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Morning Fix: Is Santorum Serious?



Could Rick Santorum be a serious presidential candidate?
(AP Photo/Meet The Press, Alex Wong)

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum will travel to Iowa tomorrow, the first step in what he clearly hopes will be a grassroots-driven bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Santorum is scheduled to deliver a speech in Dubuque tomorrow evening as part of the American Future Fund's conservative lecture series and, earlier in the day, will make a stop in Des Moines to address a Right to Life gathering. An aide to Santorum notes that Santorum "has a number of private meetings/events and interviews" during the day as well.

"I won't make a Sherman-esque statement about 2012," Santorum said in a conference call with reporters in advance of his trip. "I feel very passionately that we need some voices out there who have some experience who have done this before."

All of which prompts a basic question: Is he crazy?

After all, this is the same Santorum who, as a two-term incumbent senator, lost his reelection bid in 2006 by a whopping 18 points to Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) and whose name since that race has come to serve as shorthand for a politician who badly loses touch with the people who elected him.

Yet, in conversations with a variety of Republican operatives, there emerges a general sense that while Santorum is a decided long-shot in the presidential race he is also potentially positioned to have a real impact on the field.

"You would be hard-pressed to find any viable candidate with as strong of a conservative record," said John Brabender, a longtime consultant to Santorum. "He not only is well known by the most active in the base but is well liked and respected."

There's little question that Santorum is regarded by movement social conservatives as one of them. That said, for Santorum to emerge as the preferred candidate of that influential group -- and hence factor in the nomination fight -- at least two things need to happen.

First, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin would need to decide against a run. As reviled as she in Democratic circles, she is equally beloved among social conservatives who would immediately line up behind her if she ran. Guessing what Palin will do tomorrow -- much less in three years time -- is a useless endeavor but those who know her best are far from convinced that a presidential campaign is a sure thing.

Second, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee would also have to pass on a second presidential bid. Huckabee demonstrated during the 2008 campaign that his following among social conservatives is not to be underestimated and his recent victory in the Value Voters Summit straw poll shows that those voters remain loyal to him.

In a field without Palin or Huckabee, the mantle for the preferred social conservative candidate would be up for grabs with Santorum, former representative Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and even Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty making a try for it.

The power of being the chosen candidate of social conservatives is considerable. Social conservatives carry significant sway in two -- Iowa's caucuses and South Carolina's primary -- of the first four nominating contests on the Republican side.

"There is definitely an audience for Santorum's brand of hard-right social conservatism among presidential primary voters, and that audience is especially large in Iowa," said one senior Republican consultant not affiliated with any of the potential 2012 candidates.
"But Mike Huckabee showed the limits to that approach in 2008, and Santorum would have a similarly difficult time emerging from beyond the social issues box."

What's clear from Santorum's schedule in Iowa as well as his aggressive approach to courting the attention of the national press is that he is committed to do everything in his power to put himself in position to move if one or several of the 2012 frontrunners decides against a run.

"I am going to be out there speaking on a national level because I think I have something to add to the conversation," he promised.

It should be interesting.

Wednesday's Fix Picks:

1. Dan Balz on what the president must do to win on health care.
2. The questions that remain in the heath care bill(s).
3. Florida Rep. Alan Grayson (D) teaches a class in how to make yourself vulnerable.
4. Will John Hoeven run for Senate or won't he?
5. Meet Lynn Vincent: Sarah Palin's co-author.

Brown Forms Exploratory Committee . . .: California Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) formed an exploratory committee for governor on Tuesday, a move that allows him to raise considerably larger sums of money in advance of his looming primary against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. The move will allow Brown to raise as much as $25,900 from an individual contributor, far above the $6,500 he was limited to accepting through his AG account. Despite the lower limits to date, Brown had far outdistanced Newsom in the chase for cash; at the end of June, Brown had raised $7.3 million while Newsom had collected $1.2 million.

. . . While Whitman Explains Herself: Former eBay CEO (and candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in California) Meg Whitman told reporters on Tuesday that she hadn't been a registered voter until her mid 40s due to the fact that she was focused on raising her family, an explanation designed to stamp out the fire caused by a Sacramento Bee piece last week detailing the large holes in Whitman's voting record. Whitman added that when she became the CEO of eBay in 1998, she began to grasp the true importance of voting; "When I came to eBay, what I saw was the incredible difficulties that government created for small business," she said. Whitman's spotty voting record has dominated the Republican primary race for governor in recent days as state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has moved quickly to take advantage of Whitman's slip. Our take? Whitman said the exact right thing on Tuesday, going beyond the simple fact that she hadn't voted to explain why. Had she should have done it five days ago, we wouldn't still be talking about it.

