The Rise and Fall, Again, of Rick Santorum's Political Ambition

Things that look final sometimes aren't.

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted Apr. 18, 2012

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Even before Santorum withdrew from the race, talk of a 2016 run had already begun.

Others have noted that the GOP’s pattern of nominating the past runner-up could play well for Santorum. After all, Nixon also lost the presidency in 1960 only to win it in ’68. Ronald Reagan lost the nomination in ’76 to come back with a landslide victory in ’80. Bob Dole lost the nomination to George H.W. Bush in 1988 to come back and gain the nomination in 1996. John McCain lost to George W. Bush to gain the party nod in 2008. And last time around, Romney was the second-place finisher to John McCain.

Peter Fenn of U.S. News and World Report noted shortly after Santorum’s campaign suspension that if Romney loses come November, Republicans are likely to be kicking themselves, saying they should have nominated a solid conservative. On the other hand, Santorum’s conservativism is one whose time may have come and gone. It’s hard to imagine anyone so polarizing and vocal on social issues will be able to win over more than 50 percent of the U.S. electorate.

He’ll also have to deal with a plethora of up-and-comers, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and, possibly, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in a new primary fight four years from now. Those politicians have arguably better resumes, are more charismatic and ready for prime time than Mitt Romney is now, or ever will be.

“I don’t think [Santorum is] going to be ready four years from now,” says Greene, “and I don’t think the country is going to be more able to swallow his uber-Catholicism or his right-wingism. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.”

But whether 2016 becomes the year of Santorum or not, his 2012 presidential bid has made for a significant object lesson on both sides of the political divide, showing Republicans and Democrats the country over that the social-conservative base—the anti-gay, anti-porn, anti-choice, pro-“values” voters—are still out there. They didn’t go away when the Bush administration didn’t need them anymore. They’re still voting, and they’re pissed enough about the country’s dive toward secularism to cast their ballot as a point about “justice for the unborn” rather than get in line behind the establishment-picked candidate.

And that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

During Santorum’s concession speech, his family stood by. Sarah Maria was there, too, straight-faced, not a tear this time around. Yes, Romney would be the nominee—but Santorum’s fight, the former Pennsylvanian insisted, would continue.

An hour later, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh reflected on Santorum’s bow out of the race. “It was the fondest hope that that Tea Party eruption in 2010 would produce a like-minded presidential nominee and campaign,” Limbaugh exclaimed just before his show ended. “But, you know, you look back and who would have ever thought Santorum would win 11 states when this started? Who would have ever thought that would have happened? I don’t think Santorum believed he would win 11 states. But he did, and it is quite telling.”

“He wanted to be the last conservative standing,” says Madonna. “And he was.”

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Comments 1 - 6 of 6
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1. Wayne said... on Apr 18, 2012 at 09:03AM

“Once Santorum exhausted states heavily populated with tea baggers, thrice born Christians and intermarried first cousins, his message of extreme right wing fanaticism met a brick wall.That anyone is surprised is itself a surprise, but moderate Americans need to be vigilant against his theocratic message......the snake has retreated to its dark hole but is still alive!”

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2. Newman said... on Apr 18, 2012 at 10:20AM

“Once again, the elite GOP and media has managed to carpet bomb and sway the voter with the negative ads from a moderate. Santorum is what most patriotic American voters are looking for in a conservative Republican. However, the GOP "crowned" Romney long ago. Santorum outdid everybody and did not compromise his core values. He is still on the ballots in many states and I hope people realize that they should vote for him in order to Santorum to speak at the Tampa Convention.”

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3. anon said... on Apr 18, 2012 at 11:00AM

“you were not the last conservative standing Rick.. sorry pal.. but that title belongs to RON PAUL.

Only Paul has a chance at beating Obama. Romney is doing horrible in polls against Barry. 65% to 35% believe Obama will win regardless of who they are voting for.

I thought we were done with political insiders and lobbyists running our country... The lobbyists wont even show up to Ron Paul's office. But no, the media insists we must take the life-long lobbyist Romney if we like him or not.

Let me get this right... we want to nominate the guy.. who lost to the guy.. who lost to Obama??? WAKE UP REPUBLICANS.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Apr 18, 2012 at 10:51PM

“Only one thing to say. NO MORE OBAMA -- Enough is enough. No more circumventing our Constitution for personal glory.”

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5. reyn said... on Apr 24, 2012 at 11:34AM

“@Newman You do realize that contrary to what you think most Americans do NOT want anyone anything like Rick Santorum, right? Even if you ignore the non-voters (who slew further to the center and left than the voters in general) Santorum would not have won, nor in fact, even come close. Romney might win, or he might lose, but he has a chance. Rick Santorum, and all those of his ilk, have no chance.

Please, STOP trying to ruin the GOP and the United States.”

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6. Anonymous said... on May 13, 2012 at 01:49AM

“@reyn My dead Grandmother has a chance against Obama. Any popularity he has is imaginary; simply a product of his media fan club. Jimmy Carter was neck and neck with Reagan until the Election...where he promptly lost in a landslide victory for Reagan. So, was the media lying then (like now) or did the majority of the population simply change their minds on election day?”


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