Rick Santorum is positioning himself to the right of Michele Bachmann. Many would consider that an impossible task, but he isn't letting it stop him from trying. His latest efforts include reinserting himself into the debate about gay marriage. The Republican Party is divided on the issue, with a small minority of members in favor of gay marriage, a centrist group viewing it as a state matter and a larger group in favor of defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Santorum has a history of histrionics on socially conservative issues.
As a senator, he was often a vocal proponent of legislation that he viewed as pro-family. He also has an impeccable record as far as pro-life supporters are concerned. Santorum is famous for using rhetoric that attempted to tie gay marriage to bestiality. If anyone in the Republican presidential field can wedge into the one inch space to the right of Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum can. But that isn't a good thing in a general election.
Does he stand a realistic chance of winning in the primaries?
The answer is no. In the latest Pew Research Center polling, Santorum stands one percentage point ahead of "other" at two percent among Tea Party voters. Outside of the Tea party, he's polling at less than one percent. It's also fairly unprecedented to have a senator lose an election in a landslide and then run for president.
If he can't win, why is he running at all?
Some politicians launch vanity campaigns after a bruising defeat. The idea is to keep their names in the public's eye to help a later comeback. Former Senator Santorum is a young man, and that would make some sense. But his campaign doesn't exude a sense of vanity. And he is poorly served by his positions if he hopes to make a comeback. The classic comeback campaign is launched from the center, not the fringe.
Another reason to run is to position oneself for a role in a new administration. If a politician can gain momentum and support, he can rally supporters to vote for another candidate with an endorsement, in exchange for a place in the administration or a seat at the table during negotiations on topics that candidate finds important. Santorum has neither momentum, nor support.
The best guess about why he is running is that he sees himself as a crusader of a sort. The issues that he wants to discuss are issues that the rest of the party sees as secondary. In a collapsing economy, who marries who is far less important than who is employing whom. His crusade is important to him, but few others.
He will need miracles to win, like:
- He'll need to build a legitimate fundraising machine to finance his campaign.
- He'll need several candidates in front of him to falter and have those votes fall to him.
- He'll need to somehow find a way back to the center.
Santorum probably knows he has little chance of winning the Republican nomination for president. He sees the same polls the rest of the country sees. The greatest upset he can hope to do at this point is to even make it to the Iowa Caucuses next year. After that, the crusade in the Republican race will be over.
Do you support Rick Santorum in his bid for the Republican nomination?
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