Santorum in 2016!

Watching this week’s Super Tuesday post-mortem, and tracking the narrative in the days since, it’s a little hard to sort out what might be in these politicians’ minds.

Mitt Romney has clearly racked up a daunting pile of the delegates he needs to seize the nomination.  It’s hard to imagine anyone else catching up at this point.

This narrative has begun to lock in, from conservative websites to punditry in the mainstream media:  Romney won ugly, and hurt himself badly along the way, but he really seems to have won.

So why are the other players hanging around?  Put simply, they’re fighting for the future.

Conservatives have always been comfortable with the long game. And a growing number of right-leaning thinkers are already looking past this election, beyond Mitt Romney and even beyond Barack Obama.

And in their hearts, I’m guessing that they’re okay with that.

The dominant philosophy on the far right has long held that a Democrat in the White House isn’t nearly as bad for their movement as a moderate Republican in the White House.

So if this isn’t really about 2012, what’s really at stake is the leadership and texture of the Republican Party.

Ron Paul is out there making a case that libertarianism really deserves a place at the table within the modern GOP.  He’s building the grassroots network that could actually take his son, Rand Paul, beyond the political fringe.

Then there’s Rick Santorum, who is laying a solid foundation now for 2016.

Half a year ago, Santorum was literally a nobody, a former Senator who got smoked in his last election, a guy who was eking out a living in the gray world of Washington lobbyists and think tanks.

Now he’s a legitimate contender, a man who has used this campaign to reinvent himself, building one of the best brands in modern Republican politics.

Over the next couple of weeks, Santorum could well pick up more wins in important Republican states like Kansas and Alabama.

Which could well leave Rick Santorum as the guy “next in line” for the GOP nomination.

That won’t be an entirely easy argument to make, of course.  Santorum would likely face a crowded GOP field four years from now, with prominent figures like Chris Christy, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush sure to at least consider a run.

So Santorum has to move fast now.  He’s scrambling to sink roots roots in important battleground states across the US.

He’s proving to his donors and volunteers that even with an underfunded, johnny-come-lately style campaign he has a message that can mobilize the conservative base.

Which means that there’s a logical reason for this primary battle to go on and on.

Even as Romney looks more and more like the obvious Republican candidate for 2012, Rick Santorum will keep at it, leveraging this campaign as the long, necessary prologue to 2016.

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28 Responses to “Santorum in 2016!”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    Between now and 2016, Rick might join the priesthood and run for Pope.

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  2. mervel says:

    You don’t have to be a priest to be a Cardinal (although they usually are), so maybe he is gunning for that.

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  3. mervel says:

    I would guess he is not looking at a life in a Monastery though. I mean he moved his family to Virginia six years ago; he has not been “eeking” out a living, like all of the rest he has been doing quite fine in the DC lobby circle.

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  4. Paul says:

    Brain, I don’t know. What is Santorum going to do between now and 2016 just keep campaigning? Or will he continue to make his living as a DC lobbyist. Isn’t that what he does for his day job?

    He had this great quote the other day where he said:

    “As governor I didn’t start a government run health care system in my state, well I wasn’t governor….”

    At least he caught himself. It sounded like something from SNL.

    What does this guy do?

    Once Romney/Rubio finish their second term in 2020 then Rick can have a chance.

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  5. Pete Klein says:

    Mervel, you are correct and you don’t even have to be a priest to be nominated as Pope but you do have to become a priest if you accept the nomination to become Pope.
    I believe it has happened.

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  6. Paul says:

    You mean I can skip the celibacy thing and get the pope mobile? No way!

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  7. mervel says:

    Indeed Paul, I would vote for you (if I had vote).

    In fact the Church already has some married priests (former Episcopalians and from a couple of other denom) and has divorced priests and divorced nuns etc.

    But anyway Santorum can make good money back in DC like he has for the past 6 or 7 years. What has Romney been doing since last go around? I mean we seem to be entering this phase of continual campaigning; the true professional politicians. It is ironic since these guys are always saying they want to change Washington and they are “outsiders”. Which is total bull for all of the guys running this time around.

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  8. mervel says:

    One of the reasons that Santorum might actually be okay is that even though he is way out of the mainstream on his conservative social stands; when he was actually a Senator he compromised and got some things done; he is not like these tea party guys who seem to want to cause train wrecks to make a point.

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  9. tootightmike says:

    Santorum in 16 and Idi Amin in 20!!! Is he still available?… And what about Palin…or will she be running at the convention in 12?

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  10. This is why conservatives win and liberals lose. Conservatives expect their candidates to actually be conservative if they want their support. Liberals will vote for any corporatist, pro-One Percent piece of crap the Democrats shove down their throat. Conservatives make demands on their candidates and get results. Liberals expect nothing of their candidates… and they get what they demand too.

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  11. tootightmike says:

    I’m rooting for Elizabeth Warren in 16, so the loonier the Republican candidate the better.

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  12. Walker says:

    Mervel – “…when he was actually a Senator he compromised and got some things done…”

    Unfortunately now he’s being trashed for those compromises. When he doesn’t win, the lessen to other conservatives will be “Never Ever Compromise!”

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  13. dbw says:

    Newt and Rick may have one eye on the future, and here may be a 2012 strategy still in play. It is probably true that neither are likely to win the nomination, but there seems to be a real chance that they along with Ron Paul could keep Willard from getting the enough delegates to sew up nomination, and after the first ballot who knows what might happen. Or Paul could make a deal with Mitt where Rand Paul would be vp.

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  14. George Nagle says:

    Those of us who disagree with Santorum find him an easy target of ridicule.

    If we step back and ask, how is it he commands the support of thousands of our fellow citizens? we either conclude that his supporters are deluded, that they see something important in what he represents, or both.