Paterson Sets NY-23 Special: New York Gov. David Paterson (D), as expected, has chosen Nov. 3, 2009 as the date for the special election to replace Secretary of the Army John McHugh (R) in New York's 23rd district. It will mark the second special election of 2009 in Upstate New York; Rep. Scott Murphy (D) won a closely contested race in the 20th district on March 31. Both national parties have begun to spend on ads in the district. According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent $118,000 and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee $61,000 on the contest. Other national entities are weighing in as well. The Club for Growth has endorsed Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman while the Republican Main Street Partnership, an organization devoted to Republican moderates, weighed in for state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R) on Tuesday. Polling done by the Club suggests the race is a wide-open, three person affair between Hoffman, Scozzafava and businessman Bill Owens (D).

Cox Looks Strong in MI-Gov: State Attorney General Mike Cox (R) holds a seven-point lead over his nearest Republican challenger and a 13-point edge over the likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee in a new survey conducted by Mitchell Research for the Detroit News. Cox drew 30 percent to 23 percent for Rep. Pete Hoekstra and 11 percent for Oakland County Sheriff Steve Bouchard. Businessman Rick Snyder and state Sen. Tom George each took two percent. The Republican field has been roiled a bit lately by a straw poll held at the Mackinac leadership conference over the weekend and won by the wealthy Snyder. The campaigns of Cox and Hoekstra dismissed the results as meaningless -- noting that Snyder paid for supporters to attend -- while Snyder's forces cast it as an organization victory. Regardless, the Detroit News survey shows that Snyder has much work to do to join Cox and Hoekstra in the top tier. National Republicans had to be heartened by Cox's 45 percent to 32 percent edge over Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D) in a general election matchup. Michigan is widely seen as one of Republicans' best pickup opportunities in 2010.

Click It!: The Kentucky Senate Democratic primary is leading the nation in producing squirm-inducing You Tube clips. First, there was state Attorney General Jack Conway's "I'm one tough son of a bitch" proclamation at Fancy Farm. And now comes audio that seems to show Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (D) badmouthing Gov. Steve Beshear (D) -- his most prominent supporter in the race. Our favorite moment? "It wouldn't hurt me at all to see Steve go down," said Mongiardo. (He can also be heard dropping the "f bomb.") For the record, Mongiardo's side is saying the audio was edited to make the lieutenant governor look bad. Mission accomplished.

Clinton For Fischer: Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) still faces a primary for the Democratic Senate nomination but you wouldn't know it by the establishment support lining up behind his candidacy. The latest endorser is also one of the best known -- former president Bill Clinton. Clinton, in an e-mail fundraising solicitation for Fisher, recounts that he has "known Lee Fisher since he helped me win Ohio, and the presidency, in 1992." Fisher faces Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in next year's Democratic primary but Brunner's fundraising struggles to date -- just $435,000 raised in the first six months of the year -- have cast some doubt on whether she will stay in the race. Fisher has lined up much of the Ohio congressional delegation behind his bid and is likely looking for a big fundraising quarter (the period ends today) to clear the primary field and focus his full attention on former Rep. Rob Portman -- the near certain Republican nominee.

Say What?: "He is a serial campaigner who prefers to run for office than sit in one." -- Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), his likely opponent in next year's Senate contest.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 30, 2009; 5:07 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: Short Takes: Grayson vs Wilson

Comments

I just googled Santorum.

Yuck, yuck, and maybe a little more yuck.

Appropriate as hell, but still, yuck.

As for Meg, well, weak excuses are all that the GOP has shown anyone in this country for a long time now. These clowns can't even tell a lie very well anymore, which totally surprises me as that is about all they have shown they can do.

Oh, yeah, and wreck a country.

Posted by: dennissuper | October 1, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to the post discussing challengers to Nader for the Green nomination. About as interesting as hearing the dynamics of the lobbying for the fringe right vote. Where's the article on Keyes? I'm sure he'll want to run again, too.

Posted by: nodebris | September 30, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

So Santorum, who lost re-election in one of the decisive defeats of 2006, hopes to get his hooks in and become relevant ... among the irrelevant.

A social conservative loser whose whole career centers on increasing intolerance in American society and at a time when we face more problems and crises than in our history.

Just great.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 30, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

This is the best string of comments in quite some time.

