Connect to share and comment

On the road with the 2012 US election.

Santorum’s shadow campaign

He may be down and out, but he is not forgotten.
Santorumsupertuesday201236Enlarge
Rick Santorum delivers remarks today at the American Israel Political Action Committee during its Policy Conference In Washington, DC. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

He was feisty; he was unpredictable. He railed against Satan for attacking America with vice and condemned the French Revolution for not relying on God. He told the Puerto Ricans to learn English and shocked the poor Dutch by insisting that 5 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands were due to involuntary euthanasia.

We all sorely miss the quirky and spirited Rick Santorum, especially now that we no longer have to worry so much that he might, through some contortion in the Cosmos, actually become president.

This was glaringly evident in the wake of Mitt Romney’s charmless interview with Diane Sawyer on Monday evening. At a function I attended Tuesday evening, his tin-eared remarks were the talk of the crowd.

“How did that guy ever get to be governor of Massachusetts?” asked a banker from Cape Cod. “He’s a Republican Mormon, and he takes over the most Democratic, Irish Catholic state in the country?”

Since the banker was himself a staunch Irish Catholic, I thought the question was rhetorical, and remained silent.

More from Highway 2012: Adventures in La La Land (Or Chester County, Pennsylvania)

“I didn’t much like him before, but I really can’t stand him now,” grumbled another Massachusetts resident in her 50s, who works for the Red Cross. “Who does he think he is?”

The utterance that had set them off was the message the former Massachusetts governor wanted to pass to the man he hopes to displace.

“Start packing,” he said, with what appeared to be a giggle.

I doubt the Obamas are rolling up the carpets just yet. Even the uncritically admiring Ann Romney, Mitt’s wife, looked embarrassed by the comment, ducking her head in that fake “isn’t he adorable?” way wives have when their husbands misbehave.

So it was with nostalgia and enthusiasm that I joined Rick Santorum, along with 4,000 of our closest friends, on a conference call immediately following Romney’s interview.

Rick, Karen and little Bella were all in on the call, the baby cooing in the background. Rick thanked his supporters for a “miraculous” campaign, while the more jaded among the callers were undoubtedly thinking, “Hmm, yeah, it’s a miracle he got as far as he did.”

Santorum reiterated his message that “this is the most important election in the history of our country,” and stated his intention to stay involved.

“Of course we are frustrated that it didn’t go as we hoped it would,” said the man who won 11 states, amassed more than 250 delegates, and gave Romney a few scares along the way. “But just because God calls you to do something does not mean he wants you to be successful.”

More from Highway 2012: The long and winding road to the US election

But on one issue Santorum was firm:

“There is no question that Barack Obama has to be defeated,” he said, promising to be active in the fight.

The defeated candidate was cagey about his future plans, saying only that he is in touch with the other candidates, and hopes to ensure that the Republican Party has a conservative platform for the fall.

“Stay tuned,” he said. “This voice is badly needed for our party and our country. I have not yet supported any candidate, and I have not released my delegates.”

Either Santorum is the only remaining person on the planet who does not believe that Romney has the nomination sewn up, or he is holding out for a good offer.

His wife was also mysterious about their plans.

“Rick changed the national discussion,” said Karen Santorum. “People are talking about faith, and strong family values. I am very sad that the campaign has ended …. But I know that there are great things ahead.”

There is no word from any side on whether those “great things” could possible include the vice presidency.

Judging by the Massachusetts crowd I was hanging out with last night, it would not go over well in Romney’s home state.

“He’s a nut job,” was one of the kinder remarks the irascible Bay-Staters had for Santorum. Massachusetts liberal politics coordinate poorly with the former Pennsylvania senator’s ultra-conservative social views.

But whatever he does next, Santorum has one last task to accomplish, and that appeared to be the reason for the phone call, and for the numerous emails that show up in my inbox on a daily basis.

“We want to continue to be your voice,” writes Rick, or his campaign manager. “But first, we must settle our campaign debt … CLICK HERE to contribute $25, $50 or even $100 or more to help us quickly retire our debt. The sooner we erase this burden, the faster we will get back onto the field and fight for our convictions.”

So maybe we haven’t heard the last from old Rick. One can only hope he has a few more scene-stealers in him.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/highway-2012/santorum-shadow-campaign