resonated" in Michigan.
And I'll bet you he wishes today that jobs actually had been his message. But it wasn't.
Instead his message was about Satan and how churches ought to be able to shape government policy and how people who wanted to send their kids to college were snobs.
And more. If you were out of work in Michigan and your unemployment benefits were about to run out, did you really want to hear Rick Santorum tell you how John F. Kennedy makes him want to "throw up"?
Because that would solve your problems, right? That would cover your mortgage and your car payments, right?
Which is the problem with Santorum basing his campaign on social issues and appeals to the religious right. It doesn't give anybody hope for a job or make anybody less fearful of losing a job.
If you are in the middle class and just barely hanging on and wondering how you are going to pay for your kids' college (snob!), let alone your own retirement, do you really want to hear Santorum tell you how he is against birth control?
Who cares? Let him not use all the birth control he wants to not use. But how does that help you?
Mitt Romney is far from a perfect candidate. And, again, if you were fearful of losing your paycheck, you really didn't warm very much to Mitt talking about his bicoastal Cadillacs and his friends, the multimillionaire NASCAR team owners.
But Mitt was essentially correct when he said: "You know, I'm not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support. I am who I am."
When Al Gore ran his highly underrated 2000 campaign (which managed to end up with 500,000 more popular votes than his opponent), he was constantly accused of not being "comfortable in his own skin."
You don't hear that about Romney. He is comfortable in his own skin. It is very, very wealthy skin, but he is not going around apologizing for it.
(There are two other candidates still in the race, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, but they are there mainly as scenery.)
Rick Santorum can be forgiven for getting his message wrong. He has been listening to the media. And reading all the stories about how the religious right is a hugely powerful force within the Republican Party and if it would coalesce around just one candidate, that candidate could smash Mitt Romney.
As I have said before, the influence of the religious right is vastly overrated. Within the Republican Party, where you would expect it to have its most influence, it has not gotten its nominee for decades.
The religious right hated John McCain, who did little to disguise his disdain for it; it opposed George W. Bush, who refused to back an anti-abortion amendment to the Constitution; it hated Bob Dole, who refused even to read the anti-abortion plank of the Republican platform; and George H.W. Bush was anathema to the religious right because he once referred to ultra-conservatives as the "extra-chromosome set."
In fact, the religious right has not gotten the nominee it has wanted since Ronald Reagan, who was so religious he attended church approximately once in his eight years in office.
True, Santorum was not exactly crushed by Romney in Michigan. Romney won by about 3 percentage points. But as Romney said Tuesday night, "We didn't win by a lot, but we won by enough."
Which is exactly right. Even if Romney ends up splitting Michigan's delegates with Santorum, it doesn't matter. This race, no matter what you hear, is not going to get down to a delegate race. It will be wrapped up before the Tampa convention, not at the Tampa convention.
The Republican "field" (i.e., Romney and Santorum) now heads into Super Tuesday next week, when the media will concentrate largely on Ohio.
Ohio has many of the same problems as Michigan, though Ohio neighbors Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania and Santorum currently leads the polls in Ohio.
Still, if I were him, I would change my game plan. I would concentrate on jobs, jobs, jobs, and not Satan, snobbism or the delicate state of my stomach.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
© 2009, Creators Syndicate