Santorum is nuts if he thinks he can win, but I don't believe he thinks that; rather, he's likely seeking to simply re-establish his relevance with the Republican party in the hope of securing some other position of importance.

The Republicans have gotten back on their feet a little bit with their attacks on big government, but they will need a strong positive message of their own, not just complaints about how the Democrats are doing things. The Republicans have succeded lately in raising awareness of their concerns with the Obama admin, but they will not truly change the tide without developing a united approach with positive ideas on how they would govern in a better way. The gross inefficiencies and fiscal problems leading to the recession will still be in the voter's minds for some time to come.

Posted by: jrosco3 | September 30, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I think it'd be great if one of these hanger-on agents of intolerance were to win the nomination. The country has moved on, even evangelicals have largely moved on and are now more concerned about global warming and social justice than about what gays are doing in bed.

Whichever of the Intolerancistas win the nomination will lose election, not getting more than a few states, if even one.

The culture wars are over, and the culture warriors lost.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 30, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

The party that took us to a war we didn't need to fight and has made orphans of the children of over 4000 servicemen wants and apology?

They can go suck ... eggs

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 30, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

The party of "death panels" and "they're going to kill granny" wants an apology? LMAO.

Posted by: ILDem | September 30, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

You ask the question "Is Santorum Nuts?"

The answer, of course, is yes, which is why he's smack dab in the middle of the mainstream of the Republican Party.

Look at some of the "leading" candidates for 2012. Palin? She can't speak a sentence that has a noun and a verb. Huckabee? Funny and creative, but not gonna do it. Pawlenty, from my homestate, has messed things up so badly here that people wish he would resign now, like Palin. Romney, who is much too conservative to me, looks like the only grownup on that side right now.

Posted by: trl618 | September 30, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Watch Whitman pull a Palin and boast about not voting as evidence of "outsiderhood" and how a "thin resume" is actually a good thing, casting herself as a "maverick" coming to the statehouse to "shake things up."

Why would anyone vote GOP?

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 30, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

I usually agree with most of your analysis. However, I don't think that Meg Whitman will defuse the voting issue by merely mentioning family obligations.

It takes very little time or effort to register or to vote. Obviously it requires more time and effort to be an informed voter. However, as an top executive, she had lots of resources (secretaries, assistants, nannies, etc).

The conclusion is that she isn't very good at managing multiple projects (which is clearly hard to believe considering her business acumen) or being part of the political process was not important to her.

The attack ads will have a field day......

Posted by: indiejunkie | September 30, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"If Santorum, Palin and Huckabee all run, or even if only two of the three seek the Republican 2012 nomination, they are likely to split the far-right vote. A splintering of the far-right vote would seem to leave a real opening for a conservative more focused on economic issues than on social issues and/or foreign policy. The more far-right candidates, the better for Mitt Romney. Also if all these far-right candidates run, that would undoubtedly push Pawlenty to try to find the middle ground between the far-right candidates and Romney. Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite"

A reasonable person might assume that, given a field full of conservatives to run against, a potential moderate would go for the center, chemai khap?

Chai!!!

And the history of the Republican Party since 1961 shows that they AREN'T reasonable people, because flaming liberals decide to run for the Republican nomination and always and everywhere the first thing they do is repackage themselves as true conservatives.

The proof of this postulate is experience.

Name me a single Republican who runs on his centrist policies and beliefs.

Getting ACCUSED of having POTENTIAL liberal leanings is the kiss of death for a Republican.Even if that candidate is Attila, running for great satrap and khan of the conquering horde.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 30, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

If Santorum, Palin and Huckabee all run, or even if only two of the three seek the Republican 2012 nomination, they are likely to split the far-right vote. A splintering of the far-right vote would seem to leave a real opening for a conservative more focused on economic issues than on social issues and/or foreign policy. The more far-right candidates, the better for Mitt Romney. Also if all these far-right candidates run, that would undoubtedly push Pawlenty to try to find the middle ground between the far-right candidates and Romney.

==

http://www.theonion.com/content/video/mitt_romney_defends_himself

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 30, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Oh for dog's sake Rick Santorum?!?

This is another of those social conservative nutbars who would come to office with a host of intolerant positions he'd be more eager to get into law than anything else. As though we need another decade of angry speeches about abortion and gay adoption.

This is the idiot who wrote a book about having a family. Stop giving him attention.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 30, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

It's so hard to find the rotten egg in the Republican basket. The whole container smells for people that think. That's why Mr Obama has such a hard time. He is too intelligent, too articulate and too decent for the conservative right who are used to wallowing together in the "rest room" area of the pen.

