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Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014

Santorum's charm

Posted Wednesday, February 29, 2012, at 9:42 PM

Like soldiers going over the ramparts, one by one they charged into battle and were cut down -- Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and now possibly the redoubtable Newt Gingrich, each briefly carrying the conservative banner high before falling to the fusillades of political theater. The last one standing tall among the Republicans' ABR (Anybody but Romney) Corps is Rick Santorum, the former two-term Pennsylvania U.S. senator who lost his 2006 re-election by 18 points but since then has rather amazingly resurrected his career.

Call him dull, call him dumb, call him an out-of-step Catholic who can't leave the social hot button issues long enough to talk about the economy; but admit the 53-year-old Italian-Irish-American has a fresh-faced charm that the rest of the field has lacked. Santorum talks tough, too, but does so without seeming mean. The more people see of him, the more they like him. Romney dropped the others with a few strokes of his rapier, that is those who didn't fall on their own blades. Santorum has proved tougher, husbanding his money, picking his battlefields and incrementally picking up support as voters approved of his amiable demeanor, marital stability and homeschooling his seven children.

A majority of congressmen doubts Santorum could beat President Obama, but many conservatives doubt Romney because they say there is not enough difference between Obama and him. They say the voters must have a clearer choice. With plenty of campaign funds and an improving economy, Obama may be a difficult opponent. We know from his history that he has no compunction about using a knife of his own. People who want Romney say he would have more appeal to the mainstream. Having watched Santorum since last year, I think he shouldn't be underestimated. His loss to Sen. Bob Casey came in the off-year election of President Bush's second term. He would have done better by repudiating Bush but refused to say things he didn't believe. There have been men of more humble abilities do well with the presidency, where personality is the most important attribute.



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James R. Campbell
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