Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Republican voters redeem themselves

(Reuters) - Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum claimed a surge of momentum and fundraising on Wednesday, a day after his shocking sweep of nominating contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri that dealt a blow to front-runner Mitt Romney.

Even though Romney holds strong advantages in financing and organization, his campaign will have to refocus to fight the challenge from Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania known for his socially conservative views.

"We definitely are the campaign with the momentum, the enthusiasm on the ground," Santorum said on CNN.

For Romney, Tuesday's results included losses in two states - Colorado and Minnesota - that he won in his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. Minnesota also became the first state where Romney did not end up in first or second place.

The startling results raised fresh doubts about whether Romney, a wealthy former private equity executive and former Massachusetts governor, can extend his support from the party establishment to win over a broad swath of Republican voters.

Santorum has now finished first in four of the first eight primaries and caucuses, after his narrow victory over Romney in Iowa's caucuses on January 3.

The former senator said his campaign was already bringing in more donations, an important consideration for a candidate who trails far behind Romney in the fund-raising race.
"We're doing very, very well raising money. I think last night we raised a quarter of a million dollars online," Santorum said.

Backed by a wealthy "Super PAC" that pays for attack advertising against rivals, Romney won three of the first five state-by-state contests to pick the Republican nominee to oppose Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.

As he has before, Romney had seemed on track to win the nomination after big wins in Nevada and Florida last week. He had been expected to win easily in Colorado and did little campaigning in Minnesota and Missouri.

In Minnesota's caucuses, Santorum won with 45 percent of the vote. But the state became the first this year in which Romney did not finish first or second. Congressman Ron Paul was in second place with 27 percent and Romney was third at 17 percent.

Santorum trounced Romney by 30 percentage points in Missouri, 55 percent to 25 percent. That vote was a non-binding primary, but has symbolic value as a measure of support in a big Midwestern state.

The race was closer in Colorado where Santorum won by 5 percentage points over Romney, 40 percent to 35 percent.

This is good news indeed.  Nearly 75% of the American people want ObamaCare repealed.  I cannot remember when there was that much agreement on an issue of importance (except for opposition to amnesty for alien criminals) and the GOP simply cannot afford to give this issue away.

And whatever Ann Coulter may think to the contrary Mitt Romney is too tainted by RomneyCare to be credible to an electorate which does not really understand or care much about the concept of federalism.  They will want their president to agree with them that any government at any level should not impose something like ObamneyCare upon them.  They will want their president to be able to articulate why that kind of government mandate (whether federal, state or local) is immoral and will do great damage to the health care system of whatever polity it is inflicted upon.

Romney will not be able to do this because he still believes to this day that RomneyCare was a good thing.  The voting public is not going to be impressed with his attempt to split constitutional hairs.  What they will hear is that ObamaCare was good when I did it but bad when Obama did it.  This just won't cut it for a large enough segment of the population to cost Romney the election.

The fact that Gingrich has collapsed indicates that he is not the man to take on Obama.  If Republican voters are too turned off by has arrogance, egotism, narcissism, inconsistency, dishonesty, bluster and continual excursions to the left then what hope does he have with independents and Democrats willing to jump ship over Obama's unbelievable incompetence.

It is also significant that Santorum was able to get over 50% of the vote in one state (something that Romney has not been able to achieve this year) and that Romney was pushed back to third place in one state.

All the great majority of Republicans need to abandon Romney is the sense that someone else could win.  Santorum is looking more and more like he can win.

Romney still has enormous advantages.  He is a very rich man with the backing of a very rich superPAC.  He has an impressive organization on the ground (he has been running for president since 2007 after all) and Santorum does not have much money or much of an organization.

However Republican money will flow to a candidate that looks as though he can beat Obama in the general and Romney in the primary.  If Newt Gingrich would bow to the inevitable and withdraw from the race it would be all over for Romney (and for Obama as well).

However Gingrich will not do this.  It is simply not in his nature to place the interests of the nation ahead of his own ego gratification.  It is not in his nature to place the interests of anything ahead of his own ego.

I make no predictions.  Most states have not voted yet and nearly anything can happen but as things stand now Rick Santorum can beat Romney and then he can beat Obama.  Check out this Rasmussen poll which shows Santorum beating Obama in a head-to-head matchup because of his double digit lead among independents (who are supposed to be the key to winning the general election).

I urge anyone reading this to give Rick Santorum a close look.  I think you will be impressed.