Santorum’s one-two punch
The final results are in and congratulations to Rick Santorum for winning the Republican primaries in Mississippi and Alabama. Despite this setback, Newt Gingrich has pledged to press on and, in a way, I think he should. As a result of these wins, Rick Santorum can no longer claim that Gingrich siphons votes away from him and Newt’s persistence helps to define him as opposed to Romney and Santorum.
Both Romney and Santorum offer too many things in their past for Obama to pick from to use against them. Rick Santorum because of his cultural conservatism, support of ear marks, as well as his endorsing Arlen Specter for re-election in 2006. Mitt Romney for his support of higher taxes, stricter gun control laws, cap and trade legislation for Massachusetts, and Massachusetts health care law (a.k.a. Romneycare) that President Obama and Congressional Democrats admitted they modeled their health care law that Romney himself urged Democrats to pass then later lied denying that he did.
In addition to being the most intelligent, Newt Gingrich is the candidate with the least amount of baggage out of all of his Republican rivals and has shown himself to be a consistent, forceful spokesman and effective debater. So much so that his statements have also gotten under the skin of President Obama. He recently made the President react defensively as exampled by Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu backing off his initial statement that he wanted gas prices to go higher. The fact that Newt Gingrich came in second in both primaries demonstrates he still has appeal and the fact that both Newt and Santorum were the top two vote getters Tuesday demonstrates the conservative base of the party does not want Mitt Romney to be the Republican nominee but are split on the kind of conservative they want. Santorum is an outspoken social conservative while Gingirch is drawing support GOP economic conservatives, foreign policy hawks and libertarians.
In addition to the fact that he has raised more money, has more delegates, and has more endorsements than Santorum, the best and only reason that Newt should stay in is that he is far and away a much better qualified candidate than his rivals. Hopefully, his pick up of delegates as he continues his campaign will be enough for Gingrich to clinch the nomination, force either Romney or Santorum to make concessions to Newt if Satorum or Romney urge him to pull out or result in an open/brokered Republican convention in June.
It will continue to be a long road for the Republican nomination but, ultimately, I think the fire each of the candidates experiences on the campaign trail will make them better Chief Executives down the road. None the less, neither of the top three candidates has a clear path to the nomination and that is ample reason for Gingrich to remain.