Santorum Losing It?

March 26, 2012

Introduction – this editorial takes a jaundiced-eye view of Rick Santorum’s recent campaign gaffes – yet lest you think I’m a Romney supporter, I invite you to read my earlier recent blog, “Wrestling with Romney.”  http://nevadaconservative.com/wrestling-with-romney/ – I may be having problems with Rick Santorum, but I’m not in the tank for Romney.

Ned Barnett

The other day, Rick Santorum stirred the pot by suggesting that given a choice between Obama and Romney, people might as well vote for Obama.  He said that two days running, before the heat got so intense that he had to walk it back.

That was then, this was now.  Today (Sunday), in Wisconsin, as reported by Fox News, the Family Values candidate seemed to “lose it,” using the term “bullshit” when talking to a New York Times reporter, basically cursing him out for continuing to question Santorum about his latest charge (that Romney would be the “worst Republican” to run against Obama).  http://networkedblogs.com/vCegG

Which has me – as someone who’s managed “media” and “strategy” for three state-level Presidential campaigns – thinking that Rick Santorum is losing it – losing his focus, losing his ability to stay on message, losing his ability to focus on the positive.

The day before, Rick Santorum had won decisively in Louisiana, breaking Romney’s string of victories and seeming to keep Santorum’s campaign alive.  Today, Sunday, should have been a day of high-fives, celebrations, and stretching out of the good news.  Instead, everybody’s talking about his short-temper and intemperate use of language.  “Bullshit” is not the worst thing any candidate has ever said, but it rattles his Mr. Clean family-guy image and destroyed any momentum he may have gotten from the Big Easy.

It also seems to demonstrate the dangers of focusing on the attack, rather than on emphasizing your own positives.  Rick Santorum has many positives – and, because he’s arguably still the least well-known of the three still-viable candidates, strategically he should be stressing those positives and making a name for himself.  Instead, he’s busy trash-talking Romney, and twice this week, while trying to take Mitt down a peg, he’s put his foot in it.

Santorum also has some edgy, controversial positions, and he’s not afraid to stick with them.  While those risk turning off some voters, they also clearly define Rick Santorum as something other than a mainstream RINO – and, they tend to divert voters attention away from those times when Santorum voted like a RINO (supporting the NEA’s funding  on several occasions, for instance).  Yet those also disappear in the background when, instead of making bold assertions that distinguish him from other candidates, he wastes his 15 minutes of fame ineffectively trying to take Romney down a peg or two.

At this late date in the campaign, it’s fair to say that every Republican likely to vote in a primary has already heard whatever negatives attach to Mitt Romney.  They’ve heard of Romneycare.  They’ve seen him change positions on Abortion and other conservative hot-button issues.  Nothing Santorum can say will surprise people still planning to vote in a primary or caucus.  But many of those people still don’t know Santorum – at least not the way they know Gingrich or Romney.

If he wastes his time screwing up attacks against Romney, stepping on his own (few) victories and failing to make a positive case for himself as the better candidate, then he’s going to lose the primary battle.  And if he keeps messing up, losing his temper, he’s going to not only lose the election, but he’s going to be seen as “losing it.”  And perhaps he is.

Ned Barnett, Nevada Conservative

 


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