Posted by: hercster44 | September 30, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"The more far-right candidates, the better for Mitt Romney. Also if all these far-right candidates run, that would undoubtedly push Pawlenty to try to find the middle ground between the far-right candidates and Romney.Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN"

Pawlenty has ALREADY come to Southwestern Ohio and kowtowed to the far right. Bet that Romney will too. Neither is either smart enough, or independent enough to try to run without the Far Right. The voice of Ohio's republican Party is Basso Profundo conservative, to the point where, for noting that Wilson is particularly stupid for his outburst in Congress, and ought to resign, HE is now suspected of being a RINO. I would suggest that the first Nelson Rockefeller to pop up and find the center part of Ohio's Republicans to chase would be a real likely winner, except for two things that are lacking: An identifiable group of centrist Ohio Republicans, and anything like a new Nelson Rockefeller in the Republican Party nation wide.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 30, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I think people are missing the point about Santorum. The former senator doesn't appear to be overly concerned about what his odds are in winning a national election in 2012. I believe that he considers himself to be a Barry Goldwater type figure who is going to lead his party away from its watered-down messages on a number of different social and eceonomic issues. In other words, I think he wants to run to reconfigure the party and possibly set himself up as a power broker on the Religious Right.

Posted by: Jay20 | September 30, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"Ddawd -- Santorum has worked for years to make gay people's lives as miserable as possible -- and demeaned them in disgusting ways. He deserves anything he gets called.

Posted by: drindl"

I'm not against affixing bad things to Santorum's name. That's not the gross part. The gross part is WHAT is being affixed to it. (We aren't really going to debate this are we?!)

Posted by: DDAWD | September 30, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Pennsylvania is NOT a purple state...it went Gore, Kerry, Obama.

Posted by: MADPGH | September 30, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Sanctum Santorum would be almost as appropriate as Sappy Sarah to head the doomed 2012 GOP ticket. Like W., he's illiterate- couldn't even get his gender right on that infamous insult. He panders to right-wing crazies, especially the anti-abortionist loonies. And he appeals to the brain-dead mainstream of Republican voters. Go for it Ricky-Tacky!

Posted by: JONWINDY | September 30, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Macaca for President? I don't think so.
Not registered to vote because she was busy raising children? Who does she think we are? This lady is out of touch. Wake up lady, that explanation should disqualify for public office. Then again, as a republican, facts don't matter as usual. Californians will see through this exercise of futility and send her packing her kids' lunch.

Posted by: info22 | September 30, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Meg Whitman said she hadn't voted until her mid 40s because she was raising her family. My wife has a career and a family and somehow manages to vote in every election. Poor Meg. If she can't multi-task, how can she be governor?

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | September 30, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Ddawd -- Santorum has worked for years to make gay people's lives as miserable as possible -- and demeaned them in disgusting ways. He deserves anything he gets called.

Posted by: drindl | September 30, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

If Santorum, Palin and Huckabee all run, or even if only two of the three seek the Republican 2012 nomination, they are likely to split the far-right vote. A splintering of the far-right vote would seem to leave a real opening for a conservative more focused on economic issues than on social issues and/or foreign policy. The more far-right candidates, the better for Mitt Romney. Also if all these far-right candidates run, that would undoubtedly push Pawlenty to try to find the middle ground between the far-right candidates and Romney.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | September 30, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

You Dan Savage people are disgusting! I threw up in my mouth a bit.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 30, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Snatorum is a flat-earther and to those who don't believe in evolution you're witnessing it first-hand with the voters.
We are on to politicians like him and Sarah,hence they will never win.
Oh sure,they'll get some votes but the vast majority is tired of the same old rhetoric/lies from these fakes. Heck,I think even ol'mccain will be sent to pasture come next election.

If you don't believe me just look who's in the White House.............nuff said.

Posted by: jime2000 | September 30, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

CORRECTION:

In my post below, the phrase should read "to wit," not "to whit," which literally means to sing like a bird, as I was advised by the following bit of ex post facto research:

"...tu-whit tu-whoo, which (variously spelt) is a conventional representation of the call of the tawny owl. It is used, for example, in this song from the end of Shakespeare's play Love's Labour's Lost: http://www.web-books.com/Classics/Poetry/Anthology/Shakespeare/WhenDaisies.htm In the song, the call of the owl, contrasted with the call of the cuckoo, seems to symbolize winter as a time of domestic cheer caused by absence of sexual distraction."

