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Friday, Oct 24, 2014

Should Rick Santorum Skip the Florida GOP Primary?

  • (Photo: The Christian Post/Paul Stanley)
    Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum campaigning in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. January 16, 2012.
January 23, 2012|4:56 pm

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has taken his third place finish in the South Carolina GOP primary and is heading to Florida in hopes of rallying the evangelical base. The only problem is, there are fewer social conservatives in the Sunshine State which makes some wonder if Santorum should bypass Florida altogether.

Like the roller coasters that dominate the coastline of Myrtle Beach, Santorum's week in South Carolina had it's up and downs. It hit its peak when he learned he actually won the Iowa caucuses, defeating former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by over 30 votes – a much larger margin than Romney's supposed 8 vote margin reported on the night of the election.

Yet for all the time and effort he put into South Carolina, Santorum still couldn't convince enough of the state's social conservatives to come his way, losing most of them to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

That is causing some political analysts to question if Santorum should skip Florida and instead, spend time raising money and preparing for states where he has a better shot of winning.

Mike Bayham is a Louisiana political consultant and has been a Santorum supporter since August of 2011.

"I've supported Rick Santorum because he was the most credible conservative in the race for the White House not saddled with compromising personal baggage," said Bayham in an email to The Christian Post. "I think Santorum [should] just drop back, not drop out ... meaning skip Florida and focus his time and resources in other states where he can collect delegates and remain a part of the conversation."

Bayham is not alone in his position. The premise behind the idea stems from the fact that Santorum doesn't have the resources to go head to head with either Romney or Gingrich in a state with so many media markets.

"The next battle is the Florida primary. Paul has already stated he intends to skip the Sunshine State and focus his resources on scooping up delegates (not necessarily victories) elsewhere," explained Bayham. "Santorum has defiantly declared he is going to fight in Florida, which in my opinion is a terrible idea."

Although some believe Santorum would be better served by avoiding the Sunshine state, that doesn't appear to be a strategy the campaign is even considering.

The Santorum camp is dismissing the idea that a Gingrich victory in South Carolina framed the Florida primary as a Mitt versus Newt matchup.

"You have three candidates who can be president," Santorum told Politico. That wasn't the case moving into South Carolina," referring to the race prior to former Utah Gov. John Huntsman's and Texas Gov. Rick Perry's withdrawals last week. "Florida can now step back and say, 'Okay … who is the candidate that we here in South Florida should put our seal of approval on?"

Another challenge the Pennsylvania native faces is that Romney began building support among Florida evangelicals several months ago by naming several high-profile pro-family leaders to his Social Conservatives Statewide Steering Committee such as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, State Senator Anitere Flores and former State Senator and board chair of Florida's Faith and Freedom Coalition.

"Mitt Romney is pro-life and is a true conservative on issues of family and faith," said Romney Social Conservatives State Co-Chair Pat Neal in a statement last November.

Still, Santorum seems convinced he needs to take the fight to Gingrich in Florida. One reason may be the perceived weakness Gingrich has among congressional conservatives.

"When Newt was speaker of the House, within three years conservatives in the House of Representatives tried to throw him out and in the fourth year they did," Santorum told reporters on the eve of the South Carolina primary. "Why? Because he wasn't governing as a conservative! He didn't live up to everything he said he was going to do as speaker. If you look at what he tried to do and what he accomplished, it just didn't match with what he said."

The foursome, including Texas Rep. Ron Paul, will go head to head on Monday evening in the first of two debates before next week's Florida primary.

"Whether or not the Santorum campaign wants to admit it, a vote for Santorum on Jan. 31 is a vote for Romney," Bayham said. "I just don't want to see him spend all his resources and see little or nothing in return."

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/should-rick-santorum-skip-the-florida-gop-primary-67768/