Published On: Fri, Jan 6th, 2012

On The Road to Casablanca Will Everyone Stop at Rick’s?

Iowa Republicans have spoken and their message is mixed. One thing is clear, however, they have decided to give Rick Santorum his shot at becoming the definitive anti-Romney. After flirting with Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, Republican voters in Iowa settled  on Mitt Romney and in a surprise they also elevated Rick Santorum to the top tier of Republican presidential candidates. Ron Paul also had a respectable showing, but he did it by bringing in new caucus goers who were not Republicans.

The rapid collapse of Newt Gingrich in so brief a time created the opening for a Rick Santorum surge. After exhausting all the other alternatives, the people who could just not vote for Mitt Romney (75% of Republican voters) settled on Santorum as a viable alternative. He doesn’t carry the personal and political baggage of a Newt Gingrich, he is not known for saying flaky things, he is sincerely pro-life and he is a dedicated family man.

Rick Santorum is also someone who understands the byzantine workings of the federal government. His years in the House and 12 years in the Senate, in leadership positions, prepares him to hit the ground running as president should he win the Republican nomination and defeat Barack Obama. Santorum is unapologetically pro-life and anti-same sex marriage. Senator Santorum was also the author of the partial birth abortion ban of 2003. This enrages liberals to the point of irrationality and a Santorum presidential candidacy will bring them out of the woodwork in droves in an attempt to prevent his election as president.

Rick Santorum is not an Ayn Rand Republican. He sees the need for government involvement to ease the vicissitudes of life for the less fortunate. His blue collar populist message, along with his humble immigrant roots, will make it hard for Democrats to paint him as a tool of Wall Street. His opposition to the bank bailouts makes him closer to the so called 99% than Barack Obama.

This does not mean that Santorum is an advocate of the entitlement state as is the current occupant of the White House. In fact, Rick Santorum as a very junior Senator was assigned the task of floor leader for the Welfare Reform Bill. That is in sharp contrast with a junior Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama who did little in the Senate, in the time he was there, except to prepare a run for president.

Santorum proved himself to be the equal of such Democrat titans in the Senate as Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Ted Kennedy. He went head to head with them over the bill and for the most part got his way. Santorum’s dedication and hard work paid off as Welfare Reform was finally signed into law in August of 1996. That bill was the first and only reform of an entitlement program that this nation has ever seen. It proved to be a rousing success despite the predictions of gloom and doom from the professional left.

So, we have a new serious contender in the Republican field. He is an articulate, consistent conservative with a working knowledge of the ways of Washington DC. His campaign motto is Faith, Family, Freedom.  He has consistently opposed abortion and supported the Second Amendment. He opposes ObamaCare and desires market solutions to expand coverage. Santorum proposes new personal income tax rates of 10% and 28% and a new corporate rate of 17.5% which would be half of the current rate. He also proposes a 0% corporate tax rate on manufacturing to make that industry more competitive in the global markets and create more jobs here at home. Rick Santorum’s opposition to same sex marriage does seem to go against the zeitgeist, if we are to believe the current polls, but that is unlikely to be a deal killer with the American people.

Most importantly, we have a candidate with a compelling story. He is the child of two public servants who were employed by the Veterans Administration and the grandchild of an Italian immigrant coal miner. Rick Santorum has a record of being elected as a conservative Republican in an overwhelmingly Democrat House District (1991-1994) and he was then elected to the US Senate twice (1995-2007) in what can be considered a blue state. He became the youngest Senator serving when he was sworn in as the junior Senator from Pennsylvania.  His subsequent landslide defeat for re-election against Bob Casey Jr in 2006 is certainly what caused Republicans to shy away from his candidacy earlier in this current primary contest. That defeat is understandable considering the war fatigue and unpopularity of fellow Republican George W Bush at that time.

In the 13 Republican debates leading up to the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum found himself off to the side of the platform where he struggled to get someone to ask him a question. When he did speak, he did perform well, most notably in answering Ron Paul’s  foolishly naive opinions on the plans and motivations of the Iranian Mullahs. Still, it was a struggle for Santorum  to get recognition when everyone’s attention was focused on the perceived front runners. This will all change on Saturday night and Sunday morning in New Hampshire as the focus of the debates will now be on Rick Santorum. This is his chance to make his case before an attentive audience. Does he have it in him? Can he seize the moment and take control of his own destiny?

If you listened to Rick Santorum speak to his supporters and the nation early Wednesday morning, as the final Iowa caucus votes were coming in, you would have to believe that he is certainly up to the occasion. The speech was heartfelt and moving and certainly worth a listen.  

We can not know today if Rick Santorum has the stuff to go all the way to the White House, but if he does, the entire Washington establishment will be shocked, shocked  to find that there will be conservatism going on in the back room of Rick’s White House.

About the Author

- Paul Bianco, retired from a career in sales, now spends his spare time as a gadfly on the many political blogs. Paul says he is just going through a phase, but that phase seems to have lasted two decades. Paul's conservative political philosophy was formed well before conservative talk radio and Fox News came along. Paul remembers the days when conservatives like William F Buckley Jr were voices in the wilderness "standing athwart history, yelling stop!" From time to time Paul contributes some of the insights he has gained from observing politics for so many years, and hopes that readers will be entertained and perhaps even enlightened.