Now back to the crusades...

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | September 30, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Your most compelling quote in this article not only comes from a Santorum "consultant," but one who is a seasoned PR pro. This article, like a Santorum candidacy, is just plain dumb.

Posted by: Jumpy66 | September 30, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

There are a lot of people that I wish had never voted, that is all those who supported people or measures that I disagreed with. :)

Seriously though, not registering and not voting is a pretty serious omission when a candidate is going to ask someone to support them for office. In a way it's like applying for a job without a basic qualification (voting) and saying it's ok, I'll do better once I'm paid to vote.

Only the voters in her area will be able to decide whether they want to hire Whitman, or others, who didn't participate in our form of government.

Posted by: annetta3 | September 30, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Does it really matter when or if someone votes or if ever?

Personally, I don't like Meg Whitman and would not vote for her. But as far as I know, having voted in an election previously or even being registered to vote is neither a prerequisite for elective office nor does it mean someone will make a good elected official.

Really, it is a non-issue. People don't vote for many reasons, such as one just didn't care much about politics at the time.

This is ridiculous to even be discussing a candidate's voting record in elections or lack thereof.

Posted by: freethepresses | September 30, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

TO: margaretmeyers @ 10:55 a.m.

Not to worry; those resisting an incipient coup have to take some time to handle related "personal business," to whit:

http://groups.poynter.org/members/blog_view.asp?id=190108&post=74564

Posted by: scrivener50 | September 30, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse


Santorum benefits from having his name in print.

No one takes him seriously as a contender for any political office, especially not Republicans.

Posted by: DagnyT | September 30, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

SCRIVENER! I've been worried about you. I'm glad you're back, and I love your headline.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 30, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Few on the Hill found Santorum "likable." Even his own party members found him high-handed and uncooperative.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 30, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"Yet, in conversations with a variety of Republican operatives, there emerges a general sense that while Santorum is a decided long-shot in the presidential race he is also potentially positioned to have a real impact on the field.

"You would be hard-pressed to find any viable candidate with as strong of a conservative record," said John Brabender, a longtime consultant to Santorum. "He not only is well known by the most active in the base but is well liked and respected.""

And the more boreing and out of touch Conservatives run in the early Republican primaries the better for the Party's designated winner.

Unless a moderate who can count runs in the primaries AS A MODERATE.

Al Gore would stand a better chance of getting nominated that ANY Republican, since HE would at least represent the centermost half of the Republican Party more closely than any of the base hugging candidates, or base hugging imitators, that are or will be, running by then.

When the initial field is Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Daniels, Santorum, Jihndal, and Palin, bet that the fix is in for Palin.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 30, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

SANTORUM SERIOUSLY POPULAR AMONG 'GRASSROOTS GESTAPO'


As "jaxas" remarks below, Santorum does share with Palin and Gingrich the distinction of losing. That is not to say that Santorum cannot deliver the GOP base and possibly win the nomination. He very well could...

...mainly because the hard-right GOP has cleverly insinuated itself into local governments nationwide with the aid and assistance of federally funded community groups...

...the co-optation of seemingly well-intended programs to create an anti-democratic "grassroots Gestapo" that is violating the civil and human rights of unjustly "targeted" Americans and their families coast-to-coast...

...an American politicide hiding in plain sight. The story, here:

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | September 30, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

"Santorum may not have much of a shot, but such long-shot candidates can console themselves with the stories of long-shots who made it, like the current President. What amazes me is that the draw of being president can convince people with the smallest of chances to drop everything in their lives and go for it. Ambition trumps logic."

Small problem with that analogy: Rick Santorum is a complete "fringe of the fringe" nutjob. There is no way he can reinvent himself like Mitt Romney has been trying to do. His paper trail of nuttery is way too long.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 30, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"Santorum may not have much of a shot, but such long-shot candidates can console themselves with the stories of long-shots who made it, like the current President. What amazes me is that the draw of being president can convince people with the smallest of chances to drop everything in their lives and go for it. Ambition trumps logic."

Small problem with that analogy: Rick Santorum is a complete "fringe of the fringe" nutjob. There is no way he can reinvent himself like Mitt Romney has been trying to do. His paper trail of nuttery is way too long.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 30, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"Santorum may not have much of a shot, but such long-shot candidates can console themselves with the stories of long-shots who made it, like the current President. What amazes me is that the draw of being president can convince people with the smallest of chances to drop everything in their lives and go for it. Ambition trumps logic."