    Santorum sets forth values from his understanding of Roman Catholic tradition from a conservative perspective.

    We can object that Roman Catholic teaching includes elements that he ignores such as opposition to the death penalty, support for workers’ forming unions, less than whole hearted endorsement of capitalism, etc., and point out that he is preoccupied with sex.

    We can challenge his view of the separation of church and state although historically our challenge is not as warranted as we might think. See Stanley Fish: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/rick-santorum-isnt-crazy/

    Regardless of our objections, Santorum offers a vision of a community of shared values. He would say, a community that embraces the truth. That’s scary. It scares me because his values aren’t mine.

    I suspect that he has support because he articulates a common vision. Liberals don’t, or at least don’t do so effectively. We live in a time of extreme individualism. Perhaps that is why liberal or moderate voices don’t have much traction.

    Witness the failure of Democrats to boast about the Affordable Care Act. The Act is a remarkable achievement. Once fully implemented it will remove the burden of horrendous medical expenses that may fall on individual families to be shared instead by the wider society. It’s an expression of our communal life, a social insurance like Social Security. It’s a political triumph. Why not say so?

    Instead of proclaiming it from the roof tops, Democrarts cringe and hide when told that “Obamacare” will infringe upon our freedoms.

    Yes, Obama has said that we are a nation where we look out for those who need help, but he hasn’t led others to vigorously articulate a common vision.

    Unless he does the field will be wide open for Rick Santorum and those like him.

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  15. JDM says:

    Santorum has the one unique opportunity to win. It won’t be the same in 2016.

    Obama is soooo beatable, Elmer Fudd could probably win in 2012.

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  16. Brian Mann says:

    JDM –

    I know people keep hoping for a holy grail candidate to jump into this campaign at the last minute.

    And yes Elmer Fudd has strong name recognition. But he has no infrastructure, no campaign team.

    And he has that whole Wascally Wabbit issue that he still hasn’t properly explained.

    If the Republicans do go to the “cartoon bench” for another fresh face, I’m thinking Foghorn Leghorn. “That dog’s like taxes,” Leghorn said. “He just don’t know when to stop.”

    See? Right on the issues. Right for America.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  17. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    “That dog’s as subtle as a hand grenade in a barrel of oatmeal.”

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  18. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    I’m going to be cynical and suggest I that Santorum and Gingerich are still in the race because it’s all part of building their brands. A gig at Fox News here, a fellowship there, book deals, speaking fees, etc. etc…..That is to say it’s about the future money they can make. It’s what American politics has become.

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  19. sratchy says:

    Way too early to talke about 2016. One of the biggest problems with politics is the heavy focus on horse race politics and personality and the lack of attention to substantive issues.

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  20. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    Foghorn Leghorn might not be considered a “fresh face” as he’s mid-60s and white. Not exactly an atypical Republican candidate?

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  21. jeff says:

    George Nagle- communal and social are words the liberals and related democrats want to stay away from because it is a big bull’s eye akin to socialism and communism which are nothing conservatives favor. The supporters use different adjectives to promote the program. Simply saying we will help those who…. subdues the radar from the opposition.

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  22. mervel says:

    I kind of agree with Clapton, particularly in Newt’s case he is building his brand. He has already become very wealthy trading on his past political activities; this will give him a fresh boost to garner more income in the future. The more outrageous things he says the better as far as his brand goes, I mean he is an “idea” man.

    I think Ron Paul truly believes in what he is doing and that is building a movement and inserting a consistent set of ideas into both the Republican Party and into our society. Ron Paul is good for the country as he is removing the shackles from conservatives of being mindless war hawks. He allows conservatives to honestly oppose both the insane wars of occupation and the insane government spending those wars create.

    From that perspective he is by far the most important Republican in the race.

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  23. mervel says:

    I mean from a human perspective, the health care act, unemployment, etc, they are important, but they are not nearly as important as stopping our government from killing hundreds of thousands of people in our name.

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  24. mervel says:

    Now is the time for conservatives listen to Mr. Paul, as we are again on the brink of another war and if enough conservatives oppose that war, it won’t happen.

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  25. tootightmike says:

    Nobody’s saying this, but I have family in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and have listened to them bashing the president long enough to be able to spell it out to you. Santorum has support ’cause he’s white. Santorum has support “cause he’s not Mormon. Santorum has support “cause he doesn’t look like he ever tried pot. He’s got support all right, and it’s scary.

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  26. George Nagle says:

    Jeff – You’re point is well taken.

    That liberals would shy away from certain words because of conservatives itself is instructive. What does it say about the strength of a belief if its adherents allow others to define their vocabulary?

    The word “liberal” itself has fallen into disfavor replaced increasingly by “progressive.” Conservatives are not only setting the terms of debate but are also determining which words to use.

    Is the word “narrative” still OK? If so, then say that Obama needs to set forth a narrative that shows his actions as a coherent, attractive effort to serve all the American people.

    But I still prefer “communal” and “social” torpedoes be damned.

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  27. Mervel says:

    Well from the people I know and my family in South Dakota; it is not totally about racism in the Santorum push, I mean it was not about that his first time around.

    No doubt the guy is an extreme social conservative; I mean I personally agree with a lot of what he says on those fronts; but I know that I am in the minority and understand that is okay and that is not changing. He can’t win; he can’t ever win he is just too socially conservative, but I don’t think it is about race. Many people look at the crude and trashy culture we have and say boy I wish things were different and Santorum taps into that; but it is not a winner. Also when he was actually in office he did compromise, he did work with Democrats, and many Democrats are social conservatives.

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  28. Two Cents says:

    Duck season-
    Wabbit season-
    Duck season-
    Wabbit season-
    Duck seas…….

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