Santorum Is Crazy (Like A Fox) & A Dream Candidate (For Obama)


There is no doubt that Rick Santorum is crazy, but to the distress of Mitt Romney and Karl Rove and other Republican Party elders, he is crazy like a fox.

I have yet to read a plausible scenario through which this right-wing upstart can beat President Obama. He wouldn’t even be able to win Pennsylvania, where as an incumbent U.S. Senator he got throttled by 16 percentage points in 2006, the largest losing margin for a Senate incumbent in history. But grabbing the Republican nomination no longer seems like it is outside the realm of possibilities for the simple reason that Romney has proven to be a terrible candidate whose serial attempts to reinvent himself further reveal him to be an empty suit.

Unlike Romney, Santorum has no advance team and does no polling. But he is beginning to attract serious money while Romney, who has relied exclusively on wealthy donors, risks tapping out his campaign fund, which would mean he would have to reach into his own deep pockets. How bad are things for Romney? One pundit has taken to calling his campaign the Death Star.

The best hope for Romney, who trails Santorum badly in his native Michigan and not quite so badly in some national polls, is that Santorum loses his inhibitions and reveals himself more fully to be a demagogue and an extremist as he soars in the polls, and there are indications that is happening.

Speaking at a rally this week in Boise, Idaho, Santorum brought the crowd to its feet. They booed Senator John McCain, called Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg a traitor and reminded Santorum that American revolutionaries had more than muskets. Santorum in turn applauded them, declaring that “I believe that if we are unsuccessful in this election that we will have failed in that duty and it will have horrendous consequences. . . . It will be the end of the great experiment in the order of liberty and freedom.”

This is exactly the kind of stuff that the Obama campaign loves to hear.

Combined with Santorum’s more nuttier positions like opposing contraception and believing that a child conceived through a rape is a “gift from God,” it would take little effort for the Obama machine to eviscerate him in the fall, while Santorum is forcing Romney to tack even further to the right, which would have dire consequences for him in the fall.

Nate Silver of The New York Times parses all of this in his inimitable way.

He cites a recent CNN national poll in which 55 percent of Republican voters said that Romney was the most likely candidate to defeat Obama, while just 18 percent said the same for Mr. Santorum. This was despite the fact that Mr. Santorum actually led Mr. Romney by 2 points in the poll over all.

Silver asks:

“Isn’t that a favorable factor for Mr. Romney? Actually, it may not be. The reason is that this electability edge is presumably priced into Mr. Romney’s stock — and is some of the reason that he is keeping things close. Were the issue to become more debatable in the eyes of Republican voters, he might begin to trail Mr. Santorum by a fairly large margin. And the issue is likely to be more hotly debated if Mr. Romney loses states like Michigan and Ohio, which are crucial in both the primary and general election.”


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