The Return of the Sweater Vest
In 2012, former Senator Rick Santorum emerged from a crowded field of candidates from the Republican primary season to challenge Mitt Romney for the nomination. The field included a black man who was an early conservative favorite (Herman Cain) and luminaries Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, and even a Paul – Congressman Ron, not Senator Rand. After numerous implosions, both due to internal personality issues and Romney Super-PAC orchestrations, the field was narrowed to Romney and Santorum.
Today, at 5 pm EST, Rick Santorum is due to announce his second run at the brass ring in western Pennsylvania. As the ABC article mentions, most eventual Presidents have lost their first attempt for the Oval Office. Few remember Ronald Reagan’s assault on the Ford nomination in 1976; Romney and John McCain lost their first time out as well. The brand of Rick Santorum was blue collar, mainstream American and even had its own signature look – the sweater vest!
As I see it, the five people who have the best shot of winning the Republican nomination have all declared. I expect Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to be in the hunt after New Hampshire. Each of these men have a specific set of skills and attributes which will allow them to gain support, raise money and maybe even win delegates. I purposefully left out Jeb Bush for one simple reason; his own mother (Barbara Bush) has said enough to Bush White Houses and Momma Knows Best.
It is a wide open field for the nomination; however, like 2012, the way to the nomination may not be by addition but by attrition. If this scenario holds true, the candidate with the most experience in marathon running will win the nomination. Rick Santorum is well aware of the nature of the competition. When asked about possibly not being invited to the first debate in August, Santorum told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “It’s early. I don’t worry too much about where things are now.”
Santorum has name ID, a base of support who knows him and has shown the ability of making the most out of limited resources. He speaks to blue collar sensibilities and has extensive foreign policy experience. Most importantly, Santorum has never backed down from the left and has decades of experience fighting for average Americans. The Republican field is full of good candidates; Rick Santorum’s 2016 campaign will be one of a handful to watch closely.