Small problem with that analogy: Rick Santorum is a complete "fringe of the fringe" nutjob. There is no way he can reinvent himself like Mitt Romney has been trying to do. His paper trail of nuttery is way too long.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 30, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"...whose name since that race has come to serve as shorthand for a politician who badly loses touch with the people who elected him."

That's not what Santorum's name is shorthand for. As Dan Savage said "Spreading Santorum--it's on everyone's lips!"

Posted by: NYC123 | September 30, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Rick Santorum is the Carol Mosley Braun of the presidential candidates. He lost his own re-election in a purple state by 18 points-exactly how does he plan on winning a general election? While I might agree more often than not on many issues with him, his attitude rubs me the wrong way and it's candidates like him that are just as responsible for driving our party into the wilderness as Bush was.

Posted by: TexasProud1 | September 30, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Likable?

Santorum makes my skin crawl, as I am sure he does many people. He's so obsessed with weird sex he can't stop talking about it. No normal person spends that much time focussing on what others do in bed.

Posted by: drindl | September 30, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Hey Meg, why settle for the governor's chair? The Repubs are looking for a presidential nominee for 2012. No experience required!

And speaking of 2012, my message to Santorum is run, Rick, run! We are all eagerly awaiting a debate on man-on-dog sex among him, Palin, Huckabee, Romney, and the rest of the rightwingnut freaks.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 30, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Santorum should see if he can at least carry his home state of Pennsylvania before trying for national office.

Oh yeah, he already did. It didn't go too well....

Posted by: DROSE1 | September 30, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

At least the Christian Science Monitor (see Fix Pick #5) still knows who wrote "Dreams From My Father."

Posted by: justjoeking | September 30, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Santorum, Palin, Gingrich--what do these people have in common (aside from the fact that they are all nut fringe fundamentalists)? They lost! Gingrich was kicked out of the House Speakership in the wake of losses in 1998. Santorum lost in the dem sweep of 2006 and Palin lost as her and McCain were soundly beaten in 2008.

But, you know how it is with movement conservatives. They never actually lose. It usually involves some sort of ele3ction fraud or conspiracy that brings them down because as we all know everyone in the country is a movement conservative save for a handful of radical liberals and socialists.

It must be wonderful to have such a simplistic mindset.

Posted by: jaxas | September 30, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Rick Santorum can be a likeable person although on most issues I disagree with him. He can be abrasive on the issues and he is about as far to the right as it gets, but he is their guy. For republicans on the right this might be a better option or alternative than Palin for the 2012 timeframe for them to have out there in the mix. Santorum is usually better versed on the issues and while I probably will never agree with him on most of them, he can hold up his side of the argument. He at least knows his side of it. She did not. Rick reads up and he does his homework for his side of the issue. He is not likely to change over the center, left of center or far left, but you have to respect a guy that can present his side and not look like a deer in the headlights on more substantive issues like foreign policy, defense, and economics, whether you agree with him or not. He can repair some of the damage in those areas, and she did a lot of damage there.

Posted by: ssweitzer | September 30, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Semperpax you should get your facts straight.

You said:
"As a Cathholic, Santorum is a decidely wrong choice: His lust for the death penalty and sending other people to war places him opposite the teaching of the current and former Popes."

Although he did support the war in Iraq, Santorum was not for the death penalty. As far as being a good Catholic there is probably no other elected official who took his faith into consideration when in office. He certainly is the biggest supporter of life and has done more to stop abortions than anyone ever has.

"For disabled veterans, Santorum is a decidely wrong choice: He avoided military service and is blithe about other people being maimed in war. He is soft on paying disabled veterans their compensation. He opposed full funding of body armor for American troops, preferring tax breaks instead."

The whole body armor is a left wing lie. The pentagon said it did not need more money for body armor. It was a logistics issue and more funding for body armor wouldn't have sent more to our troops any faster.

"As a conservative Republican, Santorum is the decidely right choice: He gtets emotive, kow-tows to Palin, and is indifferent to caring for the poor or sick. Tax cuts are his sacrament, it is where he finds his grace."

No one worked harder to get aid to third world countries than Santorum. Just ask Bono of U2. Santorum's work in the house on welfare reform did more to get people off welfare than any other legislation. He also hired a number of "welfare to work" people in his district offices. Check it out.

Posted by: PADutch | September 30, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to cut Meg a little (not much) slack here. It may take only 10 minutes or an hour to vote. It takes a lot more time than that to vote *intelligently.*

Everyone on this site is a political junkie. What Meg is saying is, until 1998, she just wasn't interested in politics, or policy, or government.

