Could Rick Santorum Become the Next Anti-Romney?

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  • Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum
    (Photo: REUTERS/Molly Riley)
    Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington December 7, 2011.
By Napp Nazworth, Christian Post Reporter
December 7, 2011|6:27 pm

Will Rick Santorum be next candidate to capture the hearts of the anti-Romney vote?

As the scrutiny of front-runner Newt Gingrich builds to ramming speed, political experts are thinking about Rick Santorum as the last resort for restive foreign policy, conservative and value voter blocks in the GOP.

So far the former Pennsylvania senator has been polling in low single digits, and with meager fundraising, running on a shoe-string budget. But these experts point out that Santorum has some advantages heading into the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus.

He has spent more time in Iowa than any other candidate and is the only candidate to visit all 99 of Iowa's counties. Unlike Gingrich, Santorum does not have a history of changing his position on issues. And unlike Perry and Cain, he has foreign policy experience.

Santorum can also gain the support of social conservatives, an important voting bloc in Iowa. He was one of the main sponsors and defenders of pro-life legislation while serving in the Senate, and he supports a federal marriage amendment. Though a Catholic, Santorum shares many of the values of Iowa's large evangelical population.

Santorum has the ability to bridge, therefore, the three main coalitions in modern conservatism – economic conservatives, foreign policy conservatives and social conservatives.

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Former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck recently showed strong support for Santorum.

“If voters start shifting gears and deciding they want ideological consistency, then they're going to start paying attention to say, Rick Santorum,” Palin said on Fox News last week.

Beck told his radio listeners last month, “if there is one guy out there that is the next George Washington, the only guy that I could think of is Rick Santorum. I would ask that you would take a look at him.”

One of Santorum's main disadvantages, though, is his perceived electability. Some Republican voters may worry that Santorum would be too conservative to win a general election, and a primary concern among Republicans is beating President Obama in the next election.

The most recent Gallup poll of Republican voters shows Gingrich in the lead with 32 percent saying they will vote for him, followed by Romney with 22 percent. Santorum had three percent.

However, the Republican presidential race has seen a number of candidates rise in the polls, only to fall again under the public scrutiny that comes with front-runner status. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, in the meantime, has held steady in the top tier.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll in August, but her support quickly dwindled as Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his candidacy on the same day. Perry quickly shot to the top of the polls, until voters got a chance to see him in action. After several poor debate performances, his poll numbers faded just as quickly. Former Godfather's CEO Herman Cain was next. He was leading in the polls, but after displays of ineptitude on foreign policy and sexual harassment allegations, he too saw a quick decline. Cain left the race on Saturday.

Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House, is the most recent candidate to rise in the polls. Some have already begun to raise questions about his conservative credentials and his fitness for the office of president.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul's campaign has been running a brutal attack ad against Gingrich in Iowa, accusing him of changing his positions on issues and profiting off his Washington connections. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and TV personality Joe Scarborough, both of whom served in the House of Representatives under Gingrich's speakership, recently said Gingrich would not make a good president. And, conservative talk-radio host Glenn Beck has raised issues about whether Gingrich is a true conservative.

Pundits argue that former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is running too far to the left of Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul is out of step with most of the conservative base on foreign policy matters. So, if Gingrich were to fall, they reason that there is only one candidate left that can carry the anti-Romney mantle – Rick Santorum.

Contact: napp.nazworth@christianpost.com
 

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