Fair enough. Now that you've learned the importance of voting, Meg, how about going door-to-door getting your neighbors to sign a petition so you can run for city council?

Being a rich CEO doesn't qualify you to run the largest, most dysfunctional state government in the country. (But then again, neither does movie-making.)

Posted by: justjoeking | September 30, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Whitman was only interested in making money and had no interest in public affairs, so she didn't bother voting.

Now that she has money she's casting about for something that will further inflate her already supersized ego.

How about doing something useful for the world, like maybe fighting hunger or animal cruelty?

Posted by: norriehoyt | September 30, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Santorum may not have much of a shot, but such long-shot candidates can console themselves with the stories of long-shots who made it, like the current President. What amazes me is that the draw of being president can convince people with the smallest of chances to drop everything in their lives and go for it. Ambition trumps logic.

Posted by: sfcpoll | September 30, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

amen, dp24344. google 'santorum'

that's what his name has become shorthand for.

Posted by: IMGoph | September 30, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

So Whitman feels a woman can't both be focused on raising a family and involved in issues enough to just vote? Certainly a woman raising a family couldn't work full time, since that takes much more time and effort and focus than voting, right? My mother was a full time mom and housewife and still managed to vote. Obviously more dynamic than Whitman. Whitman still isn't looking very good. Her aides need to come up with a better explanation.

Posted by: Sutter | September 30, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Whitman would hardly be the last aspiring pol to suddenly discover the value of the political process. I suspect being strong-armed by local politicians had something to do with it. This probably douses a mini-controversy (really, with the problems Cali faces, the voting record of your opponent is issue #1?), but opens up broader questions as to how she handles herself on the trail.

I suggest ex-Sen Santorum team up with ex-Sen Allen to form a joint ticket. Woulda coulda shoulda didn't.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 30, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"All of which prompts a basic question: Is he crazy?"

In a word, yes. A real nutter.

Palin, Huckabee and Santorum... this is the best they can do?

I remember when the repubican party used to be able to attract candidates with a brain. Well, a few, anyway. But that's been a long time ago.

Posted by: drindl | September 30, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Oh my, I just googled 'santorum'. I had no idea. Now I have another image instead of 'man on dog sex' -- although that one still cracks me up.

This guy is a loser with some serious mental hang-ups, like many of today's so-called conservatives.

Posted by: drindl | September 30, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Claiming you were so busy raising your family that you didn't have time to vote is "saying the right thing"? How so? How do other, not-so-filthy-rich women manage to raise their kids, hold down a job and show up at their polling place for five minutes, once a year? If household duties so overwhelm her, how can Meg Whitman run the monstrous bureaucracy that is California?

Posted by: gmcduluth | September 30, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I can't read Rick Santorum's name without giggling. You gotta love Dan Savage...

Posted by: MzFitz | September 30, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

vklip, we must have been seperated at birth! I live in PA, I think Santorum is a has-been wanna-be (and a menace), and in 1993 I voted while in labor with my first.

Anyway, the number of candidates courting the Republican conservative base could soon exceed the number of voters in that base. It's nice that they are getting together every-other weekend (value voter mini-camp, Mackinac Spa weekend, Right to Life Kaffee Klatch)to assess their situation. They can pay for their 2012 campaign travel arrangements with their accumulated frequenet flier and hotel points.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 30, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I learned a new word today. You can expand your vocabulary, too. Google the word 'santorum'.

Posted by: Rogerstar77 | September 30, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Santorum could well be serious. He could also be delusional.
How he could possibly position himself to appeal to independents is beyond imagination. His voting record and public statements show what a right wing extremist he is; his chances of swaying the middle his way are pretty much nil.
But let him run! It'll be entertaining.

Posted by: dbitt | September 30, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Santorum is exactly what the Republicans need: A social conservative who hasn't held office in years. Palin, Huckabee, Romney, Gingrich, etc. just don't fill that niche effectively enough.

Posted by: Blarg | September 30, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

some of the response here to Whitman's explanation suggest that a significant number of people will find it irritating. I bet she had a lot less financial pressure as a parent than most other parents who did manage to vote had, too.

Posted by: newageblues | September 30, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Playing Devil's Advocate:

the 90%+ who do not vote in School Board elections and
the 80%+ who do not vote in muni elections and
the 60%+ who do not vote in statewide elections

could gain a voice in Sacramento with Whitman.

Further, she has earned a certain bona fide as a non-ideologue, because we know that ideologues do vote.
------------------------------
CC - please correct the sentence that begins "Had she should have done it... ." Thank you in advance for your attention and consideration.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 30, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Whitman's excuse is sortof insulting to anyone that is raising a family and has managed to actually go out and vote.

Just as importantly is how she's handled this. It's been embarrassingly poorly done.

If this is the best she can do then how good a governor could she really be?

Posted by: Hillman1 | September 30, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Let's call a moratorium on politicians playing the family card. If she couldn't manage her time well enough to vote, how will she multi-task as governor?

As a single parent of a handicapped kid working 50+hours/week I voted in every election. I remember standing in line for an our holding a pre-schooler in a body cast just to vote for a school bond referendum.

Posted by: babloom | September 30, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

They change your meds, Cillizza? Because a story like this is where you usually roll out the "So and so is on a course to revitalize the Republican party and save the world" boilerplate.

Why dismiss Santorum but take Palin or Gingrich seriously? Are any of them real contenders for anything? If any of them get the nomination, they're all guaranteed to lose, and that doesn't sound like being a contender to me.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | September 30, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

It seems Santorum didn't lose touch with the people as much as he lost touch with reality. So to answer your question CC, yes he is crazy.

Also my heart goes out to all the people of the NY-23 for having to endore the onslaught of the advertisements that the GOP, Democrats, and the Club for growth wacko's are gonna flood your airways with.

Posted by: AndyR3 | September 30, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

As a Cathholic, Santorum is a decidely wrong choice: His lust for the death penalty and sending other people to war places him opposite the teaching of the current and former Popes.

For disabled veterans, Santorum is a decidely wrong choice: He avoided military service and is blithe about other people being maimed in war. He is soft on paying disabled veterans their compensation. He opposed full funding of body armor for American troops, preferring tax breaks instead.

As a conservative Republican, Santorum is the decidely right choice: He gtets emotive, kow-tows to Palin, and is indifferent to caring for the poor or sick. Tax cuts are his sacrament, it is where he finds his grace.

For Evangelical Republicans, Santorum is decidely the right choice: Unlike Rommney he is not a Mormon. His emphasis on disreagrding the Vatican on war and the death penalty makes him a safe Catholic, a Catholic in Name Only.

Posted by: SemperPax | September 30, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double post.

Posted by: aallen1 | September 30, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Let's see: Palin, Santorum, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Gingrich...
The only way Obama will lose in 2012 if he's caught, as Edwin Edwards said, with "a live boy or a dead girl". And I'm not sure about the live boy part.

Posted by: aallen1 | September 30, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Let's see: Palin, Santorum, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Gingrich...
The only way Obama will lose in 2012 if he's caught, as Edwin Edwards said, with "a live boy or a dead girl". And I'm not sure about the live boy part.

Posted by: aallen1 | September 30, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Santorum is a has-been wanna-be (speaking as a Pennsylvania resident). As for Whitman, I remember taking my 5 year old and 5 day old children with me to the polling place to vote - when my husband was half the country away at a new job and I didn't have household help.

Posted by: vklip | September 30, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

I guess it says something about how seriously people take Santorum that the first 5 posts about Whitman.

Posted by: trep1 | September 30, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

So...Whitman is not merely personally irresponsible when it comes to voting, she's been setting a bad example for her family.

Posted by: KSVA | September 30, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm guessing it took a handful of advisors those five days to come up with what they thought would be the most palatable explanation for Whitman's voting record. As an independent who doesn't think much of the two Democratic frontrunners in that race, I think it's safe to say Whitman isn't the candidate who'd get me to vote Republican (yes, it's about far more than her participation in elections).

Posted by: marksabbatini | September 30, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm with truble: job, teenagers, volunteer work, no household help (I figure Meg has some)yet I still get to the polling place. Even for the primaries and the school board.
She's going to have to come up with something better if she wants to explain, but I would suggest moving forward and forgetting about explaining.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 30, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

Santorum's name "has come to serve as shorthand for a politician who badly loses touch with the people who elected him."

No, I don't think that's what Santorum's name has come to mean. But this is a "family newspaper" website, so I'll let the good folks Google it themselves.

Posted by: dp24344 | September 30, 2009 5:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh, give me a break on Meg Whitman's bogus explanation. Raising a family keeps you from voting? What a load. I've been married 22 years, have two teenagers and I haven't missed a single election in over 25 years. Whitman's just a liar.

Posted by: truble2301 | September 30, 2009 5:47 AM | Report abuse

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